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Analyses of Water-Level Differentials and Variations in Recharge between the Surficial and Upper Floridan Aquifers in East-Central and Northeast Florida

October 2, 2007

Continuous (daily) water-level data collected at 29 monitoring-well cluster sites were analyzed to document variations in recharge between the surficial (SAS) and Floridan (FAS) aquifer systems in east-central and northeast Florida. According to Darcy's law, changes in the water-level differentials (differentials) between these systems are proportional to changes in the vertical flux of water between them. Variations in FAS recharge rates are of interest to water-resource managers because changes in these rates affect sensitive water resources subject to minimum flow and water-level restrictions, such as the amount of water discharged from springs and changes in lake and wetland water levels.

Mean daily differentials between 2000-2004 ranged from less than 1 foot at a site in east-central Florida to more than 114 feet at a site in northeast Florida. Sites with greater mean differentials exhibited lower percentage-based ranges in fluctuations than did sites with lower mean differentials. When averaged for all sites, differentials (and thus Upper Floridan aquifer (UFA) recharge rates) decreased by about 18 percent per site between 2000-2004. This pattern can be associated with reductions in ground-water withdrawals from the UFA that occurred after 2000 as the peninsula emerged from a 3-year drought. Monthly differentials exhibited a well-defined seasonal pattern in which UFA recharge rates were greatest during the dry spring months (8 percent above the 5-year daily mean in May) and least during the wetter summer/early fall months (4 percent below the 5-year daily mean in October). In contrast, differentials exceeded the 5-year daily mean in all but 2 months of 2000, indicative of relatively high ground-water withdrawals throughout the year. On average, the UFA received about 6 percent more recharge at the project sites in 2000 than between 2000-2004.

No statistically significant correlations were detected between monthly differentials and precipitation at 27 of the 29 sites between 2000-2004. For longer periods of record, double-mass plots of differentials and precipitation indicate the UFA recharge rate increased by about 34 percent at a site in west Orange County between the periods of 1974-1983 and 1983-2004. Given the absence of a trend in rainfall, the increase can likely be attributed to ground-water development. At a site in south Lake County, double-mass plots indicate that dredging of the Palatlakaha River and other nearby drainage improvements may have reduced recharge rates to the UFA by about 30 percent from the period between 1960-1965 to 1965-1970.

Water-level differentials were positively correlated with land-surface altitude. The correlation was particularly strong for the 11 sites located in physiographically-defined ridge areas (coefficient of determination (R2) = 0.89). Weaker yet statistically significant negative correlations were detected between differentials and the model-calibrated leakance and thickness of the intermediate confining unit (ICU).

Recharge to the UFA decreased by about 14 percent at the Charlotte Street monitoring-well site in Seminole County between 2000-2004. The decrease can be attributed to a reduction in nearby pumpage, from 57 to 49 million gallons per day over the 5-year period, with a subsequent recovery in UFA water levels that exceeded those in the SAS.

Differentials at Charlotte were influenced by system memory of both precipitation and pumpage. While not statistically correlated with monthly precipitation, monthly differentials were well correlated with the 9-month moving average of precipitation. Similarly, differentials were best correlated with the 2-month moving average of pumpage. The polynomial function that quantifies the correlation between differentials and the 2-month moving average of pumpage indicates that, in terms of UFA recharge rates, the system was closer to a steady-state condition in 2000 when pumpage rates were high, than from 2001-2004 when p

Publication Year 2007
Title Analyses of Water-Level Differentials and Variations in Recharge between the Surficial and Upper Floridan Aquifers in East-Central and Northeast Florida
DOI 10.3133/sir20075081
Authors Louis C. Murray
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2007-5081
Index ID sir20075081
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Florida Integrated Science Center