Abandoned Artesian Well Plugging Program

Abandoned Artesian Well Plugging Program


Good morning Mr. chairman and members
of the governing board. I’m Gary Foster, project manager of the
abandoned artesian well plugging program, and I am here to present an informational
update on the status and cost of this efficient program. Due to the droughts of the early 50s the
Florida legislature enacted the first regulations dealing with free-flowing wells, requiring
working valves or caps to be installed on flowing wells, and a few years later, adopted
additional legislation dealing with plugging of artesian wells. In 1972, the Florida Legislature established the five
water management districts and the rules governing abandoned artesian
wells were enforced by the districts through the Florida Department
of Environmental Regulation. In 1983, the Water Quality Assurance Act was enacted, calling for all known abandoned
artesian wells to be plugged. The district began funding the program and
seeking to share costs with local governments and homeowners. Reimbursement guidelines. Residential and homeowners, 50 percent
of the cost per well, to a maximum of $600 per well. Commercial, industrial, agriculture, excluding
public water supply utility wells, 50 percent of the cost per well. Public sector and government, 50 percent
of the cost per well. Government conservation lands, no cost the
managing or owning jurisdiction. The diagram illustrates the problems
that occur in the failing abandoned artesian wells and why they should be plugged. As you can see, at A, the continuous flow
at the surface and failing well and B, water from the lower aquifer leaks into the surficial
intermediate aquifers and C, inter-aquifer flow of
lesser quality water moving upward and contaminating the fresher water
in the upper portion of the same aquifer. Here we have a brief video that represents
our largest well plugging event of this year. Our Safety Officer David Sielaff is conducting
a safety briefing before work commences. The contractors are removing
a leaking flange of a 10” well with a maximum potential flow
of 800 gallons per minute. The crew is attempting to pump out the water
allowing them to install the header. As you can see some of the water issues you
might encounter with a flow rate of 800 gpm. The crew is now installing the header giving
them control of the well to the contractors. They begin logging the well to determine open
hole diameter, total well depth and other aquifer parameters that are
useful information when plugging a well. The work crew begins pumping 3 truck loads
totaling 21 cubic yards of cement into the well plugging it up to the surface. This chart illustrates the total wells plugged
per county. As you can see, in Brevard and Indian River,
artesian conditions exist throughout these counties, and in Seminole County, it’s mainly
around river and spring areas. Moving to the right side of the chart, you see Putnam,
Clay, Duval and St. Johns, where those conditions exist along the river. This graph represents the yearly maximum potential
flow conserved per year with a total maximum potential flow
conserved of 697.5 mgd. In order to put this into perspective, this
number is 33 times the current annual allocation of the City of Melbourne at (20.5 mgd) and 5 times the current allocation for one of our largest utilities, J-E-A at (133.5 mgd). The large fluctuations in mgd per year
is due to changes in funding and in staffing. Well plugging benefits offer aquifer protection,
water supply conservation, water quality and hydrogeologic data sources, and reduction
of associated health risk and hazards. I would encourage everyone to check out the
article ‘Put a cork in it’ in Streamlines, on page one. Thank you very much and any questions.

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