“Stop the flow from Lake O.”
“Send the water south.”
These are a couple of phrases you may have heard this summer as blue-green algae clogged inlets and canals along the Caloosahatchee River.
But what about storing some of that water from Lake Okeechobee underground?
The project is called Emergency Estuary Protection Wells by the South Florida Water Management District.
It’s an idea to help control Lake O releases from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.
“We think that by doing this we can have a pretty significant impact on reducing the discharges and the damages to the estuary,” Phil Flood with the South Florida Water Management District said.
The technology uses deep well injection. That means the water is pushed into the ground and stored 3,000 feet underground. To give you an idea of how deep that is, imagine two Empire State buildings end-to-end and pushed into the ground.
A rig will be used to bore a hole under the boulder zone. That’s where it will store wastewater.
“They’ve been studied, they’ve been in existence, for these purposes for over 40 years, and operating successfully, I’m told not one drop of water injected into an injection well has gotten up into a water drinking supply,” Bill Musselwhite, the Senior VP of Youngquist Brothers said.
The South Florida Water Management District is working with the Youngquist Brothers to drill two wells. One will be near the Kissimmee River and the other near the Caloosahatchee River. Their plan is to have them finished by the end of the year.
Once they’re up and running, these wells will have the capacity to hold 15 million gallons of water a day.
“We don’t think this is the total solution. We definitely have to have our Everglades Restoration Projects,” Flood said. “We need to have our reservoirs, we have to have our treatment facilities. But this is a measure we can use in the short term.”