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Feasibility of Regional-Scale Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR): Scientific Uncertainties

By Carl R. Goodwin
U.S. Geological Survey, 227 N. Bronough St., Suite 3015, Tallahassee, Florida 32301

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Abstract

The concept of pumping water underground during times of excess supply and recovering the same water later to supplement supplies is attractive as a water management tool.  In fact, aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is functioning well in many localized areas throughout the country.  The application of this concept on a regional scale is a logical next step and is being proposed as a key component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

In areas of potential regional-scale ASR application such as south Florida, there are several significant scientific uncertainties that must be addressed to help assure that societal expenditures on such ventures are scientifically well founded and are afforded the greatest chance of success.  Scientific uncertainties span a variety of disciplines, including hydrogeology, geochemistry, and microbiology.  Uncertainties can be framed as questions whose answers are presently either unknown, only known in a very general way, or expected to be within a very large range of possibilities.  Some examples are:

  • How will local and regional aquifer pressures change, and what are the implications of such changes?
  • How far will the recharged water migrate into the targeted zone?
  • What will be the extent of mixing recharge with native aquifer water?
  • How much of the recharged water will be recoverable?
  • How will recharge water, native aquifer water, and aquifer materials interact to affect the chemistry of recovered water?
  • Will trace elements and radionuclides be mobilized during storage of water in the aquifer?
  • How do subsurface microbial communities respond to recharged water?
  • What is the fate and transport of introduced pathogens?
  • Will chemical reactions between mixing waters alter the matrix of the aquifer substrate?

This presentation addresses and expands upon these scientific uncertainties, using schematics and animation sequences to better explain the concepts.


In George R. Aiken and Eve L. Kuniansky, editors, 2002, U.S. Geological Survey Artificial Recharge Workshop Proceedings, Sacramento, California, April 2-4, 2002: USGS Open-File Report 02-89

The use of firm, trade, and brand names in this report is for identification purposes only and does not consitute endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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