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Browse Water Atlas Topics

Learn what specific water topics and data the Water Atlas has to offer and quickly jump to those topics of interest via this page.

Overview / Current Conditions Topics

General information and current conditions of water resources.

Air Quality Index Topic Icon

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Watershed

The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health. (From EPA, 'AirNow'). Visit "AirNow" and learn more about EPA's AQI, air quality and human health at http://airnow.gov/.

Beaches Topic Icon

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Links to government and visitors bureau websites with information about the area beaches.

Capital Improvement Projects Topic Icon

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Capital improvement projects occurring in the watershed. Activities may include stormwater control structures, retrofit projects, retention and detention ponds, and other stormwater pollution controls.

Historic Information Topic Icon

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Historical Information

Nautical Charts Topic Icon

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Bay

Nautical charts of the Gulf of Mexico

Regulation Topic Icon

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Who to call about environmental concerns and to report environmentally harmful activities. For potentially life threatening emergencies dial 911.

Tides Topic Icon

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Tides affect everything from fish distribution to stream renourishment. It has a big impact on local weather and the extent to which storm surges will impact us. This section includes real-time and historic tide data, along with interesting information about the nature of tides.

Water Resource Characteristics Topic Icon

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Water resource specific information such as surface area, watershed, latitude/longitude, section-township-range, and USGS quarter quadrant.

Watersheds and Drainage Basins Topic Icon

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Watersheds are areas of land with waterways that flow to a common destination. The boundaries between watersheds are elevated areas called divides. In this Atlas, the watersheds are composed of groups of creeks that flow to a single bay or group of bays. Drainage basins are subunits of watersheds and are defined by the main creek that flows through them.

Weather Topic Icon

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The Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS) program is a joint effort of the National Weather Service (NWS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Defense (DOD). The ASOS serves as the nation's primary surface weather observing network. ASOS is designed to support weather forecast activities and aviation operations and, at the same time, support the needs of the meteorological, hydrological, and climatological research communities. The following is near real-time data from the nearest available ASOS location.

Water Quality Topics

Explore general as well as scientific information about the movement, chemistry and biology of area surface water environments.

Bacteria Topic Icon

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The currently used bacterial indicators for recreational waters include total coliform, fecal coliform and enterococcus. Indicator organisms themselves are not necessarily pathogenic but their presence "indicates" or suggests recent contamination by human sewage or other waste which may result in human illness. Sources of contamination include storm water runoff, sewage overflows and feces from wild and domestic animals.

Dissolved Oxygen Topic Icon

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Dissolved Oxygen (DO) is one of the most important indicators of water quality. It is essential for the survival of fish and other aquatic organisms.

Florida Healthy Beaches Program Topic Icon

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Coastal beach water samples collected every two weeks by the county health departments are analyzed for enterococci and fecal coliform bacteria. High concentrations of these bacteria may indicate the presence of microorganisms that could cause diseases, infections, or rashes. County health departments will issue health advisories or warnings when these conditions are confirmed.

Impaired Waters, TMDL and BMAP Topic Icon

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Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, states, territories, and authorized tribes are required to develop lists of impaired waters. These are waters that are too polluted or otherwise degraded to meet the water quality standards set by states, territories or authorized tribes. The law also requires these governments to list and develop a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for impaired waters. The TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still safely meet water quality standards. TMDL reports are important in understanding the extent of impairment and the actions that may be needed to eliminate impairment. The local plan to respond to the TMDL is called a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP). Please note that the Impaired Waters Data listed on the Water Atlas is the most recent available data from FDEP, but it may not reflect the current FDEP impaired list. These data are updated when and as soon as they are made available from FDEP.

Nutrient Chemistry Topic Icon

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Although present in all surface waters, nutrients are among the leading causes of degradation of Florida waterbodies.

Overall Trophic State Index Topic Icon

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"Trophic" means "relating to nutrition." The Trophic State Index (TSI) takes into account chlorophyll, nitrogen, and phosphorus, which are nutrients required by plant life. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) uses this information to determine a rating for the waterbody.

