Assessment of Upper Taylor Slough water quality and implications for ecosystem management in Everglades National Park

Abstract

This study addresses water quality conditions across several distinct hydrologic regimes in the Upper Taylor Slough (UTS) region of Everglades National Park and briefly considers implications for long-term water quality management. Due to upstream changes in water delivery and construction of a detention area, Taylor Slough has experienced a significant change in hydrology over a 27-year period, progressing from direct discharge at varying amounts to sheet flow via groundwater conditions. Cumulative flow and rainfall relationships at the inflow and outflow of UTS demonstrate distinct break points. These changes in water delivery and subsequent upstream water management have resulted in a change in water quality conditions within the UTS region. Since 1986, total phosphorus (TP) flow-weighted mean concentrations exiting UTS have significantly decreased from 10 µg/L in the late 1980s to 4 µg/L or less since 2010. Based on analysis of surface water ion ratios, saltwater intrusion is unlikely and rather hyporheic exchange could be occurring between the inflow and outflow of the UTS region. Based on the analysis of existing water quality data, the UTS region is a resilient oligotrophic wetland system retaining strong assimilation capacity in the face of major management changes. While TP concentrations remain extremely low, restoration is not complete for Taylor Slough and adjacent coastal basins will inevitably bring additional nutrient loading. Management of the Slough should recognize this and consider what water quality condition is best for long-term sustainability of Taylor Slough’s ecology.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the South Florida Water Management District Everglades Assessment Unit and Water Quality Bureau for initial discussions which resulted in this manuscript. I would like to acknowledge Drs Garth Redfield and Todd Osborne for their review and critical comments on earlier versions of this manuscript and the anonymous peer reviewer(s) and editor(s) for their efforts and constructive review of this manuscript. Finally, I would to thank all of the current and past South Florida Water Management District and Everglades National Park staff involved in the collection and laboratory analysis of the data used in this manuscript. Without their dedication this work would not have been possible. Support to write this manuscript was provided by the State of Florida.

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Support to write this manuscript was provided by the State of Florida.

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Julian, P. Assessment of Upper Taylor Slough water quality and implications for ecosystem management in Everglades National Park. Wetlands Ecol Manage 25, 191–209 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-016-9509-8

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Keywords

  • Oligotrophic
  • Phosphorus
  • Assimilative capacity
  • Hyporheic