South Florida is fortunate to receive over 50 inches of rainfall a year on average. Most of that amount is concentrated during the 6-month rainy season (May-October). While much of the runoff from these rains is discharged to the ocean to avoid flooding, a significant amount soaks into the ground and recharges the freshwater aquifers that supply our drinking water wellfields, lakes and wetlands.
In order for large populations of people to live safely in south Florida, a massive regional water management system is required that must balance the water supply needs for both urban and agriculture uses and flood control. Without adequate drainage, human health and safety would be jeopardized and extensive property damage could occur. Similarly, if regional groundwater levels were not properly maintained, wellfields would be unable to deliver water to homes and businesses and the underground inland migration of salt water from the ocean could permanently contaminate the drinking water supply rendering it unsafe for potable uses. Water conservation efforts by the District help mitigate for some of the water supply issues our region experiences.
The District's large network of canals play a critical role in conservation by maintaining groundwater levels which in turn supports the water levels in lakes, ponds and wetlands across the region. During dry periods, groundwater levels tend to slowly fall in response to low rainfall and high evaporation. When this occurs, water managers in the region look to large regional storage areas like the Water Conservation Areas in the Everglades or to Lake Okeechobee as a source of supplemental water. Water from these sources is released into the canal network to raise the level of the water in the canals. This water in turn seeps through the sandy soils to recharge groundwater and return the water table to its normal elevation. (Read more)