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Project Work Plan

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

Fiscal Year 2006 Study Work Plan

Study Title: Freshwater Flows to Northeastern Florida Bay
Study Start Date: FY1995 Study End Date: TBD
Web Sites: (http://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/freshwtr_flow/)
Location (Subregions, Counties, Park or Refuge): Dade and Monroe Counties, Everglades National Park
Funding Source: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Other Complementary Funding Source(s): U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Everglades National Park-Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative (CESI)
Funding History: FY98; FY99; FY00 (PBS+CESI); FY01 (PBS+COE); FY02 (PBS+COE); FY03 (PBS+ COE); FY04 (PES+ COE); FY05 (PES+ COE); FY06 (PES+ COE, ENP-CESI)

Principal Investigator(s): Mark Zucker, Clinton Hittle
Study Personnel: Jeff Woods, Christian Lopez
Supporting Organizations: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Everglades National Park (ENP)
Associated / Linked Studies: Southwest Florida Coastal and Wetland Systems Monitoring, USGS Coastal Gradients, 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, FIU-Long Term Ecological Research (LTER), Everglades National Park Marine Monitoring Network, South Florida Water Management District Everglades Program.

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 hydrologic data to Everglades modelers, scientists, and managers 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.

Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified: (Page numbers below refer to DOI Science Plan.)

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 for resource management; (b) quantifying discharge at estuarine creeks to answer the quantity, timing and distribution question; (c) quantifying discharge at estuarine creeks for nutrient load calculations; (d) providing temperature data for biological studies; (e) providing salinity data to support restoration criteria (i.e. performance measure).

Three restoration questions were stated in the executive summary of the DOI Science plan (p. 1) and maximizing cost-share opportunities and science coordination was emphasized. This study supports restoration question number 1; “What actions will improve the quantity, timing, and distribution of clean fresh water needed to restore the South Florida ecosystem.” The monitoring network provides coastal discharges at the majority of estuarine creeks in northeastern Florida Bay. The timing and distribution of fresh water deliveries to northeastern Florida Bay has been documented since 1996. As recent as 2003, the USGS coastal and estuarine unit has begun calculating nutrient loads at selected sites in northeastern Florida Bay and the southwest Coast and the larger network has provided discharge information to researches to develop nutrient budgets and loading (Rudnick 1999, Sutula 2003, Davis 2004, Levesque 2004). Additional funding from the USACE and ENP-CESI has allowed PES to commit to sustainable funding level for future years. The USACE has provided consistent funding since 2001 and have slightly increased the funding level for fiscal year 2006. The CESI program has provided a three year grant to support the monitoring effort in Joe Bay (http://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/joe_bay/). Funding will be available through fiscal year 2007. Maintaining the long term funding support from our partners is a high priority. The northeastern Florida Bay network is one component of a larger monitoring network that includes the southwest coast (Shark Slough), the coastal transition zone, and Barnes Sound, (Coastal Gradients of Flow, Salinity and Nutrients). Funding for the larger network includes PES, CERP MAP, and the funding sources described above. The coastal projects are interrelated and depend on each other for physical, chemical, and hydrological data to assess the potential spatial and temporal changes as CERP restoration proceeds.

The DOI science plan has provided four criteria for prioritizing the science needs for restoration and resource management (p. 11). The criteria and the applicability to the Freshwater Flows to Northeastern Florida Bay project are briefly discussed below.

1) The relevance of the science effort to improving understanding of the ecological and hydrological processes affecting DOI lands and resources. This project has been tasked since the mid 1990's to develop techniques to gage wind driven/tidal rivers near the coast. Methods have been developed to quantify coastal discharges (Hittle 2001) and published data http://sofia.usgs.gov/exchange/patino/patinoflow.html has been shared with our partners to improve our understanding of the south Florida estuaries. Since the development and application of index velocity techniques in south Florida estuaries, new methods and instrumentation has been utilized to improve the quantification of discharge. Up-looking acoustic Doppler velocity meters have been recently used to quantify discharge in bi-directional rivers. Up-looking acoustic sensors have been employed to measure water level rather than the standard stilling well. Instrumentation such as DGPS and sonar are being used to more accurately measure discharge in rivers with dense sea grass beds. Also acoustic Doppler velocimeters are being used to measure wetland velocities in Taylor Slough and C-111 Basin.

