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Water bodies, watersheds and storm water
Salt Springs main view

Salt Springs main view

Salt Springs pool

Salt Springs pool

Largest of the four Salt Springs vents

Largest of the four Salt Springs vents

Salt Springs

Marion County


Salt Springs is a second-magnitude spring that derives its name from its saline waters. The spring pool measures about 190 feet by 130 feet, with spring flow emerging from four vents in the limestone rock floor of the pool. Prominent, gentle boils are usually observed at the water’s surface over the vents. Limestone and sand are on the pool bottom near the vents, with the rest of the bottom covered with aquatic grasses. The north, west, and south sides of the pool are surrounded by a concrete wall that rises about 5 feet above the surface of the pool. The wall is topped by a concrete railing and edged by a 4-foot-wide concrete walkway. From the pool, water flows southeast about 4 miles down a broad run to discharge into the northwest corner of Lake George.

The spring is part of the USDA Forest Service’s Salt Springs Recreation Area. The recreation area is used for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and boating.


Salt Springs pool and run

Salt Springs pool and run

Discharge at Salt Springs was measured by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 56 times from 1929 to 2002. St. Johns River Water Management District measured discharge 192 times from 1983 to 2010 and currently measures discharge six times per year. The difference between the minimum and maximum discharges is 79.83 cubic feet per second (cfs) over the period. The maximum measured discharge of 133.83 cfs occurred in January 1985; the minimum discharge of 54.0 cfs occurred in October 1935. The mean and median discharges for the period from 1929 to 2010 are 80.50 cfs and 79.75 cfs, respectively (see the table below).

Salt Springs Discharge Graph
Discharge Graph

Water quality

Salt Springs was sampled by USGS eight times from 1956 to 1983, and in 1998 and 2000, with additional field measurement at other times through 1999. The district sampled Salt Springs 99 times from 1984 to 2005 and currently samples the spring four times per year. Summary statistics of the water quality data for selected variables are shown in the table below.

Salt Springs Water Quality Graph
Water Quality Graph

Summary statistics of water quality and discharge at Salt Springs

Salt Springs Min Mean Median Max Count Period
Discharge, cfs 54.00 80.50 79.75 133.83 248 1929−2010
Alkalinity, total, mg/L as CaCO3 7.4 65.8 66.0 105.0 108 1956−2010
Calcium, total, mg/L as Ca 116.7 158.6 158.0 219.0 90 1992−2010
Chloride, total, mg/L as Cl 1076.0 1772.6 1800.0 2500.0 109 1956−2010
Dissolved Oxygen 2.23 2.59 2.60 2.85 17 2006−2010
Fluoride, total, mg/L as F 0.08 0.10 0.10 0.12 52 1989−2009
Magnesium, total, mg/L as Mg 66.5 100.7 100.0 149.0 89 1992−2010
Nitrate + nitrite, total, mg/L as N 0.02 0.10 0.10 0.20 97 1984−2010
Orthophosphate, total, mg/L as P 0.01 0.02 0.01 0.08 40 1994−2010
pH, field 6.11 7.47 7.50 8.40 116 1956−2010
Phosphorus, total, mg/L as P 0.01 0.02 0.02 0.20 47 1990−2010
Potassium, total, mg/L as K 18.2 29.1 29.0 40.4 87 1992−2010
Sodium, total, mg/L as Na 590.5 948.3 944.9 1360.0 90 1992−2010
Specific conductance, field, µmhos/cm at 25°C 3309 5796 5820 8540 91 1984−2010
Specific conductance, lab, µmhos/cm at 25°C 4430 6006 6000 8120 90 1956−2010
Sulfate, total, mg/L as SO4 277.0 405.6 407.9 540.0 109 1956−2010
Total dissolved solids, mg/L 2200 3454 3440 4600 100 1956−2010
Water temperature, °C 21.7 23.8 23.7 29.6 127 1956−2010
Units: µmhos/cm = micromhos per centimeter
         mg/L = milligrams per liter
         cfs = cubic feet per second

Age of discharge water

Salt Springs Swimmers

The age of water discharging from Salt Springs was determined by measuring the concentration of tritium, delta carbon-13, and carbon-14 in the spring discharge, which was measured in May 1996, and the concentration of tritium and helium-3 in the discharge, as measured in February 2001. Salt Springs had a tritium concentration of 3.3 tritium units, which suggests that the water is less than 43 years old. The tritium/helium-3 age was 32 years. Salt Springs had a delta carbon-13 value of −8.30 parts per thousand and a carbon-14 concentration of 22% modern carbon, which results from the mixing of Upper and Lower Floridan aquifer water. The adjusted carbon-14 age is recent.


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St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street, Palatka, FL 32177
(800) 725-5922