Water-Related News

State may pump stormwater below ground to keep it out of Lake Okeechobee

The Everglades Foundation and other environmental groups are pushing the state to purchase agriculture lands south of Lake Okeechobee for Everglades restoration projects.

How do you get rid of excess rain water without using the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries as dumping grounds?

Try deep well injection, or aquifer storage and recovery, two technologies the South Florida Water Management District is considering as it moves forward with Everglades restoration projects.

"The whole idea is that they could assist in the control of the lake level and help with damaging estuary discharges," said Bob Verrastro, the district's top hydrologist. "And the one thing about deep injection wells is they are a one-way street. It’s water that will ultimately be lost underground. It’s as if the water were discharged to tide, but we can use these wells to discharge to tide before they (large volumes of water) get to Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries."

A group called the Water Resources Advisory Commission takes input during the planning process and is an advisory board for the district's governing board members. It met Thursday in West Palm Beach to discuss options but didn't vote on a specific plan.

More than 500 million gallons was released from Lake Okeechobee and into the Caloosahatchee River during 2016, an odd year that started with heavy El Nino rains in January and ended with six of the last seven months seeing below average rainfall.