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October-November 2016                                                                                                                                         www.tbep.org
Impacts of Sewer, Stormwater Discharges on Bay Seagrasses and 
Water Quality Will Take Time to Assess

The long-term effects of recent significant wastewater and stormwater overflows into the bay may not be known for months, or even longer. The Tampa Bay Estuary Program recognizes the potential impacts of these discharges, and greatly appreciates the concerns expressed by people all over the region who understand how important Tampa Bay 
is to our quality of life.

"People care deeply about the health of the bay, and know its value as a centerpiece of our economy and environment," TBEP Director Holly Greening said. "The bay has made remarkable progress over the last 30 years because governments, industries, scientists and citizens have come together for the good of the bay. We remain confident that the Tampa Bay community can keep bay restoration moving forward through a collaborative approach."

Tampa Bay has experienced major sewer overflows in the past  when torrential downpours have exceeded 
the capacity of municipal and industrial sewer and stormwater systems. Similar emergency discharges occurred during the El Nino winter of 1998-1999, and 
the summer of 2004 when several tropical storms affected the area. Widespread stormwater flooding and sewer overflows occurred last August from heavy rains, followed by a wet winter and another very rainy summer this year. 

Tropical Storm Hermine's arrival on Sept. 1 compounded and magnified 
the problems, dumping as much as 22 inches of rain on parts of Pinellas County in a 72-hour period. 

Last year, TBEP was proud to join the region last year in celebrating the record recovery of 40,295 acres of seagrass in Tampa Bay, the most seagrass observed in 60 years. Tampa Bay's overall good health and abundance of seagrass better positions it to absorb excess nutrients from wastewater and stormwater. The bay has proven to be resilient, although algae blooms and resulting seagrass losses are possible, and vigilance is needed to maintain the bay's recovery. 

As we head into winter and waters cool, the risk of widespread, severe algae blooms will decrease somewhat. And cleansing tides each day continue to help the bay flush pollutants. 

TBEP will know more about water quality in various bay segments early next year, when staff from the Environmental Protection Commission assess water clarity results from their 2016 monthly sampling.  EPC samples 45 locations in the bay for a variety of parameters, including dissolved oxygen, turbidity and microscopic algae. TBEP analyzes and reports the data as an annual water quality "report card."
Blenny in turtle grass.

The results of seagrass surveys also won't be known until next year, when the Southwest Florida Water Management District releases its analysis of digital aerial photos taken last winter. Those aerials will not pick up impacts to seagrasses that may have occurred this summer, but they will show whether, and where, seagrasses have declined, increased or held steady since the record-setting gains of 2012-2014. 

Meanwhile, TBEP partners continue to work on updating the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Tampa Bay. The Plan is updated once a decade and guides regional research, restoration and education priorities for the watershed.

Two actions already approved earlier this year by our Policy Board have particular relevance now in assisting the region in preventing sewer overflows and assessing the public health risks associated with them: 

WQ-5 Reduce the Occurrence of Sanitary Sewer Overflows to the Bay
  • Encourages and supports the replacement or repair of sanitary sewer infrastructure owned by                            utilities and private property owners. 
  • Supports efforts to reduce groundwater and stormwater inflow and infiltration to sanitary sewer systems. 
  • Supports local government capacity to gain grant funding for needed Capital Improvement Projects.  
  • Promotes improved communication, coordination and cooperation among regional utilities, and between       utilities and the public.
  • Supports public education and outreach about best practices for proper use and maintenance of sanitary       sewer infrastructure attached to residences and businesses.

PH-2 Continue Source and Risk Assessments of Human and Environmental Health Indicators Suitable for Tampa Bay Beaches and Other Recreational Waters

  • Support and monitor research into microbial indicators of waterborne pathogens harmful to human and environmental health.  
  • Support and monitor advancements in analytical techniques to directly detect, identify and track waterborne microbial pathogens. 
  • Support adoption of best available detection, identification and source tracking methodologies.  
  • Increase public education and awareness about waterborne fecal pathogens, beach advisories, and best practices to reduce exposure. 

These and other actions in our Plan update can be found at  https://www.tbeptech.org/  

Your comments and feedback are welcome in advance of final adoption of the entire Plan early next year.

A healthy Tampa Bay generates $22 billion worth of economic activity and is linked to one in every five jobs in the watershed. With your help, the bay can weather this setback and continue the remarkable recovery that so many of us have experienced and enjoyed first-hand, as anglers, paddlers, wildlife-watchers, sailors or simply fans of the bay's spectacular sunsets.


Florida Birding and Nature Festival Swoops In: Don't Miss The Fun!

We are proud to be a sponsor of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival, coming to south Hillsborough County 
October 13-16. The 3-day festival features a variety of workshops, presentations and small-group field trips to some 
o f the best wildlife-viewing sites in West Central Florida. The Festival's base will be Hillsborough Community College's South Shore Campus in Ruskin.

