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Runnoff and Stormwater

Stormwater runoff from parking lots, roads and other surfaces carry chemical pollutants like petroleum by-products from automobiles into retention ponds, streams and rivers and also into the aquifer.


Image of Runoff from parking lots can add pollutants to the springshed © Russell SparkmanZoom+ Runoff from parking lots can add pollutants to the springshed © Russell Sparkman © Russell Sparkman

Stormwater run-off and pollution represents one of the most serious threats to the health of Florida's groundwater. As stormwater flows off of highways, county roads, parking lots, and residential developments, it carries with it heavy metals, petroleum by-products, pet wastes, and pollutants. Stormwater primarily affects surface waters, however some of these contaminants may reach the aquifer. Although scientists are still collecting data, these contaminants may be putting stress on native plants and animals, and endangering endemic underwater invertebrates that exist nowhere else in the world. Stormwater that is directed into karst features like sinkholes without any form of pre-treatment can have an even greater direct impact on groundwater quality and the springs.

Sulphur Spring in Tampa presents a prime example of the serious degradation that can occur in the absence of planning and protection that is based on an understanding of the dynamics of the aquifer. In an effort to manage its stormwater, the City of Tampa directed runoff into sinkholes that ultimately feed into the spring. Some of the sinks have since been filled. This action has resulted in reduced groundwater flow to the spring and pollution that led to the closing of this once popular swimming spot.


Good Neighbors

Image of Don Bennink is helping both his business and the aquifer by using "high absorption" grasses like Tifton-85 to take up nutrients from the soil and protect the groundwater.

Read Stories about people working to protect springs. Go »


How You Can Help

Image of At the Citrus Country Extension demonstration garden, signs explain to visitors the principles and practices of a "spring friendly" yard while volunteers help with maintenance and getting the word out.

Steps you can take to help protect our springs. Go »


Learn About The Aquifer

Image of spring_flow

View an interactive presentation to learn more about our aquifer and human impacts on Florida's springs. Go »

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