An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

TBEP announces Tampa Bay water quality test results

Bay Managers Continue to Observe Concerning Trends in Old Tampa Bay

  • The Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) reports on water quality annually to improve management of the bay;
  • Summertime algae blooms were again observed in Old Tampa Bay;
  • Data collection was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in missing data for the months of April and May; and,
  • Water quality in all other bay segments remained favorable for seagrass growth, a key indicator of the bay’s health.

For the sixth consecutive year, Old Tampa Bay has exceeded chlorophyll-a targets. Chlorophyll-a is a measure of microscopic algae in the water column that can contribute to shading and die-offs of seagrasses, a key indicator of water quality health. Bay managers have linked elevated chlorophyll-a levels to a harmful algal bloom of Pyrodinium bahamense. The summertime recurrence of this alga comes despite numerous investments by local partners to reduce nitrogen pollution.

Pyrodinium has puzzled those charged with protecting and restoring Tampa Bay for at least a decade, because it has not responded to traditional pollution control measures and favors the Old Tampa Bay segment. Cary Lopez, Assistant Research Scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and her team have been conducting research to help bay managers understand what actions can be taken to reduce the severity of blooms in the future. Lopez describes the complex factors driving blooms as “the balance of cellular growth and cellular loss...too much growth, you’re going to have a build up of biomass that results in higher chlorophyll in Old Tampa Bay.” Her research has inspired bay managers to look at ways oysters and clams may be used to increase cellular loss through filter feeding.

The COVID-19 pandemic also caused challenges for bay managers in 2020. Scientists were unable to collect field measurements during the months of April and May, when water clarity is typically better. As a result, the yearly water quality scorecard prepared by the TBEP presents water quality trends without data from those months.

The scorecard (link below) shows that all other areas of Tampa Bay had sufficient water clarity to allow sunlight to penetrate to the bay bottom and support the growth of underwater seagrasses. Improving water quality throughout the bay has has been a hallmark achievement of the TBEP, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. TBEP and its partners are committed to additional work in Old Tampa Bay to get this portion of Tampa Bay back on track.

FBI issues cybersecurity outline for water treatment plants

ST. ALBANS, VERMONT — A four-page joint advisory from the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the EPA and Multi-State Center for Internet Security has been circulated among Vermont officials outlining how to avoid cyberattacks.

The document comes two weeks after a cyberattack on a drinking water system that serves 15,000 people outside of Tampa, Florida, was infiltrated. The attackers attempted to increase the amount of lye from 100 parts to 11,000 parts per million.

The document recommends following “Cyber Hygiene” and recommends steps such as keeping software up-to-date, implementing “independent cyber-physical safety systems,” and using randomized alphanumeric passwords, the St. Albans Messenger reported.

Florida celebrates sea level rise planning tool after years ‘behind the curve’

A recent law requires builders to think about climate change for some publicly funded projects.

One year after the Florida Legislature passed a bill considered its first direct confrontation of climate change in years, the state is moving closer to making the policy’s promises a reality.

The Department of Environmental Protection is crafting a rule that will lay out a standard for considering sea level rise before starting construction on some publicly funded projects along the coast. It is supposed to take effect July 1, and agency officials said this week they aim to hone a draft version by April 1.

“The whole idea is to raise the floor, and the floor on planning was absolutely nothing,” said José Javier Rodríguez, a former state senator from Miami who pushed the original legislation.

Department of Environmental Protection secretary Noah Valenstein said in a meeting last month that the measure will mark the first time Florida sends “a uniform signal across the state of what sea level rise projections should be used over what time periods.”

The rule will require Sea Level Impact Projection (or SLIP) studies to be finished before builders break ground on projects that receive state funding and fall in specific areas especially vulnerable to flooding near the shore. It will cover structures like houses, parking garages, piers, water treatment plants and bridges, but not smaller items like gazebos and beach walkovers, or seawalls and breakwaters meant to combat erosion.

