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Project Summary Sheet

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

Fiscal Year 2005 Study Summary Report

Study Title: Analysis of Historical Water-Quality Data (Phase 1) / Integration, and Synthesis of Water Quality and Flow Data for Assessing Nutrient Flux to South Florida Coastal Ecosystems (Phase 2)
Study Start Date: 2001 Study End Date: 2006
Web Sites: data available at SOFIA
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Everglades National Park (ENP), Big Cypress National Preserve (BCNP), and Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (LNWR).
Funding Source: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES); CESI in 2001
Principal Investigator(s): Benjamin McPherson
Study Personnel: Ronald Miller, Arturo Torres
Supporting Organizations: National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Associated / Linked Studies:

Overview & Objective(s): The study provides a review and analysis of historical water-quality data in BCNP, ENP, and LNWR (Phase 1) and nearby coastal waters of south Florida (Phase 2). This information will help establish water-quality standards and baseline conditions in the parks, and will help evaluate the potential effects of CERP on water quality. Objectives of Phase 1 include: (1) assemble, review and edit water-quality data and provide a working data base; (2) analyze and evaluate the data and prepare interpretative reports on historical water-quality conditions and trends in BCNP, ENP, LNWR, and DOI coastal waters. These analyses will provide a baseline for evaluating how CERP might affect water quality in the parks and refuge.

Phase 2 - Documentation of coastal nutrient loads prior to CERP implementation is important to evaluate the impact of increasing freshwater flows to Florida Bay and the southwest coast. Although nutrient data is currently being collected by the USGS and by the Florida International University (FIU) Long-Term Ecosystem (LTER) program from several tidal creeks along the costal region of the Everglades National Park, this network has yet to produce nutrient loads into Florida Bay and the southwest coast. The scope and objectives of Phase 2 are to: (1) Compile and summarize data that have been collected by different agencies and universities on water flow and water quality in tidal creeks and rivers that flow into coastal waters of ENP. (2) Evaluate and use flow and nutrient data from two river index systems (Trout Creek and Shark River) to estimate annual and monthly nutrient flux for a 9-year period (1995-2003). (3) Develop a plan based on results from the two index stations to expand nutrient load estimates for other major stream and river systems of ENP and nearby coastal waters.

Status: Active; on-going.

Recent Products: McPherson, B.F., Miller, R.L., Sobczak, Robert, and Clark, Christine. 2003. Water quality in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park, 1960-2000. U. S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-097-03, 4 p.

Miller, R.L., McPherson, B.F., Sobczak, Robert, and Clark, Christine. 2004. Water quality in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park ---Trends and Spatial characteristics of selected constituents. Water Resources Investigation Report 03-4249, 34p.

Water Quality in South Florida's Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge -Trends and Spatial Characteristics, 1984-2004. Abstract and Poster, December 2004 Ecosystem Restoration Conference, Orlando, Fl.

Planned Products: Water Quality in South Florida's Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge -Trends and Spatial Characteristics, of selected constituents, 1984-2004. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report, 2005.

Nutrient flux in Trout Creek and Shark River, ENP, 1995-2003. Planned for FY06

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) [Page numbers listed below are from the DOI Everglades Science Plan. The Science Plan is posted on SOFIA's Web site:]:

This study supports several of the projects listed in the DOI science plan. These projects include: (1) Arthur R. Marshall LNWR Internal Canal Structure (p. 37). The study provides data and analysis of historic hydrologic and water-quality conditions in the Loxahatchee refuge (p. 40) needed to develop the specific hydrologic and ecological targets for the project. (2) Water Conservation Area 3 Decompartmentalization and Sheetflow Enhancement (p. 66), and (3) Additional Water for Everglades National Park and Biscayne Bay Feasibility Study (p. 73). The study provides data and analysis of historical hydrologic, land use and water management changes, and water-quality conditions in BCNP, ENP and LNWR. These data and analyses complement hydrologic, paleoecological, and modeling investigations in these DOI lands, provide better understanding of linkages between geologic, hydrologic, chemical and biological processes in the Everglades (pages 68 and 74), and support in the development of hydrologic targets for the restoration projects.

Key Findings:

  1. Major physical alterations of the landscape and associated water-management practices in the greater Everglades have altered water quality over the last 40 years.
  2. Water quality of canals that drain agricultural lands contain relatively high concentrations of dissolved solids, nutrients, and pesticide compared with background levels.
  3. Canal waters have flowed into marshes of ENP and LNWR and altered water quality.
  4. Water quality in marshes remote from canals respond to seasonal changes in rainfall and water levels and to variations in geology, hydrology, and vegetation.
  5. On phase 2 of the study, water quality and flow data for Shark River and Trout Creek were compiled. Currently, the data is being organized and arranged for computing nutrient fluxes.

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