May 27, 2010
The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board voted to begin the process of expanding an area in Eastern Hillsborough that requires special well construction standards to reduce the risk of private wells going dry during frost-freeze events.
The special standard require restricted wells to be dug deeper than typical residential wells.
Residential potable water wells in the designated area must have casing depths of 105 feet within the North Dover area, and 147 feet within the South Dover Area.
The expansion of the Dover Special Well Construction Area is needed to reduce the likelihood that homeowners in the area will experience failures during prolonged freeze events, when farmers use large amounts of groundwater to protect their crops. During the 11-day January 2010 cold snap, the combined pumping of Dover area farmers dropped the aquifer level 60 feet in some locations and caused more than 750 temporarily dry wells for neighboring homeowners.
All new wells constructed within the Area will be required to meet the additional casing depth standards. In an additional change to current standards, all wells within the area that are repaired or modified will have to meet the casing depth standards. Previously, existing wells were not required to meet the casing depth standards unless they were replaced. Well repairs that are limited to the replacement of a well’s pump will not require the well casing to be extended to meet the depth standard. Pump replacement does not require a permit from the District.
As part of the rulemaking process, staff has received input from the agricultural, well drilling, and other industry stakeholders, and conducted a public workshop to solicit input from other public stakeholders. The rulemaking process will include additional public input and education.
In 2002, the District in cooperation with Hillsborough County developed special well construction standards to help minimize residential well impacts from seasonal water level declines in the Dover area. The standards were applied to wells within the current 125 square mile area. The District received no dry well complaints during the January 2010 freeze event for domestic wells that were properly constructed according to these standards. There are more than 10,000 existing domestic wells in the Dover area. Since 2002, 2,330 domestic wells have been constructed in the Dover area.
The District has held a public workshop and several technical work sessions since January to receive feedback from key stakeholders. The series of work sessions is for invited guests and technical experts to review the input received from the first public workshop and to provide feedback to assist District staff in developing recommended solutions. The sessions are open to the public. Once the technical work sessions are completed, the District will hold public workshops to accept public comment on staff proposals. The District’s goal is to have changes in place by next winter.