EPA Scientists Help SBEP With Tidal Creek Nutrient Study

2017 SESD Tidal Creek Sampling
U.S. EPA scientists setting up equipment for measuring dissolved oxygen in South Creek.

During the week of July 10th, a team of scientists from the EPA Region 4 Science and Ecosystem Support Division in Athens, Georgia came to Sarasota to assist with the SBEP’s continued study of tidal creek water quality. Southwest Florida’s tidal creeks are unique water bodies that often support lots of wildlife despite having poor water quality measurements, including low dissolved oxygen and high nutrient levels. This work will help the SBEP better understand nutrient flux from creek sediments and continuous dissolved oxygen dynamics in creek bottom waters. A clear picture of these two important aspects will help inform our understanding of the habitat value of southwest Florida’s tidal creeks.

Sediment flux of re-mineralized nitrogen is thought to contribute both reduced inorganic nitrogen and inorganic phosphorus to tidal creek wetlands. These processes depend to varying extents on dissolved oxygen concentrations. This study was done to provide a more thorough study of sediment nutrient fluxes, sediment oxygen demand, and dissolved oxygen dynamics within a subset of southwest Florida tidal tributaries to support watershed management activities in each of the respective .

Together with SBEP Staff Scientist Dr. Jay Leverone and Mote Marine Laboratory staff, EPA staff sampled South Creek in Sarasota County, Frog Creek in Manatee County, and Sweetwater Creek in Hillsborough County. Study results will be available in September and will help fill data gaps in tidal creek nutrient dynamics.