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Duval Tributary Watch

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Northeast District partners with the Duval County Health Department and City of Jacksonville's Regulatory and Environmental Services Department to provide quarterly water quality reports on tributaries of the St. Johns River in Duval County. Each agency is responsible for different aspects of environmental and public health protection.

The Lower St. Johns River Fecal Coliform BMAP Technical Working Group is developing an implementation plan resulting from the collaborative effort of local stakeholders to identify and implement strategies to eliminate fecal coliform sources in the tributaries.

  • Ortega and Cedar River
  • Broward River and Dunn Creek
  • Julington and Durbin Creeks
  • Miscellaneous Rural Tributaries
  • Pablo Creek and Greenfield/Mt. Pleasant Creeks
  • Mill Cove/Arlington Area
  • Downtown Area Tributaries
  • Southside Area Trout River

Please contact the Duval County Health Department for information about potential health risks in the tributaries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restoration activities are taking place in the tributaries?

Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) are water quality targets, based on state water quality standards for specific pollutants. As required by federal law, DEP has identified tributaries impaired by fecal coliform. 

What are fecal coliform bacteria?

Fecal coliform bacteria are microorganisms associated with the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals. While generally not dangerous, these bacteria are used for routine water quality monitoring since they indicate the presence of pollution that may contain illness-producing bacteria and viruses.

How long has this pollution been a problem?

Bacteria pollution was first documented in the St. Johns River in the 1950s. By eliminating direct sewage discharges and hundreds of small, inefficient sewage package plants, the city dramatically lowered bacteria levels in the river's main stem. Because of the unique nature of the river and Jacksonville's high population density, many other sources of bacteria remain. 

What agencies are responsible for solving this problem?

State and local government agencies are working together to protect public health and the environment.

  • Duval County Health Department aims to prevent or reduce potential health risks in daily surroundings. The health department is responsible for permitting septic tanks and issuing health advisories.
  • The City of Jacksonville monitors water quality in Duval County and provides data to state, regional and local agencies charged with permitting activities that may impact surface water quality.
  • The Department of Environmental Protection implements a wide range of programs to protect and restore Florida's surface waters, including the Total Maximum Daily Load program, or TMDL, which identifies water quality problems and establishes clean-up objectives.

Where does bacteria pollution come from?

Sources of bacteria include bypassed and failing septic tanks, stormwater runoff, sanitary sewer overflows, leaking sewer pipes, failing package wastewater treatment plants, livestock operations, domestic pets and wild animals.

Is bacteria a problem in the St. Johns River?

While bacteria levels in many tributaries remain high, levels of fecal coliform in the river's main stem are usually well below the State Water Quality Standard.

What can I do to help?

Learn about the creeks and streams in your watershed. Join a volunteer monitoring program. Inform elected officials and government agencies about pollution problems and concerns in your area.

To report spills or other emergency pollution events contact:

  • City of Jacksonville: 630-3635
  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection: 256-1700
    • After hours - Florida State Warning Point: 800-320-0519 (24 Hours)
Last Modified:
January 25, 2023 - 8:39am

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