Tucked into the southwest coast of Florida, the beauty of Charlotte Harbor has drawn countless people to its shores. A regional effort is underway to improve and protect this crucial natural resource which impacts ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands, our tourism industry, home values, and overall quality of life. As a part of this effort, Charlotte County developed the Blue Water Strategy to ensure and sustain the quality of natural water resources to protect and provide a safe water supply, a recreational haven and an environmental resource. The Blue Water Strategy consists of four key components: wastewater, reclaimed water, stormwater, and drinking water.
As a part of the Blue Water Strategy, the County enlisted Jones Edmunds to prepare the county-wide sewer master plan. Studies found that aging septic tanks drain into nearby waterways, contributing to water quality issues that can impact this resource. To improve the harbor’s water quality, Charlotte County plans to replace about 25,000 septic tanks with an affordable, reliable, and efficient wastewater collection and treatment system. We prioritized neighborhoods to convert the oldest septic systems near waterways first and developed a plan to help connect 14 neighborhoods to centralized wastewater system during the first 5-year phase to lower nitrogen loads. We were also tasked with identifying wastewater transmission and treatment facility improvements or expansions that would be needed to provide reliable service to the County’s growing population. The Geographic Information System-based models we developed provided data and cost-estimating tools for prioritizing the work.