We cannot risk the final deathblow to our fragile coastal reef system and fishery with the decision to inject inadequately treated sewage waste into the highly fractured regional karst aquifer system below us.
The Florida barrier Reef is the third largest coral barrier reef system in the world expanding 4 miles wide and 170 miles long. Coral reefs need pristine, clear and nutrient-free waters to survive.
There is no geologic barrier that prevents commingling of waters in this karst aquifer. The Commission should delay their approval of this decision until they can get properly constructed testing of the permeability of the rock thousands of feet below to the surface.
The wrong decision could spell economic death of the lower keys when the reef system dies. The deep wells will not hide the pollution and will not protect the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the jurisdictional wetlands on Cudjoe Key. Polluted water from deep well injection will damage the reef system.
Deep well injection effluent transported through fractures has made it to the Marquesas Keys 20 miles west of Key West from Marco Island. Aquifer injections at the Marco Island facility have occurred as early as January 1, 1991 according to FDEP.
Fractures were discovered and documented in 2014. Samples taken at those keys have the Marco Island sewage signature. The injected waste fueled the growth of benthic macroalgae and explains the death of the coral heads in Mooney Harbor Key.
It is a real tragedy that sewage injection from Key Largo killed Carysfort Reef. Life has vanished there.
The Florida Aqueduct Authority and the Monroe County Commission should not make a decision based on bad science. Injection of wastes into the aquifer has not worked so far. It is a cheap fake solution. It is unfortunate that the local civic leadership would attempt to allow a repetition of this failed technology.
The real alternatives to eliminate environmental destruction from shallow and deep wells are to:
- Construct a reverse osmosis wastewater treatment plant like the 1 MGD facility in San Diego
- Design a closed loop system using that water as the source water for municipal water plants.
- Bring back cisterns for every household.
- Construct an anaerobic digester co-located with the RO facility to convert the sewage sludge into methane gas for energy to power the facility.
Stop injection before it is too late.
December McSherry has been fishing and swimming in the Florida Keyes since the 1950’s.
She has studied Florida’s natural water systems and advocated for conservation
and protection of Florida waters since the 1960’s. To this day she still enjoys the
lower keys with her family.