2) The applicability of the science to multiple DOI restoration objectives or multiple projects. This project provides data sets for various modeling efforts by the USGS, USACE, ENP, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and universities, nutrient loading assessments by Florida International University (FIU), and salinity box modeling. (Marshall III and Nuttle 2002)

3) Synthesis and sequencing to address the most urgent management information needs. The project supports various synthesis and modeling efforts. Examples of USGS synthesis projects include the “Compilation, Integration, and Synthesis of Water Quality and Flow Data for Assessing Nutrient Flux to South Florida Coastal Ecosystems” and “Hydrology Monitoring Network: Data Mining and Modeling to Separate Human and Natural Hydrologic Dynamics.” Other synthesis projects utilizing our data sets include the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) “Everglades Research and Monitoring Division, Everglades Consolidated Reports”, FIU “Long Term Ecological Research, Florida Coastal Everglades”, and USACE “Florida Bay and Florida Keys Feasibility Study.”

4) Maximization of cost-share opportunities and science coordination across bureaus or with DOI's CERP partners. This project receives funding from PES, USACE, and ENP. Funding for the Southwest Florida Coastal and Wetland Systems Monitoring project is fully funded by PES while the Coastal Gradients of Flow, Salinity, and Nutrients project is fully funded by CERP MAP. When considering the entire network along the south Florida coast, the funding allocation for fiscal year 2004 was roughly 50% PES and 50% other partners.

This study supports the C-111 Spreader and CSOP projects (p. 71) as it (1) provides baseline data prior to the engineering of the study area in order to detect change, (2) provides critical coastal discharge data for nutrient and pesticide loading assessments and, (3) provides hydrologic 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 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 and Florida Bay and, (2) provides physical, chemical, and hydrologic data needed for environmental risk assessments of contaminants.

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, one of DOI questions of interested stated in the executive summary, (2) provides basic hydrologic data to assist with model calibration and verification (p. 78) of the Florida Bay Hydrodynamic (Florida Bay and Florida Keys Feasibility Study) 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 2004, Trout Creek has consistently contributed approximately 50% of the total freshwater flow to northeastern Florida Bay.
  2. Roughly 70% of the freshwater flow into northeastern Florida Bay enters eastward of Taylor Slough.
  3. Water level differences between Taylor Slough and the C-111 basin drive flow direction in the southeastern Everglades, which is critical issue for contaminant transport, flood management, and saltwater intrusion concerns. For example, freshwater from Taylor Slough moves eastward towards western Joe Bay during major storms and is an important contributor of freshwater flow to Florida Bay through Trout Creek.
  4. Preliminary data suggests that annual flows are variable from year to year. For example, flows in 2000 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.
  5. Hydrologic Correlation has been employed to estimate non-gaged estuarine creeks with reasonable success (i.e. Long Sound) but may not be applicable for other estuarine creeks in northeastern Florida Bay.
  6. 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 and relatively high salinities persisted during the wet season.

Status: On-going

Recent Products: (1) Published unit values of water level, discharge, salinity, and temperature are available from 1996 to 2000. Data is available in Data Series Report 105 and on the USGS South Florida Information Access web page (SOFIA) (http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/ds/ds105/, http://sofia.usgs.gov/exchange/patino/patinoflow.html), (2) Poster titled Estimation of Freshwater Flow to Joe Bay, South Florida, (3) Published fact sheet (FS2004-3129) “Hydrologic Characteristics of Estuarine River Systems within Everglades National Park.” (http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/fs/2004/3129/), (4) Published unit values of water level, discharge, salinity, and temperature are available from 2001 to 2004 available on SOFIA (5) Clickable map of the coastal network real-time data for scientists and resource managers available on SOFIA (6) formal presentation to the USACE in Jacksonville, FL in January 2005.

Planned Products: (1) Published unit values of water level, discharge, salinity, and temperature for water year 2005 available on SOFIA (2) Abstract and poster on coastal nutrient loads to be presented at the 2005 Florida Bay Conference in December 2005 (3) Journal article for the special Estuaries addition covering Florida Bay hydrologiy during the 2004 hurricane season (4) Journal article titled “Estimates of Nutrient Loads at West Highway Creek in Northeastern Florida Bay, in progress (5) Journal article titled “Spatial and temporal salinity patterns in Joe Bay, Everglades National Park”, in progress.

WORK PLAN

Title of Task 1: Gaging Freshwater Flows into Northeastern Florida Bay
Task Funding: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES), USACE C-111 Project
Task Leaders: Mark Zucker, Clinton Hittle
Phone: 954-377-5952, 954-377-5915
FAX: 954-377-5901
Task Status (proposed or active): Active and ongoing
Task priority: High
Budget and Time Frame for Task 1:
Task Personnel: Mark Zucker, Clinton Hittle, Jeff Woods, Christian Lopez

