Bacteriological Survey of

Champion International Corporation


Elevenmile Creek

(DRAFT 8-7-98)


Elevated densities of coliform bacteria have been identified in Elevenmile Creek by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)(Wieckowicz, 1995) and by the University of West Florida (Kilburn, 1995). Although unconfirmed, sources of the elevated coliform densities have been attributed to the two permitted wastewater treatment facilities which discharge to Elevenmile Creek. To address these concerns, the FDEP conducted a survey of selected stations along Elevenmile Creek in the vicinity of the discharges, and the permitted outfalls (Outfall 001 and Outfall 002) of Champion International Corporation. The purpose of the survey was two-fold. First, data gathered at Champions Outfalls 001 and 002 an would be used by FDEP District staff as to whether coliform limits were appropriate for each of these outfalls in the renewed surface water discharge permit. Second, based on the data from stations along Elevenmile Creek, an evaluation would be made as to whether the discharge from Champion was causing or contributing to the elevated densities previously noted by the FDEP for this portion of Elevenmile Creek.

Elevenmile Creek is a small sand and gravel bottom stream, 22 kilometers/14.5 miles in length, which empties into the upper Perdido Bay in Escambia County, Florida. This stream, as well as Perdido Bay, is classified as Class III waters of the State. Water quality criteria for Class III waters are defined in Chapter 62-302, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), and specific criteria for bacteriological quality are found in Chapter 62-302.530(6) (Fecal coliform bacteria) and (7) (Total coliform bacteria), F.A.C. (See Table 1).

At the time of the survey, Elevenmile Creek was the receiving water for two permitted wastewater treatment facilities. The Cantonment WWTP (Wastewater Permit Number FL0038504) had a single permitted outfall that discharged 0.5 MGD of secondary treated domestic wastewater into Elevenmile Creek along the northwest side of the creek near the SR 186 bridge. This discharge ceased in June, 1998, when Cantonment diverted its effluent to the Escambia County Utilities Authority. Champion International Corporation (Wastewater Permit Number FL0002526) has two permitted surface water discharges, designated as Outfalls 001 and 002. Outfall 001 discharges an average of 28.0 MGD of bleached kraft mill effluent,which includes 60,000 gallons per day of secondary treated wastewater, to an onsite impoundment. This three and a half acre impoundment additionally receives an undocumented quantity of stormwater discharged through Outfall 002, as well as the flow of Tate Creek. (See Map 1.) Champions Outfall 002 receives stormwater from the facilitys non-process areas and drains what was once the upper watershed of Elevenmile Creek. Groundwater seepage provides a continuous, but minimal, flow at this location. The discharge from the impoundment is conveyed to Elevenmile through a 48 inch diameter pipe that discharges to Elevenmile Creek south of SR 186. This pipe is approximately 800 feet long and enters the foam suppression box and Creek below the Cantonment outfall. Non-point source discharges to Elevenmile Creek affect the entire length of the Creek and include lateral streams and stormwater runoff from undeveloped and developed areas.


The time for the survey was limited to 90 days. Further it was required to include both a wet weather condition and a dry weather condition, and spatially limited to the upper portion of Elevenmile Creek. Nine sampling stations were selected for the survey. Stations 1 (Outfall 001) and 2 (Outfall 002) were the permitted outfalls for Champion International Corporation. Six stations (Stations 9, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8) were directly associated with Elevenmile Creek. Station 4 was the confluence point of the Cantonment WWTP discharge and Elevenmile Creek. Station 7 was the location of Champions discharge from the foam suppression/ metered box (Station 6) to Elevenmile Creek. (See Table 2: Station Location Descriptions and Figure 1: Map).

Table 2: Station Locations and Descriptions

Station 1: Parshall Flume Outfall 001, Champion International

Identify bacterial densities currently discharges from the facility; the current NPDES compliance point.

Station 2: Stormwater Outfall 002, Champion International Identify the bacterial densities associated with the stormwater which is subsequently discharged to the effluent holding pond prior to entry into the 48" diameter pipe carrying effluent to the discharge point adjacent to Elevenmile Creek.

Station 3: Elevenmile Creek, 100 yards north of the Cantonment Discharge outfall Identify the bacterial densities of the combined influences to Elevenmile Creek north of this location, including stormwater pond discharges and tributary influences.

Station 4: Elevenmile Creek, Cantonment (wastewater treatment plant, now closed) outfall Identify the bacterial densities of the Cantonment discharge to this point in the creek

Station 5: Elevenmile Creek, immediately south of SR186 Bridge Identify the bacterial densities of the combined influences upstream of the Champion outfall.

