Water-Related News

Mote, Eckerd scientists receive climate change/ocean acidification research grant

Mote Marine Laboratory scientist Dr. Emily Hall and Eckerd College scientist Dr. Cory Krediet recently received a Protect Our Reefs license plate grant to study ocean acidification and climate change conditions on corals using a sea anemone as a model organism.

As many as 50 percent of the marine animals, plants and other organisms in Florida’s saltwater environment depend on coral reefs or derive some benefit from reefs during their life cycles. Sadly, in some areas of Florida and the Caribbean, coral cover has declined by 50-80 percent in just the last three decades due to natural occurrences and human impacts such as climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and more.

To help stem the losses, Mote created the Protect Our Reefs specialty license plate and Grants Program, which uses the dollars raised from license plate sales for scientific research to uncover the reasons for coral declines and more.

Hall and Krediet’s Protect Our Reefs grant funded project is focused on using a sea anemone, Aiptasia, as a model system to better understand what changing temperature and pH conditions can have on corals so scientists can be better equipped to conserve corals and protect them from environmental stressors such as bleaching, climate change and ocean acidification.

Coastal Republicans warn GOP against climate denial

President Donald Trump and his congressional majority say they do not count climate change as a national threat, and indeed many of them won’t concede that it’s caused by human activity.

But climate renegades have emerged within Republican ranks and they’re accusing their GOP colleagues of being in dangerous denial.

Thirteen of the House of Representatives’ 237 Republicans are part of the Climate Solutions Caucus. Among them, Florida Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represent south Florida, where rising sea levels pose a grave threat to coastal communities.

The bipartisan caucus, which also has 13 Democrats, was established last year to promote economically viable options to reducing the risks from climate change. Though it hasn’t proposed specific legislation, it has brought some influential voices to the cause.

Artificial mangroves could bring back vanishing habitats in Florida

A couple researchers created fake mangroves in Manasota Key to bring back marine life that was lost from development. Along Florida’s coasts are seawalls-- built to prevent the shoreline from eroding. But that defense sometimes means removing natural habitats. Experts are now trying to turn these solid barriers into thriving ecosystems.

In Englewood, the blue-green waters of Lemon Bay lightly lap against the cement wall that shields local buildings and people from potential floods. What used to be here? Red mangroves— home to fish, crabs, and also oysters, which filter the water.

"They're so attractive as an architectural kind of exhibit-- the tree itself, the way it branches, the way the roots and branches overlap and you get a kind of continuous structural network," says architect Keith Van de Riet.

He partnered with biologist Jessene Aquino-Thomas to craft artificial mangrove panels that can be tacked right on to the seawall. They look like real mangrove roots, but they’re white-- made of concrete and ground up oyster shells.

Scientists find seagrass protects against pathogens, climate change

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Seagrasses draw fertilizer runoff and other pollutants out of the water, locking them safely away in meadow soil. Scientists have estimated that an acre of seagrass provides more than $11,000 worth of filtering every year.

Every continent save Antarctica is ringed by vast stretches of seagrass, underwater prairies that together cover an area roughly equal to California.

Seagrass meadows, among the most endangered ecosystems on Earth, play an outsize role in the health of the oceans. They shelter important fish species, filter pollutants from seawater, and lock up huge amounts of atmosphere-warming carbon.

The plants also fight disease, it turns out. A team of scientists reported on Thursday that seagrasses can purge pathogens from the ocean that threaten humans and coral reefs alike. (The first hint came when the scientists were struck with dysentery after diving to coral reefs without neighboring seagrass.)

But the meadows are vanishing at a rate of a football field every 30 minutes. Joleah B. Lamb, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University and the lead author of the new study, said she hoped it would help draw attention to their plight.

Water system maintenance scheduled for April 3

The method of water treatment for Pinellas County and its wholesale customers will be temporarily modified between Monday, April 3, and Monday, April 24. The first of two short-term changes from chloramine to chlorine disinfection in 2017 is a routine maintenance measure designed to optimize water quality.

Those that will benefit from this program include Pinellas County Utilities water customers, as well as customers in the cities of Clearwater, Pinellas Park and Safety Harbor.

