MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — On Tuesday, Manatee County commissioners approved a more than $9,000,000 deep-injection well to permanently house hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water left in the gypsum stacks at Piney Point.
"I’ve never been in favor of a deepwater injection well, I’m still not. But I think it’s fair to say at this point, we don’t have a choice," said Vanessa Baugh, Commission Chair.
This coming just weeks after a leak threatened one of the stacks to collapse and 200 million gallons were pumped into Tampa Bay to relieve the pressure.
Now the county says the remaining contaminated water will first be treated, and then injected 3,000 feet into the earth, far below the drinking water.
"The processed water which has nutrients in it which we will cleanse before injecting into the well, this is what gave me the confidence to know that this is the right decision," said Misty Servia, commissioner.
Andre Mele with Peace and Myakka Waterkeepers has been studying phosphate processing for years. He’s concerned about the water treatment process.
"I refuse to call it processed water because it isn't water anymore. It's so far long gone from being water, it’s a fluid and has the acidity of battery acid," said Mele.
Mele represents the Manatee Democratic Environmental Caucus who sent a call to action to local and state leaders with opposing deep well injection and asking that a third party be involved in treating the water.
"I don’t really trust that whoever is in control of this is going to do the water treatment to a satisfactory standard," said Mele.
Right now it’s still unclear how much the water will be treated.
The county says the construction of the deep well will take around 11 months to complete.