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Project Summary Sheet

U.S. Geological Survey, Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (PES) Initiative

Fiscal Year 2004 Study Summary Report

Study Title: Freshwater Flows to Northeastern Florida Bay
Study Start Date: 1995 Study End Date: TBD
Web Sites:
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Dade and Monroe Counties, Everglades National Park
Funding Source: USGS Priority Ecosystems Science (PES), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Principal Investigator(s): Mark Zucker, Clinton Hittle
Study Personnel: Jeff Woods, Marc Stewart, Rich Kachelriess, Jessica Adams
Supporting Organizations: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, SFWMD, Everglades National Park

Associated / Linked Studies: Southwest Florida Coastal and Wetland Systems Monitoring, Tides and Inflow in the Mangrove Ecotone (TIME), Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions and Relation to Water Quality in the Everglades, Geology and Ecological History of the “Buttonwood Ridge” Region, Salinity Patterns in Florida Bay: A Synthesis, Interrelation of Everglades Hydrology and Florida Bay Dynamics to Ecosystem Processes and Restoration in South Florida, Southern Inland and Coastal Systems (SICS) Model Development

Overview & Objective(s): The project objectives are: 1) To determine the quantity, timing and distribution of freshwater flow through estuarine creeks into northeastern Florida Bay, 2) to provide real-time physical data to Everglades modelers and researchers, and 3) to advance accurate methods for gaging estuarine creeks. Flow, water-level, and salinity data are collected at the estuarine creeks that connect the Everglades wetland with Florida Bay. This project helps determine how freshwater flow affects the health of Florida Bay, a critical concern of the CERP, and how changes in water-management practices upstream (Taylor Slough and C-111 basins) directly influence flow and salinity conditions in the estuary. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), USGS, Everglades National Park (ENP) and other agencies as well as universities are currently using the data from this study to answer specific research questions that will directly benefit the restoration effort.

Status: On-going

Recent Products: Published unit values of water level, discharge, salinity, and temperature are available from 1996 to 2000.
(, Poster titled Estimation of Freshwater Flow to Joe Bay, South Florida

Planned Products: Published unit values of water level, discharge, salinity, and temperature for water years 2001 through 2003. Fact Sheet and poster prepared for First National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER) in Orlando, Florida, December 2004.

Specific Relevance to Information Needs Identified in DOI's Science Plan in Support of Ecosystem Restoration, Preservation, and Protection in South Florida (DOI's Everglades Science Plan) [See Plan on SOFIA's Web site:]:

This study supports several of the projects listed in the DOI science plan (specifically: C-111 Spreader Canal and CSOP, additional water for ENP and Biscayne Bay Feasibility Study; Florida Bay and Florida Keys Feasibility Study) by (a) providing baseline hydrologic data for model calibration and verification and resource management; (b) quantifying discharge at estuarine creeks to answer the quantity, timing and distribution question; (c) quantifying discharge at estuarine creeks for load calculations; (d) providing temperature data for biological studies; (e) providing salinity data to support restoration criteria (i.e. performance measure)

This study supports the C-111 Spreader and CSOP projects (p. 71) as it (1) provides critical coastal discharge data for nutrient and pesticide loading to the bay and (2) provides salinity data to calibrate models or verify model predictions of salinity.

This study supports the Additional Water to Everglades National Park and Biscayne Bay Feasibility Study (p. 74) as it (1) provides critical coastal discharge data for nutrient and pesticide loading to the bay (p. 63) and (2) provides baseline data to assist with the question of how will natural flows in Taylor Slough will change the quantity, timing, and distribution of flows in Biscayne Bay.

This study supports the Florida Bay and Florida Keys Feasibility Study (p. 77) as it (1) provides baseline data to address the quantity, timing and distribution of freshwater flow to Florida Bay question, (2) provides basic hydrologic data to assist with model calibration and verification (p. 78) of the Florida Bay Hydrodynamic and the USGS TIME and SICS models, and (3) provides critical coastal discharge data for nutrient, pesticide, and mercury loading.

Key Findings:

  1. From 1996 to 2003, Trout Creek has consistently contributed approximately 50% of the total freshwater flow to northeastern Florida Bay.
  2. Preliminary data suggests that annual flows are variable from year to year. For example, flows in 200 were the highest since data collection was initiated in 1996. Conversely, flow in 2003 was considered a 'dry year' resembling flows observed during the drought year of 2000.
  3. Hypersaline conditions have been routinely observed in the westernmost portion of the study area (i.e. McCormick Creek) but hypersaline conditions near or exceeding 40 ppt were observed bay-wide during the dry season of 2004.

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