A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and
Modeling
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Report No. LOXA06-002

Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and Modeling Program for the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Quarterly Update Report - January 2006

Prepared by: Matt Harwell, A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

With contributions from Laura Brandt, Leslie MacGregor (NPS), Donatto Surratt, and Mike Waldon

Overview

This update is a summary of activities since the previous status report of September 2005 on the implementation of the Refuge's Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and Modeling Program. A project overview, and other detailed information about the program can be found at: http://sofia.usgs.gov/lox_monitor_model/. The primary objective of this overall program focuses on providing information for use in ecological management of the Refuge (Brandt et al. 2004; Harwell et al. 2005). The Refuge’s monitoring component of this program also addresses one of the Consent Decree Principals recommendations (17 December 2003):

B. Enhancing Monitoring of the Refuge

Design and implement an enhanced monitoring program to improve spatial and temporal understanding of factors related to phosphorus dynamics.

The Refuge's modeling component of this program also addresses several of the Consent Decree Principals recommendations (17 December 2003):

C. Modeling of the Refuge

  1. Develop a water quality/hydraulic model for the Refuge with a phosphorus cycling component.
  2. Evaluate issues associated with phosphorus loads and transports within the L-40 and L-7 canals.
  3. Develop and track a simple phosphorus mass-balance model for the Refuge.

Information Availability

Through collaboration with USGS, information from the Refuge’s Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and Modeling Program has been made available on the USGS' SOFIA web site at: http://sofia.usgs.gov/lox_monitor_model/. The web site is being updated in early 2006 to incorporate several reports generated since the previous updated, including:

  1. Diaz, O. A., and Waldon, M. G. (2006). "L-40 Canal Sediment Elevation Study: Initial Report." Report #LOXA05-009, Everglades Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Belle Glade and Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boynton Beach, FL.
  2. MacGregor, L. (2006) “LOXA Sampling Locations - Coordinates and metadata.” Report #LOXA06-001, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boynton Beach, FL.
  3. Surratt, D. (2005) “Enhanced Water Quality Program Parameter Reduction Report.” Report #LOXA05-004, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boynton Beach, FL.
  4. Surratt, D. (2005) “S5A-CELL CANAL CROSS-SECTION STUDY.” Report #LOXA05-015, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boynton Beach, FL. Final data for monthly samples continue to be publicly posted on DBHYDRO by the SFWMD at: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/org/ema/dbhydro/index.html) (new URL: http://my.sfwmd.gov/dbhydroplsql/show_dbkey_info.main_page).

Monitoring Update (August - December 2005)

Map showing location of enhanced water quality monitoring network stations
Figure 1. Location of Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring network stations (LOXA###), in relation to Consent Decree compliance stations (LOX##), for the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. [larger image]

Sampling of the enhanced water quality monitoring network (Figure 1) occurred at 24 stations in August 2005, 36 stations in September 2005, 33 stations in October 2005, 35 stations in November 2005, and all 39 stations in December 2005 (Table 1).

Total phosphorus data for 2005 are presented in Table 1. Maps of TP for August - December 2005 are presented in Figures 2-6.

Conductivity sonde deployment information for 2005 is presented in Table 2.

Modeling Update

Model development (contract with University of Louisiana - Lafayette) continues. A draft model selection report and a draft model data report are currently being finalized. Concurrent with the completion of the model selection report will be the finalization of the first report from the modeling external technical review panel (contract with Tennessee Technological University). Members of the review panel felt that no definitive recommendation on model selection was appropriate prior to development of a more complete inventory of data that will be available to support model development. The modeling team has now substantially completed the data inventory task, and the review panel has received a draft copy of the data inventory report. It is anticipated that further recommendations from the advisory panel will be documented early in 2006.

The modeling team is also developing simplified water budget and mass budget models for the Refuge. Currently, a prototype water budget model has been developed and calibrated for the ten year period of record from 1995 to 2004. For some applications, this simplified modeling can provide valuable insight in support of management decisions. At present, model calibration to marsh stage is encouraging. Extensions and enhancements to these models are planned for 2006.

