NOAA and partners have published a report that describes water quality along the southeast Florida Reef Tract, which extends from Biscayne Bay National Park in the south to St. Lucie Inlet in the north.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) requested the state–federal partnership project after noting the absence of a state-run offshore water quality monitoring program and the ongoing degradation of Florida reefs due to land-based sediments and pollutants. The project used NOAA resources and expertise to initiate and conduct the first three years of a water quality program that will now be transitioned to FDEP for day-to-day operation.
In addition to collecting monitoring data along the reef tract, the new program will also explore the sources and pathways of pollutants reaching the reefs to better understand cause and effect relationships between land-based pollutants and reef health. The new report contains baseline data from 2016 through 2018 that will allow FDEP to track trends over time and develop appropriate management measures to protect the reef tract.
Partners on the project include NCCOS; Ecology & Environment, Inc.; Palm Beach County; NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research; NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center; and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management.