National Park Service

South Florida/Caribbean I&M Network (SFCN)

Contaminants Monitoring

water contaminants photo


The SFCN water contaminants monitoring protocol is deferred due to insufficient funding. Instead SFCN is providing field assistance to USGS for a research project.

Resource Briefs, Reports, and Data

There are currently no additional SFCN resource briefs, reports, or data concerning this monitoring topic.


For more information contact:

Kevin R. T. Whelan, Ph D. (NPS)

Tim Bargar, Ph D. (USGS)


Point-source and non-point source contaminants are a growing concern in most natural areas. Determining a proper monitoring protocol to establish a baseline and to determine trends in contaminants is critical for proper resource management, especially regarding modifications of water management from Everglades Restoration. For example, mercury (Hg) bioaccumulation in particular is a serious concern in the greater Everglades system.

Monitoring Objectives

What are the distribution, range, variability and concentrations of contaminants, including Emerging Pollutants of Concern (EPOCS), (PPCP's - Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products), endocrine disrupters and metals in the water column, organisms, and sediments (surface and core)?


Collaboration with researchers. SFCN is collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Dr. Tim Bargar) by conducting some of the field work involved in placing and retrieving samplers and sending the samplers to USGS for analysis. (See below for status and results)

Link to existing monitoring and reporting. SFCN’s strategy is to link to existing monitoring programs, data streams, and summaries reports where possible.

Other monitoring deferred. Other monitoring is deferred due to financial constraints.

Status and Results

Figure 1. 2012 EPOC sampling locations
Figure 1. 2012 EPOC sampling locations.

The SFCN continued its collaboration with USGS to assess levels of emerging pollutants of concern (EPOCs) and wastewater contaminants that enter the near shore waters of Biscayne Bay and Biscayne National Park. The SFCN again worked in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey's Dr. Tim Bargar (Florida Integrated Science Center) and Dr. David Alvarez (Columbia Environmental Research Center) to complete the third phase of the project by collecting sediment samples and fish samples.

A component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is rehydration of the coastal wetlands adjacent to Biscayne National Park. Before the planned rehydration of the wetlands begins, it is necessary to understand the threats to the park’s resources from existing organic wastewater contaminant (OWC) levels to differentiate them from potential impacts from OWCs introduced by the rehydration. In September of 2009, passive water samplers were deployed for a period of one month where nine different canals enter Biscayne Bay and at three locations within the bay. Based on the total number of detected contaminants, waters in the C-111 canal were the most contaminated, while the least contaminated locations were the central and northern bay locations. Very few wastewater chemicals were detected indicating low wastewater contribution to Biscayne Bay. The C-1 canal, which passes the South Dade Wastewater Treatment Plant, did not have a greater wastewater contaminant load relative to the other canals. Additional sampling is underway to determine: (1) if seasonality plays a role in contaminant introduction into the bay, (2) if OWCs are partitioning into sediments and the biota (fish), and (3) the endocrine status of a resident fish species. POCIS Sampling was completed in May 2011 and September 2011. Sediments were collected in October 2011 and December 2011, while fish were sampled during the wet season of 2012 (Figures 1 and 2). This project took 362 field hours to accomplish the work.

Figure 2. Actual location of POCIS sampler in the Cutler Wetlands, just northeast of Black Point in Biscayne National Park
Figure 2. Actual location of POCIS sampler in the Cutler Wetlands, just northeast of Black Point in Biscayne National Park.

All field work for the contaminants project has been completed. Fish samples are being processed for histological data and contaminant burden. Once this is complete, it will establish data for baseline aquatic contamination and endocrine status in a resident fish species of Biscayne National Park.

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Last Updated: February 16, 2017 Contact Webmaster