Lake County Springs

In this Atlas, the reader will find information on each spring in Lake County, including its Location, Photographs, Description, Utilization and Contact Information. If the spring is available for public use, additional contact information is provided. However, for the springs located on private property, contact information has been not provided in order to discourage trespassing. Where available, both historic and recent photographs are provided. (We also solicit your photos of our water bodies.) All available sampling results including discharge (flow) measurements and water quality analysis are also available.

Springs Anatomy

A spring is a place where groundwater flows naturally onto the land surface or into a body of surface water. Florida has one of the largest concentrations of freshwater springs on Earth. These springs provide natural, recreational, and economic resources for residents and visitors. The St. Johns Water Management District lists 31 named springs within Lake County, but there are others that are small, unnamed, and little noticed. The most popular springs in the county are Alexander Springs and Silver Glen Spring.

A spring is commonly known as a “point of focused discharge of groundwater”, i.e., a place where groundwater is pushed up and onto the surface of the surrounding land through openings in the ground. Most of our springs discharge water from the Floridan aquifer, the same aquifer that we depend on for our drinking water. Precipitation drips through the porous aquifer and adds pressure on the water already being retained underground, forcing water to exert through natural openings in the surface. The breakthrough of the water through the surface is caused by a “hydraulic gradient”, or differences in the slope, of the Florida’s aquifer. These surface waters become the springs we know and enjoy today.

The limestone “matrix” forms the underwater container of water that makes up the Florida aquifer. When underground water pressure is sufficient, it causes an upwelling of water over the “spring vent”, which is the natural opening in the earth from which water emerges. This upwelling is called a “spring boil”. As the water collects around the vent it forms a “spring pool” which is a small body of water, either naturally occurring or artificially impounded, that can encompass one or more spring vents. As water continually enters the spring pool from the vent, eventually the pool fills and water spills out into an adjacent flowing stream called a “spring run”.

Springs Classifications

Springs are classified by a degree of one through eight, based on the volume of water they discharge. The “first magnitude” is the largest, discharging water at a rate of at least 65-million gallons per day. Florida is home to 33 first-magnitude springs, only one of which – Alexander Springs – is in Lake County. Silver Glen Spring is also a first-magnitude spring, but technically it is located in Marion County, where its vents and spring pool are. The pool discharges to a short run that extends about 500 feet across the upper tip of Lake County and deposits water into Lake George in Volusia County.

Springs Conservation

The water in springs is provided by rain falling in the springshed, percolating slowly through the soil and recharging the deep limestone aquifer. This is the same aquifer that supplies water for residential and commercial lawns and landscaping, agriculture and industry. The excessive withdrawal of groundwater to satisfy a myriad of human needs and wants has resulted in a significant drop in the level of the aquifer within Central Florida, and consequently a decline in water volume from area springs.

Nutrient pollution is another threat to the health of our spring ecosystems. Nitrogen and phosphorus make their way into groundwater from fertilizers, septic tanks, wastewater discharges, and land spreading of sewage sludge.

As our population increases, we consume more water and produce more wastes. The impacts of human activities include declines in groundwater levels and quality, reduction in spring flow, and harm to native wetlands plants and animals. Excessive nutrients cause overgrowth of algae and other plants and negatively impacts the wildlife community in our springs ecosystems.

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