ABSTRACT: A baseline study of the 241-square-mile Horse Creek basin was undertaken from October 1992 to February 1995 to assess the hydrologic and water-quality conditions of one of the last remaining undeveloped basins in west-central Florida. During the period of the study, much of the basin remained in a natural state, except for limited areas of cattle and citrus production and phosphate mining.
Rainfall in 1993 and 1994 in the Horse Creek basin was 8 and 31 percent, respectively, above the 30-year long-term average. The lowest and highest maximum instantaneous peak discharge of the six daily discharge stations occurred at the Buzzard Roost Branch and the Horse Creek near Arcadia stations with 185 to 4,180 cubic feet per second, respectively. The Horse Creek near Arcadia station had the lowest number of no-flow days with zero days and the Brushy Creek station had the highest number with 113 days. During the study, the West Fork Horse Creek subbasin had the highest daily mean discharge per square mile with 30.6 cubic feet per second per square mile, and the largest runoff coefficient of 43.7 percent. The Buzzard Roost Branch subbasin had the lowest daily mean discharge per square mile with 5.05 cubic feet per second per square mile, and Brushy Creek and Brandy Branch shared the lowest runoff coefficient of 0.6 percent. Brandy Branch had the highest monthly mean runoff in both 1993 and 1994 with 11.48 and 19.28 inches, respectively. During the high-baseflow seepage run, seepage gains were 8.87 cubic feet per second along the 43-mile Horse Creek channel. However, during the low-baseflow seepage run, seepage losses were 0.88 cubic foot per second.
Three methods were used to estimate average annual ground-water recharge in the Horse Creek basin: (1) well hydrograph, (2) chloride mass balance, and (3) streamflow hydrograph. Estimated average annual recharge using these three methods ranged from 3.6 to 8.7 inches.
The high percentage of carbonate plus bicarbonate analyzed at the Carlton surficial aquifer well could indicate an upward ground-water flow from the underlying intermediate aquifer system. Based on constituent concentrations in water samples from the six daily discharge stations, concentrations generally are lower in the upper three subbasins, West Fork Horse Creek, Upper Horse Creek, and Brushy Creek than in the lower three subbasins. Typically, concentrations were highest for major ions at Buzzard Roost Branch and nutrients at Brushy Creek.