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Overview

In an essay on springs written for the 2003 Florida Springs Conference, Al Burt said:

“Springs have a way of getting into your mind and staying there.” …

“In the opening pages of The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' wonderful book about Florida past, the boy Jody goes rambling from his home in the Big Scrub. "He went down to the spring . . . a secret and lovely place . . ." Rawlings wrote. "water bubbled up from nowhere . . .(it) cut itself a channel through white limestone and began to run rapidly downhill to make a creek. The creek joined Lake George . . . part of the St. Johns River . . . the great river flowed northward and into the sea . . . the beginning of the ocean. . . . The bubbling spring would rise forever from the earth. . . . When he was an old man, as old as his father, it would continue."

Today, Jody could not be so sure about that. If he looked at the diminishing volumes of the springs and the dry or dwindling lake beds he would have second thoughts about whether his bubbling spring would last forever.” [1]

Springs provide an emotional response and as Al Burt also stated they add “melody to the land.”

A spring is a place where groundwater flows naturally onto the land surface or into a body of surface water. Florida has one of the largest concentrations of freshwater springs on Earth. Over thirty of these are found within Lake County. These springs provide natural, recreational, and economic resources for residents and visitors. Those that are the most popular are Alexander and Silver Glen Spring.

Today we are faced with the challenge of protecting our springs from disappearing. Unfortunately some already have, such as Kissengen Spring in Polk County, which ceased flowing over 50 years ago. Many of Florida’s springs are in trouble due to nutrients entering the aquifer from fertilizers and organic wastes. The Florida Springs Task Force reported:

Elevated nitrates are a common and growing problem in Florida springs. A steady rise in nitrate levels has been observed in most Florida springs over the past thirty years or so. Nitrate, an essential plant nutrient, was once a very minor constituent of Florida spring water. Typical nitrate concentrations were less than 0.2 milligrams per liter (mg/l). Today many Florida springs discharge water that has more than 1.0 mg/l of nitrate. Springs with recharge basins that have been left in a fairly natural state have maintained low nitrate levels. The Ocala National Forest boasts several such pristine springs. . . . [An increase in Nitrates can be] catastrophic for biological systems.. [2]

Most of our springs discharge water from the Floridan aquifer, the same aquifer that we depend on for our drinking water. This water is provided by rain falling in the springshed, percolating slowly through the soil and recharging the deep limestone the aquifer. This is the same aquifer that supplies water for residential and commercial lawns and landscaping, agriculture and industry. The excessive withdrawal of groundwater to satisfy a myriad of human needs and wants has resulted in a significant drop in the level of the aquifer within Central Florida, and consequently a decline in water volume from area springs.

As our population increases, we consume more water and produce more wastes. The impacts of human activities include declines in groundwater levels and quality, reduction in spring flow, and harm to native wetlands plants and animals.

As the clear cool water flows from a spring it generally forms a shimmering pool. The spring may have multiple vents or sand boils in the pool or run adding to the flow. From the pool the spring run forms and the water begins it trek to the sea.

The draw to this “mysterious, pristine water issuing from caves and sand boils [is] unmistakable. Visit any spring during the muggy months and you will find people of all ages partaking of Nature's soothing remedy - spring water! Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the granddame of Florida environmentalists, stated that ‘Springs are bowls of liquid light.’" [3]

Water flowing from our springs supplies lakes, rivers and streams and provides habitat for fish and wildlife, including unique species invertebrates found nowhere else in the world.

With the population explosion in Lake County there has been an increase in water use and extensive land use changes. Many individuals, organizations, and agencies are concerned with the increased demands upon and threats to our water resources. As a result, Lake County and various agencies have initiated programs to monitor and assess our surface and ground water resources, including springs. The spring’s portion of this monitoring program includes the regular collection of water samples and flow measurements from area springs. The larger and less remote springs are sampled on a regular schedule while those springs located in remote or difficult areas to reach are visited as often as resources allow. The data collected is pooled with results from other agency’s to increase our understanding of the hydrogeologic, climatic, and human factors that affect water resources.

