These injection wells could be serious temptation to take the easy way out in a crisis.St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
Author: In Search of Robin
St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman's quick fix to the City's massive wastewater problem is wastewater injection wells.
The plan is to drill up to four injection wells about 1000 feet deep at the South West Treatment plant and pump wastewater into the wells.
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Want to know more about injection wells, check out the Environmental Protection Agency article: General Information About Injection Wells
There are pluses and minuses to deep injection of wastewater, and you can find more by Goggling "waste water injection wells."
The primary concern is long-term pollution of the aquifer or the layer of underground water that supplies much of our drinking water.
Kriseman is correct when he says these wells will not affect St. Pete's drinking water.
The reason is most of St. Pete's drinking water comes from well fields north of the City. These new injection wells are at the southern most end of the City and the general migration of water in the aquifer is southerly.
The folks in Manatee, Sarasota and counties further south should be concerned.
This might be a more viable solution if the Kriseman administration had a pristine reputation for following the rules and being honest with the public about its actions.
The thought of these wells where there is no way to tell, what is being pumped down them opens the door to all sorts of possibilities. Once something is pumped down these wells, the results from that action may not surface for years.
The people who operate the City's wastewater treatment plants are licensed by the State and are of the up most integrity.
A lot of people on City staff are as concerned or maybe even more concerned about the political fallout from their decisions as they are about doing the job.
When they ask for federal whistle blower protection before they raise issues it does not increase the level of confidence in the Kriseman administration's ability to govern or manage.
Instead of looking for the quick fix and a solution that is essentially out of public and regulatory view, Kriseman and his team should be focusing on building more treatment capacity and actually solving the wastewater problem with time-tested technology.
The real solution lies in restarting the Albert Whitted Treatment plant with an upgrade to the latest technology.
In a crisis, we can only trust Kriseman, and his team will do the right thing. He and his administration's record of accomplishment regarding forthrightness, honesty and transparency are less than stellar.
These injection wells could be serious temptation to take the easy way out in a crisis.
City council needs to ensure that there are proper controls and secure automated monitoring so when the question is asked what did you pump down the wells, there is a credible answer.
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