DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. takes a water sample Monday in Hogan’s Creek in Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE – This week, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. and other Department water quality restoration program staff joined representatives of the City of Jacksonville’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Quality Division for water quality sampling of Hogan’s Creek, which has seen a 76 percent reduction in bacteria concentrations since Department work began in 2009.
“Efforts to improve water quality Hogan’s Creek play an important role in our overall success in getting the water right in the St Johns River,” said DEP Secretary HerschelT. Vinyard Jr. “As one of the Department’s first restoration plans developed under its Basin Management Action Plan program, Hogan’s Creek is a strong example of howcollaboration among state and local government can restore clean water to the state of Florida.”
Hogan’s Creek has not met water quality standards due to high fecal coliform bacterialevels. In March, 2006, a TMDL for fecal coliform was adopted. This restoration target required a 92 percent reduction in fecal coliform. A restoration plan for the Lower St. JohnsTributaries, which includes Hogan’s Creek, was adopted in Dec. 2009 to accomplish these reductions.
Since that time, Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Electric Authority have worked to eliminate human wastewater contributions to the creek through infrastructure improvements, removal of improper wastewater connections and elimination of sewer overflows.
“Reducing contamination in Hogan’s Creek is important to enhancing our neighborhoods and protecting the St. Johns River,” said Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. “These efforts to improve water quality will further enrich Jacksonville’s quality of life and our attractiveness as a place to live, work and visit.”
As a result of these projects, fecal coliform bacteria concentrations have dropped by 76 percent in Hogan’s Creek. To reach the original restoration goal, approximately 16 percent in reductions remain.
To help close the gap in needed reductions, new laboratory tools will allow Department scientists to quickly identify whether fecal coliform bacteria are related to humans, animals or other sources. The new testing method uses DNA analyses of bacteria to distinguish human waste from other sources. Once the type of fecal coliform bacteria is known, water managers can devise new interventions targeted to the source based on whether the fecal coliform bacteria is human or not.
“In addition to finding the source type of the bacteria, sampling at multiple sites will enable the Department to pinpoint specific segments of the creek where the bacteria are showing up in the water,” said Drew Bartlett, DEP Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration. “Knowing which segment is the point of entry willnarrow down the sources and locations of the contamination.”
Pinpointing inputs by their geography will enable the takeholders tto design more appropriate and well-targeted restoration strategies.
About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. The Department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally-sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. To view the Department’s website log on to www.dep.state.fl.us.