Protection

The Florida Springs Task Force determined that the mounting challenges of accommodating Florida’s rapid population growth demand effective tactics to protect our world-renowned springs. The Task Force proposed strategies and action steps for protecting the uniqueness and quality of our spring systems in its 2000 publication, Florida’s Springs, Strategies for Protection & Restoration. Strategies were organized into five functional groups: Outreach, Information, Management, Regulation, and Funding. The Lake County Water Atlas incorporates the first three of these into our spring’s pages.

Geologic Characteristcs

The St. Johns River Water Management District has prepared an excellent summary explaining how springs are formed and their general characteristics. This can be found at: http://www.sjrwmd.com/springs/characteristics.html

Organization of Spring Information

In this Atlas, the reader will find information on each spring in Lake County, including its Location, Photographs, Description, Utilization and Contact Information. If the spring is available for public use, additional contact information is provided. However, for the springs located on private property, contact information has been not provided in order to discourage trespassing. Where available, both historic and recent photographs are provided. We also solicit your photos of our water bodies.) All available sampling results including discharge (flow) measurements and water quality analysis are also available.

Spring Magnitude or Flow

Most of the springs in Lake County’s have a relatively low flow. Spring flow is classified [4] by magnitude (from 1 to 8) on the basis of their volume of flow, or discharge of water. A first magnitude spring has the highest rate of flow. Spring flow can change depending on climate, pumping and hydrogeology. A spring classified as a certain magnitude at one time may not continue to flow at that rate at other times. As a result, it was recently decided that the magnitude of a spring is to be based on a weighted median value of all discharge measurements for the period of record. A “historic magnitude” is also recognized for certain springs where that information has been published in the past.

Magnitude English Units
1 ≥ 100 cfs (≥ 64.6 mgd)
2 ≥ 10 to100 cfs (≥ 6.46 to 64.6 mgd)
3 ≥ 1 to 10 cfs (≥ 0.646 to 6.46 mgd)
4 ≥ 100 gpm to 1 cfs (≥ 100 to 448gpm)
5 ≥ 10 to 100 gpm
6 ≥ 1 to 10 gpm
7 ≥ 1 pint/min to 1 gpm
8 < 1 pint/min
cfs = cubic feet per second
mgd = million gallons per day
gpm = gallons per minute
pint/min = pints per minute

Spring Terminology

The terminology for springs has been standardized, and a glossary [5] is provided in the Atlas’ Digital Library. There are a number of spring types found in Lake County. Both “spring,” “seeps” and “sand boil” are terms used to describe springs. Depending on the source of water a spring may also be described an artesian spring or a seep. Larger springs draw their flow under artesian pressure from the limestones of the Floridan aquifer. Some of these springs have multiple outlets or vents that bring water to the surface. A smaller spring that does not have sufficient flow to force sand completely from its vent is called a sand boil.

A seep or surfical spring is found on the side of a hill or slope. The water source is not the Floridan aquifer but rather the soil above the point of discharge.

Water Types

In some cases, the ground water exiting from multiple vents in the same spring may originate from different zones in the Floridan aquifer. One vent may exhibit a different water chemistry than another vent. That is some vents may produce water indicative of ancient sea water while others may produce water indicating a nearby surface source. These differences are sometime referred to as water types. Water type can be determined from the chemical content of a sample; however, determining the physical origin of water that emerges from a spring is difficult.

Age of Groundwater

The average age of ground water flowing from a spring can be estimated by analyzing radioactive-isotopes found in the water. This measurement only provides an average age of the water as there may be mixing of multiple underground sources. Younger age water may indicate that the source of the water is close to the spring.

