In the compromise, Waste Management has agreed to ask the Department of Environmental Protection to hold off on processing a permit request for the well until March 31, 2018. Jackson County in exchange will delay pursuing litigation against the company.

CAMPBELLTON — In the battle over disposing wastewater from a Jackson County landfill near the region’s primary drinking water supply, officials have reached a momentary ceasefire.

The controversy around the drilling of a well at Waste Management’s Springhill Landfill, 4945 State 273 in Campbellton, had been intensifying in recent weeks. Jackson County residents equipped with protest signs turned out in numbers in July to request county commissioners ban the use of “deep well injection” for disposing wastewater — commonly referred to as leachate — from the landfill, deep below ground in the Floridan aquifer.

Elected officials including State Sen. George Gainer and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson also weighed in against Waste Management’s proposal as a civil lawsuit filed by Jackson County against the company proceeded through the courts. However, the two sides were able to reach a compromise Friday that would prevent the well from proceeding for at least half a year.

“All parties have agreed to step back and investigate solutions to the leachate problem,” Gainer's representatives wrote in a news release. “Senator Gainer would like to commend Waste Management’s willingness to rethink this process.”

In the compromise, Waste Management has agreed to ask the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to hold off on processing a permit request for the well until March 31, 2018, to allow time to discuss alternatives. Jackson County in exchange will delay pursuing litigation against the company during the same review period, officials reported.

Gainer said the groups will use the time to identify processes that would safely dispose of “non-hazardous liquid” collected at Springhill Landfill above ground.

“This cooperative effort will identify what above ground disposal options might meet the short and long term needs at Springhill landfill in an environmentally safe manner,” he wrote.

Leachate water — which residents have taken to calling "garbage water" — is a mixture of rainfall and other liquids that find their way into the landfill, eventually settling at the bottom, where a protective liner prevents it from entering the ground. The liquids then are collected and sent to a variety of wastewater treatment plants for treatment and ultimate disposal.

If Waste Management proceeds with the well, that treatment method would not occur. Instead, the company could collect the liquids, filter out any solids, and send it otherwise untreated some 3,000 feet underground to what is believed, at this stage, to be a brackish water level far below the Floridan aquifer, this region’s primary drinking water supply. Jackson County residents, however, fear the effects of hundreds of thousands of gallons of leachate water being pumped under every day, however far below the aquifer it is sent.

Waste Management attempted to dispel some of those fears and issued a statement after July’s Jackson County commission meeting.

“The deep well at Springhill Landfill would only process non-hazardous liquid collected at the landfill. It would not accept this type of liquid from other sites,” Waste Management officials stated, noting the process would be reviewable by the public. “When we talk about the deep well project at Springhill, we know there are questions and concerns that this job is done right. We breathe the same air and drink the same water as all of our neighbors. The people working at Springhill Landfill would not support any process that would harm our families or our neighbors’ quality of life.”

A timeline for any public meetings about the discussions was not immediately available.