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Project Work Plan

Department of Interior USGS and SFWMD

Fiscal Year 2008 Study Work Plan

Project Title: Hydrodynamic and Salinity Characteristics of Rivers and Estuaries of the Ten Thousand Islands

Project Manager: Eduardo Patino

SFWMD Cooperator: Bob Chamberlain

Problem Statement

Freshwater diversion from natural flow-ways in the Ten Thousand Islands (10KI) by basin development and road construction has adversely impacted downstream estuaries by changing their salinity regimes and water quality. Major restoration efforts are currently underway to restore the health of these estuaries and the natural delivery of freshwater is a key component. These restoration efforts, such as the Picayune Strand Hydrologic Restoration Project and the Tamiami Trail (US 41) Culvert Project, will alter the flow of freshwater and change the water quality in the Ten Thousand Islands.

However, there is little information regarding the present-day quantity, timing and quality of fresh water flow to the Ten Thousand Islands. Current hydrologic models omit this area due to the complex nature of the hydrology and the lack of available data. The paucity of information poses a problem for the restoration with respect to identifying desirable surface water flow rates and assessing restoration success, as required under the Southwest Florida Feasibility Study and RECOVER. For example, the re-establishement of predevelopment surface water flow is a proposed target for creating desirable salinity zones within a salinity envelope for many of the 10KI bays. Fakahatchee Bay will be used as a prototypical reference site for other 10KI bays to determine the size and location of each zone necessary to protect associated species and preserving diversity within each bay's larger envelop area. This approach will not be possible without understanding the relationship between flow and salinity that will be afforded by this 10KI cooperative effort.

The Ten Thousand Islands has been designated as a priority study area for the Department of Interior. This proposed SFWMD/USGS co-op study will complement a USGS effort designed to measure the discharge and salinity of the rivers flowing from Tamiami Trail towards the Ten Thousand Islands. Funds provided from the USGS' Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystem Studies Initiative (GE PES) and the National Park Service's Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative (CESI) are being used to initiate a monitoring program (e.g., Faka Union station), and additional GE PES funds have been sought to complement this proposed cooperative effort.

The data from this 10KI study also will aid numerous federal and stage agencies, including: USACE; USFWS; the USGS Manatee research group in Gainesville; NOAA - Fisheries; National Park Service - ENP, BCP, and Fakahatchee Strand National Preserve; FDEP / Rookery Bay NERR; SFWMD and the Big Cypress Basin; Seminole-Collier State Park; Florida Gulf Coast University (oyster studies); University of South Florida (current hydrodynamic modeling effort); Florida International University (water quality); and Collier County.

Objective and Scope

The objective of this SFWMD/USGS cooperative effort is to: (1) describe the hydrodynamic characteristics and the temporal and spatial salinity variability of creeks and estuaries within the Ten Thousand Islands area; and (2) help define circulation and salinity patterns related to prominent physical boundaries, which are generally composed of mud flats, ridges, and oyster beds. Data collection will be conducted over 3 years to capture a representative range of seasonal conditions and extreme events. It is a goal of this project to collect data supportive of these objectives, which can also populate hydrodynamic/salinity models and statistical analyis.


Flow, salinity, and temperature records:

Continuous flow, salinity, temperature and water elevation at selected rivers flowing into the Ten Thousand Islands (10KI) will be measured by index velocity meters, water elevation sensors, and salinity-water temperature sensors that are permanently established at key locations for the duration of the data collection component of the study. These permanent stations will serve to provide a continuous, long-term record of change resulting from variation in flow. Regression analyses will be used to establish relations between flow at instrumented and non-instrumented rivers. These relations will be used to calculate discharge at all rivers within the study area.

Flow, salinity, and temperature stations have been constructed and instrumented at Blackwater River, Pumpkin River, and East River. One Water-level, salinity, and temperature station was constructed and instrumented at Faka Union Bay channel marker #6. Combined USGS-SFWMD funds requested for FY-08 will be used to continue data collection efforts and move towards achieving the project goals.

