July 22, 2013
Upper East Coast Watershed: Decision-Making Strategies
Central Problem and Objectives
The central problem of the Upper East Coast Watershed (UECW) is water quality degradation due to septic tank systems. In 2012, the UECW located in Northeast Florida was adopted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as an impaired water system. Once adopted Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) will be developed and implemented through local and state organizations. This mandated process includes schedules and funding sources that point and nonpoint source discharges will undertake for water system remediation (FDEP, 2012). The reasons for impairment begin with rapid population growth without solid wastewater regulations in place. This has caused septic failure to exceed the state average allowing groundwater to be vulnerable to pollution (FDEP, 2013).
Objectives for water managers to address: 1) Provide safe potable water necessary for recharge of aquifers, reservoirs, groundwater, wells, and other waterbodies. 2) Protect aquatic waterbodies from excess pollutants for healthy shellfish, fish, recreation, consumers, tourism, and endangered species. 3) Guard against extensive microbial activity, which can halt recreational use of beaches, lakes and streams.
Options and Trade offs
Ideally, a Shared Vision Plan (SVP) approach should be considered for the UECW since septic failures cover four counties. Managers would first take a nonstructural approach by involving a spectrum of key participants in preliminary discussions. Relevant information would then be drafted in to a pamphlet. Information such as, helpful environmental measures and specific risks to drinking water supplies as the result of thousands of failing septic systems seeping sewage into the water system. It should highlight the need for homeowner involvement by implementing best management practices by requiring them to register their...