Phosphate mine spill in Polk County should not affect the aquifer
Drinking water supplies in the 18 counties of the St. Johns River Water Management District are not at risk from a recent Polk County phosphate mine spill caused by a sinkhole, according to district scientists. Recent media reports have caused concern among some residents about impacts from the spill. State agencies and the local company involved are monitoring the situation and have protocols in place to prevent contamination of Florida’s drinking water supply.
“Given the regional groundwater flow patterns in the Upper Floridan aquifer in central Florida, drinking water supplies in the St. Johns River Water Management District are not at risk from the spill at the phosphate mine in Mulberry, in western Polk County,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Because the spill was located in Polk County near the Hillsborough County line and the groundwater flow in the Upper Floridan aquifer is generally to the southwest, the spill should not affect water supplies in the district.”
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is performing frequent site visits to make sure timely and appropriate response continues in order to safeguard public health and the environment. Monitoring to date indicated the process water is being successfully contained, and that there is no evidence of offsite movement or threat to offsite groundwater supplies. Groundwater monitoring will continue to ensure there are no offsite or long-term effects.
General information about Florida’s aquifer system in north and east-central Florida can be found online at www.sjrwmd.com/aquifer/.