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Environmental Health - Programs - Water Programs


Man drinking a glass of water


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Florida geology makes groundwater especially susceptible to chemical pollutants and disease- causing organisms. Groundwater flows through underground streams called aquifers. If the water flows through loose soil, sand, or gravel it is an unconfined aquifer. If the water flows between relatively impervious layers of clay or lime rock it is a confined aquifer.

Shallow wells are typically set into unconfined sand and gravel aquifers. These offer very little protection from the migration of chemicals and microorganisms. Deep wells that are installed through confining layers offer better protection, but contaminants may eventually find their way through small fissures and cracks in clay or limestone.

Sinkholes and improperly abandoned wells offer direct pipelines for contaminants into deep aquifers. The best protection is to be aware of and eliminate direct sources of contamination. Required setback distances have been established to reduce potential for contamination to potable water wells. But potable water system owners should also test their drinking water at least annually and any time there is a noticeable change in water quality.

Construction of drinking water supply wells is regulated by Chapter 62-532 of the Florida Administrative Code, adopted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The rule is typically implemented by the five water management districts that issue the well construction permits.

The source of freshwater in Volusia County is obtained from the Floridan Aquifer which underlies the State of Florida, parts of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. It is considered one of the most productive aquifers in the world.

Volusia County is in a unique situation concerning this aquifer. Due to subsurface geology, reservoir properties and water recharge conditions, non-potable saltwater occupies the aquifer below the outer limits of the county. This includes the Atlantic Ocean to the east, relic seawater in the St Johns River valley to the west and south, and structure, reservoir and recharge conditions to the north. The Floridan Aquifer beneath Volusia County is, therefore, comparable to a freshwater bubble surrounded by saltwater. The thickness of the freshwater at the interior of the county is approximately 1,200 ft. and the thickness of freshwater around the edges of the county is 0 ft.

The mission of the Groundwater Program is to protect this freshwater resource from pollution and overuse. Citizens can help protect our valuable groundwater supply through good water conservation practices both inside and outside the home. There is also an obligation to prevent pollution to the groundwater supply. Working together, we can protect our aquifer by strongly practicing and encouraging water conservation measures. 

Page last updated: 07/9/13