Efficient water management is the foundation for an effective water management plan. But, water resources are limited and rainfall is uncertain. The idea is that when a drought occurs, systems are already in place to make sure that Broward County residents continue to have access to the water necessary to maintain adequate levels of domestic, business, industrial, and commercial activities.
One way to manage drought is to adequately plan for it, just as people plan for retirement throughout their working career. The idea is that when a drought occurs, systems are already in place to make sure that Broward County residents continue to have access to the water necessary to maintain an adequate level of domestic, business, industrial, and commercial activities.
During prolonged periods without rain, groundwater levels can drop and it becomes more challenging to provide water to people and natural systems. During these periods, the County has been dependent on water from the Everglades system to maintain the canal system and ground water levels.
With Everglades restoration activities underway, there is a need for urban communities to meet these demands through alternative water supplies so that there continues to be enough water to maintain the Everglades’ natural areas.
Maintaining water levels in our canals is critical to managing water resources in Broward County. Minimum canal levels have been established to prevent erosion, provide wellfield and natural system recharge, and to prevent saltwater intrusion.
In Broward County, saltwater intrusion occurs when groundwater levels drop. The amount of pressure created by fresh groundwater is reduced, so the wall of salty ocean water to the east is able to move westward. This saltwater movement has the potential to contaminate drinking water wells and make them unusable. The County tries to prevent this by enhancing groundwater recharge with surface waters transported throughout our elaborate canal network.
One of the objectives of the County’s IWRP is to reduce the County’s reliance upon the Everglades system as a source water for this canal recharge.
Drought management can be accomplished in several ways. Typically, drought management involves storing water during the rainy season so that when there is a drought, water can be distributed in an effective and timely manner to those who need it most. Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR), wastewater reuse, and water filtration are all potential means for providing drought management in Broward County.
Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)
Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is a process that involves temporarily storing water in the upper Floridan Aquifer to be withdrawn during times of reduced rainfall and drought. Potential source waters for an ASR system are the Biscayne Aquifer, with water collected during the wet season. ASR withdrawals can then be used for potable purposes or for canal recharge. This method of water management is still in the early stages of implementation in Broward County, but has the potential to provide a cost-effective means of providing drought management.
One challenge is locating the right site for the placement of ASR wells. There are many factors to be considered, land availability, local geology, and potential interaction with neighboring utility operations. Regulatory constraints must be considered as well. It is a complicated process, but the County is committed to making ASR a reality.
There are various forms of water reclamation (or reuse) that can be used to support the development of new water supplies. Two principle strategies that are being pursued by Broward County are stormwater reuse and Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT). Stormwater reuse involves the capture of stormwater runoff and AWT, like the name suggests, entails the high level treatment of domestic wastewater to a strict water quality standard. These sources of reuse can be used for irrigation or canal recharge.
In Broward County, the quality of the water in the Floridan Aquifer is not as good as water from the Biscayne Aquifer. While the Floridan Aquifer is the major source of water in other parts of the state, its use is limited in South Florida because it is salty. So the Floridan Aquifer hasn’t been the first choice for Broward water utilities. But as water resources become more limited, more water utilities are considering using state-of-the-art technology to make the water drinkable. The process is called reverse osmosis.
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Reverse osmosis uses a membrane that is semi-permeable, so water flows through the membrane, but minerals, bacteria, salts, and particles cannot. This means that the drinking water coming from your tap is of the highest quality.