FAQs - Florida and its Water

Where does Florida's water supply come from?

The primary water source for the state of Florida is its aquifers and its lakes, rivers, streams wetlands and other natural waterways. While the state has several aquifers, it is the Floridian aquifer that provides the most water for municipal use in north and central Florida.

It's projected that in the future, Florida's current supply of freshwater cannot meet the needs of its inhabitants. It is an essential role of those managing water resources to implement water conservation measures like more effective water storage capabilities and making more use of alternative sources of supply such as reclaimed water, desalinated water and brackish water.

Yes. There are several aquifer systems under Florida of which there are 5 main aquifers. The largest, the Floridian aquifer, extends across the entire state, serving primarily north and central Florida. The Biscayne aquifer system lies under the southeastern part of Florida, underlying an area of around 4,000 square miles.

Florida's pre-history is relatively undocumented but about 300 million years ago Florida lay at the center of a huge landmass far from any ocean. Over several million years it became submerged. About 30 million years ago, after almost 100 million years of submersion, northern Florida emerged. Florida was last wholly underwater between 4 and a half and 2 and a half million years ago.

Because it is a coastal state, Florida's lowest elevation is (as you might guess) sea level. Florida has the lowest high point above sea level of all the states in the US It is the flattest state. The mean elevation of the state is 100ft.

According to the Florida Water Resources Act, Chapt. 373, FS, all water in Florida, whether on the surface or in the ground, is a public resource. As such, it is managed by the Department of Environmental Protection and the state's 5 water management districts.

As the underground reservoirs for Florida's natural water filtration, they are responsible for providing freshwater to over 60% of the state's agriculture and industrial users. In terms of drinking water, they provide almost 100% of the drinking water consumed by Florida's inhabitants.

Groundwater is released from Florida's aquifer systems by various natural and man-made means. These include springs, pumping stations, and man-made wells. This water is one of the state's most essential resources, providing the basis for our health, recreation, commerce, industry and agriculture and sustaining thousands of ecosystems.

Surface water is water that is exposed to the air and hasn't seeped into the ground. In Florida, most of the surface water is the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Most of Florida's surface fresh water is found in lakes (over 7,700 of them!) and rivers, wetlands, streams and ponds. As rain seeps into its great aquifers and floodplains, billions of gallons of freshwater are liberated through springs and rivers.

It's estimated that there are around 2.5 million acres of fresh water in Florida. This water is available in the form of lakes, ponds and rivers, aquifers, springs and streams, as well as wetlands and man-made canals.

Situated between dry uplands and deeper aquatic zones, Florida's wetlands provide some of the most diverse swamp ecosystems on planet earth. Perhaps a third of these comprise marsh ecosystems of significant scientific, ecological and economic importance. In contrast, others are tree-filled swamps, with heavily saturated soils and standing water. Wetlands also provide natural aquifer recharge and pollutant filtration as well as flood control and protection for coastal areas.

The Floridian aquifer sits below the whole of the state of Florida. It also extends beneath parts of S. Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. Not only is it the largest aquifer in Florida, it's the largest in the Southeastern United States.

By a process of age dating, it has been determined that the water in the Floridian aquifer is somewhere between 17,000 and 26,000 years old!

This amazing aquifer is an average of 1000 feet thick. Its freshwater can extend to a depth of up to 2000 feet below the land's surface in places. Freshwater in the aquifer is deepest in the central areas of Florida and thins considerably toward the south and coast.

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