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Quantity, Quality, Timing, and Distribution of Flow along the Transition Zone of Shark River Slough, Everglades National Park, Florida

Mark Zucker and Jeff Woods
U.S. Geological Survey, Davie, FL, USA

Improving the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution (QQTD) of freshwater flows through Everglades National Park (ENP) is a primary goal of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Greater Everglades Priority Ecosystem Science Program (GEPES) and the CERP RECOVER Monitoring Assessment Program, operates a coastal network of hydrologic stations to quantify the volume of freshwater delivered to the estuaries of ENP. The USGS coastal network is designed to measure the flows at the mouths of coastal rivers and flows at the transition zone between the freshwater wetlands and the headwaters of tidal creeks. Flows represent pre-CERP baseline hydrologic conditions useful for comparing with conditions after restoration efforts.

Flow in the Shark River Slough transition zone was monitored at Upstream North River (UNR), Bottle Creek near Rookery Branch (BC), and Upstream Broad River (UBR) from 2004 to 2011. The combined mean monthly flow through all four S-12 structures (A-D) along U.S. 41 is correlated with the combined mean monthly flow at the transition stations. No significant time lag exists between the total flows through the S-12 Structures and flows at each of the transition stations. In contrast, flows monitored at the mouths of coastal rivers were typically one month ahead of the total flows through the S-12 structures, likely due to a shorter response time to observed rainfall over the intervening study area.

Water levels were monitored at the USGS surface water station Eden 3, slightly upstream of UBR, from 2005 to 2011. Correlations were developed between mean monthly water levels at Eden 3 and mean monthly flow at each transition station for the period from November 2005 to September 2009. The R2 values and standard error of the regression ranged from 0.80 to 0.88 and 4.6 ft3/s to 17.4 ft3/s respectively. Correlations between additional water level stations, with longer period of records, and flow from the transition stations will be analyzed in the future to evaluate flow prior to 2004 and post restoration.

The Tamiami Trail Bridge Modifications Project and Decompartmentalization projects are expected to increase water levels and flows in Shark River Slough. Transition stations provide flow volumes at locations where hydrologic models are known to be less accurate due to model calibration errors near freshwater-seawater boundaries. The flows at the transition zone stations do not represent the total flow volume due to unmeasured sheet flow. Relationships between water level and flow in the transition zone may be useful for detecting change. Flow volumes at selected streams before and after restoration could serve as a proxy for QQTD of total flow from the transition zone to the coast.

Contact Information: Mark Zucker, U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Water Science Center, Davie, FL 33314, USA, Phone 954-377-5952, Fax 954-377-5901, Email: mzucker@usgs.gov.

(This abstract is from the 2012 Ninth INTECOL International Wetlands Conference: Wetlands in a Complex World)

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