The disinfection program is designed to maintain distribution system water quality and minimize the potential for any future problems. There have been no indications of significant bacteriological contamination problems in the system. The water will continue to meet all federal and state standards for safe drinking water.

Kidney dialysis patients should not be impacted, but should contact their dialysis care provider for more information about chlorine treatment. Fish owners should not be affected if they already have a system in place to remove chloramines, but should contact local pet suppliers with any questions.

Customers may notice a slight difference in the taste and/or odor of the water during this temporary change in treatment.

Chlorine was used as the primary disinfectant in the water for more than 50 years prior to 2002. Pinellas County switched to chloramine in 2002 to ensure compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards. Many communities using chloramine convert back to chlorine for short periods of time to maintain system water quality.

The second short-term change from chloramine to chlorine disinfection in 2017 will take place from Sept. 5 through Sept. 25.

For more information, please visit www.pinellascounty.org/utilities or contact Pinellas County Utilities Customer Service at (727) 464-4000.

The chlorine maintenance program underscores the county’s strategic goal of protecting and improving the quality of our water.

Free stormwater manual workshops for development, design, permitting professionals

In a continuous effort to practice superior environmental stewardship and foster continual economic growth and vitality, the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners adopted the Pinellas County Stormwater Manual during its Feb. 21 meeting. The manual and associated ordinance go in effect on April 1 and provide guidance for designing sites and infrastructure using newly adopted criteria and best management practices (BMPs) for water quality and flood protection.

Pinellas County is offering three one-day workshops to introduce the manual and instruct participants in its use during the development, design and permitting processes. The workshops include an overview and introduction to an industry program known as BMPTRAINS, which is the current Florida standard for modeling best management practices.

The workshops will be held in the Magnolia Room of Pinellas County Extension, located at 12520 Ulmerton Road in Largo, on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Those who should attend include: developers and consultants who submit site plan applications, Pinellas County engineering consultants, and municipal partners interested in the county’s stormwater management approach, as it relates to development and infrastructure projects.

The objective of the workshop is to ensure that participants have a good understanding of:

  • The principles of Low Impact Design (LID)
  • How to improve project benefits using stormwater manual tools and concepts
  • The revisions to the Pinellas County Land Development Code
  • Pinellas County’s stormwater design criteria
  • How to use BMPTRAINS to calculate the treatment effectiveness of BMPs

Participants are advised to bring a laptop with the BMPTRAINS Analysis Model program already installed for live workshop training. Participants can download the program for free by visiting https://stormwater.ucf.edu/computer-programs. Registration for each workshop session closes the Monday prior to each class. To register, call (727) 464-5659 or email amcgill@pinellascounty.org

Republicans lead fight to ban fracking in Florida

Citing unresolved health concerns, Florida lawmakers are weighing the fate of a measure that would ban fracking across the state.

Legislators are pushing the bill to safeguard Florida’s clean water supply, which is the drinking water source for 90 percent of Floridians and a major player in the state’s economy, from agriculture to tourism.

If passed, the bill would effectively ban any type of well stimulation technique statewide. That includes fracking — a practice that requires pumping huge volumes of chemicals, sand and water underground to split open rock formation to allow oil and gas to flow.

Environmentalists say chemicals used in the process can leak into underground water sources. Because Florida sits atop porous, spongelike sedimentary limestone, environmentalists believe it is at a higher risk of chemical leaks.

The Environmental Protection Agency concluded in 2016 that fracking poses a risk to drinking water in some circumstances, but added that a lack of information on the practice makes it hard to know how severe that risk would be.

St. Petersburg officials again hear public suggestions for sewer fixes

ST. PETERSBURG — Some people came to listen, others to offer ideas, and a few simply to vent. In all, more than 60 people spent their Wednesday evening engaging with St. Petersburg officials as the city begins overhauling its overburdened sewage system. The night's focus was a 12-page consent order drafted by the state, essentially a roadmap to fixing the city's aging system in the wake of a prolonged crisis. Fulfilling the state's requests, such as increasing wastewater plant capacity, would help St. Petersburg avoid up to $810,000 in penalties.

