An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Seminole County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Florida's aquifer models full of holes, allowing more water permits and pollution

By Craig Pittman

During a dry day in April 2010, scientists trying to trace the source of pollution in Silver Springs dropped 30 pounds of fluorescent dye into several wells and sinkholes a few miles away.

What happened next did more than show the pollution woes facing the state's springs are more serious than anticipated.

It also highlighted a flaw in how water pumping permits are routinely issued throughout much of Florida, suggesting the state has issued thousands of permits while underestimating their impact. It may also explain why some of the state's springs have lost some or all of their flow.

State officials base all their permitting decisions on computer models that use a false assumption. The models assume that the aquifer flows at a steady rate through layers of sand and gravel.