The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a research team led by the Miami Waterkeeper and Florida International University (FIU) to study the levels of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and nutrients in Biscayne Bay, Florida. This project seeks to understand the influence that canal discharge and land-based sources of pollution have on the Bay.
Parameters that will be analyzed include FIB enterococci, three types of nitrogen, and two types of phosphorus. Microbial source tracking (MST) will be applied to high bacteria level samples to understand the types of bacteria present. Isotope analysis will aid in determining the sources of dissolved nitrate in the water, sediment, and algae, whether wastewater or agricultural. Recorded environmental conditions will include air and water temperature, wind, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll-a, turbidity, and salinity.
The study will begin in the middle of May 2021, and sample at 22 sites throughout central and northern Biscayne Bay for one year (Figure 1). Some questions that the team aims to answer through the study are:
- Can this combined approach help to determine the sources of FIB and nutrients in Biscayne Bay?
- Do FIB and nutrients share the same sources in Biscayne Bay?
- Do fertilizer ordinances alter nutrient levels in Biscayne Bay?
- Can effective, science-based management for nutrient and FIB sources be developed for Biscayne Bay?
The answers to these questions will give us insights into the causes of the fish kill and seagrass die-off so that we can protect Biscayne Bay.
Partners involved in the “Evaluating Sources of Nutrients and Enterococci in Biscayne Bay, Florida” study include Dr. Tiffany Troxler and Dr. Piero Gardinali from FIU, Dr. Peter Swart from the University of Miami (UM), Sean Ahearn from Beta Analytic, and Dr. Maribeth Gidley from UM’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies.
This award pushes the South Florida scientific community forward as it works to save Biscayne Bay. Miami Waterkeeper is proud to lead the charge.