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Review and Hydrogeology of Aquifer Storage and Recovery Sites in Southern Florida

By Ronald S. Reese
U.S. Geological Survey, 9100 NW 36th Street, Suite 107, Miami, Florida 33178

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Aquifer storage and recovery in southern Florida has been proposed on an unprecedented scale as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Aquifer storage and recovery wells were constructed or are under construction at 27 sites in southern Florida, mostly by local municipalities or counties located in coastal areas. The Upper Floridan aquifer, the principal storage zone of interest to the restoration plan, is the aquifer being used at 22 of the sites. It is brackish to saline in southern Florida, which can greatly affect the recovery of the freshwater recharged and stored.

Well data were inventoried and compiled for all wells at most of the 27 sites. Construction and testing data were compiled into four main categories: (1) well identification, location, and construction data; (2) hydraulic test data; (3) ambient formation water-quality data; and (4) cycle testing data. Each cycle during testing or operation includes periods of recharge of freshwater, storage, and recovery that each last days or months. Cycle testing data include calculations of recovery efficiency, which is the percentage of the total amount of potable water recharged for each cycle that is recovered.

Calculated cycle test data includes potable water recovery efficiencies for 16 of the 27 sites. However, the number of cycles at most sites was limited; except for two sites, the highest number of cycles was five. Only 9 of the sites had a recovery efficiency above 10 percent for the first cycle, and 10 sites achieved a recovery efficiency above 30 percent during at least 1 cycle. The highest recovery efficiency achieved per cycle was 84 percent for cycle 16 at the Boynton Beach site.

Factors that could affect recovery of freshwater varied widely between sites. The thickness of the open storage zone at all sites ranged from 45 to 452 feet. For sites with the storage zone in the Upper Floridan aquifer, transmissivity based on tests of the storage zones ranged from 800 to 108,000 feet squared per day, leakance values indicated that confinement is not good in some areas, and the chloride concentration of ambient water ranged from 500 to 11,000 milligrams per liter.

Based on review of four case studies and data from other sites, several hydrogeologic and design factors appear to be most important to the performance of aquifer storage and recovery in the Floridan aquifer system. Performance is maximized when the storage zone is thin and located at the top of the Upper Floridan aquifer, and transmissivity and salinity of the storage zone are moderate (less than 30,000 feet squared per day and 3,000 milligrams per liter of chloride concentration, respectively). The structural setting at a site could also be important because of the potential for updip migration of a recharged freshwater bubble due to density contrast or loss of overlying confinement due to deformation.

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.

For additonal information write to:

Regional Hydrologist
Southeast Regional Office
3850 Holcomb Bridge Road
Suite 160
Norcross, GA 30092

Copies of this report can be purchased from:

U.S. Geological Survey
Branch of Information Services
Denver Federal Center
Box 25286
Denver, CO 80225-0286

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