District and Miami-Dade Continue Monitoring Estuaries

The South Florida Water Management District entered into a five-year cooperative agreement with Miami-Dade County to continue support for long-term environmental monitoring in northeastern Florida Bay, Manatee Bay, and Barnes Sound. The monitoring effort documents how changes in estuary water quality impact seagrass growth off the south Florida coast, according to a Sept. 24 press release.

"Our waterbodies at the southern end of Florida's peninsula are valuable indicators of water quality improvements upstream," said Michael Collins, SFWMD Governing Board member and resident of the Florida Keys. "Monitoring provides an important tool for achieving healthier ecosystems here in the Keys and throughout the region."

The monitoring program, known as the South Florida Estuarine Submerged Aquatic Vegetation and Water Quality Monitoring Network, is conducted by Miami-Dade's Department of Environmental Resources Management. Department scientists collect water samples from 12 basins in the study area and analyze them for a variety of chemical, physical, and biological features.

The water samples provide information about water quality at a total of 96 random and 10 fixed monitoring stations in the Florida Bay region. These include Manatee Bay, Barnes Sound, Highway Creek, Long Sound, Little Blackwater Sound, northwest Blackwater Sound, Joe Bay, Alligator Bay, Davis Cove, Trout Cove, Little Madeira Bay, and an area south of Little Madeira Bay.

This long-term monitoring effort, which began in 1979, identifies impacts to the estuaries from upstream water management activities. The data collected provide a substantial period of record that serves as a baseline to evaluate estuarine restoration. The new agreement supports monitoring from Oct. 1, through Sept. 30, 2013. Total SFWMD funding for the five-year project is $539,894.

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