Longboat Key leaders set to decide on how to handle sewage break penalties

Longboat Key leaders are set to hold another private meeting this month to discuss how to address the repercussions from the town’s June 2020 mainland sewage line break and spill of millions of gallons of effluent.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection seeks $188,382 in civil penalties and costs from the town, though that figure has been reduced from the initial proposal of $242,652.50.

“I don’t think there’s any one specific reason that I could give you,” Town Manager Tom Harmer said about the state's reduction. “It’s just been part of our back and forth with the state.”

Harmer said the lawyers on both sides have negotiated the language of the proposed consent order. He also mentioned the formula the FDEP uses to determine penalties, based on the size of the spill. FDEP initially estimated the spill at 17 million gallons, though a town-hired consultant delivered a report estimating the spill, which took place about 400 feet from the shores of Sarasota Bay between June 17-30, at 14.7 million.

Longboat Key town commissioners can also choose to offset the penalty by implementing an in-kind environmental project worth at least $281,073, subject to FDEP approval.

McIntosh Park upgrades will have stormwater benefits too

McIntosh Park is officially getting two miles of trails as well as a wildlife viewing observation tower.

The park, which lies on 363 acres at 775 East Knights Griffin Road, has long been a passive recreational park. The goal is to transform it into a facility that both highlights the beauty of nature and offers unique experiences for those who attend. Approximately 120 acres of the park have been used as stormwater treatment from the City of Plant City’s canal system via an agreement with SWFWMD.

It opened to the public in 2015 and had rudimentary trails cut into the grass at the site. Over the past month, massive changes have furthered the immense upgrade to the land. The current construction all lies under Phase 1 of the project. Trail paths have been cleared at the site and a surface material will be applied to make it more convenient to walkers. The city is building two miles of trails as well as an observation tower at the property.

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The city wants McIntosh to become a method of developing an integrated water management solution for the community. It essentially will act as stormwater treatment, which will balance the water supply via a natural habitat preserve. The city aims to expand the wetlands on the property and improve the hydrology of the area so “the stormwater that is routed offline in the southeastern corner will be treated and reduce 3,000 pounds of nitrogen and 1,500 pounds of phosphorus from the Hillsborough River,” according to the city.

Seawall enhancement approved for Phillippe Park seawall

A grant agreement with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation supports the Philippe Park seawall enhancement project through the National Coastal Resilience Fund.

The grant provides funding of $130,000 from NRWF and NCRF with a matching contribution of $196,000 from the county. Total cost is $326,000.

The county’s match includes $144,000 in cash from an existing agreement with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, $9,000 in capital funding and $43,000 in in-kind services from Public Works.

The project’s focus is baseline water quality and wave energy monitoring, site assessment and preliminary design of about 2,850 linear feet of seawall enhancement/living shoreline options at Philippe Park.

Commissioner Karen Seel asked for information about the living shoreline. Kelli Levy, Public Works director, said the seawall enhancement would depend on an analysis of its condition. She said some areas were in need of repair; however, the seawall is nonexistent on the south end.

She said one of the options was to build mini T-groins to increase the sand and stop erosion. They would be built incorporating natural materials such as limestone or shells.

She said a small community seawall had been constructed in Ozona using the same principle.

“It’s really neat,” she said.

Red Tide is present in southwest Florida again

From the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

Current Conditions

The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, persists in Southwest Florida. Over the past week, K. brevis was detected in 34 samples. Bloom concentrations (>100,000 cells/liter) were observed in seven samples from Lee and Collier counties. Recent satellite imagery (2/15; NOAA, USF) indicates the presence of chlorophyll patches along and/or offshore of Lee, Collier, and Monroe counties. One Northwest Florida sample had background levels of K. brevis. Additional details are provided below.

  • In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at very low concentrations in Sarasota County (in one sample), background to very low concentrations in Charlotte County (in four samples), background to medium concentrations in Lee County (in 17 samples), and very low to medium concentrations in and offshore of Collier County (in 11 samples).
  • Samples from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Monroe counties did not contain red tide.

Fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were reported over the past week in Southwest Florida in Lee County; a fish kill was also reported in Collier County. For more details, please visit: https://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/health/fish-kills-hotline.

