Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Nitrogen and phosphorus uptake in the Everglades Conservation Areas, Florida, with special reference to the effects of backpumping runoff

January 1, 1976

In much of the water pumped into the northern Everglades, Florida, concentrations of inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus are relatively high. These nutrients are transported in the canals or into the peripheral marshes. Concentrations decrease sharply within 330 feet or less of the canals, whereas specific conductance remains essentially unchanged within this distance. The sharp decrease in inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus near the canal edge indicates net uptake in these shallow waters. Concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus also decrease as water moves through the conservation areas in canals. This decrease is due partly to dilution by rainfall and runoff, and partly to net uptake in the canals and their peripheral marsh. The large canals of the northern and eastern parts of the conservation areas often have relatively low concentrations of dissolved oxygen which show little fluctuation within 24 hours. Backpumping 50 percent of the total annual canal runoff in southeast Florida would add from 990 to 6,160 tons of nitrogen and from 10 to 62 tons of phosphorus to the conservation areas. The bottom sediments of the Everglades are a sink for nitrogen and phosphorus. They can, however, be a source of these nutrients when anaerobic conditions exist at the water-sediment interface or when bottom material becomes resuspended. (Woodard-USGS)