Station 6: Elevenmile Creek, Champion Discharge / metered discharge box Identify the bacterial densities of the Champion effluent prior to mixing with Elevenmile Creek waters.

Station 7: Elevenmile Creek, Champion Discharge at Elevenmile Creek/ "Boil" Identify the bacterial densities of the combined Champion discharge and creek waters.

Station 8: Elevenmile Creek, SR297A, downstream of the Champion Discharge Identify the bacterial densities of the combined discharges to the lower reaches of Elevenmile Creek.

Station 9: Elevenmile Creek, upstream tributary to Elevenmile Creek at 297, below Bryan's Pond (near the Escambia Co. Road Prison). Identify background conditions of Elevenmile Creek since this station is above the influence of Champion and Cantonment outfalls.

Samples were collected on September 3, 1996 (wet weather sampling event), and on October 28, 1996 (dry weather sampling event). Rainfall data were compiled by the FDEP Northwest District. The preceding five-day cumulative rainfall for September 3 was 6.5 inches and for October 28 was 0 (zero) inches.

Bacteriological samples were collected by FDEP Northwest District biologists in sterile wide mouth nalgene bottles, 3 replicates per station, in accordance with procedures in Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 19th edition, APHA, 1995. Samples were shipped overnight from Pensacola to Tallahassee by Federal Express, maintained at 4 degrees Celsius, and processed immediately upon arrival. Since the samples exceeded the maximum holding time of 6 hours required by 40 CFR 136 for permit compliance purposes, these data are used for informational purposes only. Water quality data were collected at the Elevenmile Creek stations using a Hydrolab Datalogger for the following parameters: dissolved oxygen, PH, specific conductance, and temperature. Water quality data are presented with summary data for each of the bacterial groups identified by station and date of sampling in Tables 4 and 5.

Each replicate sample was analyzed for total coliform bacteria (TC), fecal coliform bacteria (FC), fecal streptococci bacteria (FS),Escherichia coli(Ec), and Klebsiella spp. (Kleb). A minimum of three dilutions per sample was processed using membrane filter analysis to determine bacterial densities. Analytical procedures for each group of bacteria followed Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 19th edition, APHA,1995, for culture,identification, and confirmation. Additional biochemical studies were conducted to differentiate Klebsiella into species. Quality assurance and quality control protocols followed the approved DEP Biology Section Comprehensive Quality Assurance Plan. Raw data for each bacterial group by replicate and date of sampling are attached in Appendix A. Summary data used in discussions below are the geometric means of replicate data by station and by date and are provided in Tables 3 and 4.


Of the bacterial groups included in this survey, only the total coliform (TC) and fecal coliform (FC) bacteria are addressed as water quality criteria in the Florida Administrative Code. Total and fecal coliform were included to compare the wastewater facility discharges and the ambient data from Elevenmile Creek with these regulatory requirements. The fecal streptococci (FS),Escherichia coli(Ec) and Klebsiella spp. Kleb) were included to provide additional information on potential sources of the coliform densities identified. Fecal streptococci are grain positive bacterial that are found in the feces of warm-blooded animals along with fecal coliforms. Depending on the proportion of these two groups, one might assess whether the fecal source was predominately human (FC:FS ratio of> 4.0) or other warm-blooded animals (FC:FS ratio of< 1.0). Recent studies, however, have identified that the FC:FS ratio must be used with caution as avian aud insect populations may artificially increase the FS numbers, invalidating the interpretation of the ratio in certain environments. Escherichia coli is the bacterium most closely associated with human fecal wastes and has been proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency to replace the fecal coliform test. Klebsiella belong to the family Enterobacteriaceae, and as such can be cultured in both the TC and FC tests. They are opportunistic pathogens that can cause human infection. They occur in both fecal material(85% of all infection producing Klebsiella are positive in the fecal coliform test) and the environment (88% of the total coliform population may be Klebsiella in discharges from pulp manufacturers). Klebsiella spp. were included to assess potential impacts on Elevemnile Creek due to the Champion International Corp. outfalls.

