Florida Geological Survey Collaborates to Study Groundwater in Pinellas County

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Geological Survey is participating in a study that will investigate the effects of recharging up to 3 million gallons per day of purified reclaimed water into the Suwannee Limestone of the Upper Floridan aquifer at the Northwest Wastewater Treatment Facility in Clearwater.

“The Florida Geological Survey is excited to contribute to this important project by helping provide an understanding of complex water-rock interactions that can help the people of Clearwater,” said Cindy Fischler, a professional geologist with the Florida Geological Survey. “Studies like this are highly important as Florida water managers explore development of alternative water resources.”

In partnership with the University of Florida and IndeWater, LLC, the groundwater replenishment study is being led by Tetra Tech and Leggette, Brashears & Graham, Inc. for the city of Clearwater and the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The project is currently underway and is expected to be completed in one year.

The Florida Geological Survey’s portion of the study, which includes a $13,200 grant from the University of Florida, will begin in July with multiple methods of geochemical analysis of rock samples taken from the aquifer. The samples will be taken from rock that has not been exposed to pretreated waters and compared to rock that has been exposed.

When water is injected during aquifer recharge, it interacts with the rock, which can lead to trace metals leaching from the rock into the groundwater. The rock samples will be used to experiment with different water treatment processes in the lab and in the field to determine a way to pre-treat the injected water in order to minimize trace metal leaching into the aquifer at the Clearwater site. The analysis conducted by the Florida Geological Survey will reveal the minerals and trace metals present in the rock and the changes between the pre- and post-leached rock.

The Floridan aquifer system, which underlies all of Florida, is the main source of drinking water for much of the state. Groundwater, pumped primarily from the Floridan aquifer system, provides at least 90 percent of the drinking water that Floridians use for their drinking water. The Florida Geological Survey focuses on studying groundwater with emphasis on its chemistry, movement and relation to geologic environment in order to help keep the public’s drinking water clean and safe.

“A study is underway that could help the city of Clearwater ensure the availability of more drinking water in the future,” said Tracy Mercer, Clearwater Public Utilities Director. “This study will measure the potential to improve groundwater levels within the city so more drinking water will be available by directly adding up to 3 million gallons a day of purified reclaimed water into a brackish water zone below the freshwater zone of the Upper Floridan aquifer.”

For more information on Florida Geological Survey projects, please visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/default.htm .

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