Perry, FL Groundwater project


During the fall of 1993 the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) determined that an experimental and computational study was needed to assess the furthest lateral distance that contaminants, dumped in the Fenholloway river by a paper mill just outside the town of Perry Florida , could penetrate. This study was prompted after complaints from local residents, during the winter of 1989-1990, regarding the color, smell and taste of their well water. At the time chemical analyses were conducted on the surrounding wells where trace amounts of an unidentified inorganic material were found in a small number of wells tested. Proctor and Gamble (owners of the paper mill) paid for the installation of deeper wells for the cases that tested positive for the inorganic substance.

In 1995 the study was completed and its results released to the public. This report contained information on worst case scenarios for both the wet and dry seasons. The motivation for this study was prompted by fears that contamination from the paper mill had traversed through the surface water into the surrounding aquifer; contaminating the wells of nearby inhabitants. Prior to the paper mill being built the Fenholloway river acted as a gaining stream which means that as the river progresses downstream water is constantly added to the flow. The paper mill disrupted this natural process leading to a discontinuity of sorts above and below the wells drilled by the paper mill.

This Work

Using data from 1993 the FDEP combined their research, simulations, and knowledge to determine whether the paper mill was in fact contaminating the water. In light of their work Buckeye Technologies Inc., owner of the paper mill, made an agreement with the FDEP, approved by the EPA in 1995, where they agreed to a comprehensive plan to attain Class III (fishable/swimmable) status for the Fenholloway River under applicable Florida law (the Fenholloway Agreement). (annual report 2011)

We're presenting a re-visit to the original study conducted, using current data. With similar computational tools and improved computational power we will be able to see how the region has changed since the initial investigation and to explore the effects that the Fenholloway Agreement has had on the Fenholloway river, the town of Perry's water, and the surrounding area.

We will be using the data from the 2011 Buckeye Technologies annual report and information gathered from an interview with their Corporate Environmental Health and Safety Manager, Ray Andreu. This data will be used to simulate the groundwater movement in the region around the paper mill and the Fenholloway River. We will be simplifying the work that was done in 1993, in particular we will only be studying the wet season of 2011, from June to September.

If you would like to look through the results and methodology of our work, you can download the tar-zipped folder here. This work was done with a fellow graduate student in our department, Nathan Crock, whose website can be found here.