ABSTRACT Data from 217 ground-water samples were statistically analyzed to assess the water quality of the surficial aquifer system and Upper Floridan aquifer in the Ocala National Forest and Lake County, Florida. Samples were collected from 49 wells tapping the surficial aquifer system, 141 wells tapping the Upper Floridan aquifer, and from 27 springs that discharge water from the Upper Floridan aquifer. A total of 136 samples was collected by the U.S. Geological Survey from 1995 through 1999. These data were supplemented with 81 samples collected by the St. Johns River Water Management District and Lake County Water Resources Management from 1990 through 1998.
In general, the surficial aquifer system has low concentrations of total dissolved solids (median was 41 milligrams per liter) and major ions. Water quality of the surficial aquifer system, however, is not homogeneous throughout the study area. Concentrations of total dissolved solids, many major ions, and nutrients are greater in samples from Lake County outside the Ocala National Forest than in samples from within the Forest. These results indicate that the surficial aquifer system in Lake County outside the Ocala National Forest probably is being affected by agricultural and (or) urban land-use practices. High concentrations of dissolved oxygen (less than 0.1 to 8.2 milligrams per liter) in the surficial aquifer system underlying the Ocala National Forest indicate that the aquifer is readily recharged by precipitation and is susceptible to surface contamination.
Concentrations of total dissolved solids were significantly greater in the Upper Floridan aquifer (median was 182 milligrams per liter) than in the surficial aquifer system. In general, water quality of the Upper Floridan aquifer was homogeneous, primarily being a calcium or calcium-magnesium- bicarbonate water type. Near the St. Johns River, the water type of the Upper Floridan aquifer is sodium-chloride, corresponding to an increase in total dissolved solids. Dissolved-oxygen concentrations in the Upper Floridan aquifer ranged from less than 0.1 to 7.3 milligrams per liter, indicating that, in parts of the aquifer, ground water is rapidly recharged by rainfall and is susceptible to surface contamination.
Median concentrations of nutrients in the Upper Floridan aquifer were not significantly different between the Ocala National Forest and the area of Lake County outside the Forest. The maximum nitrate concentration in the Upper Floridan aquifer in Ocala National Forest was only 0.20 milligram per liter, whereas, 9 of 39 samples from the Upper Floridan aquifer in Lake County had elevated nitrate concentrations (greater than 1.0 milligram per liter). Hence, nitrate concentrations of the Upper Floridan aquifer appear to be affected by land use in Lake County.