Respiratory irritation was reported over the past week in Southwest Florida in Lee County. For current conditions, please visit: https://visitbeaches.org.

Forecasts by the USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides for Pinellas to northern Monroe counties predict net northern transport of surface waters and minimal net movement of subsurface waters in most areas over the next four days.

Good times roll for outdoor exploring at Camp Bayou

Habitat restoration, expanded hours worthy of celebrating

It may not be New Orleans, but locals longing for Bayou Country this week of Mardi Gras can venture to Hillsborough County's Camp Bayou Nature Preserve & Outdoor Learning Center.

The 160-acre site along the Little Manatee River was acquired under the Jan K. Platt Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP) in 1990. It is part of a system of connected conservation lands, including Little Manatee River State Park, that protect habitat along the banks of the Little Manatee River.

Don't let the name fool you: There's no camping at Camp Bayou, but it's a great place to spend a day paddling, bird watching, hiking, and enjoying nature.

Here's what's new with Camp Bayou:

  • The former location at the end of 24th Street that provided river access daily for kayak and canoe launching is now closed for habitat restoration.
  • The addition of on-site County staff Monday through Wednesday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the expansion of nature center hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, means the kayak and canoe launch inside the nature center compound is now open seven days a week so visitors can continue to enjoy daily river access.
  • In addition to habitat restoration, the County's Conservation & Environmental Lands Management staff will conduct land management activities such as invasive plant removal.

Other highlights of Camp Bayou worthy of exploring are the Outdoor Learning Center and Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum.

The Outdoor Learning Center:

  • Offers a variety of field trip and nature education programs, including a monthly guided paddle on the Little Manatee River.
  • Is operated by volunteers and supported by local donors.
  • Has a wonderful collection of natural history materials and many native artifacts.
  • Volunteers are knowledgeable about the natural and human history of the area.

The Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum:

Provides an amazing glimpse into Florida's long-ago past through a collection of more than 20,000 fossils uncovered from the Leisey Shell Pit in Ruskin.Specimens include mastodon, saber-toothed cat, bear, giant crocodile, and many more, some of which lived almost 2 million years ago in a very different Florida.

Florida DEP to communities: Please assess your sea-level rise risk

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says local governments need to know their risk for sea-level rise. Some agencies are already making their own projections. The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact estimates by 2040; seas will rise in some South Florida communities by more than three feet.

"We've been challenged with issues of sea-level rise for more than a decade. It's just been a very hot topic the last 15 or so years," says Jennifer Jurado. She's Broward County's Chief Resiliency Officer and represented the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact during a meeting today with lawmakers.

Randy Deshazo is Director of Planning and Research at the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. He says the area has seen 8 inches of sea-level rise since 1946.

"The projections that we are using assume sea-level rise about 2.5 feet by 2045 up to 3.5 feet by 2060; this puts a lot of our critical infrastructure under threat," Deshazo says.

Noah Valenstein heads the state's Department of Environmental Protection. He says the governor's proposed Resilient Florida Program earmarks funds to help address those concerns.

Intruder hacked Oldsmar water system

Authorities say a cyber intruder tried to poison Oldsmar’s water supply last week.

An investigation is underway into a cyberattack on the city of Oldsmar’s water supply.

The attack happened on Friday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

Twice, an intruder logged into a computer at Oldsmar’s water treatment plant. An employee noticed the first log-in around 8 a.m., but did not think it was unusual because city staff have remote access to the system.

Gualtieri said the second breach, which took place around 1:30 p.m., was more noticeable because an employee could see the mouse pointer move on the computer screen.

“The person remotely accessed the system for about three to five minutes, opening various functions on the screen,” Gualtieri said at a press conference Monday. “One of the functions opened by the person hacking into the system was one that controls the amount of sodium hydroxide in the water.”

Investigators are trying to determine who broke into the computer system of the city of Oldsmar's water treatment plant.

Also known as lye, the chemical is used in tiny amounts to remove metals and improve the water’s pH balance. Gualtieri said the intruder raised the level from 100 parts per million to 11,000 parts per million.

