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Water-quality assessment of southern Florida: An overview of available information on surface- and ground-water quality and ecology

January 1, 1996

This report summarizes water-quality conditions, issues of concern, and management efforts underway in southern Florida. The report is designed to provide a conceptual framework for the Southern Florida National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) study that began in 1994. The report makes reference to the most important water-quality literature pertaining to southern Florida, to water-quality studies that are underway or planned, and to topics which are of high priority in the study unit. These topics include: the availability and suit ability of water for competing demands; nutrient enrichment of the Everglades; transport, degradation, and effects of pesticides; and the sources and cycling of mercury in the ecosystem. The report also includes a retrospective analysis and conceptual presentation of nutrient loading, which is a high priority for the national NAWQA Program and for regional water-quality managers. Nutrient contributions from point and nonpoint sources are estimated for nine basins in the study area and are discussed in relation to land use. Fertilizer is the dominant source of phosphorus in eight basins and the dominant source of nitrogen in at least five basins. Atmospheric sources of nitrogen contribute more than 20 percent of the total nitrogen input to all basins and are the dominant source of nitrogen input to Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Nutrient loads are also estimated in selected canal and river outflows in southern Florida to provide a spatial overview of the magnitude of nutrient loading to coastal waters. Annual phosphorus loads from the Peace River are the highest in the study unit; annual phosphorus loads from the Caloosahatchee River and the major Palm Beach canals are also high, compared to other parts of southern Florida. Estimated annual loads of phosphorus from parts of the Big Cypress Basin and the S-12 water-control structures of the Tamiami Canal are low compared with estimated phosphorus loads in outflows in the northern part of the study unit. Annual nitrogen loads in southern Florida were highest in outflows from the Caloosahatchee River Basin and the major Palm Beach canals. Nitrogen loads in outflows from parts of the Big Cypress subbasin were lower than those estimated to the north.

Publication Year 1996
Title Water-quality assessment of southern Florida: An overview of available information on surface- and ground-water quality and ecology
DOI 10.3133/wri964177
Authors K. H. Haag, R. L. Miller, L. A. Bradner, D. S. McCulloch
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 96-4177
Index ID wri964177
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse