The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) received more than $2.4 million in funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to assist with aquifer testing, feasibility, and preliminary design for the planned Southeast and West Polk Lower Floridan Aquifer (LFA) wellfields in Polk County. The projects are cooperatively funded between the District and the Polk Regional Water Cooperative (PRWC). Traditional water sources are nearing their sustainable limits in Polk County and alternative water sources will need to be developed to meet the projected needs.
“Addressing water quantity challenges requires aggressively pursuing projects that will develop the water supply resources needed to meet our state’s growing demand,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “DEP is proud to partner on these projects that will help ensure a safe and sustainable water supply for this region.”
The Southeast LFA wellfield is planned for a location near the eastern boundary of the District in Polk County south of Highway 60. The water treatment facility site is north of Highway 60, and up to 15 wells will be spread along a 10-mile line south of the highway. The goal of this project is to use the brackish groundwater from the LFA in Southeast Polk County as an alternative water supply. The Southeast wellfield is a permitted supply, and after treatment through reverse osmosis, may deliver up to 30 million gallons per day (mgd) of high-quality drinking water to member governments of the PRWC.
The West Polk LFA brackish water treatment facility site is planned for a location within the City of Lakeland, south of Interstate 4, near the existing T.B. Williams water treatment facility site. The wellfield may have up to 19 wells within or near the city. The goal of this project is to utilize the brackish groundwater from the LFA in western Polk County as an alternative water supply. After treatment, the West Polk wellfield may deliver up to 15 mgd of high-quality drinking water to the member governments of the PRWC.
The District’s Governing Board has committed $65 million to incentivize the development of regional alternative water supplies within Polk County. To date, the District, FDEP and PRWC have provided more than $20 million in funding to assist with exploratory drilling, aquifer and water quality testing, and the conceptual and preliminary design stages of these projects.
The PRWC includes elected officials from 16 member governments, consisting of 15 municipalities and Polk County Government. Their role is to proactively identify alternative water resources and projects that ensure the future sustainability of the regional water supply.