Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

Kamal Alsharif, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Graham Tobin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark R. Hafen, Ph.D.


Water Reuse, Nutrients, Total Nitrogen, Total Phosphorous, Water Quality


It is well established that converting wastewater, a point-source of pollution, into reclaimed water makes management of nutrients more difficult. Not all service lines measure the volume of reclaimed water used by a customer, and frequently there are no restrictions on the amount of reclaimed water that is used. Nutrients applied in excess have the potential to runoff or leach through soils and contaminate surface and groundwater resources. This research attempted to determine if corresponding surface water quality monitoring sites in reclaimed service areas reflect elevated total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorous (TP) concentrations.

The Joe’s Creek Watershed in Pinellas County, FL is a highly urbanized watershed with one wastewater plant providing tertiary treatment for reclaimed water (Pinellas County Utilities Dept.) and another wastewater plant providing secondary treatment (City of St. Petersburg Water Resources Dept.). This research reviewed concentrations of TN and TP in the reclaimed water effluent for each wastewater treatment plant and at four tributary sites in the Joe’s Creek Watershed. One tributary site, Bonn Creek, is in the tertiary treated service area, another tributary site, Miles Creek, is in the secondary treated service area, and a third tributary, Joe’s Creek, provides two control sites which are both outside of reclaimed service areas.

Based on the results of comparisons and statistical analyses of the 6-year period, the TN and TP concentrations of reclaimed water from the City of St. Pete Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) far exceed those of the Pinellas County WWTP. The TN concentration in the reclaimed effluent from St. Pete was nine times higher than that of Pinellas County. The TP concentration was almost five times higher at St. Pete than Pinellas County. The sites within reclaimed service areas had higher concentrations of TN and TP when compared to the control sites for the same period. Miles Creek recorded the highest mean concentrations of TN and TP of the four monitoring sites. Bonn Creek recorded the second highest mean concentrations of TN and TP. Rainfall data were reviewed and results show that several monitoring dates for Miles Creek and Bonn Creek had elevated TN and TP concentrations which coincided with periods of rainfall deficit. These and other results of this research indicate a need to reconsider minimum wastewater treatment levels in urban environments in an effort to reduce nutrient pollution, as well as a need to expand watering restrictions and enforcement, and expand education of consumers about reclaimed water.