Skip to main content

NCBS Intern Report: Water Quality in the Suwannee River Basin

Written by 2021 UF/IFAS NCBS Summer Intern, Alex Janelle

Alex Janelle servicing the continuous water quality sondes at Ichetucknee Head Springs.

Figure 1: Alex Janelle servicing the continuous water quality sondes at Ichetucknee Head Springs.

I had the amazing opportunity to work with the Suwannee River Water Management District (SWRMD) as a UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station Summer Intern. I was fortunate to be exposed to the many different facets of the SRWMD and its efforts to protect our water resources.

 

My Time in the Field

Most of my fieldwork comprised of developing a better understanding of the impacts of surface water quality on the success of Florida Corkwood (Leitneria floridana). Corkwood is a rare endemic plant to low-lying coastal swamps and depressions of the Big Bend region and is threatened by habitat loss due to wetland degradation and sea-level rise. We were able to determine that elevation, soil quality, and salinity were the driving factors to determining corkwood success in coastal regions.

Alex Janelle taking water quality measurements in a tidal creek in Mossy Hammock Tract (Econfina River).

Figure 2: Alex Janelle taking water quality measurements in a tidal creek in Mossy Hammock Tract (Econfina River).

I was also able to learn how to service continuous surface water quality monitoring stations. These stations are composed of two sondes that require regular cleaning and replacement and are key for long-term water quality monitoring. They provide very high-resolution data sets that can monitor short-term changes as well. This data is used to make key decisions regarding how our water is used in the SRWMD.

 

Alex Janelle and Dr. Marc Minno standing in a stand of corkwood. Corkwood tend to grow in saturated mucky soils.

Figure 3: Alex Janelle and Dr. Marc Minno standing in a stand of corkwood. Corkwood tends to grow in saturated mucky soils.

A Huge Thanks 

I was amazed to learn of all the different roles that the staff fill at the SRWMD. I was able to assist with wetland delineations, water level sensor maintenance, streamflow measurements for rating curves, and rare species monitoring. This internship truly revealed to me the scope of different career possibilities in water management and how vitally important the management of our precious resources are for the future of our state.

 

“I would like to especially thank Dr. Marc Minno, Stephanie Armstrong, and the rest of the SRWMD staff for providing such fantastic mentoring, a welcoming environment, and endless learning opportunities. I am also deeply grateful to UF/IFAS and the Nature Coast Biological Station for making this internship possible and for their logistical support.” – Alex

One Comment on “NCBS Intern Report: Water Quality in the Suwannee River Basin

  1. Nice summary of your work at Suwannee River WMD this summer. Thanks for your help Alex!