Table 3 - Bacteriological Survey September 3, 1996 Wet Weather
Station Total Coliform Fecal Coliform E. coli Klebsiella Fecal Strep
1 501187 105 49 77460 159
2 24359 1193 309 27123 554
3 14454 236 177 4332 513
4 575 77 26 640 9
5 3603 275 147 3114 293
6 78826 529 329 64072 282
7 4910 404 141 8913 505
8 3548 420 486 5089 505
9 14678 227 49 8511 129

Table 4 - Bacteriological Survey October 28, 1995 Dry Weather
Station Total coliform Fecal coliform E. coli Klebsiella Fecal Strep
1 2692 24 34 160 130
2 2011 334 44 12 2188
3 34941 29512 252 5710 4936
4 82540 363 244 69 5412
5 20575 339 443 1597 501
6 No data taken
7 1318 468 43 343 1140
8 681 136 57 288 263
9 1900 471 545 288 617

OUTFALL 001 and 002, Champion International Corporation

Bacteriological data were generated for each of the two permitted outfalls for Champion International Corporation for each sampling date. At Champion Internationals Outfall 001, total coliform (TC) bacterial densities were above the Class III freshwater water quality criterion (2400 TC/100 ml, as a maximum) during both wet (687,750 TC bacteria/l00 ml) and dry (2,676 TC bacteria/100 ml) sample events. Fecal coliform (FC) bacteria were below all of the freshwater FC water quality criteria for both events with 105 FC/100 ml for September and 24 ft/100 ml for October. Although Outfall 001 receives 60,000 gallons per day of sanitary wastes commingled with the process wastewater, the fecal coliform densities would not appear to be of concern based on the description provided by the facility. The sanitary wastcwater treatment plant is a 0.06 MGD package activated sludge unit and serves a population of approximately 1100. Clarified wastewater overflows into a chamber that mixes with the Acid Sewer. The Acid Sewer receives filtrates from the chlorine and chlorine dioxide bleaching stages where the residual chlorine/chlorine dioxide, at a pH of 2.4 units, provides the disinfection for the sanitary wastewater. Data were not collected to determine bacterial densities of the sanitary wastewater, however, in this low pH environment, survival of the coliforms associated with the sanitary wastewater would be unlikely. Densities for fecal streptococci, and Escheriehia coli were comparable to the fecal coliform densities for both sampling dates. An issue which remains unresolved is why significantly higher densities were noted at outfall 001 during September compared to October when the treatment process remains the same and no additional inputs would be expected, even during wet weather.

Bacteriological limits were not included in the 1989 state permit for Outfall 002. Also, the 1983 federal permit did not require coliform monitoring based on the outfalls description as a conveyance of non-process contaminated stormwater. Additional stormwater passed through but did not originate on the Champion property. TC bacterial densities exceeded the maximum water quality criteria (2400 TC/l00 ml) during September with a value of 24,377 TC/100 ml. The data for October (2017 TC/100 nil) did not exceed the maximum criterion. Fecal coliform values for September (1191 FC/100 ml) exceeded the maximum water quality criteria (800 FC/100 ml), while FC densities were below time maximum criterion during the October event (332 FC/100 ml). Data were insufficient to assess comparisons with alternate water quality criteria for this survey, such as the monthly average. Initial concerns were raised regarding data generated for October in terms of the source of water and the coliform densities. It was reasoned that the outfall would be dry unless stormwater was present. Upon further investigation, DEP district staff identified that groundwater seepage maintains a small but permanent amount of water at this location. Stormwaters are noted to have elevated coliform bacterial densities, therefore the numbers reported for September for Outfall 002 were expected. Additional study is needed to clarify the sources of the bacterial densities noted, particularly for the October data.

Bacterial densities at the foam suppression discharge box reflect the densities of the discharge from the impoundment rather than the permitted outfalls. The impoundment commingles the two outfall discharges with the discharge from Tates Creek. During rainfall events, additional surfacewater runoff enters the impoundment prior to the discharge at the foam suppression box. It is not known whether the impoundment provides additional treatment for the outfall discharges. The discharge volume from the impoundment to the creek is not known, but is assumed to be the permitted discharge of the facility, 28 MGD. Data from the foam supression box were available only for the September sampling date. Comparison of the data between the foam suppression box (Station 6) and the "boil" (Station 7) shows a decrease in total coliform densities from 78,826 TC/100 ml. to 4,910 TC/100 ml, respectively. Extensive mixing occurs at this point. The force of the discharge has created a depth of approximately sixteen feet at Station 7 where Champions discharge vigorously mixes with Elevenmile Creek water. The depth of the creek below this station returns to a depth varying between two to five feet deep. Comparing fecal coliform densities for September, only a slight reduction was noted between Station 6 (529 FC/100 ml) and 7 (404 FC/100 ml). The differences between the TC and FC were unexplained since it appears that something other than mixing and dilution are occuring at this site. During the October sampling event, Station 6 data were not available.