A water plant operator noticed the increase and reversed it as soon as it happened. Gualtieri and Oldsmar mayor Eric Seidel said there was no danger to the water supply because the employee acted quickly.

“Even had they not caught them, there's redundancies that have alarms in the system that would have caught the change in the pH level anyhow,” Seidel said.

Gualtieri said the FBI and U.S. Secret Service are part of the investigation.

“Right now, we do not have a suspect identified, but we do have leads that we are following,” he said. “We don't know right now whether the breach originated from within the United States or outside the country.”

Oldsmar joins a list of Florida cities that have suffered serious cyberattacks. In 2019, Riveria Beach paid a $600,000 ransom after hackers disabled its computer systems for three weeks. The same year, Lake City paid $480,000 to end a cyberattack.

Manatee County invites public input to proposed impact fee changes

Manatee County is looking for public input over the next month for a new set of proposed impact fees, a one-time charge the County imposes on new development to pay costs of providing public services to the new development.

Manatee County collects impact fees to pay for new roads (multimodal transportation), parks and natural resources, law enforcement and public safety equipment and libraries. Impact fees are restricted to funding growth-related capital improvements and may not be used for replacing infrastructure, maintenance, or operations.

A draft copy of the Manatee County Impact Fee Update Study can be viewed at www.mymanatee.org/impactfees The County's current impact fee schedule and the study those fees are based on from 2015 can also be found on the impact fee website.

The Florida Impact Fee Act and Manatee County’s Land Development Code require the county impact fee administrator to recommend whether any changes should be made to the Impact Fee Schedule. The Impact Fees Act also requires that impact fees be "based on the most recent and localized data and to be legally defensible, impact fees must be supported by studies and analysis that meet the standards of the case law and the Florida Impact Fee Act."

A Manatee County consultant recently completed a local impact fee study documenting the data and formulas used to calculate a new set of proposed impact fees.

"As part of the update study process, we are offering the public an opportunity to review the results of the technical study, provide feedback, and ask questions," said Nicole Knapp, Manatee County Impact Fee Administrator.

Manatee County will hold an online public comment period from Feb. 5 through March 8. After the public comment period, the proposed impact fee schedule will be discussed by both the Planning Commission and County Commission later this spring.

Public comment or questions can be sent emailed to Nicole.knapp@mymanatee.org or sent to Nicole Knapp, Impact Fee Administrator, PO Box 1000, Bradenton, FL 34206 or call her at (941) 748-4501, ext. 7824.

Governor: More than $5.7M coming to Tampa Bay area for storm, disaster preparedness

A total of $75 million will be awarded to communities and counties throughout the state.

TALLAHASSEE — More than $5.7 million will be coming to the Tampa Bay area from the state to help local governments and communities better prepare for future storms and potential natural disasters, the governor's office announced Wednesday.

A total of $75 million will be distributed to 30 communities across Florida through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Rebuild Florida Critical Facility Hardening Program, the governor's office said.

The DEO program "allows local governments to increase the resiliency of critical facilities that serve a public safety purpose for local communities," according to the governor's office.

Tampa Bay area grants include:

  • Hillsborough County ($1,029,000) – harden the roof, all doors and windows, and install an emergency back-up generator at the Hillsborough County All People’s Life Center.
  • Pasco County ($57,521) – install new hurricane shutters at the Pasco County Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter.
  • Polk County ($1,060,000) – replace the roof of a special needs shelter and mitigate against future storms at the Polk County Specialty Care Clinic.
  • City of New Port Richey ($572,005) – replace the roof, windows, doors, generator, HVAC, and EIFS system at the city of New Port Richey’s Fire Station 1.
  • City of Winter Haven ($778,800) – replace the roof, windows, and doors at the city of Winter Haven’s Fire Station 2.

SWFWMD scheduling prescribed fires in Hillsborough County

Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s wildfire emergency in 2017.

That’s why the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through March on the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area (LHFDA) in Hillsborough County.

The LHFDA is located south of Cross Creek Boulevard between U.S. Highway 301 and Morris Bridge Road near Thonotosassa. Approximately 150 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Reducing overgrown plants, which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
  • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants.
  • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat.
  • Maintaining access for public recreation.

