Fact Sheet 032-98

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Marella, R.L., 1998, Water-quality assessment of southern Florida--wastewater discharges and runoff: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-032-98, 6 p.


Population growth and activities in the south Florida area over the past 40 years have resulted in increased water use, changes in the distribution and timing of flow, and deterioration of water quality. These changes threaten both the remaining natural ecosystem and the growing human population. Wetlands and shallow waters in the region are sensitive to increased nutrient and contaminant inputs that are often associated with wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff. Discharges and runoff reaching the coast through canals can adversely affect south Florida's estuaries and bays. The Biscayne aquifer in southeastern Florida, the sole source of drinking water for nearly 3.4 million people, is at risk of contamination because of its shallow depth, highporosity, and location beneath an area of intense urbanization.

Recent consensus has been reached among Federal and State agencies and environmental groups that the south Florida ecosystem, and the Everglades in particular, should be protected and restored, to the extent possible, to its predevelopment condition. Protection and restoration will require a thorough understanding of the distribution, amount, and quality of water in the area and the human and natural processes that affect the water. The U.S. Geological Survey is providing scientific information that will contribute to the protection and restoration effort through such programs as NAWQA and the South Florida Ecosystem Initiative.

This report provides information on sources of wastewater discharge and runoff within the Southern Florida (SOFL) NAWQA study area (fig. 1). This information can be used in evaluating the potential effects of wastewater on water quality of the region.