February 8, 2017
SFWMD Hears Options To Store Lake O Water Underground
Florida Water managers heard
presentations recently on their options for underground water storage. These
are possible solutions to excess fresh water that sometimes fills Lake
Okeechobee, leading to harmful discharges in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie
Rivers. Experts say one choice is more ideal than another.
The South Florida Water Management
District’s top hydro geologist Robert Verrastro said building reservoirs is not
the only way Florida can store extra water from Lake Okeechobee. First, he told
the district's Water Resources Advisory Commission about Aquifer Storage Recovery, or ASR.
"It is the idea that we can use wells
that are drilled into the Floridan aquifer about 1,000 feet underground,"
said Verrastro. "And we can pump the water into a confined aquifer... when
there are times of excess water."
So basically, store water underground. John
Cassani is with Calusa Waterkeeper, the local chapter of the international nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance.
He said ASR is potentially a “good thing” because that stored water would be
available during the dry season to spread around wherever needed.
"I’m not even sure it's considered a
preferred alternative at this point but I think it's a valid alternative—I
think we'd probably support ASR," said Cassani.
And then there’s the second option Robert
Verrastro presented to the district: Send water 3,000 feet through a deep
injection well into what’s called the boulder zone.
"They have higher capacity than ASR
wells... like two-to-three times the capacity," said Verrastro.
But John Cassani with the water alliance
said the downfall of this method is that the water is not stored and
"So a couple issues there: What's the
fate and effect of this water? And perhaps there's some controversy that we're
losing a resource that could be valuable later on," said Cassani.
Water managers did not vote on anything in
particular. They’re just weighing their options right now. And Florida Senate
President Joe Negron filed a bill to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee for water storage.
John Cassani said everyone’s just balancing
alternatives on what to do with all this extra water in the state.