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WASD makes history by completing the state's deepest exploratory injection well

MIAMI (June 17, 2016)

The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) is proud to have completed the state’s deepest “exploratory” injection well, at a depth of 10,000 feet, on Virginia Key.  The purpose of the pilot well is to research and study Florida’s prehistoric rock formations to determine the feasibility of safely disposing treated wastewater at depths that provide a greater margin of protection to the drinking water resources of Miami-Dade County.

The deep injection well project was conceived after the passage of Florida’s 2008 Ocean Outfall legislation, Chapter 2008-232, in which all wastewater utilities in southeast Florida utilizing ocean outfalls for disposal of treated wastewater must reduce nutrient discharges by 2018, cease using the outfalls by 2025, and reuse 60 percent of the wastewater flows by 2025.

WASD Senior Professional Geologist, Virginia Walsh, Ph.D., P.G., says this exploratory well will provide great insight as to what lies beneath our surface. “It will be a safer alternative and the findings will be used in the planning of future injection wells,” said Walsh.

The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department treats an average of 290 million gallons of wastewater per day.  Officials and engineers believe the only way to be able to comply with the new state laws is to safely dispose of the treated wastewater in deep injection wells. 

“We have been successfully using injection wells at the South District Wastewater Plant since the 1980s and are trying to explore the safest option to be able to comply with the new state mandate,” said WASD Director Lester Sola. 

Building more wells is part of the departments $13.5 billion Capital Improvement Program, the largest in Miami-Dade County’s history, to improve the water and wastewater infrastructure throughout the County.  The County currently has 21 injection wells and plans to more than double that amount by 2025.

In order to construct this first-of-its-kind deep injection well, Youngquist Brothers Inc. was awarded a $20 million contract and created a custom rig, holding more than one million pounds in concrete, steel and fiberglass piping.  The project took one and a half years to construct. 

A second, deep injection well is to be drilled next to the pilot well in Virginia Key at a depth of 3,300 feet and is to be completed by January 2017.  The two injection wells are expected to begin operations by 2018.  In the meantime, research is being conducted on rock cores, rock and water samples and data collected during the pilot hole drilling by WASD, its consultants, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

It is the priority of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department to provide safe, reliable service to its customers. For additional information about Department services and programs, visit the website.

Note to Editor: Photos are available upon request.