The District conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year.

Click here to see aerial footage from a prescribed fire in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve where District land management staff burned 320 acres.

SWFWMD scheduling prescribed fires in Pasco County

Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s wildfire emergency in 2017.

That’s why the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through March at the following Pasco County properties:

  • Cypress Creek Preserve
  • Conner Preserve
  • Starkey Wilderness Preserve
  • Upper Hillsborough Preserve
  • Weekiwachee Preserve

Cypress Creek Preserve is located east of Ehren Cutoff and south of State Road 52. Approximately 115 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Conner Preserve is located west of Ehren Cutoff and south of State Road 52.

Approximately 500 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Starkey Wilderness Preserve is located east of New Port Richey, west of the Suncoast Parkway, north of State Road 54 and south of State Road 52. Approximately 800 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Upper Hillsborough Preserve is located south of the County Road 54 and east of Chancey Road in Zephyrhills. Approximately 320 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Weekiwachee Preserve is located north of Hudson, west of U.S. Highway 19 and includes the Aripeka Sandhills tract. Approximately 25 acres will be burned in small, manageable units. Some trails may be temporarily closed during prescribed burn events.

Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Reducing overgrown plants, which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
  • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants.
  • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat.
  • Maintaining access for public recreation.

The District conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year.

Click here to see aerial footage from a prescribed fire in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve where District land management staff burned 320 acres.

Investments in wastewater treatment help protect water quality in Manatee County

By Darcy Young, Director of Planning and Communications, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program

Direct permitted wastewater discharges to Sarasota Bay ceased several years ago, but maintaining this no-discharge status – and keeping up with a rapidly growing population – requires local utility departments to make regular investments in wastewater infrastructure. Manatee County Utilities Department’s (MCUD) Southwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility (SWRWRF) is one of the largest treatment plants in the Sarasota Bay watershed, processing about 13.3 million gallons of wastewater per day. As a water reclamation facility, SWRWRF stores the treated wastewater effluent, or reclaimed water, after processing. MCUD then distributes the water to reclaimed water customers, including residential developments, golf courses, schools, farms, and others that use the water for irrigation. Reclaimed water infrastructure reduces pressure on stressed potable water sources by substituting “recycled” water for uses like irrigation that don’t require drinking water quality. In some areas of the United States, lawn irrigation accounts for 30 to 50 percent of all drinking water use, so this is no small problem.

However, reclaimed water use comes with challenges. Regional wastewater treatment plants differ in their capacity to remove nutrients from effluent. Depending on each plant’s treatment level, nutrient levels in the effluent can vary significantly. Reclaimed water customers are mostly unaware of the nutrient levels in the reclaimed water they use for irrigation. This often leads them to unnecessarily add fertilizer to their landscapes, not knowing that reclaimed water is already enriched with nutrients. This unwitting practice raises the likelihood of excess nutrients entering stormwater conveyances and groundwater. Through these pathways, reclaimed water may exacerbate poor water quality conditions and lead to algae blooms in surface waters like Sarasota Bay. A $24.9 million upgrade to the SWRWRF in early 2017 improved the plant’s ability to remove nitrogen from effluent by more than 40%. Today, total nitrogen levels in the plant’s effluent average less than 8 milligrams per liter. By upgrading the plant’s ability to remove nitrogen, Manatee County reduced the amount of nitrogen that reclaimed water customers applies to their landscapes. Ongoing efforts to educate reclaimed water customers about nutrient levels in the reclaimed supply should further reduce nutrient inputs to surface waters. An innovative pilot project in Lakewood Ranch to reduce nutrients in reclaimed water before delivery to customers is also promising.