Fix water quality or Florida tourism will suffer, fishing and boating industries warn

TALLAHASSEE — The leaders of one of the nation's largest outdoors companies, a major boat manufacturer, and tourism industry officials met with Gov. Rick Scott and legislators Wednesday to make the case that urgent action is needed to end the toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

They detailed how their industries suffered from the impact of the guacamole-looking toxic algae blooms and state of emergency last year. They offered statistics on how Florida is losing business to other states, warned about the social media buzz over Florida's bad water and suggested that if things don't turn now, it may take years to reverse.

"If Florida is known as a destination of subpar water quality or bad water, it would absolutely crush our local economy," said John Lai, representing the Lee County Development Association and the Sanibel/Captiva Chamber of Commerce. He said that one in five jobs in his region relies heavily on tourism but, in the last 30 years, he has watched "the complete degradation of Florida estuaries and water quality."

Plan that includes keeping toxic algae from waterways is now bigger and more expensive

A Senate plan to bond $1.2 billion in state funds to build a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee grew to become a $3.3 billion bonding program that would fund dozens of water projects around the state — from sewage treatment in Tampa Bay to wastewater treatment in the Florida Keys — all in an attempt to win wider approval for the top priority of Senate President Joe Negron.

Despite the modifications, the 5-1 vote of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee for SB 10 is closer than it appeared. Many supporters expressed reservations that the expensive plan to store water is the most cost-effective solution to prevent discharges of polluted water from the lake into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries after those discharges led to guacamole-looking toxic algae blooms and a state emergency announced by Gov. Rick Scott in the spring and summer of 2016.

Florida scientists fear hurricane forecasts, climate research will suffer under Trump

A growing chorus of scientists is raising the alarm over reports of Trump administration budgets cuts that would affect climate change research and hurricane forecasting.

On Monday, 32 Florida scientists sent a letter to the president voicing worry over reports that the Department of Commerce, which overseas the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has proposed cutting 17 percent from its budget, with the nation’s network of satellites taking the biggest hit. The satellites include a system of polar orbiters that provide critical data from the top and bottom of the planet and help scientists understand two of the biggest threats facing the peninsula.

Bill to strengthen pollution notification rules advances in Florida Senate

A Senate committee in Tallahassee unanimously passed a bill that would set standards for how to swiftly notify the public about pollution. It’s an issue residents in the Tampa Bay Area have grown weary of.

It's pouring rain in downtown Tampa. Standing just outside Port Tampa Bay, you can see towering cargo ships, rumbling trucks and equipment.

Justin Bloom is Executive Director of Suncoast Waterkeeper, an environmental advocacy group. He says most commercial industries like those operating at the port are highly regulated to ensure environmental safety precautions are in place.

“But extraordinary events happen, and sometimes these safety measures are ignored,” Bloom said. “You know, look at what happened with Mosaic, for example.”

It's a reference to last August, when a massive sinkhole opened under a gypsum stack at a Mosaic phosphate fertilizer plant in Polk County. 215 million gallons of contaminated water dumped into the Floridian aquifer – and it was weeks before the public knew about it.

Bloom says while that was and is a serious concern, a more significant threat is constant storm water runoff. The day-to-day pollutants on our lawns, sidewalks and driveways – not to mention toilets – on a rainy day like this, often end up in our water, especially in the summer.

Bill that would ban fracking in Florida passes Senate committee

The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee unanimously passed landmark legislation Tuesday that would permanently prohibit fracking in Florida.

Senate bill 442, which passed by a vote of 5 to 0, already has bipartisan support from 15 Senate co-sponsors. The bill would ban unconventional “well stimulation” techniques including acid fracking and matrix acidizing.

Fracking is a method that fractures rock apart with a high-pressure mixture of water, chemicals and sand so that gas and oil are more easily released. Environmental groups disdain it because of the need for large amounts of water, and what they claim is toxic impact.

Environmental researchers warn of dangers of nitrogen fertilizer

TAMPA – Environmental researchers are urging people to look out for potentially toxic nitrogen fertilizer leaking into storm water.

This comes after recent issues with nitrogen in water, which has been linked to red tide, the loss of seagrass and toxic algae blooms on the east coast of Florida.

Leesa Souto, executive director of the Marine Resources Council in Palm Bay said nitrogen-based fertilizer in storm water cause water quality issues.

Independent researchers, including Souto, created a report for the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, looking at how people responded to ordinances banning the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers during part of the year.

