Six Steps to Prevent or Diminish Sinkholes

Much of the sediment formation beneath Florida is comprised of clay, limestone and sand, a prime target for sinkhole formations. The sinkhole formations often result in property damage and problems with polluted surface waters contaminating groundwater. Research and developments have produced potential solutions for Florida’s sinkhole predicament. Florida sinkhole prevention steps may include:

  • Redirecting or Blocking Water
  • Treating Underground Limestone
  • Construction Measures
  • Avoid Construction on Wetlands
  • Seawater Treatment Facilities
  • Recycling Grey Water Run-off

Redirect or Block Water

Some people argue that instead of treating immense stretches of stone, perhaps redirecting or blocking the surface water is the answer to Florida’s sinkhole crisis. Correctly designed manmade drain systems can direct surface water away from structures. A construction company or homeowner should have an engineer survey the land and make recommendations before installing drain systems, as a misdirected water can be the source for a sinkhole.

Ancient Egyptian Pyramids Impervious Qualities

Geologists have tested the pyramid stones in Egypt to determine the reason for the longevity of the pyramids. The pyramids are constructed with 95 percent limestone, yet the stones are impervious to water and acid rain. The ancient Egyptians developed a process to alter the limestone to make it siliceous.

Treating the Underground Limestone

Research has unveiled the methods utilized by the Egyptians and scientists believe this may be the answer to reducing Florida’s sinkhole occurrences. An inexpensive process can treat the underground limestone to withstand the harmful waters. The technology to treat the limestone will operate under water. Specially treated rock barriers may be constructed to halt or redirect underground water. Engineers can design decorative fountains and waterways to disguise the rock barriers.

Construction Measures

Consideration may be given to adding codes to building requirements to reduce the risk of sinkhole damage to structures. The following preventive measures can alleviate some of the expense and damage caused by sinkholes.

  • Soil Testing – Soil tests are available to determine the existence of a sinkhole cavern on a property prior to construction. If a sinkhole is discovered, the sinkhole may be filled in with concrete ore or the construction company and owner may decide not to build on the property.
  • New Foundation Construction – Construction methods are available to lessen the possibility of sinkhole damage; however, these construction methods may add $10,000 to $20,000 in additional construction costs to an average size home. Many developers prefer to cut costs on foundations and place the added money on granite counter tops, hardwood floors and other upgrades.

Construction on Wetlands

Draining or filling wetlands for construction purposes is a bad choice for several reasons.

  • Contaminating Ground Water Supply – Municipals, industry and agriculture depends on ground water as a major water supply. Surface water can contaminate underground aquifers during the building process. Sinkholes are often utilized as storm drains and are a direct link to underground aquifers, steadily contaminating ground water resources. The plugging of sinkholes may result in flooding due to redirected ground and surface water.
  • Filling in Wetlands for Construction Purposes – New developments often rely on the anticipation of additional transportation infrastructure. Building highways and other structures on previous wetlands often results in sinkhole damage.

Seawater Treatment Facilities

A process called desalination can turn seawater into fresh water. Nature performs a solar desalination process by producing fresh rainwater from seawater. California, Florida, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya and Algeria are currently utilizing desalinated water. Many people predict less Florida sinkholes, if the state constructed additional seawater treatment facilities, instead of draining the aquifers of ground water.

Recycling Gray Water Run-off

Gray water run-off recycling is the harvesting of rainwater, bath water and other waste-water for the purpose of watering lawns and gardens. Collection barrels may be placed at the bottom of roof gutter downspouts. The gray water run-off should not be drank or utilized in food preparation due to bacteria and other pathogens.