What is Florida Aquifer?
Florida’s springs are famous worldwide. They provide water to Florida’s river ecosystems and make sure the entire state of Florida gets enough water for use. All this is because of the Florida Aquifer that lies beneath the springs. Wondering what that is? Read on to find out!
The Florida Aquifer and its origin
An aquifer is basically a layer of permeable rocks that ears water and provides it to the springs and other water bodies. People can also access this water layer by boring a well deep into the permeable layer and pumping the water out of it.
Florida’s aquifer layer consists of upper and lower Floridan aquifers. This aquifer layer forms the foundation of entire Florida and some parts of other US states like South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.
The Floridan aquifer is one of the most productive aquifers in the world. It provides water to nearly 10 million people and includes both domestic as well as industrial uses.
Florida is believed to have emerged to the surface about 30 million years ago. Before that, it was covered with deep layers of the ocean. Therefore, there were several fossil deposits in the form of fish skeletons and remains of other marine creatures. When these fossil remains of the fishes and corals got deposited for years, it formed the thousand-foot deep layer of limestone rock, which now serves as the permeable rock layer of the Floridan springs.
Even when Floridan land emerged to the surface, this thick and porous layer never dried out. Instead, water started seeping out of it to form the now-known Floridan Aquifer.
Now, the Floridan aquifers feed around 150 gallons of water daily to the inhabitants in and around Florida. Apart from the springs, numerous wells are dug deep into the ground throughout the state to pump out the required water. However, the over-extraction, a rapid rise in the sea water level, and the seeping of salt water into the freshwater sources are all posing a major threat to the Floridan aquifer.
Is the Floridan Aquifer perennial?
Florida is blessed with loose sandy soil that allows water to seep right into the ground. Also, Florida receives huge rainfall every year and ranks fifth in the overall quantity of rain received per year. The state receives over 51 inches of rainfall, and over 13 inches of water finds its way back into the aquifer, replenishing it every year for use for the rest of the year. So one must think that would be enough to keep the water bodies and wells running. Well, that’s a misconception.
Now, Florida experiences drought once every year when those wells dry out, and the springs record a decrease in the water levels. Even though the aquifer seems to replenish the water somehow, this has not been the case for the past few years. A study conducted in 2018 reveals a notable reduction in the waters that reach the spring pools throughout the state. The same has been reported by the divers, who once used to swim through some of the spring caves and can now easily walk through them.
When the water levels in the aquifer drop gradually, the pressure that pulls that water towards it also reduces. If there’s no force to bring the water back into the reserves, the beautiful clear blue water will become stagnant, leading to algae blooms. Over time, the springs will completely dry up.
To put things into perspective, one of the well-known springs in Florida, the Silver Springs’ output, was reduced to 200 million from the usual 500 million. This is around a 60 percent decline in the whole water output. If this trend continues, we might soon have to bid adieu to some popular Florida springs and the blue waters that used to welcome us with open hands.
What happens when the freshwater in the Florida aquifer runs out
Beneath the freshwater layer that powers the Florida aquifer is the salty seawater. The pressure exerted by the freshwater is what keeps the seawater at bay. Once there’s not much pressure left, the seawater seeps in, mixing with the remaining freshwater. Thus, there will come a time when the wells and the springs are left with nothing but salty seawater.
To add to the current problem, seawater levels are rising at an alarming rate, and climate change is speeding up the entire process. But the Floridan government is well aware of this situation and has come to the forefront to build more water reservoirs and carry out the construction works more sustainably without harming the ecosystem and current water bed. Further, plenty of awareness campaigns are initiated throughout the state to raise awareness about the current situation of the aquifer and how the judicious use of water could help the aquifer return to its original glory.
The combined efforts from the government and the people are the answer to the impending water crisis that Flrodia might face very soon if they aren’t ready to change the way water is used throughout the state.
The situation is no different in the nearby aquifers that power the water supply to the other states.
The Floridan springs are magnificent, whether 1st magnitude springs, 2nd magnitude, 3rd magnitude, or 4th magnitude, and so is the aquifer that powers them. This aquifer consists of both deep and shallow points. The shallow points are usually exploited for the water wells and are the ones now at the fire point. With that said, the condition of deep aquifer points might worsen over time as these points provide the most fresh water of them all. Anyways, it’s up to us to monitor our water uses so that the Floridan aquifer stays in its full glory for generations to come.