WRIR 98-4133

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Sacks, L.A., Swancar, Amy, and Lee, T.M., 1998, Estimating ground-water exchange with lakes using water-budget and chemical mass-balance approaches for ten lakes in ridge areas of Polk and Highlands Counties, Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4133, 51 p.


Water budget and chemical mass-balance approaches were used to estimate ground-water exchange with 10 lakes in ridge areas of Polk and Highlands Counties, Florida. At each lake, heads were monitored in the surficial aquifer system and deeper Upper Floridan aquifer, lake stage and rainfall were measured continuously, and lakes and wells were sampled three times between October 1995 and December 1996.

The water-budget approach computes net ground-water flow (ground-water inflow minus outflow) as the residual of the monthly water-budget equation. Net ground-water flow varied seasonally at each of the 10 lakes, and was notably different between lakes, illustrating short-term differences in ground-water fluxes. Monthly patterns in net ground-water flow were related to monthly patterns of other hydrologic variables such as rainfall, ground-water flow patterns, and head differences between the lake and the Upper Floridan aquifer.

The chemical mass-balance approach combines the water budget and solute or isotope mass-balance equations, and assumes steady-state conditions. Naturally occurring tracers that were analyzed for include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and bromide, the isotopes deuterium and oxygen-18. Chloride and sodium were the most successful solute tracers; however, their concentrations in ground water typically varied spatially, and in places were similar to that in lake water, limiting their sensitivity as tracers. In contrast, the isotopes were more robust tracers because the isotopic composition of ground water was relatively uniform and was distinctly different from the lake water. Ground-water inflow computed using the chemical mass-balance method varied significantly between lakes, and ranged from less than 10 to more than 150 inches per year. Both water-budget and chemical mass-balance approaches had limitations, but the multiple lines of evidence gained using both approaches improved the understanding of the role of ground water in the water budget of the lakes.