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Plan to inject Piney Point water into aquifer raises concerns

By Eric Ernst

MANATEE COUNTY – A plan to inject water from the Piney Point gypsum stacks into the Floridan aquifer has raised protests not only from environmentalists but also from Manatee County farmers who fear it could contaminate drinking and irrigation wells.

“We've sat and watched it go on for years, the algal blooms in Tampa Bay. Now the latest is they want to pump it down our aquifer. This is where I have to stand up and say, 'This isn't right,'” Alan Jones said Wednesday.

Jones, the owner of Jones Potato Farm, cultivates 3,700 acres of potatoes, green beans and citrus about five miles from the proposed well site at Port Manatee.

At a Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit hearing scheduled for Wednesday evening in Bradenton, officials from DEP and the county are expected to review the plan and try to allay concerns.

In November, Manatee County Utilities applied for two permits. The first, for two Class V wells, has drawn no opposition. It would allow the utility to inject 15 million gallons of treated wastewater into the aquifer each day.