Florida's Aquifers (Vanishing Wetlands Part 2)

Real Estate Agent with Florida Property Experts

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It's no secret that the mass production of new real estate developments has added to the well-known problem of Florida's clean water shortage. Last week I wrote my first post in this series. In that post I mentioned how much I love all the little critters that live here in Central Florida, and showed pictures of some. Of course, I'm a 3rd generation Florida native. I'm one of the few people who can truly appreciate Florida's unique wildlife.

In the comments on my previous post, it was mentioned that excessive real estate construction was to blame for Florida's water problems, so who am I to address this issue. Well, let me pose this question to you. What do you do when so many people want to move to Florida? Consider this. If the houses are not built to accommodate the demand, the real estate values will go so high that only the wealthiest people will be able to afford Florida real estate. Many Florida cities rely on the tourist industry and as such, they pay low wages to the people who work in the service industry. If only the wealthy could afford to live here, where would the service people be expected to live? As it stands right now, after our 2002-2005 real estate boom, there are many Daytona Beach residents who cannot find affordable housing in a safe neighborhood. So new housing developments of all sizes and values were built to florida aquiferaccommodate the demand.

It could be argued that the real estate construction of the past few years was absolutely necessary. Although it is my personal opinion that greed entered the picture and the developers got carried away. There is proof of that in the number of new developments where construction has come to a halt, while the contractors and subcontractors have not been paid and are going out of business.

But much of the real answer is found in going green. And I can tell you, if it weren't for the posts I've read by other bloggers, I would know nothing about going "green". That's how rare the knowledge of going green is here in the Daytona Beach area; which is preposterous considering the desperation of Central Florida's water problems. Central Florida's water concerns are now on the verge of becoming a crisis, where the Floridan aquifer is only years away from reaching it's maximum sustainable capacity. 

The good news is, in Orlando, which is just 50 miles to the southwest of the Daytona Beach area, Vision House Orlando is demonstrating water conservation principles in their green homes. That should put some pressure on Daytona area builders in the very near future. 

Now for some more alarming information about Florida's wetlands and aquifers... cattails

As a child, I can remember seeing "cattails" (aka bullrushes) growing in the marshy ditches along the sides of the interstates. My brothers and I were so fascinated by these strange plants that held fluffy, white fur inside what looked like a giant cigar. But you won't see them so easily anymore, since Florida's water table is so low that these roadside ditches no longer hold water long enough for these delightful plants to grow.  And so stands the predicament of Florida's wetlands.

You may be reading this and thinking "So what?" Well, for those who are unaware, wetlands (swamps and marshes) are part of Florida's natural environment. They are like transition zones between higher ground and deeper aquatic habitats. There are many different types of Florida wetlands that house a multitude of plant and animal species, each of them being unique, according to their surroundings. These wetlands help to filter out the pollutants that endanger our lakeecosystem and underground aquifers. Unfortunately, our wetlands and aquifers are now filled with pesticides and sewage!

But the problem gets bigger. Nearly 100% of the water used by Floridians comes from underground aquifers. There are several of these aquifers found at varying depths underground. But the largest and most productive for all but the southern part of the state, (where salt water intrudes) is the Floridan aquifer. This is the deepest and largest of all of our aquifers, covering about 10,000 square miles and extending beneath Alabama, southern Georgia, southern South Carolina and ALL of Florida. This aquifer produces water for 600 natural springs.

In my research, I found a long list of contaminants that have been found in Florida's aquifers and in drinking water (when standardized purification has been compromised, or when water is being consumed from non-purified sources). These contaminants are both naturally occurring, and of human impact. I'm going to finalize this post with this list, bearing in mind that this list is NOT complete.

