Drainage wells have been used in Orange County, Florida, and surrounding areas to alleviate flooding and to control lake levels since 1904. Over 400 drainage wells have been drilled in the county, but many are now redundant because of surface drainage systems that have been installed within the last two or three decades. Most of the drainage wells emplace water into the Upper Floridan aquifer, a zone of high transmissivity within the Floridan aquifer system. In 1992, the Orange County Stormwater Management Department identified 23 wells that were considered noncritical or redundant for current drainage control. These wells were targeted for closure to eliminate maintenance and possible contamination problems. A 3-year study (1992 through 1994) encompassed several drainage basins in the county. Inflow to 18 of the 23 drainage wells on the noncritical list and the effects of closure of these noncritical wells on the potentiometric surface of the Upper Floridan aquifer were estimated. Three sites were chosen for intensive study and were used for further extrapolation to other noncritical sites. The total average annual recharge rate through the 18 selected wells was estimated to be 9 cubic feet per second, or about 6 million gallons per day. The highest rate of long-term recharge, 4.6 cubic feet per second, was to well H-35. Several wells on the noncritical list were already plugged or had blocked intakes. Yields, or the sum of surface-water outflows and drainage-well recharge, from the drainage basins ranged from 20 to 33 inches per year. In some of the basins, all the yield from the basin was recharge through a drainage well. In other basins, most of the yield was surface outflow through canals rather than to drainage wells. The removal of the recharge from closure of the wells was simulated by superposition in a three-dimensional ground-water flow model. As a second step in the model, water was also applied to two sites in western Orange County that could receive redirected surface water. One of the sites is CONSERV II, a distribution system used to apply reclaimed water to the surficial aquifer system through rapid infiltration basins and grove irrigation. The second site, Lake Sherwood, has an extremely high downward recharge rate estimated to be at least 54 inches per year. The results from the simulations showed a decline of 1 foot or less in the potentiometric surface of the Upper Floridan aquifer with removal of the recharge and a mound of about 1 foot in the vicinity of the two sites in western Orange County. The Lake Sherwood site seems to reduce the declines caused by closure of the wells to a greater degree than the CONSERV II site, partly because the Lake Sherwood site is closer to the drainage-well basins.
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USGS Numbered Series
Estimation of recharge through selected drainage wells and potential effects from well closure, Orange County, Florida