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What is Ground Water?

 

Drawing showing how surface water infiltrates into the ground to be stored in aquifers. Groundwater is water that occurs below the Earth's surface at depths where all the pore (open) spaces in the soil, sediment, or rock are completely filled with water. All groundwater, whether from a shallow well or a deep well, originates and is replenished (recharged) by precipitation. Groundwater is part of the hydrologic cycle, originating when part of the precipitation that falls on the Earth's surface sinks (infiltrates) through the soil and percolates (seeps) downward to become groundwater. Groundwater will eventually come back to the surface, discharging to streams, springs, lakes, or the oceans, to complete the hydrologic cycle.

Groundwater is one of Florida’s most valuable natural resources. Usable quantities of potable groundwater can be obtained throughout the state, with the exception of a few places, most of which are near the coasts. About 93 percent of Florida’s population depends on groundwater for drinking water. Florida ranked fifth in the nation in the use of fresh groundwater in 1995. Because of its abundance and availability, groundwater is the principal source of freshwater for public supply and domestic (rural) and industrial uses. Of the total freshwater used in Florida in 1995, 60 percent was groundwater.

All of Florida is in the Coastal Plain physiographic province, a region of low relief underlain by unconsolidated to poorly consolidated sediments and hardened carbonate rocks. Florida is covered nearly everywhere by sands that overlie a thick sequence of limestone and dolomite. Together, the surficial sands and the limestone and dolomite form an enormous groundwater reservoir that provides more available groundwater than any other state.


The Hydrologic Cycle

The Hydrologic Cycle

 

Last updated: January 30, 2013

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