Review of the Everglades Aquifer Storage and Recovery Regional Study (2015)

The Florida Everglades is a large and diverse aquatic ecosystem that has been greatly altered over the past century by an extensive water control infrastructure designed to increase agricultural and urban economic productivity. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), launched in 2000, is a joint effort led by the state and federal government to reverse the decline of the ecosystem. Increasing water storage is a critical component of the restoration, and the CERP included projects that would drill over 330 aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells to store up to 1.65 billion gallons per day in porous and permeable units in the aquifer system during wet periods for recovery during seasonal or longer-term dry periods.

To address uncertainties regarding regional effects of large-scale ASR implementation in the Everglades, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the South Florida Water Management District conducted an 11-year ASR Regional Study, with focus on the hydrogeology of the Floridan aquifer system, water quality changes during aquifer storage, possible ecological risks posed by recovered water, and the regional capacity for ASR implementation. At the request of the USACE, Review of the Everglades Aquifer Storage and Recovery Regional Study reviews the ASR Regional Study Technical Data Report and assesses progress in reducing uncertainties related to full-scale CERP ASR implementation. This report considers the validity of the data collection and interpretation methods; integration of studies; evaluation of scaling from pilot-to regional-scale application of ASR; and the adequacy and reliability of the study as a basis for future applications of ASR.

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Re-Engineering Water Storage in the Everglades: Risk and Opportunities (2005)

The Water Science and Technology Board and the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology have released the seventh and final report of the Committee on Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, which provides consensus advice to the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force on various scientific and technical topics. Human settlements and flood-control structures have significantly reduced the Everglades, which once encompassed over three million acres of slow-moving water enriched by a diverse biota. To remedy the degradation of the Everglades, a comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was formulated in 1999 with the goal of restoring the original hydrologic conditions of its remaining natural ecosystem. A major feature of this plan is providing enough storage capacity to meet human needs while also providing the needs of the greater Everglades ecosystem. This report reviews and evaluates not only storage options included in the Restoration Plan but also other options not considered in the Plan. Along with providing hydrologic and ecological analyses of the size, location and functioning of water storage components, the report also discusses and makes recommendations on related critical factors, such as timing of land acquisition, intermediate states of restoration, and tradeoffs among competing goals and ecosystem objectives.

Reengineering Water Storage


Does Water Flow Influence Everglades Landscape Patterns? (2003)

The report evaluates a White Paper written by restoration planners in South Florida on the role of water flow in restoration plans. The report concludes that there is strong evidence that the velocity, rate, and spatial distribution of water flow play important roles in maintaining the tree islands and other ecologically important landscape features of the Everglades.

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Adaptive Monitoring and Assessment for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (2003)

The report evaluates the plan to monitor and assess the condition of Florida’s Everglades as restoration efforts proceed. The report finds that the plan is well grounded in scientific theory and principals of adaptive management. However, steps should be taken to ensure that information from those monitoring the ecology of the Everglades is readily available to those implementing the overall restoration effort. Also, the plan needs to place greater consideration on how population growth and land-use changes will affect the restoration effort and vice versa.

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Science and the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration: An Assessment of the Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative (2003)

The report reviews a U.S. Department of the Interior research program, finding that it provides key information to support the restoration of the Florida Everglades and to better assess the impact of hydrologic change on the ecosystem. However, the program needs more funding, better management and broader distribution of its findings. The report suggests that strategic investments in Everglades research will increase the chances of reaching restoration goals while reducing overall costs.

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Regional Issues in Aquifer Storage and Recovery for Everglades Restoration: A Review of the ASR Regional Study Project Management Plan of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (2002)

The report reviews a comprehensive research plan on Everglades restoration drafted by federal and Florida officials that assesses a central feature of the restoration: a proposal to drill more than 300 wells funneling up to 1.7 billion gallons of water a day into underground aquifers, where it would be stored and then pumped back to the surface to replenish the Everglades during dry periods. The report says that the research plan goes a long way to providing information needed to settle remaining technical questions and clearly responds to suggestions offered by scientists in Florida and in a previous report by the Research Council.

Regional Issues ASR


Florida Bay Research Programs and Their Relation to the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (2002)

This report is a product of the Committee on Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem (CROGEE), which provides consensus advice to the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. The Task Force was established in 1993 and was codified in the 1996 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA); its responsibilities include the development of a comprehensive plan for restoring, preserving and protecting the South Florida ecosystem, and the coordination of related research. The CROGEE works under the auspices of the Water Science and Technology Board and the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the National Research Council. The CROGEE’s mandate includes providing the Task Force not only with scientific overview and technical assessment of the restoration activities and plans, but also providing focused advice on technical topics of importance to the restoration efforts. One such topic was to examine “the linkage between the upstream components of the greater Everglades and adjacent coastal ecosystems.”

This report addresses this issue by breaking it down into three major questions:

  • What is the present state of knowledge of Florida Bay (“the Bay”) on scientific issues that relate to the success of the overall CERP?
  • What are the potential long-term effects of Everglades restoration as currently designed on the nature and condition of the Bay?
  • What are the critical science questions that should be answered early in the restoration process to design a system that benefits not only the terrestrial and freshwater aquatic Everglades but the Bay as well?

This study was inspired in part by the 2001 Florida Bay and Adjacent Marine Systems Science Conference held on April 23-26, 2001 in Key Largo, Florida. An overlapping meeting of the CROGEE was held at the same location on April 26-28, 2001. The conference was organized by the Program Management Committee (PMC) of the Florida Bay and Adjacent Marine Systems Science Program. The PMC organized the conference around five questions suggested by the Florida Bay Science Oversight Panel. These questions related to circulation, salinity patterns, and outflows of the Bay; nutrients and the nutrient budget; onset, persistence and fate of planktonic algal blooms; temporal and spatial changes in seagrasses and the hardbottom community; and recruitment, growth and survivorship of higher trophic level species. Some of these issues are discussed in the present report. However, as noted earlier, this report focuses on the subset of questions that relate to linkages between the Bay and the upstream portion of the Everglades system that arose at the 2001 Florida Bay Conference.

Florida Bay Research Programs


Aquifer Storage and Recovery in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan: A Critique of the Pilot Projects and Related Plans for ASR in the Lake Okeechobee and Western Hillsboro Areas (2001)

Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is a process by which water is recharged through wells to an aquifer and extracted for beneficial use at some later time from the same wells. ASR is proposed as a major water storage component in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), developed jointly by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). The plan would use the Upper Floridan aquifer (UFA) to store as much as 1.7 billion gallons per day (gpd) (6.3 million m3/day) of excess surface water and shallow groundwater during wet periods for recovery during seasonal or longer-term dry periods, using about 333 wells. ASR represents about one-fifth of the total estimated cost of the CERP.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan examines pilot project from the perspective of adaptive assessment, i.e., the extent to which the pilot projects will contribute to process understanding that can improve design and implementation of restoration project components. This report is a critique of the pilot projects and related studies.

ASR in CERP Cover