Science Staff have been working in cooperation with neighborhood associations to assess the quality of our near shore waterways since 1995 in areas that are not monitored by other agencies, the County or the City. Long-term monitoring is the key to a successful water quality program. The data collected from previous years provides a good baseline. This information provides the background information needed to assess future data and identify trends. An overview of long-term trends is issued at 5 year intervals .
Vanderbilt water quality has been a project of ours since 1996, in cooperation with the neighborhood associations to assess the quality of near shore water ways that are not being monitored by other agencies. Long-term monitoring is important to a successful water quality program. In 1992 the area being monitored was listed as an Outstanding Florida Water (OFW). The purpose of the study is to assess the water quality condition over time to determine possible trends in the health of the waterway by evaluating basic water quality parameters at 15 different sites throughout the area being monitored. Fourteen sites are located within the Vanderbilt Lagoon and one relatively undisturbed site in Water Turkey Bay.
The OFW area is designated from the Lee/ Collier county line south ward through and including Water Turkey Bay to 50ft North of Bluebill Avenue; Cocohatchee River downstream from 50ft West of US 41 right of way and Wiggins Pass. State declared the area to be “of exceptional recreational or ecological significance and that the environmental, social, and economic benefits of the designation outweighs the environmental, social, and economic costs” (DEP 2006). Thus, the OFW designation affords the highest protection to Water Turkey Bay. Such that no degradation if water quality, other than allowed by Rule 62-4.242(2) is permitted in the designated area.
The water in the OFW is being protected through constant monitoring. Since 1996 there have been bi-monthly water collection trips. The overall results are compared to identify patterns and trends throughout the designated stations. The stations are compared to one another based on location. The stations were also separated out into Channels versus Dead end canals and grouped into designated locations south, mid and north stations. Distinguishing difference in where the station is located helps identifying trouble areas. Scientific measurement used to define water quality, is not a simple thing to say water quality is good or bad. Estuaries and canal systems like Vanderbilt Lagoon have standards based on whether the water quality is within natural background levels. No natural background data prior to development of Vanderbilt Lagoon.
As an ongoing study to fill in the gaps of water quality where other agencies were not sampling we have been able to accomplish a long term monitoring of Vanderbilt Lagoon. The Lagoon has been significantly altered by anthropological influence and trends in the data confirms that the area is being altered, so monitoring is essential in maintaining the health of the area.
The Conservancy’s Science Department is conducting research to advance the field of urban ecology to encourage use of resources within developed areas to support some of our natural resources.
Conservancy of Southwest Florida biologists and partner groups are working to study this invasive species to help identify population management strategies.
The Kemp's ridley turtle is considered the most endangered sea turtle species in the world and also happens to be the most common sea turtle residing in the nearshore waters of Southwest Florida.
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