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One plant, the City of Clearwater WWT, which discharges its effluent into Old Tampa Bay, has had numerous spills containing chemicals toxic to aquatic organisms. In next-door Hillsborough, 7 of its 8 large plants have similar problems and records. The group reported the largest spills totaling Lucie County and were attributed to 's hurricanes.
In November there was an estimated five million gallon sewage spill from the Arlington East Treatment Facility in the Sandlewood area of Jacksonville, causing high bacteria levels in Hogpen Creek. A million gallon spill happened in the same area in As a result of these spills, St. Johns Riverkeeper is threatening to sue JEA, alleging the city-owned utility illegally discharged almost 8 million gallons of raw sewage since into local waterways.
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They also allege that the Florida DEP has documented 43 other permit violations at the same facility from September to February Florida DEP maintains information on domestic and industrial wastewater facilitiesincluding permitting information as well as compliance and enforcement information.
Injection Wells Approximately facilities discharge to other surface waters. Nearly 50 facilities use deep aquifer injection. According to Florida DEP, there are Class I injection facilities located along both coasts of Florida from approximately mid-state south.
The practice of using deep aquifer injection wells and other groundwater disposal systems for wastewater is coming under increasing scrutiny, due to the possibility of these practices contributing to contamination of aquifers used for potable water.
The Sebastian Inlet and Palm Beach County chapters of Surfrider Foundation are concerned about evidence suggesting that shallow and deep well injection is degrading nearshore water quality at swimming and surfing beaches. The chapters have worked with Dr. Peter Barile of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce, whose research has indicated that minimally-treated sewage may be degrading water quality along some beaches in that area.
We believe that the State of Florida and the Federal Government must halt the funding, permitting, and construction of all new aquifer-injection wells, and deny any requests to increase injections into existing wells, and initiate aquifer-remediation activities to protect Florida's coastal environment, other surface waters and humans from contaminants already injected. Also see this article that appeared in Surfer Magazine. The charges stem from the practice of using underground injection wells to dispose of sewage and wastewater in the state of Florida and elsewhere.
Studies have shown that instead of being filtered through the limestone and other sedimentary rock as planned, contamination from the sewage is making its way into coastal waters, where it is killing corals and other marine life, as well as threatening the health and welfare of surfers and other beachgoers.
Sierra Club maintains the agency should have ordered some sort of fix upon discovering that contaminants could be moving into the aquifer. The Sierra Club contends in the suit that sincetrillions of gallons of the treated sewage has migrated from the injection zone into the Floridan Aquifer, from which drinking water is drawn. The dispute concerns the South District Wastewater Treatment Facility in Miami-Dade County, where million gallons of treated wastewater per day is pumped more than 2, feet below the ground.
The plant has had clean-water violations ever since regulators found a decade ago that ammonia, nitrogen and fecal coliform bacteria -- all signs of sewage -- had leached into monitoring wells that border the Floridan Aquifer, a possible future drinking-water source.
In November EPA announced that they had signed a new rule revising the requirements for disposal of treated municipal wastewater below underground sources of drinking water USDW in certain counties in Florida. Following is text from EPA's website: For more than 20 years, some municipalities in Florida have been using underground injection as an alternative to surface disposal of treated domestic wastewater.
Recent evidence suggests that, at several of these facilities, the injected fluids are migrating upward into underground sources of drinking water USDW. Because operation of Class I wells with fluid movement into an USDW is prohibited by Federal Underground Injection Control UIC regulations, these facilities would be forced to cease injecting and adopt an alternative method to manage their wastewater, which could increase the environmental risks to surface water and coastal environments.
In this rule, EPA amends the current Federal UIC regulations to allow owners and operators of Class I municipal disposal wells in specific areas of Florida to continue using their wells, even if they have caused or may have caused movement of fluid into a USDW, provided they meet new requirements to treat their municipal wastewater with pretreatment, secondary treatment, and high-level disinfection prior to injection.
