Comprehensive Phosphorus Dynamics Program for the Kissimmee River Restoration Project

Kissimmee map

The Greater Everglades Ecosystem contains large wetland complexes that are sensitive to increases in the concentration of phosphorus. The Kissimmee River, which is located in south central Florida, is the largest tributary to Lake Okeechobee and a significant source of water to the Everglades. During the 1960s, the Kissimmee River was channelized along its entire length from Lake Kissimmee to Lake Okeechobee as part of a regional flood control project. This had widespread negative environmental impacts on the Kissimmee River and floodplain.

The Kissimmee River Restoration Project is creating a more natural flow regime and floodplain inundation patterns, which may increase the retention of phosphorus within the restoration project area. Changes in phosphorus transport by the Kissimmee River are potentially significant for sensitive downstream waterbodies, including Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Consequently, there is considerable interest in quantifying the effect of restoration on phosphorus dynamics in the basin and on loads to Lake Okeechobee.

We are collaborating with the South Florida Water Management District staff on the development of a comprehensive program to evaluate the effects of restoration on phosphorus dynamics in the Kissimmee River and floodplain.

As part of this project, we are:

  • conceptualizing of the problem,
  • summarizing recent data related to phosphorus loading for the purpose of determining additional data needs,
  • developing a methodology for reporting conditions,
  • evaluating the applicability of a watershed model to estimate phosphorus load reduction resulting from restoration,
  • performing an initial assessment of changes in phosphorus loads due to the restoration project,
  • making recommendations for future data and modeling needs for assessment of the effect of the restoration project on the phosphorus load dynamics.

The final product for this project will synthesize the results of the separate tasks to develop a plan for assessing the effect of the restoration project on phosphorus dynamics and recommendations for additional monitoring, experiments, and analyses that will be required to implement the plan.

Funding for this project was provided by the South Florida Water Management District.

Al Steinman, Project Manager:
Jim McNair, Model Evaluation:
Kurt Thompson, Model Evaluation/GIS:
Mary Ogdahl, Data Summary/GIS: