Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
Under authority of Public Law 106-554, Department of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2001, Section 109 and Conference Report H.R. 4577, the Corps is authorized to provide technical and financial assistance to carry out projects for the planning, design and construction of treatment works to improve the water quality of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The marine ecosystem of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is dependent on acceptable water quality to maintain fragile aquatic habitats. However, as population and tourism within the Keys have increased over the years, improvements in wastewater treatment and management practices have not kept pace with this growth. Ongoing research has suggested that this trend has resulted in a significant degradation of water quality in canals and nearshore waters surrounding the Florida Keys and that nutrients from waterwater are one of the major contributors to the decline of the water quality. This, in turn, is prompting the proposal to improve sewage treatment practices throughout the Florida Keys. According to the Monroe County Sanitary Wastewater Master Plan, approximately 23,000 private onsite systems and 250 small wastewater treatment plants are currently operating throughout the Florida Keys. It is estimated that the onsite systems contribute 4.88 million gallons per day (mgd) of wastewater and the treatment plants contribute an additional 2.40 mgd of wastewater. Many of these onsite systems and treatment plants provide minimal nutrient removal. The primary objective of the Florida Keys Water Quality Improvements Program is to improve wastewater management practices throughout the Florida Keys and satisfy the existing and future needs for the community. Several wastewater master plans have been prepared for Monroe County and other municipalities within Monroe County that the Corps plans to utilize as the base for the planning component of the Florida Keys Water Quality Improvement Program. These wastewater master plans recommend that existing onsite systems located in lower density areas of the Florida Keys be upgraded or replaced with onsite wastewater nutrient reduction systems. The wastewater master plan also recommended the construction of 12 community wastewater collection and treatment systems and five regional systems. Five of the 12 community systems would feature interim treatment plants that over time would be phased into larger regional treatment systems. In addition to the new systems and extension of the existing systems, the plans recommend that 17 existing facilities continue to operate and upgrade their treatment processes to meet the best available technology/advanced wastewater treatment standards. The estimated cost to implement these master plans is approximately $500 million.