Charlotte County, Florida
Charlotte County Water Quality Assessment, Phase I: Data Analysis And Recommendations for Long-Term Monitoring
In Charlotte County, steady population growth combined with the use of septic systems has increased pollution to Charlotte Harbor, an estuary of national significance and a member of the National Estuary Program. Unfortunately, this important water body is listed as having high-level eutrophication and impaired water quality.
Multiple lines of evidence suggest that septic systems are a primary source of nutrient loading from the Port Charlotte study area into Charlotte Harbor. Analysis of the historical data and the reconnaissance sampling both indicated that septic systems are contributing significantly to nutrient and bacterial pollution of surface waters and groundwaters.
This impacted ecosystem provides essential habitat for many aquatic organisms and birds, including the critically endangered smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), among other important species.
In historical data, increases in human population correlate strongly with rising concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll a, illustrating how wastewater pollution from increasing human activities is impacting Charlotte Harbor water quality. Furthermore, high concentrations of total nitrogen, nitrate, ammonia, biochemical oxygen demand, and enteric bacteria were consistently found downgradient of septic systems.