Water Sampling

Water SamplingIn July 2011, a group of Wildflower Preserve volunteers began regular water quality sampling on the six major ponds at the preserve.  The sampling work is conducted using procedures and equipment provided as part of the University of Florida’s statewide LakeWatch program.  Each month our volunteers launch kayaks into the ponds and collect samples to study total nitrogen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll levels.  We also collect samples every second month at three locations on Lemon Creek.

Three of our ponds have heavy coverings of floating aquatic vegetation, specifically duckweed and azolla.  In contrast, the other three ponds are relatively clear.  The results from the sampling work show us that the water quality characteristics in these two sets of ponds are very different.

The three “clear” ponds (labeled 4, 5, 6 on the charts below) have nutrient and chlorophyll levels that are within and sometimes above the ranges for similar Florida lakes and ponds that are categorized as “eutrophic”.  Florida Lake Watch brochures tell us that “A eutrophic waterbody is capable of producing and supporting an abundance of living organisms (plants, fish and wildlife).”

While the “clear” ponds have relatively high nutrient levels, the nutrient readings for our three duckweed-covered ponds (# 1, 2, and 3) are much higher.  These very high nutrient loads are contributing to the excess surface vegetation growth on the ponds.  That vegetation blocks sunlight to the lower levels of the ponds, reducing algae growth and leading to low dissolved oxygen levels that limit the ability of fish and other aquatic wildlife to survive in the ponds.

Click on the charts below to see the data readings from our LakeWatch water sampling work in the six Wildflower Ponds.

Improving water quality in our ponds over time will be beneficial not only to the Wildflower habitats, but also to LemonBay, because the ponds connect to one another and then feed into a drainage system that flows into Lemon Creek and from there into LemonBay.  We are talking with the Southwest Florida Water Management District about long-range plans to restore habitats and improve overall water quality in the preserve.

For the nearer term, we received a grant in November 2012 from the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) to initiate water quality improvement work at the pond that we have named Duckweed Pond (pond #1). Click here to see how we’re using the grant funding.

We are always looking for new volunteers to help us with our water sampling and water quality work. – Please give the office a call at 941-830-8922 if you’d be willing to help!