WRIR 01-4182


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Spechler, Rick M., and Halford, Keith J., 2001, Hydrogeology, Water Quality, and Simulated Effects of Ground-Water Withdrawals from the Floridan Aquifer System, Seminole County and Vicinity, Florida: Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4182, 116 p.

ABSTRACT:

The hydrogeology and ground-water quality of Seminole County in east-central Florida was evaluated. A ground-water flow model was developed to simulate the effects of both present day (September 1996 through August 1997) and projected 2020 ground-water withdrawals on the water levels in the surficial aquifer system and the potentiometric surface of the Upper and Lower Floridan aquifers in Seminole County and vicinity.

The Floridan aquifer system is the major source of ground water in the study area. In 1965, ground-water withdrawals from the Floridan aquifer system in Seminole County were about 11 million gallons per day. In 1995, withdrawals totaled about 69 million gallons per day. Of the total ground water used in 1995, 74 percent was for public supply, 12 percent for domestic self-supplied, 10 percent for agriculture self-supplied, and 4 percent for recreational irrigation.

The principal water-bearing units in Seminole County are the surficial aquifer system and the Floridan aquifer system. The two aquifer systems are separated by the intermediate confining unit, which contains beds of lower permeability sediments that confine the water in the Floridan aquifer system. The Floridan aquifer system has two major water-bearing zones (the Upper Floridan aquifer and the Lower Floridan aquifer), which are separated by a less-permeable semiconfining unit.

Upper Floridan aquifer water levels and spring flows have been affected by ground-water development. Long-term hydrographs of four wells tapping the Upper Floridan aquifer show a general downward trend from the early 1950's until 1990. The declines in water levels are caused predominantly by increased pumpage and below average annual rainfall. From 1991 to 1998, water levels rose slightly, a trend that can be explained by an increase in average annual rainfall. Long-term declines in the potentiometric surface varied throughout the area, ranging from about 3 to 12 feet. Decreases in spring discharge also have been observed in a few springs with long-term record.

Chloride concentrations in water from the Upper Floridan aquifer in Seminole County range areally from 6.2 to 5,300 milligrams per liter. Chloride concentrations are lowest in the recharge areas of the Floridan aquifer system in the western part of Seminole County and near Geneva. The most highly mineralized water occurs adjacent to the Wekiva River in northwestern Seminole County, around the eastern part of Lake Jesup, and along the St. Johns River in eastern Seminole County. Analysis of limited long-term water-quality data indicates that the chloride concentrations in water for most wells in the Floridan aquifer system in Seminole County have not changed significantly in the 20-year period from 1976 to 1996, and probably not since the mid 1950's. Analysis of water samples collected from some Upper Floridan aquifer springs, however, indicates that the water has become more mineralized during recent years. Increases in specific conductance and concentrations of major cations and anions were observed at several of the springs within the study area where long-term water-quality data were available. Associated with these increases in the mineralization of spring water has been an increase in total nitrate-plus- nitrite as nitrogen concentration.

A three-dimensional model was developed to simulate ground-water flow in the surficial and Floridan aquifer systems. The steady-state ground-water flow model was calibrated to water-level data that was averaged over a 1-year period from September 1996 through August 1997. The calibrated flow model generally produced simulated water levels in reasonably close agreement with measured water levels. As a result, the calibrated model was used to simulate the effects of expected increases in ground-water withdrawals on the water levels in the surficial aquifer system and on the potentiometric surface of the Upper and Lower Floridan aquifers in Seminole County.

The calibrated flow model was used to simulate the possible effects of increased ground-water withdrawals from the Floridan aquifer system in the year 2020. Ground-water withdrawals in the study area have been projected to increase from 412 million gallons per day (637 cubic feet per second) in 1996-97 to 591 million gallons per day (915 cubic feet per second) in 2020. Based on projected 2020 ground-water withdrawals, the simulated maximum drawdowns were about 16 feet in the surficial aquifer system and about 19 feet in the Upper and Lower Floridan aquifers.