This survey focused on the 3.5 mile portion of Elevenmile Creek between SR 297 to the north and SR 297A to the south and the discharges associated with Cantonment WWTP and Champion International Corporation. Six stations were monitored in Elevenmile Creek, and one station at Champions foam suppression box that directly discharged to the creek at the "boil," for the two sampling dates, for each of the five bacterial groups. Data are presented graphically in Figures 5 and 6 September 3 and October 28, respectively) for the stations along Elevenmile Creek. The discussion will focus on the general observations noted for Elevenmile Creek and comments about the station locations that may explain the data presented.

During the September survey, total coliform and Klebsiella data followed a similar trend, and remained in the same order of magnitude for all stations surveyed. At first this was unexpected, as Klebsielha species have been identified as making up one of the two dominant genera identified in the fecal coliform test. Based on recent information provided in Standard Methods, Klebsiella can be identified in both the TC and FC tests. For environmental sources, as well as the pulp mill discharges, Klebsiella may make up as much as 88% of the total coliform population. Data for this survey appear to be predominantly from environmental sources. Further biochemical characterization indicated that Klebsiella pneumoniae was confirmed at all stations in at least one replicate. The fecal coliform, Escherichia coli and fecal streptococci followed similar trends, and were approximately an order of magnitude lower than the TC and Klcbsiella.. The data are consistent with the expectation that FC and TC would follow similar trends, since Escherichia is the dominant genus identified in the FC test. Biochemical confirmation of Klebsiella from the FC plates were not done during this survey, therefore, comparison of the Klebsiella present in the FC test (fecal vs. environmental sources) cannot be made. Fecal streptococci were included to assess bacterial contribution of warm blooded animals other than man. Since FC and FS densities were parallel during this sampling event, it appears that sources to the creek were stormwater-related, and may have been diluted or smoothed out by the storm-water associated dilution entering the creek. Figure 5 does not reflect the distances between stations, nor were the influences of additional inputs (lateral streams or other major drainage points) investigated. Of the stations presented on this figure, Station 9 and Station 4 will be discussed in more detail. Station 7 is the entry point for Champions discharge to the creek, and will be also be discussed in some detail below.

Station 9 presented the widest range for the bacterial groups identified. This station was the northernmost sampling station for this survey. It is an artificially deepened area of the creek, periodically dredged by DOT to a depth of approximately 5 feet. It is downstream of Bryans Pond where wildlife and wading and other migratory birds have been noted. The Road Prison located in the near vicinity may influence the water quality there. Since flow was not measured for either date during this survey, it is difficult to determine the downstream influences of the stormwater on Station 9. Both total coliform densities (30,525 TC/100 ml) and fecal coliform densities (941 FC/l00ml) exceeded the maximum allowable water quality criteria for these parameters for September.

The discharge pipe at Station 4, the outfall of the Cantonment WWTP to the creek, was below the surface at the time of sampling. Data were included here to assess the potential impact of the outfall on the creek, based on the sample being a mix of the facility's effluent and the creek water. From the data generated, it appears that the bacterial densities were reduced by the additional flow from Cantonment (approximately 0.5 MGD) to this point in the creek. Monthly monitoring data provided by the facility for this test date indicated that the FC for this time period was 3 FC/100 ml.

Station 7 is located immediately below the foam suppression box (Station 6) which received the discharge from Champions impoundment. The approximately three and a half acre impoundment receives the discharge from Outfall 001(23 MGD), an undocumented volume of flow from the stormwater Outfall 002, and an undocumented flow from Tates Creek. A 48-inch pipe discharges an undocumented flow from the impoundment to the metered box and then discharges to Elevenrmile Creek at the boil (Station. 7). The impoundment has additional input from migratory birds and other wildlife. The data for the September survey did not show an effect on the bacterial densities compared to data at Stations 5 or 8.

Figure 6 (and Table 4) illustrates data generated for the Elevenmile Creek stations for October. Trends in the bacterial populations identified in the previous discussion disappear. Bacterial densities identified at the various stations reflect the background densities. Data for Station 9 are similar to other stations similarly located on creeks and streams in Florida. The depth of the water column at Station 3 for October was less than a foot. The sample received in the lab had significant amounts of floe/turbidity present in the sample and the elevated bacterial densities may be the result of the floc rather than the water column. Staff also noted that the water depth at station 4 was also very low. Samples had to be taken at Stations 3 and 4 to fill a 5 gallon bucket so that Hydrolab parameters could be taken. Turbidity was also noted in Station 4 samples. Therefore, the densities may reflect the resuspension of sediment associated floc rather than water column associated densities. Sediment associated floc has been documented to contain bacterial densities of 1-2 orders of magnitude greater than the overlying waters. Additional sampling at these two locations would be helpful in determining whether the observed densities reflect sedimented associated densities or water column densities. Regardless, the elevated numbers raise concerns and potentially impact downstream waters during wet weather.

