The Amy H Remley Foundation  

Protecting Springs

The following files are located on the Foundation server and may be accessed directly using Adobe Reader, simply select and click the appropriate file.

  • Ground water flows – a case study to examine tributary flows within the aquifer to see where pollutant sources may enter Spring outflows.
  • Research Paper: Preferential Groundwater Flow Pathways and Hydroperiod Alterations Indicated by Georectified Lineaments and Sinkholes at Proposed Karst Nuclear Power Plant and Mine Sites; Journal of Sustainable Development; Vol. 5, No. 12; 2012
  • Research Paper: Naturecoast Water Systems, June, 2011.
  • Extracts from Florida Geological Survey Bulletin 69 by Rick Copeland et al 2010.
  • Research Paper re. FPSC Annual Review of Docket NO. 080148-EI. (Environmental impact of power generation).
  • Protecting Florida's Springs – a document published in 2002 as a guide to Land Use Strategies and Best Management Practices for Counties and Municipalities.
  • A Guidebook of Springs Protection – a document published in 2008 with fewer graphics than that in 2002 but having a valuable Legal Appendix.
  • Phosphorus – Nitrogen Bonds by Reduction – Morello, 2005, Department of Chemistry, The University of British Columbia.
  • Dioxin! What citizens, workers and policymakers should know. Interview with Dr Linda Birnbaum on April 19, 2004.

Selected pages from these documents may be accessed using links embedded within the following text.

Aquifer Groundwater Flows

A proportion of surface water is continually evaporated and transpired back into the atmosphere, part runs off as streams or collects in basins as ponds or lakes, part permeates under ground to enter voids in rocks to flow downhill eventually to the sea. Water contained in the voids in the rocks is subsurface water and that which completely saturates the rock is groundwater. If the top surface of the groundwater is free to fluctuate upwards and downwards the water is under water–table conditions. If the groundwater surface is overlain by a formation that contains few voids, or poorly connected voids or small enough voids to restrict the flow of water, the water is confined and under artesian conditions. (Dr. Robert O. Vernon writing in his 1951 report published as Florida Geological Survey – Bulletin 33)

In that report, (on page 43) he also writes, "Limestone is as a rule jointed vertically and bedded horizontally and openings along these joints (vertical)and beds (horizontal) provide easy avenues of travel for water. The ultimate source of all Florida's ground water is from the rain and precipitates from the atmosphere. As the rain water falls through the air it becomes charged with carbon dioxide gas that combines with water to form carbonic acid. On the ground humic acid from rotting vegetation is added. These are the common solvents of limestone... As it moves through pores and open spaces in the limestone it acts as a slow solvent to increase the size of the openings and to connect them to form a continuous system of channels. As these channels are expanded by solution, cave systems are developed horizontally and one system may lie over another and may be connected by vertical tubes and rooms."

Dr Vernon emphasizes (on page 240); "since all fresh water in Citrus county is derived directly from atmospheric precipitation falling locally and on adjacent counties, conservation of groundwater resources requires that water consumed does not exceed that which is readily available from streams, lakes and wells and that this usage be small enough to maintain normal storage of waters on the surface and in the ground. Otherwise, lake levels lower, and well and stream flows decrease".

Artesian water flows

Also referred to as Piezometric or Potentiometric flows, Artesian waters in a confined or partially confined aquifer flow from place to place underground according to the differences in artesian pressure from areas of higher pressure to those of lower pressure. (Analogous to water flowing "down hill".)

Dr Vernon in the Bulletin 33, describes water added to the aquifer from rainfall and leaving it as it is pumped out or runs down to the sea. Artesian aquifer waters of Citrus county are derived from rain falling on the county and others as far away as Baker and Polk, some 100 or 75 miles distant. Travel times over such distances are long indeed.

In (Page 4) Bulletin 33, Figure 40, Dr Vernon depicts artesian water flows of Florida. Constructed by measuring water levels in wells penetrating into the aquifer, referring the measurements to sea level and locating the wells on a map of Florida to illustrate the imaginary surface formed by joining points of equal pressure with smooth lines called contours. The direction of artesian flow is perpendicular to the contours, from areas where the artesian surface pressure is higher to areas of lower pressure. Areas where water is being added to the aquifer are referred to as recharge areas, and relatively low contours are referred to as discharge areas where water leaves the aquifer by leakage, pumping, springs or wells. The FDEP database records the Kings Bay springs (page 7) recharge basin resulting from these flow patterns.

