Floridan Aquifer VSU class paper

Found by Chris Graham. I added the illustrations and the table. -jsq


by Sandra McCullough
Sandra McCullough lives in Valdosta, Georgia. She is a Speech Communications major and has an interest in the Environment and Humankind’s interaction with the Environment. Sandra plans to continue her education and become a teacher of public speaking. The topic to be discussed here is the Floridan Aquifer.

The Floridan aquifer system is very important to a large number of people, despite general lack of knowledge of or about it. The Floridan aquifer underlies all of Florida, south Georgia, and parts of both Alabama and South Carolina.’ This particular aquifer system is one of the major sources of ground-water in the United States. For this reason and more, studies of its function have been done for years. These studies as well as other findings will be discussed in this paper.

Each and every day more than 3 billion gallons of water are issued up from the Floridan aquifer. This 3 billion gallons of water represents less than 30 percent of the actual flow through the Floridan. This water is used for a multiplicity of reafons, and in some isolated areas, the aquifer is the only source of freshwater.’ The aquifer consists of a large area of connected carbonate rocks that range in age from late Paleocene to Early Miocene. It covers a total area of about I 00,000 square miles. The connective tissue of these very porous rocks is the water that is the Floridan aquifer’s life force.

The rocks that make up the aquifer are also responsible for dividing it into an Upper and Lower aquifer. The two are separated by a section of low porosity, which causes the water to run much slower. The two sections of the aquifer are defined solely by the permeability and not a geographic boundary of any @. The definition does not imply that there is a rock or time stratification that makes the two areas different.

The Floridan aquifer has developed over eons, and the development has been unevenly distributed. The Floridan aquifer is composed of several carbonate rock formations that are connected by water flow to make one hydrologic unit, which is why the development has been uneven.’ The flow system of the aquifer has been interrupted by two different things: man’s activities such as pumpage, impoundments, and dredging as well as deviation from normal amounts of rainfall. The disruption of the aquifer’s flow could begin at almost any point on its path. The aquifer’s water originates in the larger bodies of water of the Appalachain region, it flows downstream until it is forced underground. The aquifer flows from the higher altitudes of North Georgia and South Carolina to the flatter area which is Florida. This body of water has some very wide areas as well as tiny tributaries. As it flows further to the South it branches into smaller and smaller “streams”.

The stress that is placed on the aquifer has been localized, and in some places the stress is higher than in others. The differences in the rock formations would account for the cracks and uneven development of the aquifer. The local studies of the aquifer have shown it to have significant differences in its water-bearing properties, water chemistry, and flow.’ In Florida, the aquifer is near to the surface of the land and has different characteristics than near Savannah, Georgia where the aquifer is deeply buried and has a very slow flow.

The actual development of the Floridan aquifer began in the late 1800’s. The cities of Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida were of the first to tap into the ground-water resources of the Floridan aquifer. By the early part of the Twentieth century, development of the ground-water resources was well underway. Most cities in the reach of the Floridan had at least one deep well that pwnped water up for household use. Soon the phosphate industry and industrial farmers became the major users of the aquifer’s resources. These entities still use a larger proportion of the water than the average population.’

The aqifer is a source of more than just water for those who utilize it. The aquifer produces water that contains a large amount of minerals. The minerals that are supplied by the aquifer are calcium, magnesium, small amounts of iron, etc. While many people take in these vitamins and minerals as a part of their diets, it is also useful to know that the water that they drink is rich in the minerals that are required by the body.

SS4.1 Total Industrial Ground Water Demand (mgd) (AAD)
NAICS Industry 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050
0 Other Industrial 1.30 2.55 3.88 5.29 6.83
212 Mining 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
311 Food ‐ Food Manufacturing 2.26 2.56 2.63 2.69 2.76
312 Food ‐ Beverage and Tobacco 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
313 Textiles ‐ Textile Mills 0.28 0.28 0.28 0.28 0.28
314 Textiles ‐ Textile Product Mills 0.12 0.17 0.17 0.18 0.18
315 Apparel 0.15 0.15 0.15 0.15 0.15
322 Paper 8.09 8.77 8.96 9.17 9.41
324 Petroleum 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
325 Chemicals 1.01 1.05 1.08 1.11 1.14
326 Rubber 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
327 Stone and Clay 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
331 Primary Metals 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
332 Fabricated Metal Products 0.04 0.04 0.04 0.04 0.05
335 Electrical Machinery 0.08 0.10 0.11 0.11 0.11
336 Automotive Manufacturing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
TOTAL 13.34 15.68 17.30 19.02 20.92

In recent years, problems have developed in utilizing the aquifer. These problems have arisen from declining water levels, saltwater intrusion in coastal areas, and inadequate supplies of fresh ground-water locally. This pollution can come from both the lateral and upward movement of saltwater in coastal areas and by upcoming of saline water in some inland areas. Often companies pump out large quantities of water which creates a suction in the aquifer. If the suction area has a tributary to the ocean, it will automatically suck water from the ocean into the aquifer. This @ of pollution is the most common, and it is self-correcting. The aquifer has a filtering mechanism that is implanted in its composition. Since the rocks that make up the aquifer are mostly igneous and sedimentary, the water flows through very narrow openings and the dense materials are sifted out. Some pollution of the aquifer is not self-correcting. The non-coffecting pollution is the presence of pesticides in the ground-water. The only way for the pesticide residue to be removed is for it to be pumped out of the aquifer. Who knows where it will end up? It could be in a glass of water that is drawn from the tap. Many people have deep wells that tap into the water of the aquifer, and they will be the recipients of the pesticides and other human-induced pollution of the aquifer.’

Although the aquifer issues out over 3 billion gallons of water each day, there is no real danger in this resource coming to extinction. A high annual rainfall, and the flat topography of Florida provide a natural recharge for the aquifer.’ Although use of the aquifers water has increased drastically over the years, more than half of the aquifer has experience no major decline in volume.

There remains a large area of the aquifer that is prime for development as a ground-water source. The best areas are inland and characterized by little development before 1985. The areas that have been developed for a long time are running to full capacity, and they could be negatively impacted by a year of very low rainfall. Natural recharge can take care of replacing the water that is part of normal consumption, but the combination of natural disaster and population growth could be devastating for people who depend on the aquifer. It is needless to say that those who depend on the aquifer includes most of the people in the Southeastern United States.’

The aquifer is a priceless resource for the United States, ft is one of the most versatile sources of useable water in the United States. Besides providing for irrigation and mining, it is often a locale’s sole source of fteshwater. Despite increasing consumption, the aquifer is just as successful as it has always been. ft is responsible for supplying ground-water to most of the Southeast, and as such, it does quite well. The activities of man have caused some disturbance in its flow and water quality, but overall, the aquifer is in good health, and can be utilized for centuries to come.

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