Monday, April 10, 2017

A Vision: The Floridan Aquifer/Springs System


I had a dream right before I woke up this morning that seemed significant. I was in a learning environment, like a classroom, and the instructor (not anyone that I recognized) was writing something on a blackboard. He (I'm pretty sure it was a man) was explaining about the potentiometric pressures in the Floridan aquifer, and how when the groundwater levels fall, flows in the springs decline, and when the groundwater levels rise, the spring flows increase.

All of a sudden I was lifted high into the sky—not by anything in particular, I just found myself there—way above "birds-eye view" level, more like satellite level. I could see all of North Florida and I could see all of our over 1000 freshwater springs. I could also see into the aquifer. As I floated there, I watched the groundwater rise and fall along with the simultaneous rising and falling of the levels in the springs. It was like watching the earth breathing, but instead of breathing air, it was breathing water.

I woke up with the phrase "The Floridan Aquifer/Springs System" in my mind and I realized that so often, we deal with problems and issues that are affecting one or two individual springs, when instead the whole thing—the interconnections between aquifer, groundwater, springs and humans—is one giant ecological system.

I emailed a couple of scientists I know to double-check this insight and one has confirmed that "...you now know more than many of the people who work at the water management districts. The Floridan aquifer system, certainly at the scale of the Florida peninsula, is one continuous groundwater flow system.  The USGS has described it as such for more than half a century."

I already knew about the connections within the aquifer—how the underwater limestone caverns and conduits carry groundwater from here to there—but it is one thing to know this intellectually and it is a whole other thing to be "shown" it in what was basically a speeded-up time lapse movie.

So I'm thinking that instead of calling this "the Floridan Aquifer System" as USGS does, maybe it should be the "Floridan Aquifer/Springs System," or some even catchier name that reflects the interconnections between aquifer, groundwater, springs and humans. 

Maybe that kind of catchy name could help people to understand what happens to the springs when they use water. The same scientist who confirmed my vision likes to say that every drop of water we use is one less drop for our springs, rivers and lakes.

I wish everyone could see that "movie" that I watched in my dream.