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Ground-Water Discharge to Biscayne Bay

photo of scientists at a flowing well in Biscayne Bay
Project Investigator: Chris Langevin

Project Personnel: Raul Patterson, Melinda Lohmann

Project Start Date: 1996 End Date: 2000


Summary

The goal is a model assessment of effects of management activities on discharge to Biscayne Bay.

Please note - this is a completed project.

The goal of Everglades Restoration is to restore the ecosystem of South Florida to conditions that closely resemble predevelopment conditions. Much of the restoration will occur by making significant changes to the structures and operational procedures of the existing water management system. These changes must not harm the ecosystem of Biscayne Bay, which is already threatened by reductions in fresh groundwater flow.

Prior to the construction of the extensive canal network in South Florida, offshore springs discharged large quantities of fresh groundwater into Biscayne Bay. During this time most of the freshwater flow to Biscayne Bay occurred as either spring flow or the continuous seepage of fresh groundwater along the coast of the Bay. When drainage canals were constructed to reduce flooding in the area, the mechanism for transporting water to the Bay was significantly altered. Rather than receiving a continuous supply of fresh groundwater, Biscayne Bay received wet-season pulses of canal discharge. Biologists have confirmed that the change in timing and location of freshwater flow to the Bay has harmed Biscayne Bay's ecosystem. Sea grasses, and juvenile fish that take refuge in them, no longer receive a continuous supply of fresh water-a requirement for their survival. The purpose of this project, known as the "Groundwater Flows to Biscayne Bay" project, is to determine how planned restoration alternatives will affect the bay by providing answers to the following questions:

  1. How much fresh groundwater is currently discharging to Biscayne Bay?
  2. How will South Florida restoration efforts affect the quantity of fresh groundwater flow to Biscayne Bay?

To answer these questions, groundwater flow to Biscayne Bay is being simulated with a computer model. The model will help identify which of the costly restoration alternatives will result in fresh groundwater flows to the Bay that are most beneficial to the ecosystem. This project is scheduled for completion in September 2000, at which time the computer model and a published report will be available to all interested parties.

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Script last updated: 23 October 2018 @ 12:03 PM by THF. Record creator: BJM. Record last updated by: BJM.