State water managers have set aside $4.1 million for FIU, University of Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University to study water issues in the Everglades and greater South Florida.
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Board approved the funding as part of a cooperative agreement over the course of five years. The award will support FIU faculty, scientists and students working on South Florida water issues including:
- water quality
- hydrology, hydraulics, and hydrogeology
- soils and sediments
- laboratory and quality assurance support
- data mining, data integration, data analysis, and technical reporting/editing
- regulatory permitting
The program generally focuses on gaining a better understanding of how the greater Everglades ecosystem reacts to management practices and restoration activities.
“Our long-term expertise is grounded in the work we do in the greater Everglades,” said Piero Gardinali, director of the Southeast Environmental Research Center in FIU’s Institute of Water and Environment. “We were a natural fit for this project and demonstrated that we would be able to successfully take on the work the SFWMD has asked for.”
One aspect of the project is to examine the negative impacts of excess nutrients on the state’s water quality, including red tide, and their remediation. In October of last year, Florida witnessed uncharacteristic red tide outbreaks on both of south Florida’s coasts, thought to be due in-part, from the release of high nutrient loads. FIU scientists are able to monitor and sample local waterways along the east coast to analyze water quality, pollution impacts and remediation efforts. In addition, the university can deploy water quality buoys that can serve as an early alert system for deteriorating conditions in target areas.
The three universities supported by the SFWMD grant are also part of the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research (FCE LTER) program, which is based at FIU. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the FCE LTER program leads some of the largest and longest studies on how climate, water and people impact the Florida Everglades.
“The work that researchers in FIU’s Institute of Water and Environment are doing is critically important for our waterways and natural ecosystems,” Gardinali said. “This contract will allow us to keep working alongside key partners and stakeholders on sustainable solutions to water quality issues and help inform water management decision-making for the Everglades.”