Water Conditions Discussion: 6-1-20

Wildlife Drinking Water Availability Update 6/1/2020

The lower Keys received several significant rain downpours in May, which have dramatically changed natural drinking water availability for wildlife on all the islands we monitor. Comparing our most recent salinity measurement sets obtained through last month, conditions are significantly better everywhere than they were in May last year.  Let’s hope this continues…

Our most notable announcement is about the Long Beach Peninsula of Big Pine Key: As we have reported multiple times in the past, the Peninsula as well as the large forested area next to US-1 from Long Beach Rd. up to BPK has had no palatable natural water sources more-or-less since Irma.  The entire region was overwashed with storm surge during the hurricane, and the residual salt continued to be concentrated in the various natural ponds and depressions. In May last year our measurements in those ponds ranged from @ 35 ppt (i.e. seawater) to 99+ ppt (i.e. concentrated brine). Through the 2019 rain season conditions improved only slightly but not enough to render any of the water sources palatable for long. This made the entire area into a dead-zone, with no birds that used to be plentiful at the ponds, and only an occasional deer temporarily entering the forest, then returning to artificial water sources at the Fishing Lodge and residential properties along Long Beach Rd.  We are very happy to report that our salinity measurements made yesterday showed the ponds filled high and salinities in the 3.3 – 5.5 ppt range…FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SEVERAL YEARS! More rain is needed to maintain this favorable condition (it doesn’t take long for evaporation to raise the salinities back up to unpalatable levels), but this is a long hoped-for change.

 

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