Karst and Groundwater Protection
Why "Karst Protection?"
- Karst is defined as a landscape with topographic depressions such
as sinkholes and caves, caused by underground solution of limestone
bedrock. This landscape features underground streams and aquifers
which supply the wells and springs that communities use for their
drinking water. Karst protection requires an understanding of
the watershed and the will to protect the natural resources within
- The hollow nature of karst terrain results in a very high pollution
potential. Streams and surface runoff entering sinkholes or
caves bypass natural filtration through the soil and provide direct
conduits for contaminates in karst terrain. Groundwater can
travel quite rapidly through these underground networks - up to several
miles a day - and contaminants can be transmitted quickly to wells
and springs in the vicinity.
- Groundwater is an important source of private and public water supplies. However,
everyday activities in the source area can contaminate the groundwater
on which so many people depend for everyday use. The source area
is the land surface that contributes water to an aquifer. It
is very important to protect these source areas from detrimental
lives in a watershed. Even if a home is not next to
a stream, it is in a watershed, and common everyday practices
can contribute to the overall pollution entering into that
- A watershed is an area of land from which all water drains into a
common water body. Rainfall, spring runoff, and groundwater drain
from upland areas to a low point or basin, usually a larger stream,
river , lake or bay.
- Water enters a karst watershed through both direct and indirect
means. Precipitation in the form of rain and snow, which is
usually the greatest during January through May, enters the aquifer
directly as surface runoff or indirectly as water seeping through
the soil and bedrock. Drainage in karst watersheds tends to
be three dimensional; flowing laterally across the surface, as well
as vertically underground.
- Residents of a watershed can protect groundwater by minimizing land
disturbances, soil erosion, heavy runoff of storm water, and pollutants. Groundwater
is at a much higher risk where watersheds are characterized by overgrazing,
high-density development, agricultural or urban runoff, and mismanaged
commercial facilities sites.