Florida Water Table Lowest on Record

Recent cold snap takes toll on aquifer; private wells go dry.

Freezing temperatures several days in succession in early January had grove owners and strawberry growers in central Florida scrambling to save their crops.  They do this by pumping water on their trees and plants–lots and lots of water.  When water freezes on berries and around the roots of trees it keeps the temperature at a constant and unharmful 32 degrees fahrenheit regardless of how low the ambient temperature falls.
                
                image via wikipedia

The only potable water available to Florida residents comes from a vast underground lake known as the Floridan Aquifer, the largest, oldest and deepest aquifer in the southeastern U.S.  It formed millions of years ago prior to the Miocene period when the state was completely submerged.  It underlies all of the Sunshine State and parts of Alabama, southeast Georgia and southern South Carolina.  All private wells tap into the aquifer as do many municipalities.
               
              Typical 12-inch citrus grove pump capable of extracting millions of gallons per day from the
               aquifer.  Photo by the author.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD pronounced Swiftmud) is the governing body which controls water usage in the 17-county area where I live.  It lays out the amount of water individuals, corporations and farms may use on a daily, monthly and annual basis.   Swiftmud allows grove owners, en toto, in the district to lower the aquifer five to 15 feet in a given season.  During this past 11-day cold snap the aquifer dropped an incredible 55 feet–the greatest decrease since records have been kept in the early ’50s.
              
             image via wikipedia

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23 Responses to “Florida Water Table Lowest on Record”
  1. Lord Banks Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Interesting Ken-ster, I didn’t know that. I hope your Orange trees survive ok. Nice post. LB


  2. bailieman Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I hope there is some compensation available to those who lost their homes. Subsidence is not covered by insurance companies over here.


  3. Christine Ramsay Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 11:04 am

    It sounds like quite a disaster for some people. Florida seems to have had some really bad weather in recent weeks. I hope they get the rain they need soon. A very interesting article.

    Christine


  4. drelayaraja Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Worldwide problem.. well at least we will get some water till 2012.. ha ha ha


  5. Brenda Nelson Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 11:26 am

    We too had a drought, this summer saw fire bans and one of the worse for farmers in terms of hay and crop production. To make matters worse, the spring had been very cold so plant growth was already stunted.

    Now we are unseasonably warm, its above freezing and has been for weeks!
    I am in Central Alberta Canada. Hope you get rain.

    its not the people I worry about so much as the environment. The people, as a mass, not you as an individual, brought it on themselves, the same as here, too many people, demanding too few resources.


  6. Mark Gordon Brown Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Global warming my friend, global warming.


  7. Val Mills Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Fascinating article. Was intrigued by the idea of freezing the roots and berries to protect their temperature. Thanks.


  8. Lady Sunshine Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    That is scary, Ken. Florida definitely needs rain. As usual a well written write.


  9. Intuitive Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    The entire west seems to be reeling under the cold weather, severe than the usual. Guess all talk and no action by the big countries is increasing global warming.


  10. Ruby Hawk Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Ken, I hope your oranges makes it through the freeze. We have been cold up here too. It warmed yesterday and today enough for rain. It’s a nice change.


  11. Shirley Shuler Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    I hope Florida will get rain soon, Ken and I hope your oranges will survive!


  12. GWitt Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    A very nice informative article. Thanks for sharing.


  13. standingproud Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Well Ken
    I’m sorry to say but things are only to get worse
    be prepared my friend.


  14. keyboardologist Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    There are just WAY TOO MANY PEOPLE here in Florida. People move here in droves, and it’s too much stress on all of the resources.


  15. PR Mace Says...

    On January 17, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Wow, Ken I never even thought about this, I better watch how much water I use. I do hope your oranges make it, I lost most of my plants during this hard freeze we all went though, even some of my young cedar trees don’t look well. It was just too cold for too long in Florida.


  16. wonder Says...

    On January 18, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Learnt about the sinkhole, This damage of trees is disheartening.


  17. AlmaG Says...

    On January 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    The same thing’s happening here in the Philippines. The water level on the dams are getting low and summer isn’t yet officially here.


  18. deep blue Says...

    On January 19, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Well presented information, Ken. When the Earth changes, everyone unable to cope will probably disappear tomorrow. I could imagine Florida surface suspended at sea level with a big vacuum in the middle. Well if you have a 300 ft well then the rest of the locality must be scampering behind your backyard for a penny per bucket of water. That’s a big income coming in front of you than a few you will earn in writing.


  19. The Easy Way Says...

    On January 20, 2010 at 2:36 am

    very nice article, made me open my eyes…


  20. Daisy Peasblossom Says...

    On January 20, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Fruit and berry crops are always a bit of a gamble; but this year sure has been hard on them. I hope you will make it through. That bit about the lowered water table and sink holes is very scary. Could Florida wind up one big sink? Would all our oranges then come from Texas or California? Interesting and cogent article.


  21. Judy Kaelin Says...

    On January 21, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Thank you for this very interesting artilcle. We grain farm in NW Missouri, and had a great corn and soybean crop due to unusual amounts of rain all spring and summer. I pray Flordia crop growers will have a successful year.


  22. clavier Says...

    On January 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I learned so much in this article. We also have our dry spells in our country where the water table drops dangerously low, too. I guess we all have to get ready for the dry spells this year. Thanks for the share.


  23. lillyrose Says...

    On January 23, 2010 at 4:39 am

    Great article in terms of presentation, information and photographs but not great in the term of what is happening. Those sinkholes I just would not have believed if you hadn’t taken a picture of them, they were in the film 2012 and they were swallowing everything! OMG I hope you get the rain you need soon, take care Ken.


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