Biscayne Aquifer
The Biscayne Aquifer, named after Biscayne Bay
Biscayne Bay
Biscayne Bay is a lagoon that is approximately 35 miles long and up to 8 miles wide located on the Atlantic coast of South Florida, United States. It is usually divided for purposes of discussion and analysis into three parts: North Bay, Central Bay, and South Bay. Its area is...

, is a surficial aquifer
Surficial aquifer
Surficial aquifers are shallow aquifers typically less than 50 feet , but thicknesses of about have been mapped.- Composition :Surficial aquifers system consists mostly of beds of unconsolidated sand, cavity-riddled limestone and shells, sandstone, sand, and clay sand with minor clay or silt from...

. It is a shallow layer of highly permeable limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 under a portion of South Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. The area it underlies includes Broward County
Broward County, Florida
-2000 Census:As of the census of 2000, there were 1,623,018 people, 654,445 households, and 411,645 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,346 people per square mile . There were 741,043 housing units at an average density of 615 per square mile...

, Miami-Dade County
Miami-Dade County, Florida
Miami-Dade County is a county located in the southeastern part of the state of Florida. As of 2010 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 2,496,435, making it the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States...

, Monroe County
Monroe County, Florida
Monroe County is a county located in the state of Florida. As of 2000, the population was 79,589. The U.S. Census Bureau 2006 estimate for the county was 74,737....

, and Palm Beach County
Palm Beach County, Florida
Palm Beach County is the largest county in the state of Florida in total area, and third in population. As of 2010, the county's estimated population was 1,320,134, making it the twenty-eighth most populous in the United States...

, a total of about 4,000 square miles.


The water-absorbing layers of rock underlying south Florida divide into three layers. The Biscayne Aquifer is closest to the surface and because of this it directly interacts with natural and man made bodies of surface water, such as streams, lakes, canals and reservoirs. The ground water and the aquifer currently are managed as an integrated water system.

Because the top part of the Biscayne aquifer
An aquifer is a wet underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology...

 is the water table, this aquifer is known as an unconfined aquifer. Since it merges with the floor of Biscayne Bay
Biscayne Bay
Biscayne Bay is a lagoon that is approximately 35 miles long and up to 8 miles wide located on the Atlantic coast of South Florida, United States. It is usually divided for purposes of discussion and analysis into three parts: North Bay, Central Bay, and South Bay. Its area is...

 and with the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, it is also a coastal aquifer. Both of these factors contribute to its potential contamination. Lowered water tables, primarily from over pumping, could allow salt water
Seawater is water from a sea or ocean. On average, seawater in the world's oceans has a salinity of about 3.5% . This means that every kilogram of seawater has approximately of dissolved salts . The average density of seawater at the ocean surface is 1.025 g/ml...

 intrusion without man made interventions such as dam-like structures that control fresh and salt water levels in canals. Because the aquifer is so close to the surface it is extremely vulnerable to surface contaminants.


The South Florida Water Management District
South Florida Water Management District
The South Florida Water Management District is a regional governmental agency supervised by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection , and is responsible for water quality, flood control, water supply and restoration of the environment in 16 counties in Central and Southern Florida...

 controls an extensive system of canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

s and other control systems and pumping station
Pumping station
Pumping stations are facilities including pumps and equipment for pumping fluids from one place to another. They are used for a variety of infrastructure systems, such as the supply of water to canals, the drainage of low-lying land, and the removal of sewage to processing sites.A pumping station...

s along with the Biscayne Aquifer, Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee , locally referred to as The Lake or The Big O, is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida. It is the seventh largest freshwater lake in the United States and the second largest freshwater lake contained entirely within the lower 48 states...

 and three other large water conservation areas as it monitors and controls the storage and release of the water in the district. It must take into account the danger of salt water intrusion and monitor water demand while it manages surplus flood water and maintains water table levels and adequate water supplies.

The Biscayne Aquifer supplies South Florida metropolitan area
South Florida metropolitan area
The South Florida metropolitan area, also known as the Miami metropolitan area, and designated the Miami–Fort Lauderdale–Pompano Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area by the U.S...

 with its primary source of fresh water. This area includes most of south Florida (Miami-Dade, Monroe, and parts of Broward Counties) as well was other urban areas stretching from Homestead, Florida
Homestead, Florida
Homestead is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States nestled between Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. Homestead is primarily a Miami suburb and a major agricultural area....

 to Boca Raton, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Boca Raton is a city in Palm Beach County, Florida, USA, incorporated in May 1925. In the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 74,764; the 2006 population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 86,396. However, the majority of the people under the postal address of Boca Raton, about...

. Further, water from the Biscayne Aquifer is piped to the Florida Keys
Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a coral archipelago in southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West, the westernmost of the inhabited islands, and on to the uninhabited Dry...


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