Estuary monitoring agreement benefits Florida Keys waterways

The South Florida Water Management District (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.

• District and Miami-Dade partner for health of Florida Bay, Barnes Sound

MIAMI, FL, Sept. 24, 2008 -- 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.

"Our water bodies 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 (DERM). DERM 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 (see map, below). 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 October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2013. Total SFWMD funding for the five-year project is $539,894.

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional, governmental agency that oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state -- 16 counties from Orlando to the Keys. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts.

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