Salinity Topic Icon

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Salinity measures the amount of salts dissolved in water. An estuary can exhibit a change in salinity throughout its length as fresh water entering from the tributaries mixes with seawater from the ocean.

Water Clarity Topic Icon

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Water clarity or turbidity measures the degree to which light is blocked because the water is cloudy or contains suspended particles, such as algae. Water clarity is one indicator of a waterbody's ability to sustain plants and wildlife.

Water Quality Topic Icon

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Watershed

The following data are summarized as seasonal average values for lake and river sampling locations located within the watershed. While these data are useful to serve as a general picture of watershed health, these data must be viewed with caution because these samples have been taken from ecologically different water resources.

Water Quality Contour Maps Topic Icon

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Bay

Contour mapping is one of the best ways to visualize the spatial differences in bay water quality. These maps are generated by the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County (EPC) using a spatial analysis technique in a Geographic Information Systems software package. The water quality sampling locations and data used to generate these maps includes only those collected by EPC. For more information about EPC and their program area, visit their website at http://www.epchc.org.

Water Quality Index Topic Icon

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Stream

Water Quality Index (WQI) is an average of 5 different parameters giving a river a good (0-45), fair (45-60), or poor (60+) rating.

Water Levels and Flows Topics

Explore general as well as scientific information about the movement, chemistry and biology of area surface water environments.

Groundwater Quantity: ARI Topic Icon

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Southwest Florida Water Management District calculates the Aquifer Resource Indicator (ARI) for their three groundwater regions each month. The ARI was created to provide the public with a gauge of groundwater levels in their area, so they can develop an understanding of the severity and cycles of drought and recovery. The three regions include: North (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Levy, Marion and Sumter counties), Central (Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, and Polk counties), and South (Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties).

Stream Flow and Levels Topic Icon

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Stream level and flow data.

Water Levels Topic Icon

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Water levels typically follow rainfall patterns during periods of wet weather and drought. From these data, one can get a picture of how recent flood or drought events compare to historical data.

Geography and Land Use Topics

This section includes information about the geography and land use within the watershed, including the historical and current forms of land use.

Land Acquisition and Protection Topic Icon

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Watershed

The Florida Natural Areas Inventory is the primary source for information on Florida's conservation lands. The Inventory database includes boundaries and statistics for more than 1,400 federal, state, local, and private managed areas, all provided directly by the managing agencies. National parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, local and private preserves are examples of the managed areas included.

Land Use / Land Cover Topic Icon

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Land Cover categorizes the land in terms of the observed physical surface characteristics. For example, while the land use may be classified as agricultural, the land cover may be classified as upland or wetland.

Population Topic Icon

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Watershed

Total population data for a particular watershed by decade.

Habitats and Ecology Topics

These pages provide a wealth of interesting general, as well as scientific, information about the myriad of habitats in the area and the creatures that dwell within them. Explore general as well as scientific information about the movement, chemistry and biology of area surface water environments.

Artifical Reefs Topic Icon

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Artificial reefs are created by the placing steel and concrete in carefully selected locations. Once the structure is established, tiny free-floating creatures attach, grow, and quickly attract larger marine life and fish. These lush natural-looking reefs replace lost habitats while creating recreational opportunities for fishing and diving.

Grass Carp Topic Icon

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Grass carp are fish that are used to control nuisance aquatic vegetation (Hydrilla, etc.). Click on the permit information link to visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for more information about the Triploid Grass Carp stocking program.

Plant Species Inventory Topic Icon

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This information shows the approximate number and diversity of aquatic plants in and around your lake based on the rapid assessment of your waterbody's vegetation.

Rare Species and Communities Topic Icon

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Watershed

Florida Natural Areas Inventory assists with tracking the occurences of rare, threatened, endangered and exemplary plants, animals and natural communities, called elements. An element is any exemplary or rare component of the natural environment, such as a species, natural community, bird rookery, spring, sinkhole, cave, or other ecological feature. An element occurrence is a single extant habitat that sustains or otherwise contributes to the survival of a population or a distinct, self-sustaining example of a particular element, such as a plant species. The following links provide access to tools on the FNAI website where you can view a list of elements in your area and read a description of each element (e.g. plant, animal, or natural community).

