Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Mahmood H. Nachabe, Ph.D.


Urban drainage, Recharge, Water balance, Karst, Deep percolation


Seepage is an important component of the water budget in closed basins that do not have surface water drainage features. In the shallow water table environment of Florida, internal drainage of soil controls flooding. With the recent rapid population growth and urban development in the state, a simple, field-based method is needed to estimate seepage rates. In this study five locations in Hillsborough County, Florida, were instrumented with wells with pressure transducers measuring water level fluctuations at 1 minute resolution. For closed basins with lakes, evaporation (E) rates were determined using data from a weather station and Penman-Monteith FAO56 method, and then seepage rates were calculated from a water budget. Seepage rates varied greatly depending on conditions specific to the site.

The seepage rates found for the three surface water sites in this study were 1.1 cm/d for a retention pond surrounded with dense vegetation, 0.5-0.8 cm/d for a natural lake located close to a groundwater pumping site, and 0.4 cm/d for another natural lake with no groundwater pumping in the proximity. Two methods to estimate seepage rates into semi-confined aquifers were compared: (a) mass balance approach and (b) Darcy's equation. At one of the sites the rate was 0.1 cm/d, and at the other site (sinkhole) it ranged between 0.8 cm/d during the wet season and 0.2 cm/d during the dry season when the head difference between the surficial and Floridan aquifers became smaller. The results of the study indicate that simple and relatively inexpensive field methods can estimate seepage within a narrow range and give reasonable seepage predictions that can be used in flood modeling. The obtained values indicate that seepage does not provide adequate drainage relief in closed basins.

Another important finding is the magnitude of the local recharge to the Floridan aquifer. Further sensitivity studies on hydrological models that use seepage as one of the inputs may indicate that lower data collection resolution or simpler ET estimation methods are acceptable.