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Ground Water Recharge and Discharge in the Central Everglades

by Judson W. Harvey1, Steven L. Krupa2, and James M. Krest3

1U.S. Geological Survey, 430 National Center, Reston, VA 20192; (703) 648-5876; fax (703) 648-5484;
2South Florida Water Management District, 3301 Gun Club Rd., West Palm Beach, FL 33578
3Formerly with the U.S. Geological Survey, 430 National Center, Reston, VA 20192; now at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida

Reprinted from Journal of Ground Water, Oceans Issue 2004; vol. 42; no. 7; p. 1090-1102, with permission from Judson W. Harvey et al.


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Rates of ground water recharge and discharge are not well known in the central Everglades. Here we report estimates of ground water recharge and discharge at 15 sites in the Everglades Nutrient Removal Project and in Water Conservation Area 2A (WCA-2A), along with measurements of hydraulic properties of peat at 11 sites. A simple hydrogeologic simulation was used to assess how specific factors have influenced recharge and discharge. Simulations and measurements agreed that the highest values of recharge and discharge occur within 600 m of levees, the result of ground water flow beneath levees. There was disagreement in the interior wetlands of WCA-2A (located > 1000 m from levees) where measurements of recharge and discharge were substantially higher than simulated fluxes. A five-year time series (1997 to 2002) of measured fluxes indicated that recharge and discharge underwent reversals in direction on weekly, monthly, and annual timescales at interior sites in WCA-2A. Ground water discharge tended to occur during average to moderately dry conditions when local surface water levels were decreasing. Recharge tended to occur during moderately wet periods or during very dry periods just as water levels began to increase following precipitation or in response to a pulse of surface water released from water-control structures by water managers. Discharge also tended to occur at sites in the wetland interior for ~1 week preceding the arrival of the surface water pulse. We conclude that ground water recharge and discharge vary cyclically in the interior wetlands of the central Everglades, driven by the differential responses of surface water and ground water to annual, seasonal, and weekly trends in precipitation and operation of water-control structures.

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