Water is one of our planet’s most precious resources. Even though 71% of Earth’s surface is covered by water, only a fraction of it is drinkable and suitable for important agricultural and industrial processes. About 97% of Earth’s water can be found in the form of salty oceans with the remainder being located in the atmosphere as water vapor, frozen as glacial ice, flowing through rivers and lakes, or within the ground. Of the 3% that is fresh, 2.5% of it is inaccessible. Only about 0.5% is available for human consumption and usage. If the world's water supply were only 26 gallons, our usable water supply of fresh water would be only about one-half teaspoon.
The City of Cape Canaveral’s drinking water is actually supplied by the City of Cocoa. Not only does Cocoa provide water for all of Cape Canaveral, it also provides water for 20,000 of its own residents and an additional 268,000 people across Cocoa Beach, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Canaveral Groves, Patrick Air Force Base, and a large portion of unincorporated central Brevard County. The total area served is approximately 268 square miles.
According to the City of Cocoa’s website, its water system processes approximately 8.2 billion gallons of water each year with peak flows reaching 27.1 million gallons per day (mgd) during the summer. The main source of Central Florida’s water is an underground aquifer, or a vast underground area of porous rock that holds freshwater. Some interesting facts about this aquifer from the St. Johns River Water Management District are:
- More than 90% of people in northeast and east-central Florida use groundwater, which comes from an aquifer, as their water supply.
- The largest aquifer in the southeastern United States is the Floridan. The Floridan aquifer is found beneath all of Florida and portions of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, and extends into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
- The Floridan aquifer averages 1,000 feet thick, and freshwater can extend to a depth of 2,000 feet below land surface. Freshwater is thickest in the central portions of the state and rapidly thins toward the coast and the south.
- People who live in areas where the Floridan aquifer is not suitable for drinking without treatment get their drinking water primarily from surface water or shallow aquifers. One such shallow aquifer is the Biscayne, which lies under Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Another type of shallow (or surficial) aquifer — known as a sand and gravel aquifer — is in Pensacola. The surficial aquifer is the source of drinking water in St. Johns, Flagler and Indian River counties, and in the Titusville and Palm Bay areas.
- In general, the water that comes from deeper aquifers is considered better than the water that comes from shallow aquifers because deeper aquifers are less susceptible to contamination.
You may have heard of them already, but in case you haven’t the St. Johns River Water Management District is an important entity to know about. According to the “About Section” on their website, “the St. Johns River Water Management District is an environmental regulatory agency of the state of Florida whose work is focused on ensuring a long-term supply of drinking water, and to protect and restore the health of water bodies in the district’s 18 counties [including Brevard] in northeast and east-central Florida. While the district works closely with utilities on water supply issues, the district is not a water supplier.
Florida’s five regional water management districts were established in 1972 by the state Legislature through passage of the Water Resources Act (Chapter 373, Florida Statutes).
District officials recognize the need to have water resources available for people’s needs and to balance those needs with nature’s needs. In its daily operations, the district tries to strike a balance in water needs by educating the public about water conservation, setting rules for water use, conducting research, collecting data, restoring and protecting water above and below the ground, and preserving natural areas.
The district covers 12,283 square miles, about 7.8 million acres. The main water body in the district is the northerly flowing St. Johns River, the longest river entirely in Florida.
The district’s staff includes biologists, geologists, hydrologists, engineers, planners, financial officers, information technology specialists, land managers, laboratory technicians and others from scientific and nonscientific fields. Many staff have advanced academic degrees and years of experience in their fields, both in the private and public sectors. In addition, many have been recognized for their work in the state, nationally and internationally.”
Conserving What We Can
Conserving and preserving our water supply is essential to providing a more sustainable future. Please visit the St. Johns River Water Management District’s water conservation web page to see how you can save water both indoors and outdoors, and money in the process.
Another suggestion is implementing the use of rain barrels around your property. Rain barrels often come in the form of 55 gallon drums, but they can come in all shapes and sizes depending on one’s needs. On average the City of Cape Canaveral receives 52 inches of rainfall per year, which could translate to thousands of gallons of captured freshwater if you have enough collection area and storage available. There are several ways to acquire rain barrels in Brevard County, and no shortage of designs in how to set them up. Keep Brevard Beautiful is one such supplier via rain barrel workshops that teach participants how to set up a rain barrel collection system. Terry Laboratories in Melbourne is also a great supplier of rain barrels. This company produces aloe vera, and often has a surplus of food grade 55 gallon drums that are sold at low cost to individuals looking to turn them into rain barrels. Examples of rain barrels can be seen at the City’s Kairos Community Garden located at just south and west of Columbia Dr. and SR A1A.
Utilizing the City’s reclaim water system is also an option to preserve groundwater supplies. Reclaimed water, also referred to as reuse water, is wastewater that has been heavily treated at the City’s Water Reclamation Facility. This water has been subjected to strict water quality standards established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. While not suitable for drinking needs, reclaim water is excellent for use as irrigation and can offset traditional tap water costs. Nationally, landscape irrigation makes up one-third of all residential water use, which adds up to 9 billion gallons used per day. Using reclaim water could serve to reduce this number and preserve precious groundwater supplies.
To learn more about reclaim water and how to hook up your property you can visit the City’s reclaim water web page.