Storage capacity is the second major challenge that reclaimed water use poses to surface water quality. In the wet season, there is less demand for reclaimed water as irrigation needs decrease. Yet wastewater still needs to be treated, and utilities must find something to do with it. Under Florida statute, utilities discharging to specific waterbodies in southwest Florida must ensure that the effluent contains an average of less than 3 milligrams of nitrogen per liter and less than 1 milligram per liter of phosphorus. This regulation ensures that wastewater discharges do not add excessive nutrients to protected waterbodies such as Sarasota Bay. In order to avoid discharging treated wastewater that does not meet this standard, wastewater plants must either store their reclaimed water or dispose of it. Water reclamation facilities like SWRWRF have large lakes that store reclaimed water before delivering it to customers. The entire MCUD system has 1.2 billion gallons of capacity for reclaimed water storage.

When storage capacity is reached, usually during the wet season when there is little demand for irrigation, utilities must dispose of the water. In southwest Florida, the most common way to dispose of excess reclaimed water is to inject it underground. The key is to have enough disposal capacity. Without enough disposal capacity, utilities run the risk of discharging to surface waters during wet weather, which may constitute a violation of state statute. In early 2018, MCUD completed construction of a Class V recharge well at the SWRWRF that increased MCUD’s overall disposal capacity by 15 million gallons per day. This well and other recently-completed wells across the MCUD system have eliminated surface water discharges that are attributable to inadequate storage and disposal capacity.

These recent investments in the SWRWRF ensure reclaimed water availability, reduce the impact of reclaimed water use, and improve MCUD’s ability to avoid wastewater discharges. These actions are consistent with managing nutrient load impacts to Sarasota Bay as outlined in SBEP’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. Continued investment in wastewater treatment, storage, and disposal will help protect Sarasota Bay’s natural resources and water quality into the future.

Congress moves to invest in the nation’s estuaries   

Reauthorizes the National Estuary Program to recover and grow coastal economic economies and ensure resilient coastal communities

ST. PETERSBURG – Congress reaffirmed its support and strong commitment to the National Estuary Program a time tested, non-regulatory program that enables communities to restore and protect the bays and estuaries they call home. The Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) is one of 28 “estuaries of national significance” along every coast that will benefit directly from legislation approved by Congress. It was strongly supported by Senators Rubio and Scott and most of Florida’s House delegation including Representatives Bilirakis, Buchanan, Castor, Crist and Steube from the Tampa Bay region.

The Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act, with strong bipartisan support and unanimous approval from the Senate, was signed into law on January 13, 2021. The Act reaffirms support for the work of the National Estuary Program, and nearly doubles the annual funding limit to $50 million. Under the new law, each NEP could receive as much as $1 million each year. The TBEP works with our communities at the local level to protect the coastal resources essential for tourism, commerce, storm protection, clean water and marine-based food supply such as fisheries and aquaculture. Increasing threats from pollution, harmful algal blooms, accelerating land loss, and risks to biodiversity threaten the vitality of estuaries across the country, and are a growing concern.

“These actions demonstrate a clear recognition by Congress of the economic and environmental value of our nation’s estuaries and coasts,” said Lexie Bell, Chair of the national nonprofit Association of National Estuary Programs, established in 1995 to bring the National Estuary Programs together for collaboration and shared learning.

Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the original sponsor of the bill introduced in July 2019 said, “Estuaries nurture a vast array of marine life, filter pollutants from rivers before they reach the sea, and are the natural infrastructure that protects human communities from floods and storms. As extreme weather events increasingly threaten these nurseries of the sea, I’m very proud this important legislation was signed into law, so these critical waterways will continue to be protected.”

Senators Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Cassidy of Louisiana, and Carper of Delaware were instrumental in securing passage of the bill, and are long time champions of estuaries and coastal protection.

“In addition to funding innovative research, restoration, and community-based grant opportunities, the National Estuary Program ensures that the management plans governing nationally significant estuaries consider the effects of a changing climate and continuing coastal development. Thereby, enabling the development and implementation of appropriate adaptation strategies for the future benefit of Tampa Bay,” said Ed Sherwood, TBEP Executive Director. “We are greatly appreciative of the strong support from our Senators and Representatives for the important work being done in our estuaries through our program and in collaboration with many public and private partners across all sectors in the region,” said Sherwood.

Last year, with input from its many public and private sector partners, the TBEP updated the Tampa Bay watershed habitat management plan.