ABSTRACT: The City of Boca Raton in southeastern Palm Beach County, Florida, is an urban residential area that has sustained a constant population growth with subsequent increase in water use. The Boca Raton network of canals is controlled to provide for drainage of excess water, to maintain proper coastal ground-water levels to prevent saltwater intrusion, and to recharge the surficial aquifer system from which the city withdraws potable water.
Most of the water supplied to the Boca Raton canal system and the surficial aquifer system, other than rainfall and runoff, is pumped from the Hillsboro Canal. The Biscayne aquifer, principal hydrogeologic unit of the surficial aquifer system, is highly permeable and there is a close relation between water levels in the canals and the aquifer. The amount of water supplied by seepage from the conservation areas is unknown. Because the Hillsboro Canal flows from Lake Okeechobee and Water Conservation Areas 1 and 2, which are places of more highly mineralized ground water and surface water, the canal is a possible source of contamination.
Water samples were collected at 10 canal sites during wet and dry seasons and analyzed for major inorganic ions and related characteristics, nutrients, and trace elements. All concentrations were generally within or less than the drinking-water standards established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The high concentrations of sodium and chloride that were detected in samples from the Boca Raton canal system are probably from the more mineralized water of the Hillsboro Canal.
Other water-quality data, gathered from various sources from 1982 through 1991, are limited and do not indicate any significant changes nor trends. The data include pesticide and metal analyses of water samples and bottom sediments collected at four canal sites in the Boca Raton study area by the U.S. Geological Survey during 1982-84.
The effects of the Hillsboro Canal on the water quality of the Boca Raton canal system are indicated by increased concentrations of sodium, chloride, dissolved solids, and total organic carbon. Concentrations of the constituents in the canal water generally decrease with distance from the Hillsboro Canal pumping station and are the result of dilution by receiving canal waters.