  • Antimony: used in flame retardants, ceramics, glass, batteries, fireworks and explosives; has been found to alter blood levels of cholesterol and glucose.
  • Asbestos: from corroded pipes in the water distribution system, as well as from dumping from the textile industry; has been found to cause lung tumors and gastrointestinal tract cancer.
  • Barium: used in oil and gas drilling muds, automotive paints, bricks, tiles and jet fuels; has been associated with damage to the bones and lungs and induction of cancer.
  • Cadmium: (inorganic metal) from the corrosion of galvanized pipes or by improper waste disposal; has been shown to cause kidney damage.
  • Chromium: inorganic metal; has been shown to damage the kidneys, nervous system, the circulatory system, and cause respiratory problems and dermatitis.
  • Cyanide: used in electroplating, steel processing, plastics, synthetic fabrics and fertilizer products; has been found to cause damage to the spleen, brain and liver.
  • Fluoride: Only damaging when levels are in excess of 4.0 mg/L in drinking water. Is beneficial in developing teeth.
  • Mercury: used in electrical equipment and some water pumps and enters our water through improper waste disposal; can cause kidney damage.
  • Nickel: used in electroplating, stainless steel and alloy products; has been shown to damage the heart and liver.
  • Selenium: used in electronics, photocopying, glass manufacturing, chemicals, drugs, fungicides, and a feed additive; high levels can cause a loss of feeling and control in the arms and legs.
  • Sodium: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has set drinking water standards to 160.0 parts per million (ppm) for those who are sodium sensitive.waterfall
  • Thallium: used in electronics, pharmaceuticals, the manufacture of glass and alloys; has been found to cause damage to the kidneys, liver, brain and intestines.
  • Nitrate: used in fertilizer and is found in sewage and wastes from human and/or farm animals; high levels can cause death in infants under 6 months of age. Can also interfere with the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood in children. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue color of skin.
  • Nitrite: used in fertilizers and is found in sewage and wastes from humans and/or farm animals. Has not been found in excessive levels of drinking water, but can cause the same symptoms as Nitrate.

Other chemicals that have been found in Florida's aquifer include plant foods, weed killers, pesticides, gasoline, industrial waste, and sewage. 

I also found this recent ALERT as of December 31, 2007, regarding Florida's drinking water. 

Let's all help keep Florida's water clean. Educate yourself on going green. By this, I mean to explore both the short and long-term results of any changes you make in your home and routines. And most importantly, dispose of waste materials in the proper manner. If you're not sure, do the research. Also, don't be taken in by the false claims of some people who are selling water treatment devices. Let's show the rest of the country that FLORIDA CARES.

You may also be interested in this blog about a Danger in Florida's Ecosystem

If you're buying or selling real estate in Central Florida, make a Smart Choice and contact Lisa Hill.


Lisa Hill


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Terry Haugen STAGE it RIGHT! 321-956-2495
Stage it Right! - Melbourne, FL
Lisa, so we are poisoning ourselves into extinction?  I still don't understand why every town and city in this entire country is not observing water conservation.  It drives me nuts when I see people watering their lawns in the middle of a downpour.  The water situation is nearing crisis and few people are paying attention.  Thanks for the informative post!
Jan 05, 2008 01:16 PM #1
Eric Bouler
Gardner Realtors, Licensed in La. - New Orleans, LA
Listening to your Needs

Louisiana can always use more people and we have plenty of water. Our coast line is vanishing not from developement but from the levees that were built for commerce along the Mississippi. The Green Revolution with Ethnol as a feature is adding damage to the gulf, as none has a plan for the runoff that causes huge dead zones in the gulf the size of the state of Conn.

You only have to follow the money to midwest corn farmers, Anyone thought about sugar cane being a better deal than corn? Less votes for that? You made some good points.

Jan 05, 2008 01:36 PM #2
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Lisa... you are getting very good with your blogs in regards to your local content and surrounding areas. Besides, a lot of this stuff is very interesting.  Some great stuff, especially since 'green' is becoming more and more common. It's all about awareness and knowledge.

jeff belonger
Jan 05, 2008 01:38 PM #3
Gary Smith
Agent Marketing Today - Commerce Township, MI
Lisa, I would have to agree, even with the environmental rules in place, we are slowly killing ourselves off. Definately one of your best posts.
Jan 05, 2008 01:43 PM #4
Alexander Harb
Knights Investing - Mesquite, TX
Dallas, Texas Real Estate Investing

I didn't realize that Floridas
water situation was that severe....


I am glad I buy my drinking water from a vendor
that filters it from 5 to 7 times....


Jan 05, 2008 03:35 PM #5
Bill Westel
Eco-Steward Realty - Asheville, NC


This was a and very informative post. I lived in SW Florida for 30 years and had been tracking the water quality and quantity issue for the past 15 years. Unfortunately I think the mindset, at least down by us was, " We don't have to worry we can always build reverse osmosis(water desalinization) plants and still have plenty of water". I wont go into why that is a bad idea, but You get the picture. Florida good really benefit from a big green roof program.

There are more architects though being trained in LEED certification since the Legislature decided that all new public buildings must be LEED certified. So may there may be hope yet.  

Jan 06, 2008 12:25 AM #6
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