SOUTHPORT – Residents concerned about Bay County’s drinking water questioned Gulf Power and the Florida Departmental of Environmental Protection (DEP) Thursday night about new wastewater wells Gulf Power says it needs.
The power company wants to build five injection wells to dispose of water used to cool the Lansing Smith plant in Southport.
Residents voiced their concern about possible contaminants getting into the Floridan aquifer and contaminating the area’s water supply of drinking water. But Gulf Power officials say the water they’d be pumping underground would go thousands of feet below the drinking water.
Gulf Power and the DEP assured the people who attend the meeting that the wells will be insulated and monitored under DEP and Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
"What’s great about this project is it’s a tested process,” said Clifford Wilson with the Departmental of Environmental Protection. “It’s not new to Florida. We have the same type of operation in Pensacola. It’s been very successful.”
Gulf Power also wants to use reclaimed water from Bay County, Panama City and possibly Lynn Haven, as the cooling water at the plant. It would then be sent through the new wells, instead of the county or cities discharging it into any of the bays or waterways. Gulf Power is currently using salt water for the process and says it does not work as well as fresh water would.