Sinkholes have very localized structural impacts, but they may have far reaching effects on ground water resources. Sinkholes can also impact surficial hydrologic systemslakes, streams, and wet lands by changing water chemistry and rates of recharge or run-off. Because the Earth's surface is constantly changing, sinkholes and other subsidence features will continue to occur in response to both natural and human induced changes.

We have seen how specific conditions can affect the type and frequency of sinkholes, including a general lowering of ground-water levels, reduced run-off, increased recharge, or significant surface loading. Recognition of these conditions is the first step in minimizing the impact of sinkholes.
In areas underlain by cavernous limestone with thin to moderate thickness of overburden, increased sinkhole development and property loss are strongly correlated to human activity and cultural development. There are several reasons for this correlation. First, rapid growth and development makes it more likely that new sinkholes will be reported, and the construction of roads and industrial or residential buildings increases exposure to the risk of property damage. Second, land use changes in rapidly developing areas are often loosely controlled and include altered drainage, new impoundments for surface water, and new construction in sinkhole prone areas. Finally, the changing land use is often associated with population increases and increasing demands for water supplies, which may lead to increases in ground-water pumpage and the lowering of local and regional ground-water levels.

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