Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) refers to the process of recharge, storage, and recovery of water in an aquifer. ASR is the central component of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) as presented in the draft PIR, accounting for roughly 85% of the costs.
ASR has long been the subject of considerable scientific uncertainty. Questions surrounding its feasible use in Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects date back to an evaluation by the National Academy of Sciences in 2001 which identified five areas of major uncertainty that needed to be addressed before it was clear that ASR would be viable on a regional scale in CERP: 1) operations to protect water quality, 2) ecotoxicology risk, 3) potential for phosphorus reduction, 4) disinfection and treatment, and 5) costs.
Today, construction and operational costs of ASR projects have increased exponentially and scientists have yet to answer crucial questions about the safety of ASR for Everglades aquatic ecosystems.
Dr. Thomas Van Lent submitted the following comments regarding the scientific uncertainty of ASR wells to the Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of Friends of the Everglades, Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club Florida.
Before proceeding with LOWRP, the Corps must provide the needed scientific foundation to assure ASR wells will not adversely affect aquatic ecosystems, are cost effective, and provide the claimed benefits.