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Freshwater Flows to Northeastern Florida Bay

Project Chief: Mark Zucker
Period of Project: October 1995 - Current

Problem Statement

As part of the South Florida Ecosystem Program, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with Everglades National Park, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the South Florida Water Management District, is conducting a study to measure flows into eastern Florida Bay. Information from this study will be used in conjunction with data from other studies to help determine how changes in water deliveries to Everglades National Park will affect the Florida Bay ecosystem. Flow into Florida Bay is closely related to sediment transport, salinity, and chemical characteristics of the Bay, which in turn, directly influence biological characteristics of the Bay. Additionally, freshwater-inflow data will be used as input to hydrodynamic models of Florida Bay, for calibration of hydrologic models of the mainland, and for water-budget determinations for south Florida - all of which are essential elements for resource management and ecosystem restoration.

The USGS began a study in 1995, to gage flow in several major creeks that discharge freshwater into northeastern Florida Bay. The study is a part of the USGS Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystems Science initiative, which provides earth science information needed to resolve issues related to water and land use. This study provides flow, salinity, and water-level data for model development and calibration and also provides baseline data for other physical, biological and chemical studies being conducted in the area. Results from the study will provide scientists with essential information along the Everglades wetland/Florida Bay transition zone where data were not previously available. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), USGS, Everglades National Park (ENP) and other agencies as well as universities are currently using the data from this study to answer specific research questions that will directly benefit the restoration effort.


  1. Determine the quantity, timing and distribution of freshwater flow into Florida Bay and adjacent estuaries
  2. Determine baseline hydrologic conditions
  3. Provide information on hydrologic change during the restoration process


Freshwater flow, water-level, and salinity data are collected at monitoring sites in estuarine creeks that connect Florida Bay with the Everglades, to determine how freshwater flow affects the health of Florida Bay and how upstream changes in water-management practices (Taylor Slough and C-111 basins) directly influence flow and salinity conditions in the estuary.

At all instrumented sites (West Highway Creek, Stillwater Creek, Trout Creek, Mud Creek, Taylor River, Upstream Taylor River and McCormick Creek), data collection includes continuous (15-minute interval) measurements of water level, water velocity, salinity, temperature, and periodic measurements of discharge for acoustic Doppler velocity meter calibrations. All raw data at the instrumented sites are recorded by an electronic data logger and transmitted every 4 hours by the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) into the database of the USGS office in south Florida. Data collection at the non-instrumented sites (East Highway Creek, Oregon Creek, and East Creek, and Joe Bay creeks) is limited to periodic discharge and salinity measurements.

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