Museum of the Islands

Preserving the past for the future on Pine Island, Florida

Drinking Water

See except from CAMP LIFE IN FLORIDA; A HANDBOOK FOR SPORTSMEN AND SETTLERS, by CHARLES HALLOCK, published in 1876 and covers travel through early Southwest Florida.  Follow the link to the source as it is a fascinating read about early travel around Pine Island and the surrounding islands.

As this was the norm to secure drinking water during the late 1800s, we have to image our early settlers follow suit.  And most likely the water was salty and tasted of sulfur.  The first artiseian well was not drilled on Pine Island until the San Carlos Hotel was constructed in 1885.  An artesian well is a confined aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure. This causes the water level in a well to rise to a point where hydrostatic equilibrium has been reached. This type of well is called an artesian well. Water may even reach the ground surface if the natural pressure is high enough, in which case the well is called a flowing artesian well.

An aquifer is a geologic layer of porous and permeable material such as sand and gravel, limestone, or sandstone, through which water flows and is stored. An artesian aquifer is confined between impermeable rocks or clay which causes this positive pressure. The recharging of aquifers happens when the water table at its recharge zone is at a higher elevation than the head of the well.

Fossil water aquifers can also be artesian if they are under sufficient pressure from the surrounding rocks. This is similar to how many newly tapped oil wells are pressurized.

In addition to these shallow wells, people layered wood barrels with cheese cloth and set them out to catch rainwater.   Later on cisterns were constructed on stilts to catch the rainwater.  By elevating the cisterns, people could use gravity to enjoy “running” water similar to the water coming from our home tap today.  Later on, because the wooden cisterns rotting quickly in the sea air environment, residents constructed cisterns from concrete.

Credit Wikipedia for information on artesian wells

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