Archive for September, 2017

  • AquiferWatch Projects


    Since its beginning, AquiferWatch has been involved in volunteer monitoring projects. To date the projects have been spread across north-central Florida (Figure 1).

    Figure 1.  Florida counties where AquiferWatch volunteer projects have been initiated.


    Western Hamilton County Groundwater Level Monitoring:  In 2012, several well owners in western Hamilton County, Florida were concerned with declining lake levels in their subdivision.  After hearing about the situation, AquiferWatch staff visited the area and discussed the local hydrogeology with a group of home owners (Figure 2). The lake is fed by groundwater from the Floridan aquifer system.  Since their wells tap the Floridan, monitoring groundwater levels in their wells would be way to indirectly monitor lake levels.

    Figure 2.  Hamilton County homeowners helping to measure the water level in a domestic well.

    In a joint effort by AquiferWatch, Florida LAKEWATCH and the local well owners was established.  AquiferWatch obtained a water level meter for the well owners to properly obtains groundwater levels (Figure 3). Groundwater level data are obtained monthly from seven wells.  The data are periodically forwarded to Florida LAKEWATCH headquarters on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville for storage.  As of 2017, the project is still active.

    Figure 3. Two groundwater level monitoring meters.  Dark: commercial meter.  Light: Meter made by AquiferWatch staff (about 1/10th cost of commercial meter).

    Alachua County Groundwater Level Monitoring: Due to resource cutbacks, between 2010 and 2012, the Alachua County Environmental Pollution Department (ACEPD) was forced to cut back on the monitoring of groundwater levels in some of their monitoring wells in Alachua County. For this reason, ACEPD approached AquiferWatch and asked for temporary assistance in obtaining water-level data from the effected wells.  AquiferWatch staff solicited a local volunteer and trained him in obtaining groundwater level data (Figure 4).  With the oversight of AquiferWatch, between 2013 and 2016, monthly groundwater level data were obtained from eight wells for a three-year period.  ACEPD was eventually able to obtain sufficient resources to monitor all their monitoring wells.  Data were delivered to the pollution department and are stored in the ACEPD database.

    Figure 4. AquiferWatch volunteer sampling well cluster in Alachua County.


    Bradford County Groundwater Level Monitoring:  In 2012 a citizen was concerned about declining groundwater levels in the Floridan, intermediate, and surficial aquifer systems in Bradford County, Florida. AquiferWatch staff met with the gentleman and discussed the local hydrogeology with him.  The individual has two wells on his property and wanted to commence monitoring groundwater levels in them.  The gentleman decided to solicit financial assistance from the Suwannee River Water Management District. He was successful and the District purchased a groundwater level meter for him.  AquiferWatch trained the individual in obtaining proper groundwater levels (Figure 5).  The individual indicated that he preferred to store the data on his own computer.  Since 2013, he has been obtaining groundwater level data from his wells, along with several of his neighbor’s wells in Bradford County.

    Figure 5. Reading depth to water using a calibrated ground water level meter.

    Lower Santa Fe Basin water quality monitoring project for nitrogen in groundwater: Nitrogen concentrations have been increasing in spring water and groundwater across the Lower Santa Fe River Basin in north-central Florida since the 1980s.  In 2014, the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department solicited assistance from AquiferWatch and Florida LAKEWATCH to conduct a pilot sampling project in the Lower Santa Fe River Basin.  Several groups assisted in the project. The groups solicited well owner volunteers to participate in the project.  Once this task was completed, AquiferWatch staff visited the well owners and trained them to properly obtaining groundwater quality samples (Figure 6).


    Figure 6. AquiferWatch staff conducting well reconnaissance in the Lower Santa Fe

    River Basin prior to collection of groundwater samples for Total Nitrogen.

    In September of 2014 and May of 2015, the volunteers collected samples, and delivered the samples to drop-off location.  After drop-off, AquiferWatch delivered the samples on ice, to the LAKEWATCH laboratory for analysis. About six months after the project was completed, AquiferWatch and LAKEWATCH worked with the volunteers to re-initiate the monitoring program.  Beginning in 2016, volunteers from AquiferWatch, along with two other local entities Karst Environmental Services and Our Santa Fe River coordinate their efforts to monitor groundwater quality within the basin.  Under the guidance of AquiferWatch, local volunteers collect samples from 27 wells.  The LAKEWATCH laboratory analyzes the samples for total nitrogen.  The data are stored in the LAKEWATCH data base.  The project is on-going. Figure 7 shows the areal distribution of nitrate concentrations taken from private wells from the initial September 2014 sampling event.

    Figure 7. Distribution of Nitrate + Nitrite as N, in mg/L in wells of AquiferWatch volunteers during the September 2014 sampling event within the Lower Santa Fe River basin in Alachua, Columbia, and Gilchrist Counties, Florida.