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U.S. Department of the Interior
US Geological Survey
WRI 83-4244

Freshwater Runoff and Salinity Distribution in the Loxahatchee River Estuary, Southeastern Florida, 1980-82

Water-Resources Investigations Report 83-4244


Gary M. Russell and Benjamin F. McPherson


During a recent study, freshwater mixed with seawater over a distance of 5 to 10 river miles in the Loxahatchee River estuary. Large freshwater inflows vertically stratified the estuary and shifted the mixing zone seaward. In the northwest fork of the estuary, the saltwater-freshwater inferface moved daily about 0.5 to 1.5 river miles as a result of tides and annually about 3 to 5 miles as a result of seasonal changes in freshwater inflow. In the southwest fork, saltwater movement upstream was blocked by a gate and dam structure in Canal-18, 4.7 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. Although Canal-18 discharged about one-third of the total freshwater tributary inflow to the estuary, the effects of canal discharge on salinity were limited to relatively brief periods. Much of the time, no freshwater was discharged.

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