Non-Point Sources (Septic Tanks) of Surface Water Nutrient Pollution: A Review and a Study of Taylor Creek, Okeechobee County, Florida

  •  J. William Louda    
  •  John F. Hayford    


This study investigated the impact of high-density septic systems (aka Onsite Sewerage and Disposal Systems, OSTDS) along the canals located in the communities of the lower Taylor Creek area on water quality at the northern periphery of Lake Okeechobee. Using sucralose as an anthropogenic tracer, we investigated the septic derived non-point sourcing of nutrients which feed harmful algal (cyanobacterial) blooms (HABs) in Lake Okeechobee and adjacent waters.

The subdivisions investigated were Treasure Island (TI) and Taylor Creek Isles (TCI) located to the east and west of Taylor Creek. TI homes are all on septic tanks whereas TCI is serviced by a municipal vacuum sewerage system.

TI canals had 5.3 times the mean concentration of sucralose relative to TCI canals. On a yearly basis, the Treasure Island sites away from Taylor Creek had 2.25 times the total phosphorus and 1.20 times the total nitrogen compared to the Taylor Creek isles sites. An extensive literature review of non-point pollution is included.

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