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West-Coastal Rivers of Peninsular Florida

  • Ernest D. Estevez
  • L. Kellie Dixon
  • Michael S. Flannery
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 83)

Abstract

The western coastline of central Florida between the Suwannee and Peace Rivers is punctuated by 14 true rivers and numerous smaller streams, canals and waterways. The rivers encompass a great variety of forms in terms of their geology, origin of discharge, chemistry, water quality, and ecology. A striking feature is the range of combinations between springwaters and surface runoff contributing to the flow of each river; springs constitute between 0 and 100% of the base-flows of the region’s rivers. The relative contribution of spring water affects flow, water chemistry, and biota of each system. Rivers with little spring flow are characterized as “blackwater” streams and are highly colored, acidic, and sluggish. Most of the rivers are short; their mean length, excluding the Withlacoochee River, is less than 50 km. Because they run at low grade, the influence of Gulf tides is extensive and may cover the lower one third of blackwater streams or all the way to the headwaters of spring runs. The influences of spring flow, tides, and a transition from temperate to subtropical climate create a rich diversity of habitats associated with river systems in the region. Major threats to river ecosystems include habitat destruction in floodplains and along shorelines, and pollution. Water quality is generally regarded as good throughout the region’s rivers, although a number of reaches are very polluted and one third of the reaches are unclassified because of a lack of data. Major water quality impacts include agricultural and urban runoff, domestic waste from septic tanks and treatment plants, and effluent from heavy industry, particularly phosphate mining and processing. In addition, several streams are impounded for flood control or potable water but none are regulated so as to minimize impacts to downstream estuaries. River management is slowly improving but the long-term goal of integrated basin and river management will be difficult to accomplish, given tremendous pressures of rapid population growth. The greatest short-term management opportunities are protection of special habitat areas and restoration of natural flow patterns in impounded rivers.

Keywords

United States Geological Survey Submerse Aquatic Vegetation Tidal River Floridan Aquifer Charlotte Harbor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernest D. Estevez
  • L. Kellie Dixon
  • Michael S. Flannery

There are no affiliations available

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