Salinity Surveys:

As indicated above, permanent stations can not be deployed to the extent necessary to adequately characterize all the 10KI bays and tributaries. Therefore, to achieve the greater aerial coverage necessary, individual boat surveys will be conducted. A flow-through chamber will be attached to the transom of a boat at 20 cm below the water surface, and a probe inserted in the chamber to measure salinity and temperature. The probe will be connected to a data logger with a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) unit and record salinity, water temperature, time and location every 5 seconds (about every 5 to 10 meters) while the boat is moving. For every salinity survey, two boats will be used simultaneously to reduce the time required for data collection, and help to reduce the tidal data bias. The boats will travel from the lower bay area toward landward reach of coastal creeks, collecting thousands of individual data points that are used to create synoptic salinity maps representative of hydrologic conditions during the wet and dry season. This methodology has been used successfully in the Estero Bay Hydrologic and Salinity Evaluation Project. Multiple survey trips will provide an understanding of water quality conditions for the entire 10KI tributary and estuarine system that can be correlated to changes in measurements at the permanent stations.

Two (2) boat surveys (1 per season) will be conducted annually in conjunction with the operation of the permanent stations. Up to 2 addition surveys (1 per season) also are planned to typify extreme event conditions. These surveys will cover the areas from Everglades City to Goodland and from the rivers to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


Hydrologic data will be used to: describe the hydrodynamic characteristics of the area; determine salinity patterns of rivers and estuaries; and provide baseline characteristics before the alteration related to ecosystem restoration efforts. This study also will provide data for the development and calibration of hydrodynamic/salinity models planned for the study area.

Project Tasks and Milestones


The proposed study started on October 1, 2006 and will end on September 30, 2010.

  FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010
Task O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S
I. Develop PWP X X                                                                                            
II. Permit requisition and construction of monitoring stations   X X X                                                                                        
III. Hydrologic data collection       X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X                  
IV. Seasonal boat Survey (event sampling not shown)             X   X X   X     X         X X   X       X                                          
V. Write and submit progress Reports                                 X                       X                       X              
VI. Update data on website;                                         X                       X                       X      
Write, review, and publish annual report.                                     X                       X                       X          
VII. Final report- prep and delivery                                                                         X X X X X X X X X X X X


  1. Within 1 month of execution of this agreement, an initial joint agency meeting will be held at the USGS Ft. Myers office. During the meeting, a project work plan (PWP) will be developed.

    The joint project kick-off meeting was held on November 28, 2006. The meeting summary and a Project Work Plan was provided January 25, 2007 that: (a) Described additional hydrologic related work being conducted in the area that complements this project; (b) Confirmed the cost-share breakdown for the agreement; (c) Confirmed schedule for completing field work, reports, and database updates; (d) Described the location of permanent recording stations and type of data collection; (e) Identified four salinity surveys by boats will be conducted annually; and (f) described data availability, access, and timing, as well as when annual progress reports and the Final Report are expected.

  2. Progress reports will be provided to SFWMD on a quarterly schedule to keep researchers and managers informed on data availability and findings.
  3. All study information and hydrologic data will be published annually and made available at In addition, all records from this project will be included as part of the Annual Data Report that is published around April by the USGS Data Section in Ft. Lauderdale. Therefore, through these two methods, all data will be published annually, can be cited as necessary, and accessed for use before the end of the project. Annual records (October 1 thru September 30) are published in the SOFIA web page and on the USGS annual Data Report by April of the following year.
  4. A final report will be prepared and published at the end of the study (year 4). This report will include all data and information generated through the study, a description of the quantity, timing, and distribution of freshwater inflows to the study area, and a description of salinity patterns in relation to freshwater inflows and tidal exchange with the Gulf of Mexico.

Budget by Year

The investigation described herein is subject to the USGS providing a contribution in the form of technical work products funded through the Department of the Interior's National Park Service Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative (CESI) and the USGS Priority Ecosystem Science Initiative (PES), and thru the following projects: 1) "Modeling of Hydrologic Flow and Vegetation Response across the Tamiami Trail and Coastal Watershed of the Ten Thousand Islands"; 2) "Effects of hydrological restoration on manatees: Integrating data and models for the Ten Thousand Islands and Everglades"; and 3) "Western Tamiami Trail Flows - Baseline Information and Response to CERP". All of which will contribute to the development and completion of this study.

The proposed funding for the fiscal year 2008 is split between the two agencies (USGS and SFWMD) as part of the USGS Cooperative program. The estimated project funding cost for the entire four (4) years will cover all manpower, instrumentation, contractual travel, reporting, and administrative costs. Project startup, scope, and continuation each year is contingent on funding approval by each agency.

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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:09 PM(KP)