EPA believes this requirement will address viruses and bacteria i. High-level disinfection of this municipal wastewater is an effective method to inactivate pathogens. EPA has also found that pretreatment programs and prohibitions on wastewater from significant industrial users have prevented contaminants from getting into wastewater in the first place, and that secondary treatment is a critical step in wastewater treatment prior to high-level disinfection.
The State already requires this level of treatment for reclaimed water used on lawns and parks. Facilities in the City of St.
Petersburg already meet this standard and improvements to meet the standard at Miami-Dade South District facility are underway. A related concern is the practice of using wells to dispose of surface drainage water. Drainage wells have been used for flood control for decades in urban Orange County and elsewhere in Central Florida and there are reportedly drainage wells in the area.
The concern is that with every thunderstorm, a mixture of dog waste, automobile chemicals, yard pesticides and other impurities washes down these wells and may eventually contaminate Central Florida's drinking water supply. New wells were banned in the s because of this concern, but in the mids state regulators slowly began to allow aging drainage wells to be replaced, partially because of the roll they play in refilling the aquifer.
Septic Tanks and Cesspools Florida has an estimated 2. SB ina springs protection bill, banned land application of waste from septic tanks effective on Jan. This deadline may be extended to About million gallons of waste is pumped out of Florida's septic tanks each year and some is spread at 92 regulated sites, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Lucie have come under scrutiny as a potential source of algae growth and water quality problems in St. Lucie River and Estuary. Scientists estimateseptic tanks are in the five counties that hug the Indian River Lagoon,of them within the drainage basin that flows to the estuary.
Untold thousands fail, or were installed improperly or under old rules that failed to protect groundwater. Brevard, alone, harbors 67, to 95, septic tanks. No one knows exactly how many.
The densest concentration — more than 27, tanks — are in Palm Bay. In the Florida Keys, antiquated sewage treatment systems contribute to coral reef pollution and degradation. Local governments there have just begun to replace 16, cesspools with modern treatment plants. Better controls on farming and coastal development are needed so that rainwater doesn't wash fertilizers, toxins and sediment onto the reefs. A bill passed by the state legislature in December that would have mandated septic evaluations for 19 counties and three cities in the state with "first magnitude springs" outlined an option somewhat odd for legislation seeking a policy change: Florida DEP has a website that discusses evaluating and solving problems with septic systems.
Desalination Another type of facility that could prove harmful to marine life is a sea water desalination plant. These plants typically suck in millions of gallons per day of seawater and the marine organisms living in that seawater and purify the seawater to provide a source of drinking water using reverse osmosis technology.
The byproduct of this process is a brine stream that is about twice as salty as seawater. In Tampa, the nation's first seawater desalination plant built to serve as a primary source of drinking water began providing water for residents in At full capacity it is designed to generate 25 million gallons a day of drinking water.
The plant has experienced major difficulties in operating at design capacity due to premature plugging of reverse osmosis membranes, and the long term economics and reliability of the plant remain in question. Previous studies have indicated that the plant shouldn't have any adverse impact on the Bay's salinity or sea life. Texas and California are also watching the plant's progress as officials in those states consider whether to move ahead with desalination plants of their own.
Cruise Ship Pollution There is increasing concern in Florida regarding discharges of sewage, "gray water" and other wastes from cruise ships. Port Everglades, Florida is the third-largest cruise-ship port in the nation.
A typical cruise ship can generate up to 30, gallons of sewage per day. Once a ship is three miles out to sea, raw sewage can legally be dumped in the ocean.
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Wastewater from galleys, laundries and hair salons gray water can be dumped untreated anywhere in the ocean. Surfrider Foundation also has published a general discussion of Cruise Ship Pollution.
Algal Blooms Harmful algal blooms, also commonly referred to a "red tides" have caused concern in Florida and have been implicated in the death of marine mammals. Although historical records indicate that algal blooms have occurred for centuries, there is a concern that nutrient runoff from development, farming and phosphate mining may be making the events occur more frequently and last longer.