Since only a small portion of the creek was studied during this survey, no conclusions are drawn on the impacts of the two dischargers to Perdido Bay, approximately 10 miles downstream. However, data for both sampling dates for Station8 (approximately 2 miles downstream of the confluence of Champions outfall with Elevenmile Creek) do not support the concern that significant densities of coliform bacteria enter downstream waters from the other stations studied.

No clear interpretation of the complex October data for Elevenmile Creek can be made without additional sampling and analyses. Variablity in both the bacterial densities (frequently elevated above water quality standards) and the relationship among the bacterial populations noted in stagnant or low flow waters particularly at headwaters of creeks in undeveloped areas have been previously observed in DEP studies and by others. Contributing to the this variability is the difficulty of sampling in waters 6 inches deep or less, and excluding the highly bacterially enriched sediment associated floc. No data are available for the dry weather sampling date for due direct discharge of Champion into Elevenmile Creek (Station 6). Field Biologists were unable to collect a sample at Station 6 because excess foam and debris in the metered discharge box prevented access to the effluent. However, data for Station 7 did not show a significant difference in bacterial loading between the September and October data, suggesting that the sufficient mixing occurs in this area to provide a consistent input independent of environmental conditions.


Bacterial densities reported for Elevenmile Creek for September were consistent with the DEPs previous studies of rivers and creeks in Florida (An Assessment of Selected Areas in Coastal Wakulla County, FDEP Biology Section, 1982). The general trends noted were: (1)higher densities were identified in the stagnant or low flow headwaters of steams and tributaries, where little dilution of bacterial densities occurs, and (2) bacterial densities decrease downstream as the volume of water and the width increase. Rainfall associated runoff increase both the volume of flow in the creeks and the bacterial densities that are transported in the runoff. With the increased downstream flow, bacterial densities did not show the variability noted in the quiescent dry weather data.

This survey was undertaken for the following purposes: (1) Based on data gathered at Outfalls 001 and 002 at Champion, a determination would be made by District staff as to whether total coliform and fecal coliform limits were appropriate for each of these outfalls in the renewed surface water discharge permit, and (2) Based on the data from stations along Elevenmile Creek, a determination would be made as to whether the discharge from Champion was causing or contributing to the elevated densities previously noted by flue Department for this creek.

The major findings of the survey were:

(1)Data for the permitted outfalls at Champion International Corporation confirmed the presence of total and fecal coliform bacteria in densities that exceeded the water quality criteria in Chapter 62-302, F.A.C.. Additional information is needed to clarify the sources of coliform densities at Outfall 002, and to characterize the bacterial densities associated with the impoundment and its discharge to Elevenmile Creek.

(2) The multiple sources of input to the impoundment, only two of which were surveyed, potentially affect Champions discharge to Elevenmile Creek. Additional information is needed to evaluate the hydrological and bacteriological dynamics of the impoundment to determine time impact of the discharge on the Creek. This is needed to be able to predict bacterial densities likely to be discharged under varying environmental conditions.

(3) Data for Elevenmile Creek appear to be consistent with characterizations of other streams and creeks in Florida in that higher densities of coliforms and other bacterial groups occur during dry weather conditions in areas of minimal water depths. Particularly in waters of less than 12 inches deep or in remote areas accessible to wildlife, coliform densities in other Florida streams frequently exceed the water quality criteria for Class III waters (Bacteriological Survey, St. Augustine, Florida, DEP 1979). During wet weather conditions, bacterial densities introduced from surface water runoff and passages through ponds are carried downstream with the increased flows. In the absence of point source discharges or focused nonpoint source inputs (for example, septic tank leachates), bacterial densities become more evenly distributed to downstream locations with the increased flows. The data generated during this survey did not identify elevated coliform impacts in Elevenmile Creek from either the Cantonment outfall or he Champion outfall for the two dates surveyed. Since this survey was conducted, the discharge from the Cantonment outfall has ceased. The impact on Elevenmile Creek is unknown at this time, particularly related to the dilution provided by the discharge for the bacterial groups studied at the Cantonment outfall and the bacterial densities recovered at the downstream stations. Additional studies would address the most situation.

Data interpretation based on two sampling events should be viewed with caution. Although data reliability for these two events was increased by replicate sampling, these data reflect only two discrete points in time. Additional sampling efforts are needed to more fully evaluate data trends and identify anomalous data.