MIAMI, June 23 (UPI) -- Wetlands that provide water in southeastern Florida are almost dry, leaving drought-parched wells used by public utilities in jeopardy, water managers warn.
Without fresh water to replenish the wells, there is a threat of subterranean salt water seeping into wells located near the state's coastline and possibly contaminating them, authorities say.
The wells take much of their water from wetlands around Lake Okeechobee, but falling levels of fresh water in the area has forced water management officials to cut off the supply, The Palm Beach Post reported Wednesday.
While elevated salt levels have not yet been detected in any of the wells, officials say they are worried.
"The concern would be, with that water gone, is the salt water going to gain ground?" Lisa Wilson-Davis, Boca Raton's utility services program policy coordinator, said.
Water managers say they will conduct ongoing monitoring of wells in the region for signs of salt.
If a well is not replenished constantly with fresh water and salt manages to seep into it, the well can be unusable for drinking water for months or even years, officials said.