Maps of observed 1976 and simulated 2000 potentiometric surfaces were used to estimate rates of saltwater encroachment and theoretical predevelopment equilibrium positions of the saltwater-freshwater interface in west-central Florida. The observed saltwater front, defined by the 19,000 milligrams-per-liter line of equal chloride concentration in the lower part of the Floridan aquifer, corresponds closely to a theoretical predevelopment equilibrium position of a saltwater-freshwater interface. The interface position was computed by the Ghyben-Herzberg method, using heads from a map of the predevelopment potentiometric surface. In maps of both the observed May 1976 and simulated May 2000 potentiometric surface, the saltwater front was within a large seasonal cone of depression in parts of Hillsborough, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties. Average landward flow rate of the front was computed to be 0.30 foot per day in May 1976 and 0.36 foot per day in May 2000. Seaward potentiometric-surface gradient under simulated October 2000 conditions averaged 8.8 x 10-5 foot per foot less than under observed September 1976 conditions.
Regional observation wells are desirable for monitoring potentiometric-level changes in western Hardee County and eastern Manatee County and for monitoring water-quality changes along the saltwater front, on its landward side, from mid-Sarasota County northward to Hillsborough County.
Net landward movement of the saltwater front in the lower part of the Floridan aquifer is probably occurring under existing conditions. Pumping during 1976-2000 would probably increase slightly the rate of movement. However, rates are so slow that on a regional basis saltwater encroachment under existing and projected conditions is not presently a threat to the existing freshwater resources. The maximum projected regional landward movement, under 'worst case' conditions, of the saltwater front between 1976 and 2000 is estimated to be about one-half mile. Significant local encroachment could result from (1) ground-water development in the zone of transition and (2) deviations of local hydrogeologic conditions from average regional conditions.
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USGS Numbered Series
Estimated effects of projected ground-water withdrawals on movement of the saltwater front in the Floridan aquifer, 1976-2000, west-central Florida