Learn how various water storage types can work in tandem to reduce harmful discharges to the costal estuaries, keep Lake Okeechobee at a safe level, and provide water to the Everglades & water supply users.
Storage Options identified in the LOWP* :
1. ASR Wells (Aquifer Storage and Recovery)
2. DWI Wells (Deep Well Injection)
(Resources: 2015 University of Florida Water Institute Study; *LOWP- Lake Okeechobee watershed Project, a joint effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and SFWMD)
Northern Water Storage Projects Are Vital
Too much nutrient polluted water is flowing into Lake Okeechobee. SFWMD research shows that more than 95% of the water and the nutrients originate from areas to the north of the lake. In heavy rain events, water flows into Lake Okeechobee six times faster than it can be drained via canals!
This untreated lake water is then discharged to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries when Lake Okeechobee levels get too high. The costal estuaries require a unique balance of saltwater and fresh water. Too much or too little freshwater from the lake causes the estuary ecosystem to suffer.
Capturing water north, before it enters the lake, is paramount. If water is collected, cleaned and stored north of the lake, it can then be released into the system during dry times. Northern storage will benefit Lake Okeechobee, the costal estuaries, the Everglades, and water supply users. Water managers and scientists put together this fact sheet to stress the importance of water storage projects north of Lake Okeechobee.
ASR Wells (Aquifer Storage and Recovery)
The Technology: excess surface water is pumped 900 feet underground into the Upper Floridan Aquifer (see graphic below)
Cost: $1 - $6 million
Capacity: can inject 8 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) / 5 million gallons per day
Timeline: Plan, Permit, Construct to be operational in 3-4 years
Downfall: water must be treated when implanted and upon recovery which can become pricey. There is a limit on how much water can be injected into the Florida Aquifer, high likelihood of of that limit being reached in heavy rain events **ideal if used in tandem with DWI wells
Upside: 70% -90% of water stored can be recovered during dry periods to supplement water supply for all users & the environment. Also will provide relief for the costal estuaries and Lake O during heavy rain events
Usage: water supply storage, protect estuaries & prevent flooding, reduce/eliminate discharges damaging the estuaries
Land footprint: less than an acre
ASR wells are very ‘site-specific’ and fortunately, scientists say the land north of lake Okeechobee is ideal for ASR well technology allowing for a 90% water recovery rate
ASR wells have proven provide a reduction in phosphorus concentrations in recovered water (source: 2015 University of Florida Water Institute Study)
2. DEEP WELL INJECTION (DWI) WELLS
The technology: water is pumped 3,000 feet underground into a transmissive rock layer that easily accepts water called the "Boulder Zone"
$ Cost: $500 thousand - $5 million
Capacity: can inject 30 cubic feet of water per second (cfs), 2-5 million gallons a day. In total, roughly a billion gallons of water a day could be injected into the boulder zone without affecting the ASR wells
Timeline: can be planned, permitted, and constructed to be operational in 2-3 years
Downfall: water injected cannot be recovered in dry times
Upside: Relief for the costal estuaries and Lake O during heavy rain events; water can be injected at a much faster rate than water can be injected into ASR wells
Usage: protect estuaries, prevent flooding, reduce/eliminate discharges damaging the estuaries
Land footprint: less than an acre
20 deep injection wells would reduce the volume of excess water in typical discharge events by 27%
60 deep injection wells constructed would reduce the volume of excess water in typical discharge events by 80%
Quickest, easiest, deepest option
DWI are used all over the world and are commonly used for municipal wastewater disposal
There are 240 deep wells throughout Florida that have successfully operated for 15 yrs
Lee county sewage uses deep wells
Miami-Dade has 21 deep injection wells (some of which are used for treated sewage) and they expect to double this number by 2025
Largest number of permitted deep wells is in Martin County (30+ deep wells)
Rainfall, a natural resource, would be injected to help manage excess rainwater - not sewage
NEVER has there been a recorded incidence in Florida of DWI leaking into the aquifer
How do DWI compare to fracking?
DWI are operated at low pressures (1.5 – 20 per square inch PSI) that do not cause fracturing of rock layers
A bike tire is pumped up at a similar PSI as a DWI well
Fracking can be up to 9,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) and can fracture rock layers
Cost: Billions (the current EAA reservoir is estimated to cost a staggering $4.3 Billion)
Capacity: 240,00 - 360,000 acre-feet
Timeline: 5 - 10 years - locate/purchase land, construct berm,
Downfall: Biggest negative economic impact, high cost to operate once constructed, are often not usable because the same rain event that flooded nearby lands has filled the reservoir i.e. Everglades will be flooded and unable to accept water
Upside: 100 % of water stored can be used during dry periods to supplement water supply for all users & the environment. Also provide relief for the costal estuaries and Lake O during heavy rain events
Usage: water supply storage & protect / discharges damaging the estuaries
Reservoirs have been used in Florida and the USA for 40 years
The James Madison Institute did an in-dpeth study on the negative economic impact taking 60,000 acres of EAA farmland out of production to build a reservior would have - click here to read the full report.