Do you remember the old Avis slogan:
“We’re number 2 … we try harder?”
It’s a phrase that applies equally well to Florida. Not many things were invented on the peninsular state, but there are lots of things that were perfected here – concentrated orange juice, airboats, air conditionings, swamp buggies, and amusement parks to name a few.
But Florida is home and birthplace to a hydrologic original: it’s called the Floridan Aquifer, and Gerald Parker, late geologist of the U.S. Geological Survey, was its inventor.
I know what you’re thinking: that I in fact mean he “discovered” it … as do explorers, not “invented” it from scratch, say, like the light bulb of Thomas Edison. Edison, incidentally, wintered in Ft Myers, and as fate would have it, also tapped water from the Floridan Aquifer (before it had its name) for his pool – using a thousand foot deep well.
He saw that the water bearing body beneath his feet overran the bounds of Florida’s many geologic formations: Towards the Big Bend it’s exposed at the surface, south of Okeechobee it’s buried deep, and throughout the peninsula its everywhere. He saw the Floridan (… and named it) for what it truly was: the state’s biggest water body. And by labeling it as he did, Parker also became the first to use the term aquifer, now a mainstay of the hydrologic lexicon.
That makes Florida home of the world’s first aquifer, and Gerald Parker both its inventor and discoverer. If only Ponce de Leon had such luck with the Fountain of Youth!