August 2005 map of total phosphorus values Septemeber 2005 map of total phosphorus values
Figure 2. August 2005 map of total phosphorus values from the Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and the EVPA stations in the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. A primary reason that a station is not sampled is that it has less than 10 cm of clear water column representative of that area. [larger image] Figure 3. September 2005 map of total phosphorus values from the Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and the EVPA stations in the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. A primary reason that a station is not sampled is that it has less than 10 cm of clear water column representative of that area. [larger image]
October 2005 map of total phosphorus values November 2005 map of total phossphorus values
Figure 4. October 2005 map of total phosphorus values from the Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and the EVPA stations in the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. A primary reason that a station is not sampled is that it has less than 10 cm of clear water column representative of that area. [larger image] Figure 5. November 2005 map of total phosphorus values from the Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and the EVPA stations in the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. A primary reason that a station is not sampled is that it has less than 10 cm of clear water column representative of that area. [larger image]
December 2005 map of total phosphorus values.
Figure 6. December 2005 map of total phosphorus values from the Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and the EVPA stations in the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. A primary reason that a station is not sampled is that it has less than 10 cm of clear water column representative of that area. Note: December 2005 water quality data for the EVPA stations has not been made available at the time of this report. [larger image]

 

Screenshot of table 1
Table 1. Click to view full table.

screenshot of table 2
Table 2. Click to view full table.

Canal Sediment Survey Update

Results from the first canal sediment survey effort (contract with University of Florida- IFAS) are presented in a preliminary report "L-40 Canal Sediment Elevation Study: Initial Report" posted on the SOFIA web site. This report describes four pre-discharge sediment elevation surveys conducted at five transect (Diaz and Waldon 2006).

A second component of this project involved studying changes in canal water quality by following and sampling water as it flows along the L-40 Canal. Sampling for this component has been delayed by weather conditions (including Hurricane Wilma) on three planned attempts. Therefore, these studies have been rescheduled for calendar year 2006.

Water Quality Data Analyses Updates

The Work Plan (Brandt et al. 2004) identifies several potential approaches for refining the network if there are appropriate technical underpinnings for doing so. Ultimately, any refinement of any monitoring network needs to have a sound technical basis before proceeding. First, we undertook an exercise to ident ify parameters for elimination because of redundancy in information or lack of contribution to the overall program goals. A draft report of this exercise was distributed to the Technical Oversight Committee and interested parties. The final version of this report was strengthened by technical input by individuals from a number of agencies. The final results of this exercise are available on the SOFIA web site, including a response to the technical comments received on the earlier draft. The refined list of parameters was completed for implementation in January 2006. Second, a draft report for examining potential station reduction is in development.

It is anticipated that this report will undergo a similar review before final station reduction recommendations are implemented in early 2006.

Transect water quality analyses (including the conductivity sonde data) are continuing.

Station Coordinates Update

The final QA of a complete set of differentially- corrected GPS coordinates of this enhanced network was completed in January 2006. The coordinates, along with very detailed metadata are available on the SOFIA web site, and have been submitted to the SFWMD for update in DBHYDRO.

Next Steps

Conceptual diagram of the pieces involved with understanding the Refuge management question: What impact does water management operations have on the ecology of the Refuge?
Figure 7. Conceptual diagram of the pieces involved with understanding the Refuge management question: What impact does water management operations have on the ecology of the Refuge? [larger image]
The next steps for this program continue to focus on data collection and analysis and continuing forward with model development.

One of the bigger-picture management questions for the Refuge is: What impact does water management operations have on the ecology of the Refuge? This is challenging to answer because associating water management activities to interior marsh ecological conditions is complex. This question can be broken down into several components which are easier to understand (Figure 7). First, relationships between structure operations and water movement into and out of the perimeter canal needs to be examined. Second, the extent of water movement into the interior marsh from the canal needs to be determined. Third, the relationship between canal/marsh water movement and the water quality of the interior marsh needs to be understood. Finally, relationships between water quality and ecology in the interior marsh need to be determined. Data from our Enhanced Water Quality program continue to be analyzed to help understand the middle two components. In 2006, we anticipate initiating new efforts to complement ongoing studies of ecological effects of water quality on the ecology of the interior marsh.

References

http://sofia.usgs.gov/lox_monitor_model/

Brandt, L.A., Harwell, M., Waldon, M. (2004) Work Plan: Water Quality Monitoring and Modeling for the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge: 2004-2006. Prepared for the A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. April, 2004. 33 pp.

Harwell, M. Surratt, D., Waldon, M., Walker, B., Brandt, L. (2005) A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge Enhanced Water Quality Monitoring and Modeling Interim Report. April, 2005. 106 pp.

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