Ichetucknee Springs System is in north central Florida, under the jurisdiction of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). The Ichetucknee River is one of the most pristine spring-fed rivers in Florida and became a state park in 1970. Over 400,000 people visited the Ichetucknee Springs State Park in 2016. From that total, over 130,000 people came during the tubing season alone (Memorial Day to Labor Day). During the tubing season, only 750 visitors per day are allowed to launch from the North Launch, near the Ichetucknee Head Spring. The park enforces visitor usage of the river during these time frames to protect the integrity of the aquatic vegetation and aquatic organisms in the northern portion of the River. The objective of this study is to evaluate the response of water quality from the Head Spring to the seasonal changes in visitor numbers to the Park. Water quality parameters were continuously monitored and recorded by a SRWMD station using a YSI EXO2 and SUNA nitrate sensor: temperature, turbidity, pH, specific conductivity, dissolved oxygen content, and nitrates (NO2+NO3). Water quality data from April 2015 to September 2017 was reviewed and processed into max daily values that were compared to daily visitor counts. Results from the statistical analysis indicate there is a significant difference in turbidity from the Head Spring during the tubing season and outside the tubing season (Kruskal-Wallis, p < 0.001), which results from higher visitor counts during the weekends of the tubing season. However, due to inconsistency of water quality readings and equipment damage, some data were lost or outside the range of monitoring capabilities; which may have resulted in decreased correlation between water quality and daily visitor counts. Continued evaluation of water quality by continuous monitoring is warranted as it can assist the SRWMD and Ichetucknee Springs State Park Staff better monitor and evaluate the health of the Ichetucknee Springs System.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering
Civil Engineering; Water Resources Engineering
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Faraji, Sarah, "Ichetucknee Springs: Measuring the Effects of Visitors on Water Quality Parameters through Continuous Monitoring." (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5729.