SOUTH FLORIDA -- The South Florida Water Management District continues to move forward on the Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) well component of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP). Core borings are underway at potential ASR well sites.
At their August 13, 2020 meeting, the SFWMD governing board approved the plan to drill core borings in sites where ASR wells may be placed.
At that meeting, SFWMD Director of Ecosystem Restoration and Capital Projects Jennifer Reynolds explained ASR could be part of the solution in water storage needs. “We have a deliberate path forward to use science to inform our ASR plan,” she said. Part of that plan involves exploratory coring and monitoring wells.
Core borings will provide site-specific geologic and hydrogeologic data to evaluate properties of the Floridan Aquifer system at locations under consideration for ASR wells, she said. The core borings will help scientists determine if an area is suitable for ASR.
“We know from our pilot projects and our studies that location is very important,” she explained. The cores will allow for detailed scientific assessment, she continued.
She said ASR wells are considered for use in the Upper Floridan Aquifer or the Middle Floridian Aquifer. To reach those aquifers, the cores will drill down to 1,000 to 2,000 feet deep. She added these are not deep injection wells (DIW). DIWs go into the Boulder Zone which is about 3,000 feet deep.
All of the sites under consideration are already owned by the state.
She said they are also investigating the potential to use ASRs to improve the performance of stormwater treatment areas (STAs).
At that August meeting, the governing board approved a contract for core borings not to exceed $14 million.
Reynolds said in order to answer the scientific questions they also need to put in a cluster of wells in order to gather the data needed.
The state has already allocated $100 million for the ASR wells included in the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project, to fast-track storage north of the lake. She said this funding will allow them to remediate two existing ASR wells and implement 10 new ASRs.
Reynolds said the corings will help evaluate both the Upper Floridian Aquifer and the Middle Floridian Aquifer and how projects in the upper watershed might affect water in the SFWMD district area.
“ASR has been a subject for more than a decade,” said Drew Bartlett, SFWMD executive director. “It has been peer reviewed already through the National Academy of Sciences.” He said the core borings are needed to answer questions raised by the academy.
The governing board voted 7-2 to approve the three-year contract with Huss Drilling Inc. for core borings, not to exceed $14 million.