Water supply refers to the source and process of providing water to different users. The “source” refers to where the water comes from. Sources of natural fresh water may include groundwater or surface waters, such as lakes, rivers, ponds or streams.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, surface water was the largest source of fresh water in Florida until 1980. After 1980, groundwater became the largest source of fresh water. Our freshwater supply is important because it is what we rely on to support human needs, like drinking, bathing and growing food, as well as to support many business and industrial activities.
What is the Source of Our Water Supply Today?
In west-central Florida, about 80 percent of our freshwater supply comes from groundwater and 20 percent comes from surface waters. Groundwater and surface waters are commonly used and traditional sources of water supply. Although groundwater and surface waters exist naturally, their supply is not unlimited.
As we pump water out of our surface and groundwater supplies, their water levels drop. Think of it like drinking a glass of water. Each time you take a sip, the amount of water in the glass will get lower and lower until you run out. You’ll need to refill the glass if you want more water. Just like you need a refill, surface and groundwater sources need a refill too! Here in Florida, surface and groundwater depend on rainfall to replenish them. Since it doesn’t rain every day, a refill may not always be available. That is why it is so important to be mindful of our water use and to not be wasteful. Low water levels not only impact humans but can create challenges for wildlife and freshwater ecosystems.
Working Together to Meet Our Water Needs
So how do we make sure we don’t put too much pressure on our traditional freshwater supply, especially with a growing population? It takes a lot of planning and teamwork between federal and state agencies, water utilities, local organizations, and residents like you! In some areas, alternative water supply options are developed to help meet the freshwater needs of the community.