Seagrass Topic Icon

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Bay

Seagrasses are among the most important habitats in Florida's estuarine environments, indispensable for the role they play in nutrition cycling, primary production, sediment stabilization and habitat for juvenile and adult finfish and shellfish.

Shoreline Morphology Topic Icon

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Since the early 1900s, dredge and fill activities and various shoreline hardening projects have resulted in significant losses of ecologically important habitats. This information was gathered as part of a study to assess restoration opportunities in the Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program (SBNEP) watershed.

Vegetation Sampling Topic Icon

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Vegetation sampling is the identification and quantification of plant species and communities. Vegetation sampling is a tool used in environmental assessments and can inform a myriad of assessment goals including biomass availability, water quality concerns, management benchmarks, and determining the introduction and establishment of invasive species. Sampling can be conducted via destructive or non-destructive methods.

Fish and Wildlife Topics

In addition to fisheries-independent and fisheries-dependent study results, find valuable information about endangered species, wild stock enhancement and other conservation measures related to fish, aquatic mammals and other aquatic wildlife.

Birds Topic Icon

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Some common birds in this region that you might see include - Great Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, White Ibis, Brown Pelican, Osprey, Wood Stork, Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, Bald Eagles and the endangered Florida Scrub-Jay.

Dolphins Topic Icon

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Bay

Bottlenose dolphins are common along the central west coast of Florida, including Sarasota Bay and surrounding waters. Long-term studies by the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, initiated by Mote Marine Laboratory in 1970, and continuing today in conjunction with the Chicago Zoological Society, are monitoring a resident community of four generations of dolphins in Sarasota Bay.

Fisheries Dependent Monitoring Topic Icon

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Fishery-dependent data, collected directly from people who harvest aquatic species, is used to monitor harvest rates and assess the health of exploited fish and invertebrate populations.

Fisheries Independent Monitoring Topic Icon

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Visual Surveys are used to estimate relative abundance and to monitor the size and class distribution of important fish species. The Fisheries-Independent Monitoring program (FIM) conducts stratified-random sampling to estimate fish abundance and population trends in seven regions around Florida. Visit the FIM site (below) to learn how studies are performed and what they reveal, learn more about fish species, and see images of these species.

Manatees Topic Icon

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The Florida manatee, or sea cow (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a subspecies of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), is a large, herbivorous, aquatic mammal that can be found in the shallow coastal waters, rivers, and springs of Florida and adjoining states. These gentle creatures are endangered throughout their range. High annual mortality, primarily associated with human activity, as well as a low reproductive rate and loss of habitat continue to keep the number of manatees low and threaten the species' future.

Sea Turtle Nesting Topic Icon

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Gulf, Ocean

Every May through October our beaches provide critical nesting habitat for hundreds of loggerhead sea turtles. Nest counts are showing an alarming decline, but people can safeguard this threatened species on land by keeping our beaches natural: dark, quiet, and sandy (not hardened with seawalls). At sea, the turtles are in danger of drowning in fishing trawls and becoming entangled in "longlines" set in the open-ocean. It's also important to keep plastic trash (especially bags and balloons) out of the water to prevent the needless deaths of sea turtles that mistake them for a favorite food – jellyfish.

Recreation Topics

The area provides some of the most diverse and abundant recreational environments and facilities in the U.S. Visit these pages and links and learn about their locations, trademark features and amenities, and regulations for their use.

Fishing Regulations Topic Icon

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Find information on fishing regulations and licenses for both freshwater and saltwater fishing in Florida.

Parks, Beaches, Piers, and Boat Ramps Topic Icon

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Bay, Gulf, Lake, Ocean, Stream, Watershed

Public Parks and Boating Ramps.

Recreational and Boater's Resource Guides Topic Icon

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Find maps and waterway navigation guides, descriptions of facilities and recreational amenities, as well as warnings and restrictions pertaining to their use.

Photos Topics

Photographs related to water resources.

Photos Topic Icon

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Find or submit a photograph of the waterbodies, wildlife or activities concerning the areas included in this Water Atlas. Types of photographs include both color and black and white, historic and current.