Fracture conduit water flows

Within the pattern of artesian water flows in an aquifer system, geologic structures influence the direction and pace of flow. Dr Vernon is joined by Dr Glen L. Faulkner, writing twenty two years after Dr Vernon in the U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY Resources Investigations Report, I–73, in which he relates that he and others have observed that most caverns and solution channels in the limestone are oriented along near–vertical fractures having trends of fracture systems mapped at the surface. The logical inference is that water moving through the aquifer under artesian influences tends to follow the line of least resistance or greatest permeability, which in this case is along the fractures. In general, the greatest solution of limestone at shallow depths below the water table takes place where the greatest amount of water moves through. Thus cavities are developed as the walls of fractures are dissolved away by recently recharged ground water with a high carbon dioxide (CO2) content.

Thus two factors contribute to the routes taken by groundwater flows. First, are the general patterns of artesian flows, and second, the concentration of such flows and modification to their route when they join flowing ground waters in fracture conduits. An essential difference between the two is that patterns of artesian flow may vary with season and periods of drought or plenty, as aquifer head levels change sufficiently to open or close available channels through the rock. On the other hand, fracture conduits which have existed millions of years do not change their position. They only enlarge with the passage of time so long as acid charged waters flow into them, or accumulate sediments or material particles over time which affect the permeability and rates of flow in the conduits. Rates of conduit flow may change as material is added to the conduit from waters flowing into it along the path of the conduit.

Karst Terrain

The carbonate rock formations encountered by Dr Vernon and Dr Faulkner exhibit characteristic karst surface features. These include the surface water as streams, ponds, and lakeland areas, wetlands, sinkholes formed by cave collapse near the surface, solution pipes created by upward artesian pressures to form springs or seeps at the ground or sub aquatic surface, and cave systems – both those which are dry and containing water.

Tidally Influenced Springs

Springs situated in areas of tidal flows often exhibit reverse flow within their spring conduit. Normally the spring conduit delivers groundwater to be discharged from spring vents at the surface. However, when the spring vents are situated within the bounds of a surface water body which is influenced by tidal flows as are many of the springs described in the Vanasse Hangen Brustin, Inc, May 2009, report, "An Inventory of Spring Vents In Kings Bay, Crystal River, Florida", reverse flow in the conduit can become evident.

When the hydro static pressure of the tidal water (a function of its depth) at the spring vent approaches that of the groundwater trying to discharge from the vent, discharge from the spring conduit ceases. Surface boils in the spring basin diminish. As the hydrostatic pressure of the tidal water rises as the tide comes further in to exceed that of the spring conduit flow the tidal water penetrates into the spring conduit and builds to a reversal of flow in the spring conduit.

This phenomena was demonstrated at Black Spring on Sunday 4 November 2013. The previous Friday a contractor's road sweeper vehicle raised a cloud of fine dust reaching thirty to forty feet into the air. A wind gust blew the dust cloud over the spring basin and deposited it into the water in Black Spring Cove, rendering water in the spring basin very turbid and discolored. At about 8 AM on Sunday, at half tide, no boils were observable from the spring vents in the discolored water. Some time later the turbid discolored area diminished in size as the tide continued to rise and the discolored water flowed into the spring conduit in the reversed flow (see Tidal Spring 1).

Later, the discolored water was seen to move away from the spring basin until the outflow from the spring conduit accumulated more intensely turbid and discolored water adjacent to the limestone outcrop from where the spring vents emerge (see Tidal Spring 2). Indicating the concentration of turbidity in the spring conduit seeping back into the spring basin from the spring conduit.

Eventually, after some two hours when the tidal flow into the Cove reversed, the more intensely discolored water issuing from the spring conduit was replaced by clearer water flowing from the spring conduit (see Tidal Spring 3). At about out-going half tide the water in the spring basin had cleared and surface boils had resumed. Several fish were observed in the clear water of the spring basin (smaller and medium sized bass and a snapper).

Obviously, this phenomenon reduces the time and the volume of water issued from the spring in a given time period.

Tidal Spring 1 Tidal Spring 2 Tidal Spring 3
Tidal Spring 1 Tidal Spring 2 Tidal Spring 3

Click here to see also the report, The Citrus County Aquifer Vulnerability Assessment

Porosity and Permeability

Porosity is the percentage ratio of the volume of void spaces to the total volume of material in a given space. It represents the relative storage capacity of that space. Permeability is a measure of the ease with which fluids will flow though such a space where the voids are interconnected to allow fluid to flow.

Dr Vernon explained the formation of holes in limestone rock formations, which have the capacity to store groundwater and, as the holes (both small and large) are interconnected, to facilitate artesian flows. Flow rates are conditioned by material occupying the rock voids together with the water, and thus flow rate is a function of porosity and permeability both for groundwater artesian flows and flows in fracture conduits.

