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Wells to test brackish water levels

If there's enough brackish water, Pinellas Park has an increased chance of being the site of a new desalination plant.

By ANNE LINDBERG

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 26, 2000


PINELLAS PARK -- Scientists could begin drilling test wells late this week to see if Pinellas Park is a good location for a water treatment plant.

Tampa Bay Water, the area's largest utility, will dig two wells on the city's old sewer plant site, 6951 102nd Ave. N. The utility also will use an existing city well near 58th Street N and Park Boulevard to monitor the testing.

Scientists will pump about 350 to 400 gallons of water per minute over a three-day period. The wells will not be pumped at the same time and the water will be dumped into the canal to the west of the property line.

The scientists want to see if there's enough brackish water in the area that can be converted into drinking water. Brackish water has a higher salt content than readily drinkable water but less than seawater. It is more economical to clean brackish water than seawater.

"We need to do this step to prove brackish water exists and is of a sustainable quality," said Mandi Rice, project director for Tampa Bay Water.

This is the latest step in a process that could see a desalination plant built in the next year and a half at 72nd Street and 112th Avenue in Pinellas Park. Tampa Bay Water also has a Clearwater site for a proposed plant.

The goal is to supply Pinellas County with 4-million to 5-million gallons of water a day without further depleting the bay area's resources.

If the testing goes well, it's likely the Pinellas Park plant will be built. If not, Tampa Bay Water will look for an alternate location.

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