Use of stable isotopes to quantify flows between the Everglades and urban areas in Miami-Dade County Florida

Walter M. Wilcox, Helena M. Solo-Gabriele, Leonel O.Reilly Sternberg

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28 Scopus citations

Abstract

An isotopic study was performed to assess the movement of groundwater for a site located in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The site encompasses portions of a protected wetland environment (northeast Everglades National Park) and suburban residential Miami, incorporating municipal pumping wells and lakes formed by rock mining. Samples of ground, surface, and rainwater were analyzed for their isotopic composition (oxygen-18 and deuterium). Various analytical and graphical techniques were used to analyze this data and two conceptual box models were developed to quantify flows between different regions within the site. Results from this study indicate that the aquifer underlying the study site (the Biscayne aquifer) is highly transmissive with the exception of two semi-confining layers of reduced hydraulic conductivity. Everglades surface water infiltrates into the aquifer and migrates east toward residential areas. In these urban areas, 'shallow' groundwater (above the deeper semi-confining layer) is substantially affected by urban rainfall while 'deep' groundwater (below the deeper semi-confining layer) maintains a composition similar to that of Everglades water. Rock mining lakes in the area provide 'breaks' in the semi-confining layers that allow for mixing of shallow and deep groundwater. As water travels eastward, municipal well intakes, screened to a depth below the deeper semi-confining layer, draw upon not only shallow urban water (predominantly comprised of urban rainfall) and lake water (having influences from both urban rainfall and Everglades water) but also deep water that originated in the Everglades. Results from one of the box models estimate that over 60% of the water being removed by municipal pumping originated in the Everglades. These conclusions suggest that Everglades water, both directly through deep groundwater flow and indirectly through mixing with rock-mining lakes, is being drawn into the operating municipal wellfield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume293
Issue number1-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004

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Keywords

  • Everglades
  • Hydrogen isotopes
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Water exploitation
  • Water sources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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