This project provides an assessment framework for evaluating the impacts of land-based sources of
pollution (LBSP) on the coral reef ecosystem in southeast coastal waters of Martin, Palm Beach, Broward,
and Miami-Dade counties. Rapid population growth and intense increases in land development in this
region over the past 50-100 years have put the coral reef ecosystem and supporting estuarine habitats
under significant stress. Pollutants from these land-based human activities include nutrients (e.g.
nitrogen and phosphorus), sediments, pathogens pharmaceutical and personal care products, and other
LBSPs. These pollutants are discharged to the southeast Florida coastal ecosystem in large part in
stormwater runoff (both urban and agricultural) and wastewater effluent and the management of
stormwater and wastewater in southeast Florida affects the pollutants loads and ecosystem impacts.
The purpose of this document is to assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
and other Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) partners in tackling the problems associated
with LBSP by identifying sources of pollution, data availability and gaps, and sources of information from
past planning and management activities in southeastern Florida. This report creates a watershed-based
framework for understanding and assessing the pollutant sources and loads, and uses nine coastal
inlets in the region as the basis for defining the contributing watersheds. This report will provide a
roadmap for future LBSP-related data collection and pollution reduction efforts in southeast Florida.
This project mapped the linkage of land-to-inlet by delineating watersheds or inlet contributing areas
(ICAs) to the nine inlets in SE Florida. Because the topography is extremely flat and the area is threaded
with highly managed water canals, normal watershed delineation tools were not useful; therefore, the
project used the hydraulic database (AHED) developed by the South Florida Water Management District
(SFWMD) to identify the ICA boundaries. Flow directions and flow rates in the waterways often depend
on the hydrological conditions at the given time; this study focused on the contributing areas associated
with the "normal" or average condition. For the Intracoastal Waterway portions of the ICAs, published volumes of tidal prisms for each inlet were used to approximate the surface areas within each inlet. The
salinity control structures (SCS), which represent the most upstream extent of salinity intrusion in each
estuary, were also identified.
There are nine inlets in the study area that connect the Intracoastal Waterway with the Atlantic Ocean
in the vicinity of the Southeast Florida coral tract. These ICAs are as follows, from
north to south:
St. Lucie Inlet
Lake Worth Inlet
Boynton / South Lake Worth Inlet
Boca Raton Inlet
Port Everglades Inlet
Baker's Haulover Inlet
Government Cut Inlet
These ICAs differ in the degrees of watershed assessment and planning efforts undertaken to date. Watershed planning begins with whatever information and data are available at the time. Additional
data can be incorporated into the management plan as it is revised over time. Key data for
understanding current watershed conditions falls into several key categories: geographic information,
water quality data, flow data, and watershed mechanics (hydrology, geology, natural resources). Data for this project were obtained from NOAA's Florida Coral Reef Tract (FCRT) project, NOAA's Atlantic
Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), SFWMD, Florida Department of Environmental
Projection's (FDEP) STORET DATABASE, University of Florida's GeoPlan Center, Nova Southeastern
University, and databases from the four counties in the study area.
Appearing as solitary forms in the fossil record more than 400 million years ago, corals are extremely ancient animals that evolved into modern reef-building forms over the last 25 million years. Continue Reading →
coral reef conservation program
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is a partnership between the NOAA Line Offices that work on coral reef issues: the National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. The CRCP brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to managing and understanding coral reef ecosystems.
Contact CRCP →
NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program
SSMC4, 10th Floor
1305 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
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NOAA's Coral Reef Information System
SSMC3, 4th floor
1315 East-West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910 email@example.com