The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) spans approximately 7,600 miles across 15 counties in north-central Florida and contains 13 river basins. Among other critical services, the SRWMD monitors groundwater levels for evaluating long-term trends, detecting areas of water resource concerns, and developing management strategies in support of its core mission objectives.
Much of the state’s terrain, formed by dissolution of bedrock in areas underlain by certain geological formations, contains underground drainage systems that are reflected on the surface as sinkholes, springs, disappearing streams, or caves and have a direct connection to the underlying Floridan aquifer. While sinkholes may form for several reasons, their connection to the underlying aquifer provides a window into the subsurface world and an opportunity to both monitor and augment the water table for beneficial uses such as water supply and environmental needs.
The SRWMD partnered with EHS Support to develop a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) Tool to identify and screen potential sinkhole features within the Santa Fe Basin. The purpose of the DEM Tool was to identify surface contours or depressions that were equal to or greater than 5 feet in depth and within a reasonable distance from flowing water bodies. The DEM Tool would serve to identify, at a relatively high level, potential candidate features that could receive surface water deliveries for the enhancement of groundwater levels for water supply and environmental needs.
To complement the capabilities of the DEM Tool, a list of criteria or assumptions were developed and employed through a desktop analysis to perform an initial screening of potential candidate features that could potentially receive surface water deliveries. The tool allows for the evaluation of surface and subsurface elevations along with other items such as depth to groundwater, measurable distance to flowing waterbody landscape features (within private or public ownership), proximity to structures, and other sensitive landscape features.
The DEM Tool and the desktop analysis serve as a guide to inform future analyses and ground-truthing efforts necessary to support water management activities, capital improvement, and land acquisition planning and/or public-private partnership development.