Online Dynamic Watershed Atlas for Seminole County Florida

EPA Grant Number: R829320
Title: Online Dynamic Watershed Atlas for Seminole County Florida
Investigators: Ornberg, Kim
Current Investigators: Ornberg, Kim , Burkett, Patricia , Campbell, Kyle , Milch, Gabrielle
Institution: Seminole County Government, FL
Current Institution: Seminole County Government, FL , St. Johns River Water Management District , University of South Florida
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2003
Project Amount: $769,000
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration

Description:

The goal of this project is to provide the citizens of Seminole County and the Orlando Metropolitan area with unprecedented access to quality assured water resource data and educational information in an easily understandable format.

The citizens of the Orlando Metropolitan Area face difficult choices in balancing the needs of a rapidly growing population, a burgeoning economy, an international tourism destination, and a unique and treasured natural environment. Perhaps no other resource reflects this challenge more appropriately than water resources. The quality and stewardship of these resources will determine the quality of life for future generations, but also define the potential for sustainable economic growth and tourism. Seminole County recognizes the need for an educated citizenry to help guide decisions concerning water resources within the Orlando Metropolitan Area. The County and its municipalities are responsible for the management of over 52 square miles of water, and 375 linear miles of rivers and streams. Among these resources are: the St. Johns River, a federally designated 310 mile long American Heritage River which flows through the Ocala National Forest; numerous Outstanding Florida Waters including the Wekiva River, Little Wekiva River, and Econlockhatchee River; and 150 locally important lakes. The County is part of the Orlando Metropolitan Area, which is home to 1.5 million people and visited by more than 40 million tourists annually. The area experienced a population increase of 27% from 1990-1999 and a similar rate is projected in the next 10 years. The impacts of this rapid population increase on water resources include 13 water segments listed as impaired under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act and growing concern for a sustainable water supply.

To address these needs Seminole County established a program in partnership with the University of South Florida to create an online Watershed Atlas that uses innovative industry standard technology to serve water resource data from multiple government agency resources and quality-assured volunteer monitoring programs to citizens in an easily understood format. We propose to leverage an extensive local, regional, and state commitment with EMPACT funds to accomplish the overall goal and objectives.

Objectives:

The goal/objective of the Seminole County Watershed Atlas project is to provide the citizens of Seminole County and the Orlando Metropolitan area with unprecedented access to quality assured water resources data and educational information in an easily understandable format.

Objective 1: Maintain and Enhance State of the Art Watershed Atlas Application
We propose to maintain and enhance the existing Watershed Atlas by incorporating the expanded real-time data from objective 2, with an innovative method for incorporating timely data from local municipalities and established volunteer monitoring programs described in objective 3.

Objective 2: Strategically Expand Real Time Water Resource Monitoring in Seminole County
Expand the network of real-time water quality, water level, and meteorological sampling locations using innovative and cost effective technology in key areas of Seminole County.

Objective 3: Facilitate Data Sharing with STORET and Local Municipalities
Federal data sources, such as EPA's STORET database, hold a large repository of historical and current water resources data. Publication of these data for citizen-friendly access would be an asset to the stakeholders and citizens using the Atlas. In addition, facilitating data transfer between the Atlas application and the new STORET system would benefit the local municipalities.

Objective 4: Engage Watershed Atlas into School Curriculum to Promote Environmental Literacy
A key component of the communication plan is to engage the program into the curriculum of local schools at the appropriate grade levels and subject areas to promote environmental literacy in the community's youth.

Objective 5: Effectively Market Atlas Website throughout Metropolitan Area
A second strategy in the communication plan is to market the web site via traditional media such as television, print, and direct marketing through stakeholders.

Approach:

Seminole County has established long term funding for an Internet-based thin client Watershed Atlas that will be released to the public in Spring 2001 (http://www.seminole.wateratlas.org/ Exit ). The project has the support of 50 community stakeholders and has undergone extensive testing. The Atlas was conceived from an earlier and highly successful application at the University of South Florida to serve citizen-friendly information about lakes. (http://www.lakeatlas.usf.edu/ Exit ). The Seminole County Watershed Atlas is driven by a Microsoft SQL database and allows citizens timely access to water quality, hydrology, ecology, management and educational information from over 20 agencies and quality-assured volunteer monitoring programs. An added advantage of this system is that it was designed to be transferable and seven additional Florida counties have adopted the technology. EMPACT funding will complement this existing program by expanding the real-time monitoring of water quality, and meteorological data in the counties 16 watersheds and water resources of regional significance. Five new water quality stations will be equipped with sensors to collect the following parameters: dissolved oxygen, conductivity, water temperature, pH, depth, turbidity, chlorophyll, and total dissolved solids. Expanded meteorological instruments will be added to existing USGS real-time sites where appropriate and placed at local schools to collect rainfall data at the watershed scale. The application will be enhanced to accommodate these new data streams and ensure data sharing and compatibility with the new STORET by working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In addition, to ensure that the widest possible audience of citizen stakeholders can use the Atlas in their daily decision-making efforts, curriculum materials will be developed with the local schools and a marketing campaign for the program will be established. Curriculum specialists at the Seminole County Public Schools and the Environmental Studies Center will develop materials and hold workshops that will engage educators within the school system to take advantage of the Internet site.

Expected Results:

The students, citizens, policy-makers, and scientists of Seminole County will have unprecedented access to timely and quality assured data that is relevant to their daily decision making process.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 11 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

aquatic ecosystem protection, decision making, citizen education, water resources, watershed management, Florida (FL), Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLS), Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLS), RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, RESEARCH, Water & Watershed, Monitoring/Modeling, Monitoring, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Urban and Regional Planning, Watersheds, aquatic ecosystem, EMPACT, remote sensing, water resources, wetlands, community-based approach, sediment transport, stream ecosystems, community water quality information system, stormwater, community outreach, community tracking, water quality, aquatic ecosystems, community partnerships, ecological models, Florida, ecology assessment models, water management options, watershed assessment, land management, stream ecosystem, land use

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final Report