Federal funding for water storage north of Lake O delayed
Plans for water storage north of Lake Okeechobee have hit another snag.
At the Nov. 18 meeting of the South Florida Water Management District, SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett said the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Plan (LORWP) will not be included in funding from the 2022 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which funds the federal portion of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) as well as other water projects across the country. Congress can pass a WRDA every two years, but in the past Congress has gone as long as seven years between WDRAs.
CERP is a federal-state partnership, to be funded 50-50.
LOWRP includes aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells as well as two wetlands restoration projects on the Kissimmee River. ASR wells pump clean freshwater about 1,000 feet below the surface into the Floridan aquifer. This is not the same aquifer used for water supply. Most wells dug for water supply are surficial wells dug about 100 feet deep.
For ASR wells, water is treated to drinking water standards – as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency – before it is pumped into the aquifer, where the freshwater creates a bubble in the slightly brackish water of the Floridan aquifer. That same freshwater can be pumped out of the ASR bubble when needed for water supply.