Rock fractures significantly affect rates and direction of groundwater flows, as Dr Faulkner has emphasized. Fractures may be completely void, both small and extremely large spaces, and have accumulations of material in them. Fractures may collect a variety of material into the fracture space as artesian flows join along the whole length of the fracture, or a number of associated fracture paths. Rates of flow in fracture conduits vary according to porosity and permeability. The composition of the material accompanying water in the rock or fracture voids affect rate of flow through the rock or fracture space. The shapes, sizes, and degree to which granular materials are packed together affect both porosity and permeability properties in rock formations and fractures. In addition, of course, the intrinsic fluid viscosity and pressure also influence the rates of flow.

Ground/Surface water balance

Dr Vernon discussed the relationship between groundwater under artesian conditions (Floridan aquifer) and water under water table conditions (surficial aquifer). He and Dr Faulkner also discussed how waters fed from underground flows appear at the surface. Surface waters become streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands which have flow paths conditioned by topography rather than the artesian pressures and fracture conduits. Surface waters are exposed to interaction with the atmosphere and saltwater tides. Lake evaporation rates locally in Citrus County average some four feet per year into the atmosphere. In addition, trees and plants transpire water to the atmosphere at modest rates.

A Climatic Water Budget can be derived to illustrate the balance at the surface represented by: PRECIPTATION (from the atmosphere) EQUALS (EVAPORATION + TRANSPIRATION – WATER SHORTAGE (historical)) + SURPLUS(moisture) + STORAGE_DELTA (soil water change). Such budget information is used to indicate water deficiency, water surplus, soil water recharge, and soil moisture utilization. Utilization is a measure of the amount of water percolating into the ground minus any amount taken up by plants and used or transpired, which recharges the aquifer ground water supply.

This water balance is a vital component of environmental health, impacting local and global climate and weather, agriculture and livestock, marine and fresh water fisheries and recreational quality of life. It is radically influenced by man's creation of impervious areas for roads, parking, buildings, the cutting of forests and building heat generating power plants, which diminish waters fed back into the atmosphere by up to one tenth, reduce ground infiltration by up to three tenths and increase run off by at least four times – gathering a rich supply of pollutants on its way before eventual release into aquifer waters.

Photo Lineaments

It makes sense to understand where the waters travel in underground flow paths, before they are discharged (together with their collected pollutants) from springs and seeps into surface waters, or are tapped by wells for domestic water supply. Various methods are employed to detect and record the surface indications of happenings underground, ranging from aerial survey analysis, to dye tracing and analytical water sampling to reveal common sources of water.

Activities underground show on the surface. Over time linear depressions in the ground surface may form. Changes in color and density of foliage may be observed in linear pattern and even soil changes may be seen. In the past aerial surveys using black and white, color and infra–red stereo pair photography have been made. More recently laser and radar techniques have been employed.

A product of aerial surveying is the plotting and analysis of photo lineaments which represent "aligned solution depressions, surface ponds, vegetation, and variations in soil tone. Doline (sinkhole) development can be expected to follow orientation of photolinears, as these represent areas of higher permeability and porosity".(Trainer and Ellison, 1967, Parizek, 1975). The Foundation conducted research to seek out such photo lineament data after learning that springshed patterns in a project scheduled in a 1966 – 2004 SWIM Technical Summary report could not be completed for lack of funds.

A photograph of a mylar sheet of lineaments for the whole of Florida was obtained, from the Remote Sensing Section, State Topographic Office, Florida Department of Transportation showing lineaments for the whole of Florida derived from aerial surveys conducted in 1972 and 1973. Several weeks later a 30 x 30 inches (approx) of the actual mylar was obtained from a state archive complete with a set of registration marks. Later, a mosaic of sixteen (16) multispectral images taken by the NASA/GE Earth Resources Technology Satellite from an altitude of 570 miles, taken between Oct'.72 and Apr.'73, was also obtained bearing identical registration marks to those on the mylar.

Both the mylar and the mosaic were scanned and aligned with each other in computer memory. A procedure was devised to compute latitude and longitude of the registration points and lineaments for a selected area. A region encompassing Citrus county and part of Levy county was prepared and checked for accuracy. The lineament latitude and longitude data were entered to a database of Google Earth. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection database of sinkholes was incorporated into the same Google Earth database. Lastly, Latitude and longitude data of spring vents, for Kings Bay and adjacent areas were then added supplied by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, derived from an Inventory of Spring Vents published in May, 2009.

Groundtruthing to a remarkable level of consistency was observed with sink hole and spring vent data, together with GPS data of two caves in the Withlacoochee State Forest coincident with lineament traces.

Selecting lineaments having multiple sinkholes and spring vents co–located upon them strongly suggested the presence of active fracture set conduits arranged as (page 9) two underground tributaries serving Crystal River/Kings Bay, which deserve the most stringent application of land use strategies and best management practices to contain the risks of (page 11) degrading water quality of that Outstanding Florida Water.

This pattern of lineaments indicates how the two water sources discharging into the south–west and north–east portions of the bay could help explain the different levels of specific conductance readings (saltiness) which are lowest from the group of vents in the north–east sector of Kings Bay, and highest from those vents to the south–west sector of the bay. Graduating readings for vents in between, together with the USGS Open File Report 96–230, (1996), Hammett, K.M., et al, which observes that surface waters do not intermingle between the north–east and south–west portions of the bay, indicates underground mixing taking place within the confluence underground of the tributary flows.

Land Use Strategies and Best Management Practices

Florida's springs are not only a unique and beautiful resource, but also serve the important function providing a "window" into a valuable resource – the ground water in the Floridan aquifer system. Over 90% of the State's drinking water comes from this source. Use of the waters of Crystal River/Kings Bay are a valuable resource to the local economy protected by law and not to be degraded.

Protecting Florida's springs means ensuring that water entering the aquifer is free from pollutants. It also means ensuring that adequate levels of water can recharge the aquifer. Because our drinking water comes from the same aquifer that supplies water to the springs, the quality and quantity of water in the springs indicates the quality and quantity of our drinking water. There is a significant body of research about the aquifer and Florida's springs. The Implementation Guidebook contains an explanation of the scientific basis for protecting springs and provides an overview of this research as a basis for amending local comprehensive plans to ensure protection of springs. Understanding the basis for protection leads to identifying best management practices that ensure protection.

Best management practices are actions that local governments can take to eliminate or reduce adverse impacts upon the aquifer and springs. They include good policies for the local comprehensive plan. The policies in the Implementation Guidebook recommend limiting intensive land uses as well as those land uses associated with potential negative impacts to the aquifer. The policies also suggest standards for the location and design of development and management of stormwater and wastewater. Best management practices are recommended in the guidebook as regulatory tools to implement the provisions of the comprehensive plan. The regulatory tools provide the details for the design of development projects, limitations on impervious surfaces, protection of open space, the design and management of stormwater facilities, and the design and management of wastewater. While the document presents best practices, which may be used by the public and private sectors, it does not constitute rule or regulation and is advisory only.

As a matter of municipal policy, the tributaries to Crystal River should each be protected by an Overlay Protection District requiring any development to be permitted only within the framework of a certified Geotechnical Study conducted at the expense of the developer and accepted by the municipality. Within a delineated primary protection zone permitted land uses should be confined to preservation, conservation, recreation and open space, long crop rotation silviculture or low intensity unimproved range land. In the delineated secondary protection zone moderate densities and intensities prevail appropriate to silviculture, rangeland, and low density rural residential. High density activities as to big box stores and office blocks with extensive car parking are forbidden in primary and secondary protection zones, eliminating large impervious areas, mining, industry and commerce activity.

Legal framework

Notwithstanding that "Waters" are defined whether or not flowing underground through pores or conduits, (Sections 62–520,200(21) FAC.), the following interpretations have been given by FDEP by (page 12) e–mail exchange with the Foundation and aver that state law does not recognize underground tributaries (Only federal law does that under the (page 12) Clean Water Act, 1972).

  1. Classification of a surface water as an Outstanding Florida Water does not extend that classification to adjacent groundwater. Florida law treats surface water and groundwater as two separate things even when groundwater flows directly into a surface water.
  2. Wetlands whose only connection to other state waters is via groundwater flow are considered "isolated", as state law does not recognize such connections.

The Appendix A2 to the Guidebook has an extensive legal exposition on (page 117) LEGAL FOUNDATION FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF SPRINGS PROTECTION.

News and Views
News Items

November 30, 2013
On environment, shortsightedness costs Florida big.
Scott Maxwell, Taking Names.
read more

October 9, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2013.
read more

September 25, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Potential for Fuel Cell Prime Power in Japan.
read more

August 1, 2013
Duke Energy to cancel proposed Levy County nuclear plant.
read more

May 22, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
Electrolysers for Renewable Energy Efficiency.
read more

March 13, 2013
Beyond Electricity: Using Renewables Effectively.
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September 24, 2012
Sewer Systems Legal Filing.
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February 1, 2012
Fuel Cell Today update.
read more

January 13, 2012
Sewer Agenda.
read more

December 23, 2011
Scientist: Water account overdrawn.
read more

Novemver 14, 2011
Submission to the Citrus County Commissioner, 14 November, 2011.
read more