Florida Water Science Center
Lake Wales Ridge Groundwater and Lake Monitoring Studies
Partnered research focused on water quality, including pesticides and pesticide degradates, in the surficial aquifer and lakes in central Florida.
This research includes two regional-scale companion water-quality studies: a long-term groundwater study and a lake-reconnaissance study. The studies provide information on spatial and temporal variability of agricultural chemicals (pesticides and nutrients) in the water resources of Lake Wales Ridge, and insight into chemical transport and fate within this closely linked groundwater – surface water system. The 700-square-mile study area encompasses the Lake Wales Ridge, an area in central Florida which has been recognized as a region particularly susceptible to agrichemical leaching and which is a primary citrus-growing region. The groundwater study focuses on the surficial aquifer system, which consists of unconsolidated, highly permeable and relatively homogeneous marine sands. The lake study focuses on groundwater seepage lakes which receive water from and discharge water to the surficial aquifer system.
The groundwater study provides a tool for early detection of potential contaminants leaching into the Ridge groundwater system. Results of both studies provide information to support efforts by state and local agencies to minimize land-use impacts and to protect the region’s water resources.
These studies are noteworthy in several regards. The groundwater study is one of the first nationally to document short-term (quarterly) variability of pesticides over a long-term period (>11 years, as of 2010) using consistent sampling and laboratory methods. The lake pesticide study is one of the first evaluations nationally to focus on the regional occurrence of pesticides in small- to intermediate-sized lakes (5 to 393 acres). Also, both studies were among the first to analyze for and detect the triazine degradate hydroxysimazine in water resources.
The studies were conducted in partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Bureau of Pesticides, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.