Environmental Monitoring in the Everglades
Everglades Ecosystem Assessment
EPA has been conducting an assessment of the Everglades’ health over the last 20 years. The Everglades Ecosystem Assessment Program (also referred to as Regional Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, or REMAP) measures current and changing conditions for water quality and ecological resources. This program is the only scientific effort in the Everglades that combines:
- a probability-based sampling approach, which permits quantitative spatial statements about ecosystem health
- an extensive 2000 square mile coverage that includes all of the Everglades
- a multi-media aspect (water, sediment, fish, algal communities, and plants such as sawgrass and cattail).
- 2005 Data Collection for Everglades Regional Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (R-EMAP) Exit
- 2015 Everglades Ecosystem Assessment Reports and Publications List
Program data track the effectiveness of restoration efforts such as the:
- Water Quality Restoration Strategies Agreement reached between the state of Florida and EPA in 2012 to control phosphorus,
- effectiveness of efforts to restore Everglades habitat, and
- efforts to control mercury.
Program data have been used by the National Academy of Sciences and over 30 federal or Florida agencies, Indian tribes, environmental groups, agricultural interests and universities. During phase I (1993-1996), phase II (1999) and phase III (2005) EPA has sampled 1000 marsh locations. About 125 locations are sampled in a two-week window in order to assess the entire Everglades at a point in time. In addition, about 200 canal locations were sampled during phase I.
Results indicate that:
- the condition of the Everglades varies greatly with location
- rainfall-driven portions of the Everglades that are distant from the influence of canal water have good water quality
- other areas have poorer water quality, elevated soil phosphorus, extensive cattail encroachment, elevated mercury, elevated sulfur, or soil loss.