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A Region Under Stress-- Home
A Region Under Stress-- Introduction

Environmental Setting-- The Natural System
Physiography
Climate
Geology
Hydrology
Watersheds and Coastal Waters

Environmental Setting-- The Altered System
Drainage and Development
Public Lands
Agriculture
Urbanization
Water Use
Water Budget

Water and Environmental Stress
Loss of Wetlands and Wetland Functions
Soil Subsidence
Degradation of Water Quality
Mercury Contamination
Effects on Estuaries, Bays, and Coral Reefs

Summary and Research Needs
References

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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
Circular 1134

The South Florida Environment - A Region Under Stress

Environmental Setting--
The Altered System


Water Use

Most public water supplies in south Florida are withdrawn from shallow aquifers, generally from wells less than 250 ft deep. The most productive and widespread of these aquifers are the Biscayne aquifer in the southeast and the shallow aquifer in the southwest. The Biscayne aquifer has been designated as a "sole-source water supply" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Important also, but of lower yield, are the coastal aquifer, which extends northward from West Palm Beach, and the local aquifers that are scattered through the remaining area, particularly those that supply water to the western coast urban region.

The Floridan aquifer system is a source of water primarily north of Lake Okeechobee. South of the lake, this aquifer is deeper and more brackish. Although it is capable of large yields of saline water by artesian flow, it is not generally used as a source of water supply, but rather used for wastewater injection.

Freshwater withdrawals within the Southern Florida NAWQA study unit were about 4,110 Mgal/d in 1990. Most of this water was used for public supply (22 percent) and agriculture (67 percent). Public water supply for most of the 5.8 million people that live in the study unit is from ground-water sources (table 2). Ground water supplied 94 percent (872 Mgal/d) of the water used for public supply in 1990. Water withdrawn for agricultural purposes is nearly divided between ground-water and surface-water sources. In 1990, ground water accounted for 45 percent (1,230 Mgal/d) and surface water accounted for 55 percent (1,505 Mgal/d) (Richard L. Marella, U.S. Geological Survey, written commun., 1994).

Table 2. Population characteristics, by hydrologic cataloging unit, in the south Florida study unit, 1990

[From Richard L. Marella, U.S. Geological Survey, written commun., 1994]

Name of unit Catalog unit
number
Total
population
Served by public supply Self-
supplied
population
Total water Ground water Surface water
Kissimmee River 03090101 482,871 272,810 272,810 0 210,061
Northern Okeechobee inflow 03090102 24,466 17,035 0 17,035 7,431
Western Okeechobee inflow 03090103 5,036 0 0 0 5,036
Lake Okeechobee 03090201 4,152 0 0 0 4,152
Everglades 03090202 4,268,450 3,941,135 3,845,228 95,907 327,315
Florida Bay- Florida Keys 03090203 77,212 77,212 77,212 0 0
Big Cypress Swamp 03090204 233,601 211,917 193,172 18,745 21,684
Caloosahatchee River 03090205 250,712 190,103 163,043 27,060 60,609
Peace River 03100101 361,709 311,330 261,330 50,000 50,379
Myakka River 03100102 29,552 27,565 7,600 19,965 1,987
Charlotte Harbor 03100103 31,144 23,188 23,188 0 7,956
Total 5,768,905 5,072,295 4,843,583 228,712 696,610


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