Water Resources of Florida
WRIR 95-4296

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Davis, Hal, 1996, Hydrogeologic investigation and simulation of ground-water flow in the Upper Floridan aquifer of north-central Florida and southwestern Georgia and delineation of contributing areas for selected City of Tallahassee, Florida, water-supply wells: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4296


A 4-year investigation of the Upper Floridan aquifer and ground-water flow system in Leon County, Florida, and surrounding counties of north-central Florida and southwestern Georgia began in 1990. The purpose of the investigation was to describe the ground-water flow system and to delineate the contributing areas to selected City of Tallahassee, Florida, water-supply wells. The investigation was prompted by the detection of low levels of tetrachloroethylene in ground-water samples collected from several of the city’s water-supply wells.

Hydrologic data and previous studies indicate that: ground-water flow within the Upper Floridan aquifer can be considered steady-state; the Upper Floridan aquifer is a single water-bearing unit; recharge is from precipitation; and discharge occurs as spring flow, leakage to rivers, leakage to the Gulf of Mexico, and pumpage. Measured transmissivities of the aquifer ranged from 1,300 ft2/d (feet squared per day) to 1,3000,000 ft2/d.

Steady-state ground-water flow in the Upper Floridan aquifer was simulated using a three-dimensional ground-water flow model. Transmissivities ranging from less than 5,000 ft2/d to greater than 11,000,000 ft2;d were required to calibrate to observed conditions. Recharge rates used in the model ranged from 18.0 inches per year in areas where the aquifer was unconfined to less than 2 inches per year in broad areas where the aquifer was confined.

Contributing areas to five Tallahassee water-supply wells were simulated by particle-tracing techniques. Particles were seeded in model cells containing pumping wells then tracked backwards in time toward recharge areas. The contributing area for each well was simulated twice, once assuming a porosity of 25 percent and once assuming a porosity of 5 percent. A porosity of 25 percent is considered a reasonable average value for the Upper Floridan aquifer; the 5 percent porosity simulated the movement of ground-water through only solution-enhanced bedding plains and fractures. The contributing areas were generally elliptical in shape, reflecting the influence of the sloping potentiometric surface. The contributing areas delineated for a 5 percent porosity were always much larger than those determined using a 25 percent porosity. The lowest average ground-water velocity computed within a contributing area, using a 25 percent porosity, was 1.0 ft/d (foot per day) and the highest velocity as 1.6 ft/d. The lowest average ground-water velocity, determined using a 5 percent porosity, was 2,4 ft/d and the highest was 7.4 ft/d.

The contributing areas for each of the five wells was also determined analytically and compared to the model-derived areas. The upgradient width of the simulated contributing areas were larger than the upgradient width of the analytically determined contributing areas for four of the five wells. The model could more accurately delineate contributing areas because of the ability to simulated wells as partially penetrating and by incorporating complex, three-dimensional aquifer characteristics, which analytical method could not.

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