Flow and water-quality changes were studied during a period of intense rainfall in the San Juan Lagoon system. The study covered a 25-hour period beginning 0900 hours 22 October, 1974. Precipitation during the study period averaged 70 millimeters. Sampling stations were located at Boca de Cangrejos, the main ocean outlet; Canal Pinones between Laguna de Pinones and Laguna La Torrecilla; Canal Suarez between Laguna San Jose, connects to Laguna La Torrecilla; and Cano de Martin Pena between Laguna San Jose and Bahia de San Juan. In addition water-elevation recording gages were installed at each lagoon.
Water samples from the canal stations were analyzed for organic carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus species, and suspended sediment. Specific-conductance measurements were used with the chemical data to estimate the runoff contributions of nutrients.
Runoff into the lagoon, system during the study period was about 2.8 million cubic meters, or about 70 percent of the average precipitation. The runoff contributed chemical loadings to the lagoons of 95,000 kilograms total-organic carbon; 2,700 kilograms of total phosphorus; and 10,000 kilograms of total Khjeldhal nitrogen. A comparison with a prior study during which there was no significant rain, show that dry-period loadings are less than 10 percent of the wet-period loadings. At the end of the study period the system had not reached equilibrium, and the lagoons retained 80 percent of the water inflows from 50 to 90 percent of the chemical loads. Nearly 95 percent of the water outflows occurred at the Boca de Cangrejos sea outlet. The three lagoons and interconnecting canals form a very complex hydraulic system that is difficult to study using traditional techniques. A model of the system will facilitate management to improve the quality of water in the lagoons.