FROM THE DESK OF THE CHIEF HYDROLOGIST
At the quarterly meeting of the Florida Well Drillers Association,
held at Hornes Motor Lodge in Ocala, Florida, I made an address relating
to the water problems that we must solve in Florida if we are to have ample
water for future use here .in our District. Because many of you were
unable to be present at that meeting and the talk was so well received by
those who were present, it appears desirable to publish in the "Hydroscope"
a shortened version of that speech. It follows hereafter:
Water Problems in Southwest Florida Water Management District
"All water problems may be classified under the five headings that follow,
and we have them all in this District. They are: (1) quantity; (2) variability,
Including floods and droughts;' (3) distribution and development; (4) natural
quality differences; and (5) pollution and contamination.
Quantity -- These are problems that develop when local or regional demand
outgrows the long-term average annual replenishment by nature. This is
one of our major problems and one that is rapidly growing in importance.
Without going into details of water-budget accoLuting, our current assess-
-ment indicates that, by about 1985, our demand for water use in the District
will begin to exceed the supply. In other words, we will be withdrawing from
our aquifers, streams and lakes more water than nature gives us annually, a
condition wve are now approaching in som-e parts of the District. When this
happens, we begin to "mine" water.
Evidences of this condition can be observed on the map of the District por-
traying water-ievel (potentiometric surface) differences between conditions
of 1949 and 1969. I call your attention particularly to an area of about 1, 800
square miles centering around a rough square cornered by Bartow, Brewster,
Fort Mcade and Mulberry. Here, from 1949 to 1969, in a central area ex-
ceeding 54 square miles (34, 560 acres) pumping reduced the water level in
Floridan aquifer wells more than 50 fect, and in a larger surrounding area
of nearly 1, 400 square miles (896, 000 acres) the levels fell more than 20 feet.
Some springs, such as Kissingcn, ceased flowing altogether, and streams
flowing out of the area likewise diminished in flow.
This area includes the major phosphate plants and producing mines. Much
of this large decline of water level is no doubt attributable to the phosphate
operations and their large withdrawals of ground water. However, other
*- large withdrawals in this area are made additionally by the citrus and vege-
table irrigators and by municipalities. All thsesc, together, combine to
create the large and relatively deep cone-of-depression" referred to above.
With the current state of knowledge of water use it is not possible to appor-
tion total ,uantities withdrawn by these major users. Put, we have made
an excellent start on this problem. I have assigned Lud i-lolzschuh, geologist
.of our staff, to work essentially full time on the water needs and uses of the
phosphiate i-dustrV, and Bill Smith, hydro,~, ologist in charge of our south-
ern subdistrict, is dcvcloping information on the other large users in the
area. Additionally, the U. S. Geological Survey, in a cooperative study
S with our office, is making an overall study -- part of the national study made
every'five years by the U. S. Geological Survey -- of total water uses through-
out the entire District. Total effort of these endeavors should give us a rea-
sonably accurate picture of water needs and water uses that will be basic to
any water -management decisions that the Distirict will make.
At this point, which may sound alarmist, I wish to emphasize that the District
is not now about to run out of water. However, unless we institute wise man-
agernent procedures in the next 15 years or so, we will be in difficulty. Some
of the remedies we can use include: (1) reduction in waste of water; (2)
cycling water and using it again and again -- water never earsas out"; (3)
plug flowing artesian wells now discharging water to no useful purpose -- there
are literally, hundreds of such "artesian leaks" in the District; (4) desalinate
salty ground d water; there are unlimited quantities of such water in our coastal
aquifers and, additionally, underlying the fresh water in the Floridan aquifer
everywhere in the state; (5) import fresh water from out of the District or
from some of the major springs, such as Rainbow and those at the head of
Crystal River; and (6) several other methods, including artificial and induced
recharge of storm and flood runoff that otherwise would be wasted to the oceans.
Variabilit,. including floods and drouoi.hts -- Even though average water
supply replI.eish rent occurs over the years for a given place, sufficient to
meet normal demands, variability in precipitation creates problems. Too
little water creates a drought of the kind southern. Floida is presently
Suffering, or like the six-year Idrought of the early to raid -t0's. Then water
levels fall, lake levels decline, strea:mflow diminishes and all sorts of re-
sults accrue: salt water migrates inward from the shore zone and upward
from beneath the overlying fresh water because of an upset equilibrium be-
tween fresh- and salt water created by lower fresh-water levels; plants
wither and dry out and fires devastate forests, fields and swamps; shallow
wells go dry and people clamor for drillers to deepen their wells, or install
deeper pumps, or drill new wells.
On the other hand, extra heavy or long-continued wet weather or a combina-
tion of the two may dump more water on the land than the streams, lakes
and aquifers can handle. Floods, damaging kinds, do not occur ordinarily
oftener than once in 10 to 20 years, and great, catastrophic floods not
oftener than 50 to 100 years; yet, when they do, the damage is great and
loss of animal and human life may be staggering..
In some parts of the world, where deep river valleys occur, large dams and
.. capacious reservoirs can be built. Here in the District we have no sites
for such flood-storage and multi-purpose darns. So the District is now build-
ing, as a part of the Four River 3Basins Project, in cooperation with the U. S.
Army Corus of Engineers, flood-storage retenition areas and flood-control
works such as th. Green Swamp, the Upper -illsborou.h and the Lower Hills-
borough Retention Ar\as, and thlt.ir relateCd diJkes, floodgates ancd canals.
These will help retain and control floocdvattrs long enotupfh to prevent disaster
f^to downstreami dw\ellcrs and their property, out arc not and should not -- be
Cdsig ned to hold water permanently. In conjunction with such temporary