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projects > determination of groundwater-flow direction and rate beneath florida bay, the florida keys and reef tract

Determination of Groundwater-Flow Direction and Rate Beneath Florida Bay, the Florida Keys and Reef Tract

photo of snorkeler and coral reef
Project Investigators: E. A. Shinn, Chris Reich, Don Hickey, Ann B. Tihansky

Project Start Date: 1996 End Date: 1999


Summary

The objectives of this research are to determine the rate, direction of flow and contamination levels of saline groundwater in the Florida Keys and Florida Bay.

Treated sewage is injected into the limestone under the Florida Keys via on-site disposal systems (OSDs). There are 25,000 septic tank systems, approximately 5,000 cesspools, and approximately 1,000 class 5 injection wells. Depth of injection wells ranges from 10 to 30 m. Excessive algal growth, coral diseases and both marine grass and sponge mortality is perceived by the local population, NOAA, and EPA, to be caused by sewage nutrients leaking from groundwater on both sides of the Florida Keys. Determining the rate and direction of saline groundwater movement beneath the Keys and Florida bay is considered critical to understanding the fate and effects of subsurface waste water disposal in the Florida Keys.

The objectives of this research are to determine the rate, direction of flow and contamination levels of saline groundwater in the Florida Keys and Florida Bay. Contamination studies are necessary to determine if nutrient and other contaminant levels are rising, and to provide a baseline of data for future decision making.

The strategy of this study is to use artificial tracers to determine rate and direction of flow. Tracers are injected into well clusters, existing sewage treatment facilities, and sewage disposal wells. In addition to tracer studies groundwaters will be collected for contamination analysis so as to provide a base-line against which the effects of population increase and success of future wastewater treatment facilities can be evaluated in the future.

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Script last updated: 30 January 2014 @ 12:44 PM by THF. Record creator: BJM. Record last updated by: BJM.