Aug 04, 2006

Wastewater Treatment Plant to Investigate Coral Reef

The South Central Regional Wastewater Plant in Delray Beach, Fla., has presented a plan to figure out whether or not partially treated sewage is the reason for the demise of a coral reef.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection ordered the wastewater plant to perform tests on the dying coral reef system near Boynton Beach and Delray Beach. The department is currently reviewing a plan put together by the plant and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists.

This study is a part of a larger program by the Florida Area Coastal Environment, which has spent a year testing the effects of sewage discharge and the conditions of offshore reefs in select Florida counties.

The wastewater plant will spend a year monitoring the presence of wastewater nutrients from ten stations at various ocean depths on a monthly basis.

The plant’s operation director, Dennis Coates, told the Sun Sentinel that the study would confirm whether treated sewage that comes from an outfall pipe 90 feet underwater is able to reach the reef, which is approximately a mile offshore. Dye and chemicals will be added to the wastewater to measure how far and deep it flows.

The state department was prompted to take a closer look after research from a group called Reef Rescue detected algae blooms on the reef in 2002.