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Monday, May 05, 2008

On the River: Studying the St. Johns like Never Before

Published 5/2/2008
If thirsty Central Florida starts taking a bigger gulp out of the St. Johns River, it won't make the river more shallow here. What it will do is allow more seawater from the ocean to back up into the St. Johns.

So scientists are studying out how much seawater the river can take before it breaks.

Over the years, the water management district has studied this river intensively, committing more than $1 billion to the effort, according to the agency's figures. But they've done it with more of a monthly or a yearly timeframe.

Now, scientists are getting out to these study zones every single week, so they can figure out what happens to the vital sea grass. Each spring and summer until the study's finished in late 2009, teams like this will visit this study site near Mandarin and another area near the Shands Bridge every week.

The researchers will then compare changes they spot in the grasses and algae with changes they see in the salt levels of the water, which is measured at nearby bridges.

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