News Feature | January 10, 2022

Notorious Florida Wastewater Well Will Be Cleaned With Help Of Evaporation

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga


The site of a controversial source water contamination event last year will now be home to a decidedly unconventional method of wastewater disposal, as officials have installed two cutting-edge evaporation systems at Florida’s Piney Point mining facility.

“Through the natural power of evaporation, officials tasked with closing Piney Point say they can remove hundreds of thousands of gallons of wastewater a day,” WTSP reported. “That’s why two different evaporation systems have been created to remove water from the stacks. One includes more than 800 spray heads spitting a mist of water into the air. The other is a drip that drops water onto the liner of the gypsum stack.”

In April 2021, local residents were forced to evacuate their homes as the Piney Point mining facility was found to be leaking millions of gallons of untreated wastewater into Tampa Bay. That prompted officials to close the facility and they have been working to treat or otherwise dispose of the remaining wastewater ever since.

“One of the many ways the state has decided to address the issue is treating the water that sits in the man-made reservoirs in order to store it inside a deep-injection well,” per WTSP. “Another way is by removing the polluted water, and that’s where leaders have gotten creative.”

As officials work to concentrate nutrients out of Piney Point’s wastewater, rainfall can cause the site’s gypsum stacks to overflow, hence the need for the evaporation systems, which can remove some 200,000 gallons per day.

And they’re betting that this system can work within a limited window, as Florida’s upcoming rainy season could contribute 30 to 40 inches of water, translating to millions of gallons, into the stacks.

While the deep injection and evaporation methods seem as if they can combine to solve one of 2021’s most impactful wastewater issues, it’s clear that there is still a lot of work to do.

“More than 260 million gallons of water remain in Piney Point’s reservoirs,” according to WTSP. “Not all of it can be evaporated, but what’s left will be sent 3,300 feet underground when the deep injection well is completed in 2023.”

To read more about incidents like the Piney Point wastewater leaks, visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.