Groundwater and Springs

Poe Springs

Springs are windows into the aquifer, which supplies our drinking water. They are also a great reminder that our water resources are all connected. Many creeks go into the aquifer via sinkholes, mix with groundwater, and later emerge at springs and rivers. W​etlands filter water that will end up in the aquifer and help protect springs and our drinking water.

Water quality, clarity, and levels have been decreasing in many of our springs. Important factors to protecting springs include reducing both nutrient loading and water use. Excess nutrients often come from fertilizers (residential and agricultural), septic systems, and wastewater treatment plants. This, coupled with reductions in flow, can trigger unhealthy algal blooms in waterways.

We are all responsible for protecting groundwater and springs, even if you don't live near a spring. Water that soaks into the ground may travel through underground caves and small pore spaces to springs miles away. We may be contributing to the lower water levels at nearby springs when we use water to irrigate our lawns, wash our clothes and dishes, etc. This is referred to as the springshed concept.

Check out one of our local springs: Poe Springs!.


W​hat Are We Doing?

To protect springs, it is essential to protect groundwater. Alachua County has adopted and implemented several ordinances (fertilizer, irrigation, stormwater, etc.) designed to protect our groundwater. ACEPD collects water quality samples from a handful of private drinking water wells quarterly to monitor trends in our region. We currently have grant funds to monitor and restore submerged aquatic vegetation in Poe Springs and in the Santa Fe River. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection awarded ACEPD funds for restoration efforts in Hornsby Spring including an examination of oxygen levels, removal of algae, and re-vegetation. The Suwannee River Water Management District has funded upgrades to the septic system at Poe Springs Park to reduce nutrient pollution.

Check out our monitoring page for data!


Aquifer Awareness

Aquifer Awareness

Local survey results suggest less than 50% of participants know that the aquifer is the water source for our springs and for our human water needs. Without knowledge of the human connection to the aquifer, springs, and rivers, people may not understand how personal water habits can influence these systems. In an effort to raise public awareness about where our water comes from and to motivate water conservation in the community, Alachua County has created a grant funded Aquifer Awareness campaign with images and messaging found on billboards, buses, print media, and social media.

Click to view reports and maps on our various efforts over the years.


What Can You Do?

  • Discontinue the use of fertilizers and irrigation
  • Plant native trees and bushes instead of lawns
  • Conserve water by mulching plants (get some free mulch from Alachua County Solid Waste!)
  • Maintain your septic system or upgrade to a nutrient reducing system
  • Re-use stormwater by using rain barrels, rain gardens, or other low-impact development (LID)​ techniques
  • Support the acquisition of conservation lands
  • Check out this Springs Protection Brochure or Springs Friendly Landscaping Checklistfor more ideas
  • Get involved with the Santa Fe Springs Protection Forums (see below)​

Santa Fe Springs Protection Forums

Ginnie Springs

ACEPD coordinates quarterly meetings where concerned citizens, government officials, and professionals discuss the issues and solutions to protecting our local springs.

Click to see presentations and agendas.


Sinkholes

Mill Sink

Sinkholes can introduce untreated stormwater and pollution to ou​r groundwater. Visit our reports page to learn about the 2005 Mill Creek and Lee Sinks dye tracer study. Report newly observed sinkholes to Natural Resources staff (325-264-6800) or fill out this form.


Well Permits

If you are planning on installing a well and/or a septic tank system, you must obtain a well and septic permit from the Alachua County Health Department. There are different guidelines for drilling a well in Alachua County depending on which water management district you are in; please contact the appropriate district. A well registration form must be submitted to Alachua County. 


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