blue spring state park
PHOTO BY JAYLEN WALTON
Blue Spring State Park

An ongoing project to drill additional wells for the City of DeLand’s drinking water is showing positive results, city officials said.

Back in 2020, the City of DeLand agreed to borrow $26.5 million in state funds to eventually drill three new wells near the Volusia County Fairgrounds to bolster the city’s drinking water supply and preserve local springs. The water that came back from the single test well the city drilled was of “better-quality water than what was predicted,” per a city report.

Now the city is taking the next step. The City Commission Jan. 3 approved a $168,000 follow-up project that will determine whether wells built at the fairgrounds can utilize ion exchange — a type of water softening — technology in place of a costly water plant.

“We thought we would have to be building a full-blown water plant,” DeLand Utilities Director Jim Ailes told The Beacon. “Potentially it can have a cost saving to us because now our footprint of the plant size could be smaller.”

Additional wells will add to the city’s potable water supply. On average, Ailes said, DeLand has the potential to pull 5.32 million gallons of potable water from the Floridan aquifer — the underground source of fresh water that spans the state of Florida and beyond — but the city doesn’t always pull that much water. Three new wells could contribute 1 million to 2 million gallons of water to DeLand’s water supply.

But why the fairgrounds? That decision was made to help preserve Blue Spring.

Parts of the Floridan aquifer that are within Blue Spring’s “cone of influence,” Ailes explained, directly impact the water level at the spring. In 2024, the amount of water municipalities can pull from the spring will be reduced, and the wells at the fairgrounds will help the city use its wells within Blue Spring’s area less, or, eventually, only for emergencies.

Following the approval from the City Commission, Ailes said he hopes the ion exchange test can get off the ground next month, but there’s still a ways to go before the wells are fully operational. The wells must be planned, approved by the St. Johns River Water Management District, drilled and developed.

Ailes hopes the new wells can be online early in 2023.

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