Widespread sewage pollution of the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida (USA) resolved by spatial analyses of macroalgal biogeochemistry.
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Marine pollution bulletin, ISSN: 1879-3363, Vol: 128, Page: 557-574
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- Earth and Planetary Sciences; Agricultural and Biological Sciences; Environmental Science
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The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) system, a poorly flushed 240 km long estuary in east-central Florida (USA), previously received 200 MLD of point source municipal wastewater that was largely mitigated by the mid-1990's. Since then, non-point source loads, including septic tank effluent, have become more important. Seventy sites were sampled for bloom-forming macroalgae and analyzed for δN, % nitrogen, % phosphorus, carbon:nitrogen, carbon:phosphorus, and nitrogen:phosphorus ratios. Data were fitted to geospatial models showing elevated δN values (>+5‰), matching human wastewater in most of the IRL system, with elevated enrichment (δN ≥ +7‰ to +10‰) in urbanized portions of the central IRL and Banana River Lagoon. Results suggest increased mobilization of OSDS NH during the wetter 2014 season. Resource managers must improve municipal wastewater treatment infrastructure and commence significant septic-to-sewer conversion to mitigate nitrogen over-enrichment, water quality decline and habitat loss as mandated in the Tampa and Sarasota Bays and the Florida Keys.