Spring Recharge Basin or Springshed

A spring recharge basin, or springshed, consists of "those areas within ground- and surface-water basins that contribute to the discharge of the spring" (DeHan, 2002; Copeland, 2003). The spring recharge basin consists of all areas where water can be shown to contribute to the ground-water flow system that discharges from the spring of interest. Because karst systems frequently include sinking streams that transmit surface water directly to the aquifer, the recharge basin may include surface-water drainage basins that bring water into the spring drainage from outside of the ground-water basin. This concept is important because contaminated surface water may be introduced to the springshed from sources well outside of the ground-water basin by streams that originate outside the basin. [6]

Factors affecting quality and quantity of spring water include the distribution of karst features within a springshed, thickness of confining units, soil characteristics, topography, potentiometric surfaces, land use, as well as others. The amount of water and the nature and concentrations of chemical constituents that discharge from a spring are functions of the geology, hydrology, and land uses within the ground- and surface-water drainage basins that collect water for discharge from the spring. [7]

The boundaries of a spring recharge basin can vary with time. That is, the boundary represents of a “snapshot” in time, rather than a permanent delineation. This is a result of a changing potentiometric surface, or ground water level, in the Floridan aquifer. (The potentiometric surface is a measurement of the level that water will rise to in a well drilled into an aquifer.) Note that a spring recharge basin is not defined by chemical or other physical characteristics of spring discharge.

A generalized springshed map has been produced by the St Johns River Water Management District to describe the recharge area contributing to springs within the Wekiva River System. This area occupies much of east and southeast Lake County, including parts of Mt Dora, Eustis, and Mt Plymouth-Sorrento. Even portions of Clermont and the Green Swamp are located within this springshed. A mapping of the springsheds for all of Lake County’s springs is planned over the next several years.

Aquifer Vulnerability Maps

The springs are a reflection of the water quality in the aquifer that supplies them. All aquifer systems in Florida are vulnerable to contamination. This is not only attributable to Florida’s hydrogeologic setting but also to human modifications of the natural system. The Florida Geological Survey (FGS) has developed a methology using geographic information systems to analyze the factors that indicate the relative vulnerability of both the surficial and Floridan aquifers and to predict the vulnerability of major aquifer systems to contamination. The FGS has produced an Wekiva Aquifer Vulnerability Assessment (WAVA) Map for the Wekiva Study Area located in portions of Lake, Orange and Seminole Counties. (This map can be found in the Atlas’ Digital Library.) The WAVA vulnerability map can be used to develop measures designed to protect the Floridan Aquifer System, which provides flow to most of our springs. It can also be be applied to a variety of environmental management, protection and conservation activities, including:

  • Wellhead protection
  • Source-water protection
  • Recharge protection
  • Vulnerability indices
  • Contaminant-specific maps
  • Land conservation acquisition
  • Total maximum daily loads (TMDLs)
  • Surface-water/ground-water interactions
  • Water-quality management tool
  • Resource planning strategies and policies
  • Prioritization of areas of critical concern
  • Design of monitoring plans
  • Best Management Practices


It is planned to map the remainder of Lake County in the future.




[1] Al Burt, An Essay on Florida Springs, 2003

[2] The Florida Springs Task Force, Strategies for Protection & Restoration, 2000.

[3] Florida Geological Survey Bulletin No. 66, Springs of Florida, 2004

[4] Florida Springs Nomenclature Committee (FSNC); Florida Geological Survey Special Publication 52, revised December, 2005

[5] Florida Springs Nomenclature Committee (FSNC); Florida Geological Survey Special Publication 52, revised December, 2005

[6] Florida Geological Survey Bulletin No. 66, Springs of Florida, 2004

[7] Florida Geological Survey Bulletin No. 66, Springs of Florida, 2004

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Contact Us

For more information about springs please contact:

Ben Garcia

Lake County Water Authority

107 N Lake Ave

Tavares, Florda 32278

Email: beng@lcwa.org

Phone: (352) 343-3777 Ext. 27