Dynamic Solutions

St. Lucie Estuary

StLucieThe St. Lucie Estuary, located along the southeastern coast of Florida, receives significant inputs of freshwater from Lake Okeechobee via the C-44 Canal. This biologically productive estuary, one of the largest brackish water estuarine systems on the east coast of Florida, has been adversely impacted by freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee and agricultural and urban runoff. A key issue for management of this estuary is a determination of the salinity impacts of flow releases from Lake Okeechobee on biologically sensitive areas. Dynamic Solutions developed a 3-D hydrodynamic model (EFDC) of the St. Lucie Canal and Estuary to evaluate the effect of freshwater discharges, particularly high flow releases from Lake Okeechobee, on salinity and the ecological impact on oyster beds and submersed aquatic vegetation. The calibrated model has been used to simulate the salinity responses in critical habitat areas as a function of potential storm water release scenarios from Lake Okeechobee. The EFDC hydrodynamic model and EFDC_Explorer software will ultimately be used by the Jacksonville District USACE to make real-time water management decisions and maximize pulsed releases from Lake Okeechobee while minimizing the fresh water impacts of salinity on biological resources of the St. Lucie estuary.

 

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