Hillsborough County community had the highest estimated fertilizer nitrogen inputs, the highest fertilizer frequency, the highest percentage of professionals responsible for landscape management, and the highest estimated annual total nitrogen loads of the communities studied in Pinellas, Manatee and Hillsborough, the report found.

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program said these are the most recent numbers they have regarding fertilizer usage. The Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board is set to review the report on March 21.

Can we get rid of red tide? Not yet, according to Mote scientist

SARASOTA — As one of Mote Marine Laboratory's resident red tide researchers, Richard Pierce, lectured on the facts and future of red tide Monday evening, one question kept coming up from the audience: What can we do to stop red tide?

One man suggested changing the water density in red tide-affected parts of the Gulf of Mexico. A woman wondered whether alternate forms of energy could have an effect. But the consensus from the panel of Mote red tide scientists at the talk was clear: At this point, there is no sure way to eradicate red tide or even significantly lessen the concentration of the blooms of Karenia brevis, the red time organism.

"It's not currently possible to control red tides in the Gulf," Pierce, Mote's assistant vice president for research and the program manager of its Ecotoxicology team, said while concluding his lecture to a filled hall of about 150 people. "In many cases, we can reduce the risk, but we probably won't get rid of it."

In the meantime, Mote scientists have made some promising discoveries, such as an algae byproduct that could inhibit red tide growth and its toxins, according to Pierce. The Phytoplankton Ecology team, led by program manager Vincent Lovko, is working on that prospect, but both Lovko and Pierce said it was in the trial period.

Public meeting March 30th on Sand Key beach renourishment

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Pinellas County will host a public information meeting on Thursday, March 30, from 6 – 8 p.m. about the upcoming Sand Key beach nourishment project. The meeting will be held on the 4th floor of the Indian Shores Town Hall, located at 19305 Gulf Boulevard in Indian Shores. The meeting will provide an overview of the Pinellas County Shore Protection Project, a cost share partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Representatives from Pinellas County and the Corps will answer questions about the project and the easements that will be required for portions of properties located along the coast where the nourishment activity will take place. Easements will allow the work to continue and keep beach areas open to the public. The county will have a notary onsite to facilitate executing easement paperwork.

Beach nourishment benefits the community by providing increased storm protection for property owners and recreational opportunities for beach visitors. It also creates important habitat for shorebirds and nesting sea turtles. The project aligns with Pinellas County’s strategic plan of practicing superior environmental stewardship to preserve and manage environmental lands, beach parks and historical assets.

Wastewater treatment plant repairs from Hurricane Hermine still costing Clearwater

It has been six months since Hurricane Hermine blew through Tampa Bay, but city coffers are still feeling her wrath.

Flood water from the Category 1 storm overwhelmed the Marshall Street wastewater treatment plant the night of Sept. 1 and leaked into the dry pit that houses the pumps and electrical station, causing a mechanical failure.

Crews worked overnight to install a temporary pumping system and had all overflow contained within three days, but ultimately 29 million gallons of a rainwater and sewage mixture poured into Clearwater Harbor, with another 3 million gallons spilling into Old Tampa Bay.

The temporary pumping system has stayed in place ever since while utility department officials determined the exact cause of the failure and best replacement options. Payment of the first bill for equipment rental and electrical work, covering September through January, was approved by the City Council last week.

The damage? A whopping $1.3 million.

Public Utilities Director David Porter said he expects the city to incur about $175,000 more in rental charges per month until installation of a new system is completed by July.

Lawmakers propose $50 million to restore beaches

Beach restoration is the latest area targeted for a slice of the money voters set aside two years ago for environmental preservation.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-Treasure Island, announced Friday they want to match Gov. Rick Scott's request to allocate $50 million a year for beach restoration. The money would come from the state's Land Acquisition Trust Fund, which handles money from a 2014 constitutional amendment aimed at boosting land and water conservation.

The proposal (SB 1590 and HB 1213) would require the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a three-year plan for beach repairs. It also would refocus attention on sand management at inlets and rank the most serious erosion problems as priorities.

FWC continues seagrass research and conservation with new status report

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) continues its conservation of valuable seagrass beds in Florida’s coastal waters with a second edition of its statewide report.

