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Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserve - Water Quality Monitoring

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Water quality is one of the primary issues of importance for Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserve. Without adequate safeguards, historical land use or changes in current land uses often lead to degradation of water quality through increased nutrient loads. The aquatic preserve has experienced changes in water quality that have negatively impacted natural habitats and wildlife, as well as decreased the aesthetic benefit for public use. While much historic water quality data exists, recent and current research and monitoring for the Rainbow River is being coordinated by DEP and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) for Pollutant Load Reduction Goals (PLRG) and Total Minimum Daily Load (TMDL) programs.

SWFWMD developed a Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) plan for the Rainbow River in 1989 and updated it in 1995 and 2004. These updates established a PLRG of zero, which means that the goal was to prevent nutrient levels from increasing beyond current levels. However, nitrate levels continue to increase at the headspring from historic background levels of 0.1 mg/L to concentrations of >2.0 mg/L in 2013. Aquatic preserve staff will continue the partnership with appropriate entities to expand the water quality knowledge base of the aquatic preserve and the associated springshed through cooperative efforts supplying staff time and equipment to further research and to identify issues affecting the aquatic preserve.

Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserve seeks to further develop and improve the long-term water quality monitoring program to assist with identifying and addressing these issues by:

  • Conducting monthly water quality data collection with YSI data sondes.

  • Developing an annual report detailing scientific results and recommendations regarding the water quality of the aquatic preserve.

  • Conducting biannual meetings with DEP, SWFWMD and FWC's Invasive Plant Management Section to evaluate emerging trends in water quality

  • Participating in public meetings to discuss or present water quality data.

Last Modified:
February 24, 2023 - 3:09pm

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