Two- and Three-Dimensional Modelling of the Loxahatchee River and Estuarine System

The University of Central Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the South Florida Water Management District are collaborating on the development of an integrated surface/groundwater three-dimensional model to simulate river and estuarine hydrodynamics and salt transport for the Loxahatchee River and Estuary. The purpose of this effort is to evaluate the effects of saltwater intrusion on the Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River due to various project scenarios. This estuary model will be completely integrated with both surface and groundwater components in order to simulate the dynamic exchanges between the river, overland flow, and surficial aquifer in a fully coupled manner. The surface water component will be capable of simulating the saltwater encroachment into the freshwater riverine system, whereas the groundwater component will predict the salinity in the vegetation root zone of the floodplain, groundwater table variations, and the hydroperiod of the wetlands near the river. In addition to providing a modeling approach to identify problems in nearby watersheds and to evaluate the results of different potential control actions, the integrated estuary model will also be applied to investigate the feasibility of a saltwater barrier on the river and to develop TMDL's for the nearby watersheds discharging sediments, nutrients, phosphates, and all other toxic chemicals and metals into the receiving water bodies of the Loxahatchee River and Estuary.

Existing and historic tidal conditions will be analyzed in order to determine the effects of localized sea level rise on the salinity regime of the Loxahatchee River and Estuary. The scope of this area of the study includes a comprehensive investigation into the changes of the tidal conditions at Jupiter Inlet and along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway over the past century. A two-dimensional, depth-integrated tidal hydrodynamic model will be applied to accomplish the goals of this investigation and to provide tidal boundary conditions for the integrated estuary model for existing and historic (100 years previous) tidal conditions. Additionally, tidal simulations will be employed to quantify the amount of inundation within low lying floodplains due to various river stages.

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