West Palm Beach, FL
- The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board on Thursday approved a contract with Florida International University (FIU) to help monitor the impacts of its plan to help save Florida Bay.
"The Governing Board is immensely proud of the ingenuity of this plan and the speed with which it was implemented," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe. "Entering into a contract with a scientifically committed university like FIU ensures that our plan is sending thousands more gallons of clean, fresh water through Taylor Slough and to Florida Bay."
SFWMD crews are completing the construction project, which will use several pump stations, detention areas and canals to move additional water into Taylor Slough, which connects to Florida Bay. The bay, a largely rainfall-dependent system, has suffered severely from seagrass die-offs. In the past, these ecosystem-harboring grasses
were affected drastically by elevated salinity levels
cause by localized droughts. The SFWMD Governing Board plan will add more fresh water through the slough during wet and dry months to help reduce salinity levels.
The contract employs FIU to monitor the levels of periphyton, sediment floc and macrophyte vegetation in the areas of Taylor Slough just west and southwest of the detention areas. All of these measurements are key indicators used to monitor the ecological impact and changes in an area. The monitoring is part of the requirements negotiated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which factored in input from interested parties to create a publicly-vetted Florida Bay plan.
"FIU is proud to partner with SFWMD once again and play a critical role in helping move more clean water into Taylor Slough," said Dr. Evelyn Gaiser, Principal Investigator for FIU Department of Biological Sciences and Executive Director of the School of Environment, Arts and Society. "Freshwater hydration is a necessity for the Everglades and Florida Bay, and this incredibly important monitoring will provide data that quantifies effects of this project, while also adding to this university's long term research of the entire system."
The data will also be used in annual adaptive management team meetings for SFWMD, as the District continues to engineer new ways to help save Florida Bay.