The feasibility study for the project was prepared in 2002 and construction and operational testing began in 2009, and in 2014, the DWU ASR system achieved a groundbreaking milestone when it received an operation permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The system has been operational since then.
“The DWU ASR groundwater system was the first ASR system to utilize a shallow barrier island sand-and-gravel aquifer for storage,” Maliva said. “It was also the first ASR system to store reclaimed water as a freshwater aquifer that progressed towards obtaining an operation permit.”
Under current Florida requirements, the recharged water would have had to meet the FDEP full treatment and disinfection requirements, which would have made the project economically unfeasible.
“That essentially would have required very high-level treatment in order for the water to reach potable standards,” Maliva said. “WSP was able to help DWU obtain a variance to these requirements, because the case was made that there was no possibility of indirect potable reuse occurring.”
“The DWU’s ASR system experience illustrates the value of the aquifer zoning concept,” according to the article. With respect to the storage aquifer it was recognized that “Its best use is as a source of water for domestic irrigation and for storage of reclaimed water for irrigation use.”
The regulatory hurdles that DWU overcame has cleared the way for similar water projects in other areas of Florida.
Although it has been a long path, Maliva said it has been a rewarding experience to see the project from concept through to its completion and expansion.
“We have worked with the client since the initial feasible study and have helped them overcome some major regulatory hurdles which would otherwise have stopped the project,” Maliva said. “When I first started working on the project, my kids were in preschool. Now they are in college and I am still working on it.”
He said the ongoing Destin Water Users ASR project has provided him with great professional opportunities, and is pleased that they were able to push forward the implementation of aquifer storage and recovery in Florida forward.
“The client believed that the project was the right thing to do for the community, and it has been great that they persevered to see the project through,” Maliva said.
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