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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: Compilation, Integration, and Synthesis of Water Quality and Flow Data for Assessing Nutrient Flux to South Florida Coastal Ecosystems (Phase 2 of “Analysis of Historic Water Quality Data”).
Study Start Date: 2005 (Phase 2; new) 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), Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (LNWR), and nearby coastal waters.
Funding Source: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES) Initiative
Other Complementary Funding Source(s): CESI in 2001
Funding History: FY01; FY02; FY03; FY04; FY05; FY06
Principal Investigator(s): Benjamin McPherson and Arturo Torres
Study Personnel: Ronald Miller, Mark Zucker, Paul Conrads
Supporting Organizations: National Park Service; US Fish and Wildlife Service
Associated / Linked Studies: USGS Coastal Gradient study [Funded by CERP Monitoring and Assessment Plan (MAP)]

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. At present the USGS operates 30 flow stations of which only three stations currently collect continuous nutrient data (auto-samplers). The water-quality network operated by FIU in this same coastal region of the Everglades (along Taylor Creek and Shark River) consists of about 16 nutrient auto-samplers. However, none of the FIU stations collect flow data from which coastal nutrient loads could be computed. The USGS is currently contemplating expanding and improving the existing coastal nutrient network (1) by combining the water-quality data being collected by FIU with flow data being collected in nearby flow stations operated by the USGS and (2) by adding water-quality sampling sites at existing coastal discharge monitoring stations which will allow computation of nutrient loading from freshwater wetlands to the mangrove coastline.

The scope and objectives of Phase 2 of the study 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.

Specific Relevance to Major Unanswered Questions and Information Needs Identified: This study supports several of the projects listed in the DOI science plan. (Page numbers below refer to 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. Combined Structural and Operational Plan (CSOP) (page 63). The study addresses the following unanswered questions: (a) What are the operating protocols needed to mimic natural flows through ENP; (b) What impact will increased freshwater flows have on coastal communities; and (c) What water quality hazards are associated with using water derived from agricultural basins to augment natural area. The study supports the Combined Structural and Operational Plan project (CSOP and Mod Waters; p. 70) as it generates information that will improve ecological models in making them more suitable for applications and analysis (p. 71) and produces historical data that could be used by models in predicting salinity in the mangrove community and northeast Florida Bay (p. 71).
  3. Additional Water for Everglades National Park and Biscayne Bay Feasibility study (p. 63). The study supports this project by addressing these unanswered questions: (a) How will natural flows in Taylor Slough change the quality, timing, and distribution of flows in Biscayne Bay; (b) How much additional water is needed to mimic predrainage hydrology in Everglades and Biscayne Bay; and (c) What are the water quality hazards and how can they be avoided.
  4. Florida Bay and Florida Key Feasibility Study (p. 64). The study supports this project by addressing these unanswered questions: (a) What are the sources of nitrogen to Florida Bay and what are the impacts of elevated nitrogen levels and (b) What are the links between freshwater inflows to Florida Bay and the ecology of the bay?

Status: Phase 2 new.

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 during the 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.

Freshwater and nutrient fluxes to Coastal Waters of Everglades National Park. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet, 4 pages.

A summary of the data and methods of data collection for water flow and water quality in tidal river systems of ENP and nearby coastal waters, including data collected by different agencies (USGS, NPS, NOAA, SFWMD) and universities (FIU, UM etc). This summary will be posted into the SOFIA web site.

B. WORK PLAN

Title of Task 1: Provide baseline water quality and trends in Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
Task Funding: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Task Leaders: Benjamin McPherson and Ronald Miller
Phone: 813-975-0839
FAX: 813-975-0839
Task Status (proposed or active): active
Task priority: high

Task Summary and Objectives: Evaluate baseline water-quality conditions and trends at index sites in LNWR. Summarize water-quality conditions and trends at LNWR in a scientific publication, and in the report discuss how Everglades Restoration might potentially affect water quality.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures: Baseline historic water-quality data in LNWR was assembled, evaluated and made available on SOFIA. An interpretative report that summarizes the historic water-quality data and trends in LNWR is being prepared and will be published in 2005.

This study task supports the DOI Science Plan project: (1) Arthur R. Marshall L NWR Internal Canal Structure (p. 37). The study task 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.

Specific Task Product(s): [List and include expected delivery date(s).]

  1. 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.
  2. 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. Publication planned for December 2005.

Title of Task 2: Assemble and make available metadata and data for flow and water quality that have been collected in tidal rivers of ENP. Include methods of collection and QA for water-quality data, including comparisons of grab samples and auto-samples with cross section and depth data.
Task Funding: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Task Leaders: Benjamin McPherson and Arturo Torres
Phone: 813-975-8620
FAX: 813-975-0839
Task Status: Proposed
Task priority: High
Time Frame for Task: FY05
Task Personnel: Benjamin McPherson, Arturo Torres, and Ron Miller
Task Summary and Objectives: Compile and summarize data on flow and water quality that have been collected in tidal rivers of ENP by different agencies and universities. Provide the spreadsheet to SOFIA.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
During FY05, the major task is to compile and summarize data on flows and water-quality that have been collected in tidal rivers of ENP by different agencies and universities. Metadata and selected data collected by different agencies and universities over the last 50 years will be summarized and posted into the USGS South Florida Information Access (SOFIA) web site.

Specific Task Product(s): [List and include expected delivery date(s).]
During Fiscal Year 2005, collect and compile selected data and metadata on nutrient and flow measurements made in streams and rivers that flow into Florida Bay and the southwest coast of ENP will be organized into spreadsheets and tables. This information will then be posted into USGS SOFIA web site.

Title of Task 3: Freshwater and nutrient fluxes to Coastal Waters of Everglades National Park.
Task Funding: USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science (GE PES)
Task Leaders: Benjamin McPherson and Arturo Torres
Phone: 813-975-8620
FAX: 813-975-0839
Task Status (proposed or active):
Task priority: High
Time Frame for Task 2: FY06
Task Personnel: Ben McPherson, Arturo Torres,
Task Summary and Objectives: Prepare a 4-page USGS Fact Sheet that summarizes work by USGS and others that has been done and work that is underway on nutrient loading to coastal waters of ENP. Evaluate annual and monthly nutrient flux in Trout Creek and Shark River 1995-2003, including data collection methods and load computation procedures.

Work to be undertaken during the proposal year and a description of the methods and procedures:
During FY06, the following tasks will be completed:

  • Assemble historical water-quality and nutrient data (1995-2003) at two index sites, Shark River and Trout Creek, and evaluate how well these data represent total channel flows (by measuring water quality across the section and at different depths compared with grab samples and auto samples and assigning error bars). Post on SOFIA.
  • Prepare and publish a 4-page USGS Fact Sheet that summarizes work that has been done and work that is underway on nutrient loading to coastal waters of ENP.

Specific Task Product(s): [List and include expected delivery date(s).]
Prepare and publish Freshwater and nutrient fluxes to Coastal Waters of Everglades National Park. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet, 4 pages.



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