The Festival coincides with peak migration in Central Florida, when 180 bird species can be found in our region. 

Registration is just $75 for the entire festival, or $40 for one day.  K ids under 12 get in free to all festival activities with a paid adult registration. Fees for field trips and evening keynotes are additional.

Among the activities:
  • Engaging presentations on nature photography, landscaping for wildlife, plant and animal ID and conservation initiatives.
  • FREE and fabulous special programming for kids on Saturday, October 15 
  • Field trips to prime birding, wildflower and wildlife viewing locations throughout the bay watershed. Most field trips cost $20, with a few boat trips in the $40-$45 range.
  • A nature expo with artwork and unique gifts for wildlife lovers.
Three special evening events are planned. The $25 donation for these includes dinner.

Thursday, October 13
An opening night panel, "Stewards of the Land: A History of Florida's Largest Local Government
Environmental Lands Program," features visionaries who helped establish Hillsborough's popular Environmental
Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP). Former Gov. Bob Martinez and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Jan Platt are among the distinguished panelists.

Friday, October 14
David H. Johnson, Director of the Global Owl Project (GLOW) will speak about this worldwide project to advance knowledge and conservation of the world's owls.

Saturday, October 15
Renowned photographer and conservationist Carlton Ward will share his powerful images and vision for protecting
and connecting wildlife corridors in Florida.

More info and online registration is at http://www.floridabirdingandnaturefestival.org/  

Ceremony Honors Partners and Recipients of Restoration Fund 

An innovative public-private grant partnership was honored last week for providing more than $1.4 million in grants since 2015 for important restoration, applied research and education projects in the Tampa Bay watershed.
Sponsors and recipients of the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund (TBERF) were recognized in a special ceremony at FWC's Suncoast Youth Conservation Center in Apollo Beach. 
Nearly $725,000 in grants was awarded this year to nine recipients. Among those are stormwater treatment improvements at Eagle Lake Park in Pinellas; restoration of rare high salt marsh habitats at MacDill Air Force Base; and sampling of bay waters for microplastics by Eckerd College faculty and students.

Last year, seven agencies and organizations received $675,000 in grants for projects that restored more than 100 acres of coastal upland habitat, 200 acres of seagrass, and created 9,420 feet of oyster reefs. 

TBERF is managed jointly by the Estuary Program and Restore America's Estuaries (RAE), who have pledged to work together to recruit financial donors and achieve measurable conservation outcomes from the funded projects.
Sponsors of the 2016 Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund include the Southwest Florida Water Management District; The Mosaic Company Foundation; Florida Department of Transportation; Hillsborough County; Pinellas County; US Fish and Wildlife Service; Tampa Electric Company; and Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County.
For more information about the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund, visit https://www.estuaries.org/tampa-bay-environmental-restoration-fund

Partners, sponsors and recipients of 2016-2016 TBERF grants

Love Tampa Bay Logo
#LoveTampaBay Premieres: 
Get Ready to Share The Love
TBEP's new social sharing campaign to promote the beauty and value of Tampa Bay is set to launch the weekend of October 15-16.

#LoveTampaBay seeks to inspire each of us to DO MORE to protect the bay that sustains and unites our region, LEARN MORE about how we depend upon a healthy bay, and SHARE THE LOVE with others by uploading photos showing how the bay matters to us.

Digital postcards of special people and places in Tampa Bay, collected in themes of Home, Jobs, Art, Science and Community, will be featured on lovetampabay.org (going live on October 15).  The postcards can be shared on multiple social media platforms -- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and email.

Best of all, you can upload and share your own Tampa Bay postcards, directly from your cellphones!

Volunteers Give Back to The Bay for National Estuaries Week 
O ur annual volunteer workday season began last weekend, with two workdays that involved some 90 volunteers in
two different locations. The special double-dose of estuary lovin' was in honor of National Estuaries Week.
About 60 volunteers planted hundreds of native plants a round a newly-constructed pond in the Robinson Preserve near Bradenton.  After their hard work, the volunteers enjoyed estuary food treats from the Chiles Group, included BBQ Gulf shrimp, grilled oysters and mullet tacos with purslane slaw-in addition to delicious sandwiches. 

And about 27 volunteers removed highly invasive caesarweed and air potato plants at Moccasin Lake Nature Park in Clearwater. They also helped with renovation of the aviary that houses injured wild birds used for education. These volunteers also were treated to lunch after their labors.

Thank you, volunteers, for a job well done!

Our next workday is November 12 at Rock Ponds restoration site in southern Hillsborough. Sign up with misty@tbep.org.                                            

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About the Tampa Bay Estuary Program


The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is an intergovernmental partnership dedicated to restoring and protecting Tampa Bay, Florida's largest open-water estuary. TBEP is one of 28 "Estuaries of National Significance" designated by Congress.


Our Policy Board is comprised of representatives from Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties; the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater; the Southwest Florida Water Management District; the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.