Flow Characteristics and Salinity Patterns in Tidal Rivers Within the Northern Ten Thousand Islands, Southwest Florida, Water Years 2007–19

Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5028
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
By:  and 



Freshwater flow to the Ten Thousand Islands (TTI) estuary has been altered by the construction of the Tamiami Trail and construction of features in the now defunct Southern Golden Gate Estates development. This development included four associated canals that combine into the Faka Union Canal, which discharges into the TTI estuary. The Picayune Strand Restoration Project (PSRP) was initiated in 2007 to improve freshwater delivery to the TTI estuary by removing hundreds of miles of roads, emplacing hundreds of canal plugs, removing exotic vegetation, and constructing three pump stations. Quantifying the tributary flows and salinity patterns prior to, during, and after the restoration is essential to assessing the effectiveness of upstream restoration efforts. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, initiated an ongoing study in 2006 to assess flow and salinity patterns in the TTI estuary. This is the second report by the U.S. Geological Survey describing flow characteristics and salinity patterns in the TTI area as part of the PSRP. This report describes flow characteristics and salinity patterns for the monitoring stations at Faka Union River, Pumpkin River, and East River and includes an assessment of salinity data from the Faka Union Boundary and Blackwater River water-quality stations for water years 2007–19. A water year is defined as the 12-month period from October 1 for any given year to September 30 of the following year.

Annual and monthly variations in flow and salinity are often related to variations in rainfall with high and low annual flows (and below average and above average salinities) typically occurring during years with high and low annual rainfall, respectively. Monthly flows typically begin increasing in June and peak in September. Over the study period, positive trends in rainfall-adjusted monthly flow were detected at Faka Union River and East River, whereas no significant trend in flow was detected at Pumpkin River. Faka Union River is the largest contributor of freshwater to the TTI estuary, providing over 80 percent of the annual freshwater inflow to the estuary. The Faka Union Canal is expected to be the largest contributor of freshwater because until the PSRP is completed, the Faka Union Canal receives substantial drainage from multiple canals, which is not the case for Pumpkin and East Rivers. East River was the second largest contributor, followed by Pumpkin River. East River is downstream of the Fakahatchee Stand, which is a larger contributing area than the current contributing area for Pumpkin River. Monthly mean salinities were lowest at Faka Union River and East River, indicating that they received a greater amount of freshwater than the stations to the west. Negative trends in rainfall-adjusted salinity monthly means were observed at all monitoring stations during the study period. Increased trends in flow and decreased trends in salinity are attributed to increases in flow from upstream canals.

Suggested Citation

Booth, A.C., and Knight, T.M., 2021, Flow characteristics and salinity patterns in tidal rivers within the northern Ten Thousand Islands, southwest Florida, water years 2007–19: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2021–5028, 21 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20215028.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Flow characteristics and salinity patterns in tidal rivers within the northern Ten Thousand Islands, southwest Florida, water years 2007–19
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2021-5028
DOI 10.3133/sir20215028
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center
Description vii, 21 p.
Country United States
State Florida
Other Geospatial Northern Ten Thousand Islands
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details