MEDIA ADVISORY: Jan. 27, 2014
DEP, CITY OF JACKSONVILLE CONDUCT ASSESSMENT OF HOGAN'S CREEK
~Assessment utilizes new technology to distinguish bacteria type and source, allows a more targeted restoration~
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 Herschel T. 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 how collaboration 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 bacteria levels. 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 will narrow down the sources and locations of the contamination."
Pinpointing inputs by their geography will enable the stakeholders to design more appropriate and well-targeted restoration strategies.