Cumberland Island National Seashore: Linking Offshore Impacts to Mainland Withdrawals from a Regional Karst Aquifer
Bacchus, Sydney T.
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Unsustainable withdrawals from the Floridan aquifer on the mainland of southeast Georgia have resulted in an estimated decline in the potentiometric surface of approximately 9 m (30 ft) in the location of Cumberland Island. The majority of this largest, most southerly barrier island off the coast of Georgia was designated as a National Seashore in 1972. Ten years later, Congress designated 3,600 ha (9,000 ac) of the 14,560 ha (36,400 ac) federally-owned tract as a "Wilderness Area", to "preserve the scenic, scientific, and historical values" of this natural resource. Unsustainable withdrawals from this regional karst aquifer are known to result in adverse impacts to surface resources beyond the point of withdrawals. However, no record could be found of attempts to determine whether any damage to the National Seashore might have occurred due to the large declines in potentiometric surface of the Floridan aquifer. A ground reconnaissance was conducted in the vicinity of the interior, "Wilderness Area" wetlands, where the greatest potential for adverse impacts related to groundwater withdrawals was predicted to occur. Environmental damage of the nature and magnitude associated with wellfields in Florida was documented in this area. A detailed investigation is recommended to determine the extent of the damage, and the role of past and present groundwater mining on the mainland.