hero image
Mary Lusk - University of Florida. Balm, FL, US

Mary Lusk

Assistant Professor | University of Florida


Mary Lusk focuses her research on well water and septic system.


Mary Lusk’s research focuses on developing research-based and stakeholder relevant programs that help Floridians enhance and protect our state’s water quality, quantity and supply. She works to ensure that Florida residents, homeowners, urban landscaper managers, city and county officials, and others have the knowledge they need to make sound decisions about water use and water supply management. She is an assistant professor of soil and water sciences in the Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Urban Water Quality, Stormwater, and Low Impact Development for Urban Areas

Onsite Wastewater Treatment (Septic Systems)

Urban Fertilizer Ordinances

Pathogens in Water Bodies

Urban Agriculture

Media Appearances (5)

Drinking water for Manatee County residents will not be affected by the issues at Piney Point

ABC Action News  online


ABC Action News asked Mary Lusk an Assistant Professor in the Soil and Water Sciences Department at the University of Florida. “That water is going through many layers of treatment and monitoring and it shouldn’t even be affected by any of this wastewater spill whatsoever. The wastewater is not coming in contact with that water that’s part of the municipal supply,” Lusk said.

view more

Program teaches what happens 'After the Flush'

Tallahassee Democrat  online


“Basic septic systems were originally designed because we recognized a need to treat wastewater from our homes in a sanitary way, thus protecting public health,” said Lusk, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of soil and water sciences. “A century ago, no one thought much about nitrogen.”

view more

Out of sight, still a blight

WUFT News  online


Florida’s poor soils have less capacity for treating pathogens than those in other parts of the country, said Mary Lusk, a UF professor of soil and water sciences. Viruses are even smaller than bacteria, she said, making it easier for them to slip through soils. “If (a virus) can live in the conditions of a septic tank, and it can make its way to water, then perhaps that can be a means of spreading that disease,” Lusk said.

view more

UF Scientists Encourage Women to Pursue STEM on International Day of Women in Science

Bay News 9  online


Lusk told audience members that her husband was the one to give her a nudge to get back to college after the couple’s youngest child entered first grade. “He said, 'sweetie, you have too much to offer to not be giving it to the world,” Lusk said. Lusk went on to say it was her father who got her to think in the direction of science as he took her on walks in nature as a child.

view more

Sandy Soil And Rising Seas Spell Septic Tank Disaster In Florida

NPR News  online


Mary Lusk, an assistant professor in the University of Florida Soil and Water Sciences Department, said this plain old technology is generally effective when it comes to public health protection. “They do a very good job of removing bacteria and viruses and any other pathogenic organisms as that wastewater interacts with the soil,” she explained. “Our problem in Florida is that the basic conventional system was never designed to remove nitrogen, and nitrogen is ever present in the human waste stream.”

view more


Articles (5)

Sources and concentrations of nutrients in surface runoff from waterfront homes with different landscape practices

Science of the Total Environment

Lisa S. Krimsky, et al.


Development along Florida's coastal waterways has led to significant degradation in water quality over time. Numerous sources have contributed to increased nutrient loads in surface waters. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) pollution from urban fertilizer use has been addressed at the state, county, and municipality level yet the success of these efforts is rarely evaluated.

view more

Copper concentration data for water, sediments, and vegetation of urban stormwater ponds treated with copper sulfate algaecide

Data in Brief

Mary G. Lusk and Kylie Chapman


We characterized copper (Cu) concentrations in the water, sediments, and shoreline plants of stormwater ponds in the urban Tampa, Florida area. We selected 6 urban residential stormwater ponds that receive summer wet season (May to September) Cu sulfate applications at least twice a month. We collected triplicate water and sediment samples from each pond and analyzed for Cu, as well as nutrient pools (inorganic N and P) and a suite of other physicochemical properties.

view more

Wet season nitrogen export from a residential stormwater pond

PLoS One

Jariani Jani, et al.


Stormwater runoff is recognized as a cause of water quality degradation because it may carry nitrogen (N) and other pollutants to aquatic ecosystems. Stormwater ponds are a stormwater control measure often used to manage stormwater runoff by holding a permanent pool of water, which reduces the peak flow, magnitude of runoff volume, and concentrations of nutrients and pollutants.

view more

Composition of nitrogen in urban residential stormwater runoff: Concentrations, loads, and source characterization of nitrate and organic nitrogen

PLoS One

Jariani Jani, et al.


Stormwater runoff is a leading cause of nitrogen (N) transport to water bodies and hence one means of water quality deterioration. Stormwater runoff was monitored in an urban residential catchment (drainage area: 3.89 hectares) in Florida, United States to investigate the concentrations, forms, and sources of N. Runoff samples were collected over 22 storm events (May to September 2016) at the end of a stormwater pipe that delivers runoff from the catchment to the stormwater pond.

view more

Organic nitrogen in residential stormwater runoff: Implications for stormwater management in urban watersheds

Science of the Total Environment

Mary G. Lusk, et al.


Stormwater runoff containing organic nitrogen is a source of potentially bioavailable N in water bodies. Characterization and concentrations of dissolved organic N and particulate organic N in urban stormwater runoff are rarely reported and considered in stormwater management. The objectives were to characterize the organic and inorganic N pools in residential stormwater runoff and determine the rainfall driven landscape sources of runoff PON.

view more





loading image loading image loading image