Monitoring regional effects of high pressure injection of wastewater in a limestone aquifer

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More than 10 billion gallons (38 × 106 m3) of acid industrial liquid waste has been injected in about 11 years under high pressure into a saline-water-filled part of a limestone aquifer of low transmissivity between 1,400 and 1,700 feet (430 and 520 m) below land surface near Pensacola, Florida. A similar waste disposal system is planned for the same zone at a site about 8.5 miles (13.7 km) to the east. The injection zone is the lower limestone of the Floridan aquifer. The lower limestone is overlain by a confining layer of plastic clay about 220 feet (67 m) thick at the active injection site and underlain by another confining layer of shale and clay. The upper confining layer is overlain by the upper limestone of the Floridan aquifer.

The active injection system consists of two injection wells about a quarter of a mile (0.4 km) apart and three monitor wells. Two of the monitor wells (deep monitors) are used to observe hydraulic and geochemical effects of waste injection in the injection zone at locations about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south and 1.9 miles (3.1 km) north of the center of the injection site. The third well (shallow monitor), used to observe any effects in the upper limestone, is about 100 feet (30 m) from one of the injection wells. Since 1972 the injection zone has also been monitored at a test well at the planned new injection site. Three more monitor wells in the injection zone were activated in early 1974 at sites 17 miles (27 km) northeast, 22 miles (35 km) east and 33 miles (53 km) northeast of the injection site. The six deep monitors provide a system for evaluating the regional effects of injecting wastes. No change in pressure or water quality due to injection was, by mid-1974, evident in the upper limestone at the injection site, but static pressures in the lower limestone at the site had increased 8 fold since injection began in 1963. Chemical analyses indicated probable arrival of the diluted waste at the south monitor well in 1973. By mid-1974 waste evidently had not reached the north monitor well.

Calculations indicate that by mid-1974 pressure effects from waste injection extended radially more than 40 miles (64 km) from the injection site. By mid-1974 pressure effects of injection were evident from water-level measurements made at the five deep monitor wells nearest the active injection site. No effects were recognized at the well 33 miles (53 km) away. Less than 20 miles (32 km) northeast of the active injection site, the lower limestone contains fresh water. Changes in the pressure regime due to injection indicate a tendency for northeastward movement of the fresh-water/salt-water interface in the lower limestone.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Monitoring regional effects of high pressure injection of wastewater in a limestone aquifer
Series title Groundwater
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.1975.tb03077.x
Volume 13
Issue 2
Year Published 1975
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 12 p.
First page 197
Last page 208
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