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Water quality changes at an Outstanding Florida Water: influence of stochastic events and climate variability

Author:
Canfield, Daniel E., Hoyer, Mark V., Bachmann, Roger W., Bigham Stephens, Dana, Ruiz-Bernard, Ivelisse
Source:
Lake and reservoir management 2016 v.32 no.3 pp. 297-313
ISSN:
2151-5530
Subject:
Laridae, anthropogenic activities, climate, databases, drought, environmental factors, evaporation, forest fires, forest roads, hurricanes, hydrochemistry, lakes, water quality, Florida
Abstract:
Canfield DE Jr, Hoyer MV, Bachmann RW, Bigham Stevens D, Ruiz-Bernard I. 2016. Water quality changes at an Outstanding Florida Water: influence of stochastic events and climate variability. Lake Reserv Manage. 32:297–313. The Santa Fe Lake System (SFS) is an Outstanding Florida Water system in northern peninsular Florida and receives special protection from governmental agencies to prevent impairment of water quality from anthropogenic activities. Since 1986, periods of sudden nutrient increases and declines have occurred along with changes in water clarity documented within a 28-year monthly database. Changes were linked to stochastic events such as an influx of gulls in 1986, the adjacent 5100-ha Dairy Road forest fire in 2007, 3 Category 3 hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004, and droughts. However, increasing trends at SFS were also observed for the yearly measured minimum water chemistry values, as were synchronous changes in these baseline conditions at other nearby lakes, suggesting the lakes were being impacted by a regional environmental factor. These changes corresponded to a period of decreasing precipitation and were related to climate variability, perhaps reflecting phase changes in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The possible mechanism for the observed changes most likely relates to alterations in regional precipitation/evaporation rates and resulting changes in groundwater chemistry and hydrology. Long-term trends in water quality at SFS may reverse if Florida enters a long-term period of increasing precipitation.