Well construction, hydraulic well test, ambient water-quality, and cycle test data were inventoried and compiled for 30 aquifer storage and recovery facilities constructed in the Floridan aquifer system in southern Florida. Most of the facilities are operated by local municipalities or counties in coastal areas, but five sites are currently being evaluated as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. The relative performance of all sites with adequate cycle test data was determined, and compared with four hydrogeologic and design factors that may affect recovery efficiency.
Testing or operational cycles include recharge, storage, and recovery periods that each last days or months. Cycle test data calculations were made including the potable water (chloride concentration of less than 250 milligrams per liter) recovery efficiency per cycle, total recovery efficiency per cycle, and cumulative potable water recovery efficiencies for all of the cycles at each site. The potable water recovery efficiency is the percentage of the total amount of potable water recharged for each cycle that is recovered; potable water recovery efficiency calculations (per cycle and cumulative) were the primary measures used to evaluate site performance in this study. Total recovery efficiency, which is the percent recovery at the end of each cycle, however, can be substantially higher and is the performance measure normally used in the operation of water-treatment plants.
The Upper Floridan aquifer of the Floridan aquifer system currently is being used, or planned for use, at 29 of the aquifer storage and recovery sites. The Upper Floridan aquifer is continuous throughout southern Florida, and its overlying confinement is generally good; however, the aquifer contains brackish to saline ground water that can greatly affect freshwater storage and recovery due to dispersive mixing within the aquifer. The hydrogeology of the Upper Floridan varies in southern Florida; confinement between flow zones is better in southwestern Florida than in southeastern Florida. Vertical hydraulic conductivity in the upper part of the aquifer also may be higher in southeastern Florida because of unconformities present at formation contacts within the aquifer that may be better developed in this area.
Recovery efficiencies per cycle varied widely. Eight sites had recovery efficiencies of less than about 10 percent for the first cycle, and three of these sites had not yet achieved recoveries exceeding 10 percent, even after three to five cycles. The highest recovery efficiency achieved per cycle was 94 percent. Three southeastern coastal sites and two southwestern coastal sites have achieved potable water recoveries per cycle exceeding 60 percent. One of the southeastern coastal sites and both of the southwestern coastal sites achieved good recoveries, even with long storage periods (from 174 to 191 days). The high recovery efficiencies for some cycles apparently resulted from water banking?an operational approach whereby an initial cycle with a large recharge volume of water is followed by cycles with much smaller recharge volume. This practice flushes out the aquifer around the well and builds up a buffer zone that can maintain high recovery efficiency in the subsequent cycles.
The relative performance of all sites with adequate cycle test data was determined. Performance was arbitrarily grouped into ?high? (greater than 40 percent), ?medium? (between 20 and 40 percent), and ?low? (less than 20 percent) categories based primarily on their cumulative recovery efficiency for the first seven cycles, or projected to seven cycles if fewer cycles were conducted. The ratings of three sites, considered to be borderline, were modified using the overall recharge rate derived from the cumulative recharge volumes. A higher overall recharge rate (greater than 300 million gallons per year) can improve recovery efficiency because of the water-bankin