USGS Finds Groundwater in South Florida at Record Lows
Water levels at nearly two-thirds of the 36 network sites operated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in southern Florida have reached the lowest levels ever recorded for this time of year. The USGS projects additional record-breaking lows in parts of these aquifers if water levels continue to decline at present rates.
While groundwater level declines in South Florida are normal during the dry season, climatologists have indicated that this is one of the driest seasons on record. Graphs of the data show the extreme seasonal lows for this year but also significant overall long-term declining trends.
"Each year we see the overall declining trends continue at some locations," said Scott Prinos, hydrologist with the USGS.
Public demand on groundwater resources has increased, corresponding to an estimated 25 percent increase in population in the South Florida region from 1995 and 2005. Prinos stated that the greatest groundwater level declines correspond to areas where ground-water withdrawals occur.
Surface water levels in rivers, canals, lakes and water-conservation areas also are very low with more than a third of the 23 real-time surface water monitoring sites currently at or below the record minimum for this time of the year. Generally, of all the locations in southern Florida where the USGS continually monitors water levels, only coastal areas in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have groundwater and surface water levels that are near normal for this time of year.
These findings were determined using an online Web site developed by the USGS in cooperation with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). This Web site is being used by water managers as they make decisions concerning southern Florida's water resources. The online resource, "Current Water-Level Conditions" can be accessed at http://www.sflorida.er.usgs.gov/ddn_data/index.html.