What is an Artesian Spring or an Artesian Well?
The key to understanding an artesian well or an artesian spring is confinement. The groundwater aquifer from which artesian water is obtained must be confined.
When an aquifer is confined at sufficient pressure to cause the water surface to rise above the surface of the ground or above the normal water table in a well.
Such springs and wells are said to be functioning under artesian conditions.
Just as pipes are necessary to maintain enough water pressure to get water to the upstairs bathroom; so are confined artesian aquifers are like nature’s plumbing pipes to get water to rise above the ground surface or to spout forth from the side of a mountain.
A porous sandy-gravelly layer aquifer between two confining clay layers in the earth is one such example. The pressure of water up the valley causes water to rise above the ground surface at different points throughout the valley where breaches in one of the clay confining layers occur. The rising bubbling or spouting water at those breaches are artesian springs.
Ideally ALL springs and wells should be clean and pure with water quality fit to drink… cool and crystal clear. But water, no matter where it comes from, is only as clean as the water upstream. Any time chemicals are spilled or dumped upstream, the water quality of the aquifer at its source is defined. Downstream, the contamination is either diluted or cumulatively concentrated… but still present.
Every aquifer has a recharge zone. The Everglades and the rivers of central Florida are the recharge zones for the Florida Aquifer and the drinking water upon which millions of people in Miami and south Florida depend.
Pesticides, herbicides, oils, sewage, and water diversion can contaminate the finest of springs or destroy the most valuable of aquifers. It is our job as environmental scientists and as conscientious human beings to protect and restore ALL of our upstream AND downstream water resources.