The Department of Health gets frequent harmful algal bloom bulletins from the NOAA, which uses satellite imagery techniques plus buoy data and field observations to detect potential algal blooms.NASA Swim Meet- Florida
The Department of Health alerts local health departments to be prepared for cases of respiratory distress or shellfish poisoning when a bloom is detected, and some of the health departments post red tide warnings at beaches.
The Department of Health also has a red tide hotline that gets thousands of calls a year. One use of the hotline is to take reports from people who have experienced red tide-related health effects. Even non-swimmers can get respiratory distress from K. Red tide can affect manatees as well as humans. Here is an article from NASA with a map of affected areas in The algal bloom was blamed in the death of at least 58 manatees, as well as crabs, sponges, soft corals and at least 77 sea turtles.
A substantial amount of dead fish were reported along the Florida panhandle, offshore of Fort Myers and in lower Tampa Bay. By early Septembertons of dead fish and other marine animals had been removed from the beaches of Pinellas County. In September the city of Sanibel asked the state to declare a state of emergency because of the continuing red tide and associated odors and fish kills.
City officials pointed to the increased releases of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee as a contributing factor. By August scientists were reporting that the red tide had choked off oxygen and created a large dead zone which killed marine life on the ocean floor about 10 miles offshore of Tampa Bay. Petersburg reported that the area of no or low oxygen could potentially affect more than 2, square miles between Herando County and Sarasota County.
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Several large patches of algae were still found off Collier County and Pinellas County in November From the beginning of the year through Oct. Collier County has established an email notification system to alert beachgoers about red tide outbreaks. You can sign up here There were also large ares of inland waterways effected by algal blooms inincluding Lake Okeechobee, the St.
High volume, continuous pumping from Lake Okeechobee seemed to be causing or exacerbating the condition. The inland waterway algal blooms were blue-green or green, and some samples were found to contain the toxic species Microcystis aeruginosa. A plume of brown water was observed stretching as much as 10 miles into the ocean from the St.
Lucie inlet and divers reported that the depth of the brown water plume extended as deep as 12 feet in some places. In summer a large red tide bloom formed off Florida's Gulf Coast. NBC News reported in August While the red tide appears almost every year, officials have not seen one this size since So far, the death count is modest: But that could change if it moves closer to shore.
Human health effects of the algal blooms seem to consist primarily of respiratory problems, especially when winds blow onshore. Typical symptoms include a nagging, persistent cough, watery eyes and itchy throats. The alga species in this particular case was believed to be Karenia brevis.
Greg Bossart, director of marine mammal research and conservation at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, is studying the possibility that algal blooms could be the cause of recent mass strandings of scores of dolphins on Hutchinson Island and in the Florida Keys. Among the toxins found in harmful algal blooms are brevatoxin, saxitoxin and domoic acid.
Algae blooms that create red tide, which kill fish and threaten tourism in Florida, would become a focus of government study under legislation drafted by Rep. A greater world through greater understanding Inafter recognizing the significance of the growing research collections and teaching exhibits, the Florida Museum of Natural History becomes part of UF, dedicated to understanding, preserving and interpreting biological diversity and cultural heritage.
Inthe McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity opens, becoming one of the largest collections of Lepidoptera in the world with more than 6 million butterfly and moth specimens. Growing with purpose Inpresident Albert Murphree organizes the university colleges under a single mission. In doing so, enrollment increases from to over 2, Wanting to instill service and leadership in this larger student body, he also helps found the Florida Blue Key leadership society.
Leading by example Inthen-president John J. Tigert creates the grant-in-aid athletic scholarship program, which would inspire the athletic scholarship still used by the NCAA today. An eye on tomorrow InP. Yonge Developmental Research School is established as a public school district affiliated with UF and located on its campus.
They would go on to lead UF to become the only university in the country with six health-related colleges on one campus.
Today, they are a part of the UF Health care network, a massive cooperative throughout the state, including facilities in Jacksonville and Orlando. Bold enough to do better than water Infollowing a request from the Florida Gators football head coach, a team of UF scientists develops a beverage that helps athletes stay hydrated better than water.
They name it Gator-Aid. The football team goes on to win their first Orange Bowl over the Yellow Jackets. That made the difference.