Scientists and collaborators from agencies across Florida, including researchers with the Seagrass Integrated Mapping and Monitoring Program of the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, published new information this month on seagrass health and status. Each of the 23 regional chapters includes color-coded status reports of seagrass health, as well as maps of the distribution of seagrass beds in each estuary or subregion.

More than 40 scientists from agencies across Florida work to map and monitor seagrasses statewide and report assessments of seagrass health online. Using available data, researchers estimated there are approximately 2.5 million acres of seagrass in estuaries and nearshore waters of Florida. These are the largest beds of seagrasses found in the continental United States. Florida seagrass beds are extremely valuable marine habitats. Many economically important fish and shellfish species depend on seagrass beds for their survival. Seagrasses provide food and shelter for endangered mammals and turtles, and also play a vital role in the ecosystem.

The seagrass monitoring program was developed in 2009 to protect and manage seagrasses in Florida by providing a collaborative resource for seagrass mapping, monitoring and data sharing. The statewide report provides a summary of the status of seagrasses in Florida.

The report’s second edition was funded by grants from the FWC’s State Wildlife Grants Program and the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The Seagrass Integrated Mapping and Monitoring Program’s statewide report and copies of individual regional chapters can be downloaded by going to MyFWC.com/Research, clicking “Habitat,” then “Seagrasses,” “Seagrass Projects” and “Active Projects.”

Trump takes aim at WOTUS rule

The “Waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS) was the definitive water-policy achievement of the Obama administration. Proponents said it clarified which waterways could be regulated by the federal government under the Clean Water Act. Jurisdiction under the law had become obscured by court decisions, WOTUS supporters said.

The rule has been in Republican crosshairs for years. President Trump strongly opposed it during his campaign. The agriculture industry and the GOP say the rule amounts to government overreach.

WOTUS is currently unenforceable due to court action. “A court stayed [WOTUS] days after it was finalized,” E&E News reported. “The Supreme Court agreed last month to take up the challenge brought by more than 30 states and many industry and farm groups,” the publication said.

Now Trump is getting ready to do away with the policy. The Washington Post reported this week that Trump is preparing an executive order to kill the regulation.

Multi-million dollar St. Pete sewage fixes begin

St Petersburg is committed to fixing its sewage problems, and work has already begun to make the city’s two main sewer plants capable to take on more water during rainstorms and hurricanes.

Over the next five years, 305 million dollars will be poured into fixing the sewage system.

St Pete is working to fix the problems now before the rainy months ahead.

It’s welcoming news for Ed Carlson, whose Jungle Terrace neighborhood was inundated with 58 million gallons of sewage. The water poured through the streets, the parks, people’s yards and even bubbled out of the manhole covers.

Carlson helped push the city into fixes. Now, crews will soon begin $16 million in upgrades to the Northwest plant, just a few blocks from his home, to prevent future spills.

St. Petersburg's Northwest sewage plant will also be upgraded, hopefully by rainy season

As the city addresses the recent sewage crisis, much of the attention has been focused on whether it should reopen the shuttered Albert Whitted wastewater treatment facility.

City staff, council members and activists have also spent hours vetting the massive expansion underway at the Southwest sewage plant.

But what about the Northwest plant?

That plant also had its own massive spill during last year's crisis, enraging residents and eroding trust in Mayor Rick Kriseman. He initially claimed residents didn't need to be notified that 58 million gallons of overflowing sewage was running through the streets beyond warning signs because it was basically reclaimed water.

A week later, the mayor admitted the error, that the water was dirtier than the city initially reported.

Now the city is spending $16 million on upgrades at the Northwest plant to prevent a similar spill in west St. Petersburg. After Hurricane Hermine dumped heavy rains on the city in September, sewage flowed into neighborhoods, across 22nd Avenue N and into nearby Walter Fuller Park.

St. Petersburg residents seek reassurance there won't be a summer sewage sequel

About two dozen residents spent Monday evening quizzing city officials about planned work on the sewer system in a forum that distilled the fears and confusion of a city bracing for the coming rainy season.

At issue was a state consent order that is being finalized in the wake of the recent sewage crisis: St. Petersburg discharged 200 million gallons of sewage onto land and water during the heavy rains of the past two summers. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection order, which should be agreed upon by mid-April, would compel the city to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fix its ailing sewer system.

