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Design of a real-time ground-water level monitoring network and portrayal of hydrologic data in southern Florida

January 1, 2002

Ground-water resources in southern Florida are under increasing stress caused a rapid growth in population. As a result of increased demands on aquifers, water managers need more timely and accurate assessments of ground-water conditions in order to avoid or reduce adverse effects such as saltwater intrusion, loss of pumpage in residential water-supply wells, land-surface subsidence, and aquifer compaction.

Hydrologic data were analyzed from three aquifer systems in southern Florida: the surficial aquifer system, which includes the Biscayne aquifer; the intermediate aquifer system, which includes the sandstone and mid-Hawthorn aquifers; and the Florida aquifer system represented by the lower Hawthorn producing zone. Long-term water-level trends were analyzed using the Seasonal Kendall trend test in 83 monitoring wells with a daily-value record spanning 26 years (1974-99). The majority of the wells with data for this period were in the Biscayne aquifer in southeastern Florida. Only 14 wells in southwestern Florida aquifers and 9 in the surficial aquifer system of Martin and Palm Beach Counties had data for the full period. Because many monitoring wells did not have data for this full period, several shorter periods were evaluated as well. The trend tests revealed small but statistically significant upward trends in most aquifers, but large and localized downward trends in the sandstone and mid-Hawthorn aquifers.

Monthly means of maximum daily water levels from 246 wells were compared to monthly rainfall totals from rainfall stations in southwestern and southeastern Florida in order to determine which monitoring wells most clearly indicated decreases in water levels that corresponded to prolonged rainfall shortages. Of this total, 104 wells had periods of record over 20 years and could be compared against several drought periods. After factors such as lag, seasonal cyclicity, and cumulative functions were considered, the timing of minimum values of water level from 15 ground-water monitoring wells and average minimum rainfall values agreed 57 to 62 percent of the time over a 20 to 26 year period. On average, the timing of water-level minimums and rainfall minimums agreed about 52 percent of the time, and in some cases only agreed 29 percent of the time.

A regression analysis was used to evaluate daily water levels from 203 monitoring wells that are currently, or recently had been, part of the network to determine which wells were most representative of each aquifer. The regression also was used to determine which wells provided data that could be used to provide estimations of water levels at other wells in the aquifer with a coefficient of determination (R2 value) from the regression of 0.64 or greater. In all, the regression analysis alone indicated that 35 wells generally had 10 years or more of data and could be used to directly monitor water levels or to estimate water levels at 180 of 203 wells (89 percent of the network). Ultimately, factors such as existing instrumentation, well construction, long-term water-level trends, and variations of water level and chloride concentration were considered together with the R2 results in designing the final network.

The Seasonal Kendall trend test was used to examine trends in ground-water chloride concentrations in 113 wells. Of these wells, 61 showed statistically significant trends. Fifty-six percent (34 of 61 wells) of the observed trends in chloride concentration were upward and 44 percent (27 of 61 wells) were downward. The relation between water level and chloride concentration in 114 ground-water wells was examined using Spearman's r and Pearson's r correlation coefficients. Statistically significant results showed both positive and negative relations. Based on the results of statistical analyses, period of record, well construction, and existing satellite telemetry, 33 monitoring wells were selected that could be used to assess ground-water conditions in 167 monitoring wells in southern Florida on an interim basis.

A real-time ground-water level monitoring network ( was designed to provide this information, and a prototype website was constructed to provide water managers with daily updates on ground-water conditions in southern Florida. Many of the same analytical tools used to select monitoring wells representative of aquifer conditions are also employed to analyze data for this website. These tools include regression analysis, the Seasonal Kendall trend test, and frequency analysis. The website also includes image maps showing the current conditions for stations in selected geographical areas and aquifers and statistical comparison plots for each station.

Publication Year 2002
Title Design of a real-time ground-water level monitoring network and portrayal of hydrologic data in southern Florida
DOI 10.3133/wri20014275
Authors Scott T. Prinos, A. C. Lietz, R.B. Irvin
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 2001-4275
Index ID wri20014275
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse