National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project

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Regional Assessment of Groundwater Quality in the
Floridan, Biscayne, and Surficial Aquifer Systems

Map of Floridan, Surfuiicial, and Biscayne aquifer systems.

The National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program of the U.S. Geological Survey is assessing water quality in the Floridan, Biscayne, and surficial aquifer systems. The Floridan aquifer system is the primary source of drinking water for nearly 10 million people. This carbonate aquifer contains numerous springs and sinkholes, which allow relatively rapid transport of water and contaminants and may enhance its vulnerability to contamination.

About 4 million people in southeastern Florida rely on public-water supplies from the Biscayne aquifer system. The Biscayne aquifer, part of the surficial aquifer system, consists of highly permeable sand and limestone sediments which make this “sole source aquifer” particularly vulnerable to contamination. The surficial aquifer system to the north of the Biscayne is also used for public supply and for domestic supplies, but to a lesser extent than the Biscayne.

Topics selected for the assessment of water quality:

  • Pesticides and VOCs in public supply wells in the Biscayne aquifer system, southeastern Florida (OFR 2004-1338)
  • Land use and human activities impact Upper Floridan aquifer and drinking water supplies in Tampa Bay region (SIR 2006-5267)
  • Comparison of nitrate, VOCs and pesticides in domestic wells by confinement and land use in the Upper Floridan aquifer (SIR 2009-5147)
  • Effects of hydrogeologic factors on the distribution of contaminants (pesticides and VOCs) in the Surficial and Upper Floridan aquifers, Northern Tampa Bay area, Florida (FS2009-3062 || SIR 2007-5139 || Groundwater v47 no. 3 || SIR 2008-5231)

Featured Publications
(View complete list)

  • Withdrawals from Floridan aquifer system increased more than 500 percent from 1950-2000 (Download report)
  • Pesticides and volatile organic compounds were detected in many public supply wells in the Biscayne aquifer, but seldom were concentrations high enough to potentially affect human health (Download report)

General Information

Informational handout about the Floridan, Biscayne, and Surficial aquifer systems study (PDF format, 1Mb)

Detailed information on the hydrogeology of the Floridan, Biscayne, and Surficial aquifer systems system can be accessed through the USGS Ground Water Atlas of the United States

Floridan and Biscayne Aquifer Systems Included in National Study of Carbonate Aquifers

Groundwater in carbonate rocks in the Floridan and Biscayne aquifer systems also are studied as part of a broader NAWQA study of most of the Nation’s carbonate aquifer systems. Findings from this study will provide useful comparisons and enhanced understanding to the current work in the Floridan and Biscayne. This national study is based on samples from more than one thousand wells or springs, including those used for monitoring, domestic purposes, and public supply. (SIR 2008-5240)

For more information, contact:
Marian Berndt, Hydrologist

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