Task Summary and Objectives: Task 1 is the continuation of measuring freshwater flow from the Everglades wetlands into northeastern Florida Bay. Flow, water-level, salinity and temperature data are collected in real-time at monitoring sites in estuarine creeks and are transmitted via satellite to the USGS Center for Water and Restoration Studies in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The task objectives are: 1) to determine the quantity, timing and distribution of freshwater flow through estuarine creeks into northeastern Florida Bay (the Florida Bay and Florida Keys Feasibility Study (p. 77), 2) To provide real-time physical data to Everglades/Florida Bay modelers and researchers (Additional Water to Everglades National Park and Biscayne Bay Feasibility Study (p. 74), and 3) to advance accurate methods for gaging estuarine creeks.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: Data collection includes continuous 15-minute interval measurements of water level, water velocity, salinity, and temperature data and periodic measurements of discharge for acoustic Doppler velocity meter (ADVM) calibrations at West Highway Creek, East Highway Creek, Oregon Creek, Stillwater Creek, Trout Creek, Mud Creek, Taylor River at Mouth, upstream Taylor River, McCormick Creek, Joe Bay 2E, and Jewfish Creek. Field data at the instrumented sites are recorded by an electronic data logger and transmitted every 4 hours by way of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) into the database of the USGS CWRS office. Non-transmitting stations where only discharge and water level are collected include East Highway Creek, Oregon Creek, Joe Bay 1E, Joe Bay 5C, and Joe Bay 8W. Periodic discharge measurements will be performed at East Creek in Little Madeira Bay as time permits. Boat mounted acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCP) are used to measure discharge in the estuarine creeks mentioned above. The ADCP uses the Doppler shift in returned acoustic signals reflected by particles suspended in the water to determine the velocity of moving water. Discharge and flow direction are calculated using the Doppler software package. The mean channel water velocity is calculated by dividing the total discharge (measured with the ADCP) by the cross-sectional area determined by the water level at the time of measurement. The cross-sectional area is computed by using the site-specific stage area ratings, which is a function of water level. Water-level data are collected with an incremental shaft encoder equipped with a pulley, stainless-steel tape, weight, and float inside an 8 in. (inch) polyvinyl chloride pipe stilling well. Salinity and temperature data are collected with YSI instrumentation (i.e. 600R, Optical Monitoring System). During routine station visits, these in-situ instruments are cleaned, calibrated (if necessary), and verified with laboratory standards. In essence, fouling and electronic errors are observed and datum corrections are applied accordingly. An independently calibrated YSI instrument is used during each field trip to verify in-situ salinities and temperatures. The independent YSI sensor is checked against a NIST laboratory certified thermometer in the lab periodically.

Specific Task Product(s): Published unit values of water level, discharge, salinity, and temperature for water year 2005 will be available on SOFIA in April 2006. Manuscripts will be published in the USGS Surface Water Data Book. Manuscript for the special Estuaries addition is due by December 15, 2005. Abstract and poster titled “Estimates of Nutrient Loads at West Highway Creek in Northeastern Florida Bay” will be presented at the 2005 Florida Bay Conference. The journal article titled “Estimates of Nutrient Loads at West Highway Creek in Northeastern Florida Bay will be submitted by March 2006.

References

Davis, S.E. III, Cable, J.E., Childers, D.L., Coronado-Molina, C., Day, J.W., Hittle, C.D., Madden, C.J., Reyes, E., Rudnick, D., and Sklar, F., 2004. Importance of storm events in controlling ecosystem structure and function in a Florida Gulf Coast estuary, Journal of Coastal Research, v. 20 no. 3, p. 263-273.

Hittle, C.D., Patino, Eduardo, and Zucker, Mark, 2001, Freshwater flow from estuarine creeks into northeastern Florida Bay: U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Investigation Report 01-4164, 32 p.

Levesque, V.A., 2004, Water flow and nutrient flux from five estuarine rivers along the Southwest Coast of Everglades National Park, Florida, 1997-2001: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 04-5142, 24 p.

Marshall, F.E. III, Smith, D., and Nickerson, D, 2003, Salinity Simulation Models for North Florida Bay, Everglades National Park, in Greater Everglades and Florida Bay Ecosystem Abstracts, p. 53.

Nuttle, W.K., 2002, in Salinity-Based Performance Measures Project: Report #6: Estuarine Salinity Models in the Taylor Slough/C111 Area: technical report prepared for Everglades National Park.

Rudnick, D.T., Childers, D.L., Fontaine, T.D. III, 1999, Phosphorus and Nitrogen Inputs to Florida Bay: The Importance of the Everglades Watershed: Estuaries. V. 22, no. 2B, p. 398-416.

Sutula, M.A., Perez, B.C., Reyes, E., Childers, D.L., Davis, S., Day, J.R., Rudnick, D., and Sklar, F. 2003. Factors affecting spatial and temporal variability in material exchange between the Southern Everglades wetlands and Florida Bay (USA): Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. V. 57, p. 757-781.



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