Home\Educate\Water Reuse 101\Research Projects\Year\2012\Development of Markers to Identify Nutrient Sources Impacting Florida’s Surface Water Bodies

Development of Markers to Identify Nutrient Sources Impacting Florida’s Surface Water Bodies

Project: 09-08
Year Released: 2012
Type: Decision Making Tool

Program: Principal
Funding Partners: Bureau of Reclamation, St. Johns River Water Management District, South Florida Water Management District, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Orange County Utilities Florida, Hillsborough County Florida, City of Orlando, Loxahatchee River District, Palm Beach County, North Port Utilities
Total Investment: $764.335.83 (Cash: $260,100, In-Kind: $504,235.83)

Principal Investigator: Joseph G. Jacangelo, Ph.D., MWH Americas, Inc.


Nitrogen and phosphorous loading into Florida waterways from point and non-point sources is an ecological concern. The rise in nutrient levels in Floridian waterways, leading to waterbody impairment from designated beneficial uses, frequently occurs in tandem with escalating urbanization. To date, there are very limited analytical reconnaissance techniques that can directly assist in elucidating the origins of the nutrients contributing to the impairment of Floridian waterways.

Goals and Objectives

The project provides an alternative methodology for distinguishing between sources of nutrients found in water bodies through the use of selected organic and inorganic microconstituents. Only conservative assessments of nutrient level contributions can be estimated for the relative contributions from wastewater sources because the markers developed to date do not account for nutrient attenuation occurring during transport.

Research Approach

Nine utilities, three Florida water management agencies, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and MWH formed a team that focused on the overall goal of developing a tool that could be employed to identify the source(s) of nitrogen and phosphorus loading into impaired surface waters.

Findings and Conclusions

The findings of the study were used to develop an overall assessment scheme for determining the relative contribution of wastewater sources to impaired water bodies. A flow schematic develops the logic for assessing whether an impaired water body is impacted by wastewater, and if so it provides a monitoring approach by which to determine the relative contributions of municipal point source discharges, applied reclaimed water runoff, wastewater or reclaimed water pipe exfiltration, or septic system leachate.

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