Florida sinkholes spreading real estate effects in same Aquifer as under Lowndes County

Florida real estate effects of sinkholes in the same Floridan Aquifer that underlies Lowndes County would be worth looking at before rushing to build Moody Housing around a sinkhole on Val Del Road. It’s not just the sinkhole that may widen, it’s housing prices that may drop.

Diana Olick wrote for CNBC 15 August 2013, Overdevelopment widens Florida sinkhole problem,

A section of the Summer Bay Resort lies collapsed after a large sinkhole opened on the property’s grounds in Clermont, Fla. on Aug. 12.
Sinkholes may be as old as the earth itself, but the increase in sinkhole activity is new. The rush to reason why has put scientists, engineers and real estate developers at odds.

Some geological experts believe the sinkhole activity is increasing because developers are pumping more water out of the ground for new projects or for agricultural use. While acid in the water itself is what causes the limestone under much of Florida to dissipate and create the holes, the water also acts as a support. Add water from heavy rains on the top soil, and you’ve got a bigger problem.

It is even beginning to weigh on the recovering real estate market in Florida.

Recent sinkholes of note in Lowndes County include:

What about sinkhole insurance?

“The number of insurance claims for sinkhole damage has increased significantly over the last several years. According to Office of Insurance Regulation, total reported claims in Florida increased from 2,360 in 2006 to 3,135 in 2010, according to Citizens Property Insurance Corp. website. “The Florida Insurance Commissioner has identified sinkhole claims as a major cost-driver and expressed concern that these claims could threaten the solvency of Florida’s property insurance market.”

Sinkhole insurance can run anywhere from around $200 to $2,000 depending on where a home is located. The Tampa Bay area is considered “Sinkhole Alley,” but some have referred to Florida as the “Swiss Cheese State.”

Does Lowndes County want to be known as Sinkhole County?

Here’s a developer whistling from his sinkholed development:

“Mother Earth controls this,” said Paul Caldwell, president and general manager of the Summer Bay resort where Sunday’s collapse occurred. He said its developer does not build in “dense” areas. “We test as we develop.”

Still, one third of the sinkhole activity recorded since 1960 occurred in the last 13 years; half of that happened in the last three years.

Which would you rather believe? A developer making a quick buck, or the numbers that say sinkholes are rapidly increasing in Florida? Florida, which is on top of the same Floridan Aquifer we are?

“In the last probably five or six years, yeah, there’s been a boom in more sinkholes being tested, confirmed,” said Frank Vitale of L.R.E. Ground Services, a sinkhole remediation company in business for the past 25 years. He said his company has done over 4,500 jobs, large and small.

“There’s definitely more work in the last five years,” he said. “It could be a lot of different things. It could be the aquifer. It could be settlement issues, clay issues, buried debris. There’s a million factors that can play into it, and that’s why it’s really important for an engineer to come in and assess the problem.”

Maybe somebody not the Air Force and not the County Engineer and not any of the developers should check out the site for Moody Family Housing on Val Del Road before anybody builds anything there.


3 thoughts on “Florida sinkholes spreading real estate effects in same Aquifer as under Lowndes County

  1. Don Thieme

    John – Thank you for pressing forward on this important issue for the airmen and their families at Moody AFB as well as for all citizens of Lowndes County. My colleagues and I are also concerned and hope that we can eventually obtain the Phase I geotechnical study. Of course, we have our own research agendas as well as a desire to see our students working on these problems close to their own university campus. In particular, one of my undergraduate students just completed his thesis on karst subsidence beneath a house in Lowndes County. Here is a link to a poster where he presented those finding to our undergraduate research conference: GPR Investigation of Subsidence.

  2. Pingback: Karst subsidence beneath a house in Lowndes County –Don Thieme @ LCC 2013-08-13 | On the LAKE front

  3. Pingback: How big might a sinkhole be? @ LCC 2013-08-13 | On the LAKE front

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