duck key

An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys



























Articles on Water Quality and Wastewater Issues


1. Wastewater in the Florida Keys: A Call for Stricter Regulation of Nonpoint Source Pollution [Septic Tanks and cesspits]


2. A statement by Reef Relief on poor water quality taking its toll.



3. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Smothered By Sewage

Funding Dilemma article by Donald Sutherland - Part 2 of 2 Environmentalists, federal and local government officials locked in debate over which waste treatment technology to use. BAT (Best Available Technologies) versus AWT (Advance Wastewater Treatment)


"Environment News Service: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Smothered by Sewage
May 19, 1999 news report that "Research … indicates waste with nutrients, bacteria, and viruses from the (Florida) Keys' 1,000 Class V underground injection control (UIC) wells, 35,000 septic on-site disposal systems, and 10,000 illegal cesspits is migrating into offshore waters stimulating algae growth and killing seagrass and coral." Officials are debating the extent of the effects of the sewage on the marine ecosystem, the methods of cleaning it up, and how the clean up will be funded."

4. Florida Keys NMS Water Quality Protection Program


Note: A .pdf version of the Environmental Protection Agency White Paper discussing

water quality issues in the Florida Keys is available for printing at


5. Water Quality in the Florida Keys: The Time to Act is Now

Dr. Bill Kruczynski, Florida Keys Program Scientist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 Article is at (LINK NO LONGER ACTIVE)


6. Human Viruses in the Coastal Waters of Florida

Joan B. Rose, Ph.D., Professor of Water Pollution Microbiology, College of Marine Science, University of South Florida

"Surveys indicated that water quality in many of the canals and tributaries in the study areas was impacted by nearby residential areas, which had septic tank densities as high as five per acre."

Overall, between 70% and 95% of the sites surveyed along the West Coast of Florida to the Florida Keys tested positive for enteric viruses, which include coxsackie viruses, Hepatitis A viruses, and Norwalk virus, which are associated with diarrhea, aseptic meningitis, and myocarditis.

" . . . conventional septic tank and drain field design provides little treatment for viruses. In coastal areas of Florida, with sandy and limestone aquifers, high water tables, and tidal influences, viruses can readily migrate from the subsurface to surficial groundwaters and subsequently to surface waters. "

" The future of water quality in these areas remains at risk."

(LINK NO LONGER ACTIVE) Complete article at


Another article about Rose's research at (LINK NO LONGER ACTIVE)

reports that "Within only 11 hours of a flush, she has collected the septic-tank viruses from nearby canals around Key Largo. They were found in marine waters 12 hours after that. Some were found in canals within 8 hours and in the sea within 16 hours. Rose timed the viruses' travel at 35 meters per hour. She attributes this speedy travel to the pumping action of tides around Key Largo. Viruses travel at an average of only 1.7m/h in the middle Keys due to a smaller effect of tidal pumping and geological factors. This is still fast enough for excreted viruses to dump into the Florida Bay within 76 hours."



7. Waste disposal wells and septic tanks in the Florida Keys are polluting groundwater and surface marine water in the Florida keys, according to a recent study in Water Research.

John H. Paul, University of South Florida

"Our work suggests that wastewater and associated microorganisms, injected into the sub-surface environment of the Florida Keys, can rapidly enter into surface waters ... These findings argue strongly for a re-evaluation of injection wells as a method to dispose of wastewater in the Florida Keys."





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