Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Reports

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The benefits of the inland retention of freshwaters in South Florida are indisputable. During periods of prolonged drought, the maintenance of a higher groundwater table, which benefits terrestrial vegetation and retards saltwater intrusion, is clearly preferable to the alternative of discharging up to 400,000 gallons of freshwater per day into the ocean.

Therefore, the only objections to the retention of treated sewage effluent in an inland lime-rock pit, with the physical, chemical and biologic characteristics of our pits, would have to do with possible detrimental effects to public health or the environment. The major public health concern involves the possible discharge of human pathogens. This can be prevented by high-level chlorination of well-treated effluent such as that of the Ferncrest Utilities.

With the cooperation and help of the Nova University Oceanographic Center, the Florida Agricultural Research and Education Station, the Broward County Environmental Quality Control Board and the landowners, the Tindall Hammock Irrigation and Soil Conservation District and the Ferncrest Utilities respectfully submit that retention of the excellent tertiary-treated Ferncrest Utilities effluent in such a lime-rock pit accomplishes the following:

• Provides an inexpensive, safe, practical, alternative, non-structural, natural, and environmentally sound drainage and wastewater pollutant treatment and inactivation facility that uses no energy except sunlight.

• Conserves, stores and recycles stormwater and wastewater instead of wasteful discharge into canals or the ocean.

• Helps to maintain a higher groundwater elevation, thereby reducing the volume of irrigation water needed for area lawns and shrubbery, and the energy and expense thereof.

• Retards the rate of saltwater intrusion into the aquifer.

• Enhances the U.S. EPA's goal of fishable, swimmable public waters by complexing and precipitating runoff and wastewater pollutants, thereby keeping them out of the North New River Canal, the New River and the ocean.

With the large number of similar lime-rock pits in Southeast Florida, the opportunity for expanding the benefits of such inland wastewater retention should be given serious consideration.