WRIR 01-4164

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Hittle, Clinton, Patino, Eduardo, and Zucker, Mark, 2001, Freshwater flow from estuarine creeks into northeastern Florida Bay: Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4164, 32 p.


Water-level, water-velocity, salinity, and temperature data were collected from selected estuarine creeks to compute freshwater flow into northeastern Florida Bay. Calibrated equations for determining mean velocity from acoustic velocity were obtained by developing velocity relations based on direct acoustic measurements, acoustic line velocity, and water level. Three formulas were necessary to describe flow patterns for all monitoring sites, with R2 (coefficient of determination) values ranging from 0.957 to 0.995. Cross-sectional area calculations were limited to the main channel of the creeks and did not include potential areas of overbank flow. Techniques also were used to estimate discharge at noninstrumented sites by establishing discharge relations to nearby instrumented sites.

Results of the relation between flows at instrumented and noninstrumented sites varied with R2 values ranging from 0.865 to 0.99. West Highway Creek was used to estimate noninstrumented sites in Long Sound, and Mud Creek was used to estimate East Creek in Little Madeira Bay. Mean monthly flows were used to describe flow patterns and to calculate net flow along the northeastern coastline. Data used in the study were collected from October 1995 through September 1999, which includes the El Nino event of 1998. During this period, about 80 percent of the freshwater flowing into the bay occurred during the wet season (May-October). The mean freshwater discharge for all five instrumented sites during the wet season from 1996 to 1999 is 106 cubic feet per second. The El Nino event caused a substantial increase (654 percent) in mean flows during the dry season (November-April) at the instrumented sites, ranging from 8.5 cubic feet per second in 1996-97 to 55.6 cubic feet per second in 1997-98.

Three main flow signatures were identified when comparing flows at all monitoring stations. The most significant was the magnitude of discharges at Trout Creek, which carries about 50 percent of the total measured freshwater entering northeastern Florida Bay. The mean monthly wet-season (May-October) flow at Trout Creek is about 340 cubic feet per second, compared to 55 cubic feet per second at West Highway Creek, 52 cubic feet per second at Taylor River, 49 cubic feet per second at Mud Creek, and 33 cubic feet per second at McCormick Creek. The other two flow signatures are the decline of freshwater discharge at McCormick Creek at the start of the El Nino event, and the absence of net-negative flows at West Highway Creek. The observed flow distribution within the study area, suggests that the overall flow direction of freshwater in the Everglades wetlands in the lower part of Taylor Slough may have a strong eastward flow component as water approaches the coastline. Data analysis also indicates that Trout Creek could potentially be used as a long-term monitoring station to estimate total freshwater flow into northeastern Florida Bay, provided that the remaining questions regarding flow patterns at McCormick Creek and the creeks in Long Sound are answered and that no major changes in flow characteristics occur in the future.

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