That would help the city avoid up to $810,000 in state penalties.

"We can't afford to kick this can down the block anymore and let someone else handle it," Public Works Department spokesman Bill Logan told the forum at the Lake Vista Recreation Center.

City officials detailed the work being undertaken on the city's 937 miles of pipes to reduce the amount of stormwater seeping into them. They explained how new injection wells at the Southwest and Northwest wastewater treatment plants should help the city dispose of treated sewage by pumping it deep underground. And they outlined massive projects to expand capacity at the city's three remaining sewer plants (closing the Albert Whitted plant in 2015 helped precipitate the sewage crisis.)

Trump begins dismantling Obama’s EPA rules today. First up: the Clean Water Rule

At first glance, it’s hard to see why the Clean Water Rule (also known as the “Waters of the US rule”) inspires such fury. It’s a technical regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency meant to clarify which streams and wetlands fall under federal clean water protections — a question that had been causing legal confusion for years.

But when the rule was published in June 2015, it triggered fierce blowback from farm and industry groups across the country. “Opponents condemn it as a massive power grab by Washington,” Politico reported, “saying it will give bureaucrats carte blanche to swoop in and penalize landowners every time a cow walks through a ditch.” Many of those criticisms were overblown, but the rule was widely cited by conservatives as a prime example of EPA overreach under President Obama. (The regulation is currently being tied up in court and hasn’t taken effect yet.)

Now Donald Trump wants to get rid of the rule — a first step in his ongoing efforts to dismantle Obama-era EPA protections. On Tuesday, he signed an executive order that asks new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to begin the long process of repealing the rule and replacing it with... something else.

Except here’s the catch: Rolling back this rule won’t be easy to do. By law, Pruitt has to go through the formal federal rulemaking process and replace Obama’s regulation with his own version — and then defend it in court as legally superior. And, as Pruitt’s about to find out, figuring out which bodies of water deserve protection is a maddeningly complex task that could take years.

Mote developing app so beachgoers can record red tide observations

Almost every day, Mote Marine Laboratory environmental health staff scientist Tracy Fanara gets a phone call or email from someone on the Gulf Coast experiencing the effects of red tide, a toxic algae bloom that has lingered since last September.

Whether the concern is from a tourist or a longtime resident, their response is often similar: they're coughing or seeing dead fish or wondering what that strange smell is in the air.

Now those noticing the effects of red tide during their trips to the beach can take matters into their own hands through Mote's latest venture, the Citizen Science App. Designed as an addition to their online Beach Conditions Reporting System, which details conditions observed by lifeguards and trained sentinels, the app allows users to report what they are experiencing — respiratory irritation, dead fish or water discoloration — along with their exact location. The information is compiled and listed on a separate "citizen reports" layer of the Beach Conditions Report. Although the app is being tested, Fanara says she hopes it will be ready in the next month.

Online tool explores sea level rise and coastal marsh health scenarios

A new online tool developed by the University of South Carolina, with funding through NCCOS’s Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise program (EESLR), allows users to evaluate scenarios of coastal saltmarsh health under a suite of sea level rise conditions. In addition to visualizing results through the web interface, users can download the results to create enhanced graphics for communicating results.

Users can input data relevant to any saltmarsh across the country, although, the data contains pre-calibrated settings for five estuaries, including Apalachicola and Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves. These data are from field studies and adjust to represent a number of sea level rise and management scenarios such as: evaluation of marsh health and longevity through the addition of beneficial use sediments, impacts of measures to increase natural sediment deposition, and carbon sequestration potential.

The online tool is built on the latest version (5.4) of the Marsh Equilibrium Model (MEM). MEM evaluates the relationship between a suite of physical (e.g., water level and total suspended solids) and biological factors (e.g., marsh health and biomass production) over time. This zero-dimensional model is coupled with a hydrodynamic model (ADCIRC) to create a dynamic 2-dimensional marsh model called Hydro-MEM. Together these models advance our understanding of the complex relationships among coastal marshes, sea level rise, and hydrodynamics. Advancement of MEM and development of Hydro-MEM are two products from a long-term EESLR project in the northern Gulf of Mexico.