Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reservoirs, Creative Solutions Are Key to Everglades Restoration, Water Supply by Melissa L. Meeker

As South Florida's regional water management agency, the South Florida Water Management District is responsible for providing flood control, restoring natural systems and ensuring a sustainable water supply for more than 7.7 million residents.

This can be a daunting task. One of the most challenging aspects of water management in South Florida is not the 50-plus inches of rain that falls in our backyards each year. Rather, it is finding a place to store that water for beneficial use during dry times.

South Florida's flat landscape means that when it rains, without storage, water must be discharged through our extensive canal system to the ocean to prevent flooding. To capture this "lost" water and use it to support Everglades restoration and regional water supply needs, the district is working hard to identify and implement storage solutions. These can come in many shapes and sizes, from aboveground reservoirs and deep injection wells to shallow storage on agricultural lands.

 A unique geological formation in Palm Beach County is providing us with one of the more creative water storage solutions. The 950-acre L-8 reservoir is a strategically located former rock mine with a watertight geology. A component of Everglades restoration, this deep-ground reservoir will contribute to cleaner water for the Everglades, restoration of the Loxahatchee River and improved water quality in the Lake Worth Lagoon. Along with environmental benefits, it also offers residential advantages such as flood control and supplementing urban water supplies.

Approved in 2002, this first-of-its-kind project provides 15 billion gallons of water storage, enough to fill 24,000 football fields one foot deep in water. And, at an investment of $6,000 per acre-foot, the rock mine saves taxpayers millions of dollars compared to constructing an above ground reservoir.

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