May 19, 2022
Flush with evidence: A study of pollution in the Indian River Lagoon

Photo: Chris Zuppa/Tampa Bay Times

Samples taken from the Indian River Lagoon point to waste from septic tanks.

Southeast Florida Roundup

Flush with evidence: A study of pollution in the Indian River Lagoon

Mike Vogel | 1/27/2016

As toxic algal blooms have spread in the Indian River Lagoon in recent years, all eyes have turned to the usual suspects: Big Sugar, Big Ag and the Army Corps of Engineers, which flushes water from nutrient-overloaded Lake Okeechobee through canals into the lagoon.

Evidence points, however, to a different culprit in the destruction of one of the nation’s most bio-diverse places: Big Homeowner, or, perhaps, Big Septic Tank.

Research by scientists at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute indicates the 500,000-plus septic tanks in the counties along the lagoon are a major contributor to nutrient pollution in the lagoon.

“We heard a lot over the years pointing the finger at Big Sugar and agriculture causing the problems of the algal bloom in the Indian River Lagoon,” says Harbor Branch research professor Brian Lapointe. “This pollution is coming right out of our back yards to a large extent.”

Harbor branch found numerous substances in the logoon implicating septic systems, including one that could only originate from humans: The sweetener sucralose. Farmers don’t treat their fields with Splenda, so the source must be septic systems.

Septic tanks were intended for rural areas, to be separated by great distances and to sit up above the water table. The opposite is the case on the Treasure Coast, where they serve houses in dense suburban development on poor soil with a high water table.

Lapointe says the discharges from Lake Okeechobee contribute to the lagoon’s troubles, but solving the septic problem with centralized sewer systems will do much to improve it. He says water quality in Sarasota Bay improved after centralized sewer systems replaced septic.

Martin County commissioners recently voted to begin converting some areas of the county to centralized sewer service.


Deerfield Beachbased JM Family Enterprises appointed Ron Coombs senior vice president and CFO. He formerly was COO at JM’s JM&A Group subsidiary.

Delray Beach’s Downtown Development Authority hired Laura Simon as its executive director.

Boca Raton-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America said longtime president and CEO Gerard van Grinsven resigned to pursue other interests.


Keeping Tabs on Weed

Legalization of marijuana has provided a growth opportunity for Fort Lauderdale-based BioTrackTHC, a software company that allows the seed-to-sale tracking of marijuana.

Founded out of a pharmaceutical tracking company, BioTrackTHC now employs more than 60 people in Fort Lauderdale, Denver and Olympia, Wash. It has tracking management contracts with four states and has its software in more than 1,600 sites licensed to sell marijuana in 23 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Jamaica and South America.

Revenue increased 450% in 2014. CEO Patrick Vo, 33, started his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Business Briefs

Briefs BOCA RATON — Consumer products company Jarden acquired Visant Holding, the parent of Jostens, the school yearbook, class ring, varsity jacket and other school commemorative products company, for $1.5 billion.

DANIA BEACH — Freight-brokerage firm Total Quality Logistics is adding 60 jobs to its 450 statewide. It earlier announced that it added 100 jobs in Daytona Beach and 200 in Tampa.

DAVIE — Nova Southeastern University will launch NSU Cell Therapy Institute in collaboration with Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet. Richard Jove will lead the NSU institute. > Auto dealer Rick Case opened a Maserati dealership.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Vehicle retailer AutoNation acquired 12 Texas dealerships totaling 31 franchises, representing $800 million in annual revenue, from Allen Samuels Auto Group. Japan-based Nipro sold its Fort Lauderdalebased Nipro Diagnostics subsidiary, a maker of glucose monitoring supplies, to China-based Sinocare Group for $273 million. Among Nipro Diagnostics’ 770 employees, 434 work in south Florida. > Software and cloud computing company Citrix Systems is laying off 1,000 of its 9,100 workers globally and will spin off its GoTo products unit. “Partridge Family” star David Cassidy’s waterfront home sold for $2 million as part of a bankruptcy court proceeding.

FORT PIERCE — The American Association of Community Colleges chose Indian River State College as a demonstration site for its Pathways Project, a program to help students complete college. Indian River will collaborate with 30 colleges nationwide over 2½ years. Students are steered to develop a plan that guides them to classes needed for graduation rather than taking classes unrelated to graduation requirements. Other Florida colleges in the program are Broward College, St. Petersburg College and Tallahassee Community College.

JUPITER — Dyadic International sold the assets of its industrial technology business to Du- Pont’s Industrial Biosciences for $75 million and will focus now only on its biopharma business.

MANALAPAN — Billy Joel is asking $29 million for an oceanfront house and adjoining vacant lot he bought last year for $18.3 million.

PALM BEACH GARDENS — Medical device maker Zimmer Biomet will add 178 jobs to its 473.

PORT ST. LUCIE — CBRE was hired to sell Tradition Commerce Park, the 900-acre commercial component of the Tradition development. The commerce property is entitled for nearly 7.75 million square feet of commercial space and 2,200 residences and sits along three miles of I-95.

SUNRISE — Broward commissioners bailed out the NHL’s money-losing Florida Panthers with a new lease that gives the team $86 million in tourism taxes, part of which must go toward spending on the Sunrise arena where the team plays.

Commissioners said the county would take a bigger financial hit if the team goes bankrupt or moves.

Tags: Southeast, Environment


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