Potential benefits or hazards to freshwater resources could result from subsurface injection of treated wastewater. Recognizing this, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Pinellas County and the city of St. Petersburg, undertook an evaluation of the hydrogeology and injection of wastewater at proposed test sites on the Pinellas peninsula.
The injection sites are underlain by sedimentary rocks ranging in age from Cretaceous to Pleistocene. Lower Eocene carbonate rocks were penetrated to a maximum depth of 3,504 feet and were found to have relatively low water yields. The most permeable part of the investigated section was in rocks of middle Eocene age within the Floridan aquifer.
At the injection sites, the Floridan aquifer was subdivided into four permeable zones and three semiconfining beds. The test injection zone is within the Avon Park Limestone, the most productive of the identified permeable zones, with a transmissivity of about 1,000,000 feet squared per day. Two semiconfining beds are above the injection zone in the Suwannee Limestone and Ocala Limestone and have vertical hydraulic conductivities estimated to range from about 0.1 to 1 foot per day where these beds do not contain clay.
Limited fresh ground-water supplies exist in the Floridan aquifer within the Pinellas peninsula. At all test sites, chloride concentration in the injection zone ranged from 19,000 to 20,000 milligrams per liter.
Injection tests ranging in duration from 3 to 91.1 days were run at three different sites. Pressure buildup occurred in permeable zones above and below the injection zone during these tests. Calculated pressure buildup in observation wells close to and at some distance from the test wells was typically less than 1 pound per square inch. Injection and formation water will probably move slowly through the semiconfining bed overlying the injection zone, and long-term injection tests will be needed to determine the effectiveness of these beds to retard flow. The injected water was well mixed with the native formation water, which, in part, is a direct consequence of the fractures in the injection zone.