Pond liner prevented Apopka sinkhole environmental disaster, geologist says

APOPKA, Fla. — A sinkhole that opened up at the bottom of a retention pond used to store Apopka’s reclaimed water was caused by the pond filling up in November, a geologist told city council members Wednesday.


The extra pressure – five million pounds of weight -- caused the relatively thin layer of soil to collapse into the Florida aquifer. The opening left the aquifer exposed.

Despite 200 million gallons of reclaimed water entering the drinking water supply, Devo Seereeram told council members there were no impacts to nearby wells, generally dug deeper than the upper feet of the aquifer.

Read: Investigation underway in Apopka after sinkhole drains retention pond

He said if anyone’s water had been impacted, they would’ve seen green algae in their toilets.

However, Seereeram said Apopka avoided a different type of disaster thanks to the pond’s inclusion of a liner, which allowed the water to leak out over the course of 30 days at a rate of 6,000 gallons per minute.

“Had the liner not been present, the volume of water rushing in would’ve been a “catastrophe,” he said.

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Seereeram recommended filling the hole with large and small rocks to form a new “roof” over the aquifer.

He said it would be a complex fix, but one that he has overseen before. He did not give an estimated price or timeline for the fix but said that would be a cheaper option than redesigning the pond.

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