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Ensuring broad access to clean water is key to a healthy, thriving community. The Institute of Water and Environment’s Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC)  has been monitoring and improving water quality in the Florida Keys and across South Florida since 1995 through the Center’s Water Quality Monitoring Network (WQMN).

Most recently, Dr. Henry Briceño was awarded a grant of $425,000 to continue this effort into 2020. Over the last 25 years the Network has included sampling from Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay, Ten Thousand Islands, the Florida Keys and even Bermuda. 

“This monitoring requires quite the team-work,” says Briceño when asked about the process of sampling. 

All materials must be meticulously organized and labeled by senior laboratory technician, Sandro Stumpf and Marine Operations Technician, Breege Boyer before any of the 112 stations are sampled in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The water samples are then handed off to Pete Lorenzo – lab manager –  and his technicians at the CAChE Nutrient Analysis Core Facility for examination. Finally, the data is ready for Boyer and Briceño to examine and evaluate. 

In the newest installment of the project, Alejandro Torres, a CREST CAChE Computer Science student, and Dr. Leonardo Bobadilla are working to develop a water quality forecasting model for the Florida Keys using the existing Water Quality database.

This $425,000 grant is part of a now more than $1.7 million project funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for the last three years, and allows the team of scientists to continue the decades-long project to help keep our Florida waters healthy for years to come. 

Written By: Emma Odenweller