A study of Flatford Swamp in Manatee County could lead to a project that could help improve groundwater levels, reduce saltwater intrusion and benefit the 3,000-acre habitat.
District staff will conduct a feasibility study to recover groundwater levels by recharging millions of gallons per day of naturally-treated surface water from the swamp into the Upper Floridan aquifer. This is the most impacted area of the Southern Water Use Caution Area (SWUCA), a designation given to parts of eight counties because of declines in aquifer levels.
If feasible, the recharged water also will reduce the saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico. Saltwater intrusion is the movement of saline water into freshwater aquifers, which can lead to contamination of drinking water and other consequences. Reducing saltwater intrusion is a recovery strategy of SWUCA.
Another benefit to the project is helping the habitat. Flatford Swamp has experienced extensive tree die-off since the 1980s. Removing the excess surface water from the swamp will help restore seasonal patterns of the water flowing into and out of the swamp.
The first step of the study will include drilling an exploratory well and monitoring wells to evaluate water quality and aquifer characteristics at the site. Staff also plans to conduct additional data collection, monitoring and computer modeling.
For more information, visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/Flatford