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Water in the Environment

County agent leads canoe trip in Winter Park; photo by Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS

When we talk about "water in the environment," we're referring to natural areas that depend on water, such as aquifers, wetlands, watersheds, springs, lakes, rivers and streams.


Aquifers are natural underground reservoirs of water. Approximately 90% of Floridians get their drinking water from one of our underground aquifer systems, also known as groundwater.

Surface Waters

Surface waters include water bodies such as springs, lakes, rivers, and streams that are located on the surface of the land. Springs, lakes, rivers, and streams are known to many Floridians for their recreational value but these systems also provide vital wildlife habitat, can be used as indicators of ecological health, improve property values, and more.


A watershed is an area of land within which rainfall flows downhill to a stream, river, lake, or bay. Watersheds exist at every scale from within a community to several states in size. Florida has 52 large-scale watersheds which are largely identified by the major river, estuarine, or lake systems they contribute to.


Also called swamps, marshes, or bogs, wetlands are natural areas of land that are usually wet and are sometimes covered by water. These areas provide numerous benefits to Floridians such as wildlife habitat, flood protection, and cleansing of surface waters.