Geologically speaking, sinkholes in Florida are as common as the nuisance alligator. Most of the small lakes and ponds that dot the Florida landscape are actually old sinkholes. Some ponds are formed from natural depressions that have been plugged with mud and debris and over time filled with water.
There are many theories that explain why the occurrence of sinkholes is increasing. I’ve listed a few below:
Overpopulation and Excessive Pumping of Groundwater
In the past, sinkholes that formed in Florida’s pastureland would become ponds over time. As pastureland became scarce, developers scrambled to buy it up. Overnight, neighborhoods were born. Sinkholes formed when natural water drainage patterns changed, or when the land surface changed. Land development caused both types of changes to occur. The land had to adjust to the changes and sometimes that adjustment came in the form of a sinkhole.
Natural Drought Conditions
Drought conditions in 2010 accompanied by colder than normal winter temperatures can be attributed to the increase in sinkhole activity. Lower groundwater levels caused a loss of support for soft materials in the rocks below the surface. Aggressive draining of groundwater caused the loose materials to flush out faster than normal and ultimately lead to collapse and the formation of sinkholes. During the freeze of January 2010, Plant City farmers pumped out so much of the groundwater that several shallow wells dried up and as many as 88 sinkholes were reported. Any change to the natural hydrologic system can cause the ground to become temporarily unstable and may lead to sinkholes forming.
It is possible that people have become more aware of sinkhole activity in their neighborhoods. In Pasco County, billboards for sinkhole repair contractors and lawyers line the streets. If you have not experienced a sinkhole problem yourself, you may know someone who has dealt with the issue. If you live in West Central Florida, it is important to be aware of the signs.
Hopefully, the increased awareness of sinkholes makes homeowners more mindful of possible repair options. If you, or someone you know, is in need of sinkhole repair, give Helicon a call at 800-615-5087 or visit our website to learn about our services.
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