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Coastal Gradients of Flow, Salinity and Nutrients

Project Chief: Mark Zucker
Cooperator:Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) / Monitoring and Assessment Plan
Period of Project:October 2003 - Current

Problem Statement

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2000 authorized the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) as a framework for modifications and operational changes to the Central and Southern Florida Project needed to restore the south Florida ecosystem. A Monitoring and Assessment Plan (MAP) has been developed as the primary tool to assess the system-wide performance of the CERP by the Restoration, Coordination and Verification (RECOVER) program. The MAP presents the monitoring and supporting enhancement of scientific information and technology needed to measure the responses of the South Florida ecosystem.

The Coastal Gradients of Flow, Salinity, and Nutrients project was implemented under the Greater Everglades (GE) module of MAP in 2003. As part of the MAP revision process, the Coastal Gradients project has been identified as a key link (within MAP) between the GE module and Southern Estuaries (SE) module. Developing links between the monitoring data collected as part of Coastal Gradients/GE module and the biological and physical studies being performed in the SE module has been identified as a priority for the MAP revision. Hydrologically connecting these two modules will help provide a more comprehensive synthesis within MAP.

Use of historical and real-time data collected by the USGS will benefit restoration in several
      1. Pre-CERP (baseline) hydrology can be compared to data collected during and after CERP modifications.
      2. Current scientific investigations funded by MAP can utilize physical data rather than theoretical values in order to increase ecosystem understanding.
      3. Historical and real-time data can be used to determine hydrologic responses from short and long-term climatic events, such as hurricanes and global climate change.


  1. Operate and maintain ten recently established hydrologic and water quality data collection platforms (DCP's) in the coastal and fresh water marsh environments of the Everglades to support a larger integrated monitoring network
  2. Provide the hydrologic,  water quality, and physical data collected in the network for the development and calibration of hydrodynamic and water quality models of the Everglades, Florida Bay, and adjacent marine systems


Ten monitoring stations will be operated and maintained along the southwest coast of ENP, the Everglades wetlands, and along the coastlines of northeastern Florida Bay and northwest Barnes Sound. Data collected at these 10 stations will include water level, velocity, salinity, and temperature. Three stations (Upstream North River, North River, and West Highway Creek) will also include automatic samplers for the collection of water samples and determination of total nutrient concentrations (TN and TP). Data collected at these 10 stations will complement information currently being generated through an existing network of 20 hydrologic monitoring stations operated by other USGS projects. By combining data collected from the ten monitoring stations and the existing monitoring network, information will be available across 9 generalized coastal gradients or transects. Data collected at all flow sites will be transmitted in near real time (every 1 or 4 hours) by satellite telemetry to the automated data processing system (ADAPS) database in the USGS office in south Florida. In addition to data from monitoring stations described above, salinity surveys will be performed along these 9 generalized transects, and data collected will include salinity, temperature, and GPS data from boat-mounted systems. Surveys will be performed on a quarterly basis and twice following hydrologic events, totaling a maximum of 6 surveys per year.

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