October 16, 2017

Pumping water back into aquifers?

The idea of pumping treated wastewater back into the deep Potomac aquifer sounds a bit yucky to many folks. But supposedly, it has been done successfully elsewhere. Some initiatives in Clearwater, Florida, say it can be done.

Florida firms have successfully treated wastewater to irrigate golf courses. Even purifying it to drinking standards too! But "toilet to tap" has its skeptics.

That has not stopped James City County from looking at this technology. A recent headline proclaimed that the county was "to get its first aquifer plant." Further reading explains that James City County feels the pressure to do something to allow it to keep drawing down our groundwater supplies.

A pilot program in Yorktown to treat wastewater to drinking standards has begun; another pilot in Suffolk to inject a million gallons per day into the aquifer. But the entire project (seven plants) has a $1 billion price tag.

Why do we look at this "ground-breaking" effort? Local areas in Tidewater are sinking or "subsiding." And this, along with sea level rise, are not making many waterfront homeowners happy. Or anyone in flood-prone neighborhoods for that matter.

More permits are needed before the project proceeds. But watch local papers for updates.