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May 2018                                                                                                                                                   www.tbep.org
Bay Restoration and Research Grants Awarded

TBEP recently awarded nearly $900,000 for bay research and restoration projects through the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund (TBERF).
This year's Fund contributors are the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Florida Department of Transportation, Hillsborough County, Mosaic Company Foundation, City of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission and Tampa Electric Company.
Safety Harbor's Waterfront Park will be expanded and a Living Shoreline installed in the coming year. Photo courtesy of Safety Harbor Connect.

Twelve of the 29 proposals received were recommended for funding and approved by TBEP's Policy Board. They are:

  • Robinson Preserve Expansion-Winston Tract ($100,994) 
    Manatee County will remove nuisance exotic vegetation (Brazilian pepper; carrotwood; Australian pines)  and re-establish native plants on approximately 53.25 acres in the vicinity of Lower Tampa Bay.
  • Safety Harbor Living Shoreline and Spring Restoration ($78,500)
    The City of Safety Harbor will build upon the recently-completed Downtown Safety Harbor Waterfront Park Project. This phase expands the shoreline restoration effort to the south, removing a dilapidated seawall and replacing it with a living shoreline. Additionally, the outfall of an existing spring will be improved.  
  • Microplastics in Tampa Bay ($108,736)
    Eckerd College will continue to examine spatial and temporal trends of microplastics in Tampa Bay. Microplastic concentrations will be measured in surface waters (net tow and discrete water samples), sediments, wastewater treatment effluent, as well as within copepod (micrograzer) and manatee (macrograzer) guts.  
  • Bay Grasses in Classes Coastal Resilience ($60,000) 
    Tampa Bay Watch will  educate students about the potential impacts of climate change on coastal habitats through classroom and field experiences. Students will enhance the coastal resilience of vulnerable habitats by participating in local restoration projects. Juncus Roemerianus, or Black Needlerush, will also be incorporated into the on-campus nurseries to prepare for the high marsh and lower salinity needs of current restoration goals.    
  • Linking Pyrodinium Physiology and Behavior to Population Growth/Loss ($92,037)  
    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute will use high resolution sampling in Old Tampa Bay to quantify population growth rates, spatial/temporal variability, and vertical migration during blooms of the harmful alga, Pyrodinium. Empirical and conceptual growth and loss models, augmented by leveraged findings from lab experiments, will inform bloom management and mitigation strategies.                                        
  • Overcoming Bay Scallop Recruitment Limitations ($91,934)  
    The University of Florida will release scallop larvae at two high quality sites at varying densities to determine whether intensive larval release is a viable option for bay scallop
    Researchers will conduct a pilot study to asses whether releasing  scallop larvae in optimal habitats may help to accelerate scallop recovery in Tampa Bay. TBEP Photo.
    restoration in Tampa Bay. A control site will be monitored to determine background population status in the target region. Spat collectors will be used to quantify bay scallop recruitment and genetic parentage analysis will be used to reveal the contribution of restoration to the overall population.
  • WWTP Risk in High Precipitation Events for ($42,849)
    The University of South Florida will develop a risk model based on precipitation, storm surge, and water utility records to predict future probability of sanitary sewer overflows under accepted sea level rise scenarios.    
  • Tampa Bay Circulation Model ($76,104)
    The University of South Florida will further develop the Tampa Bay circulation model to help interpret ocean acidification variables, such as carbon dioxide, that vary across the water column due to influences by direct air-sea exchange and advection/diffusion.   
  • Monitoring of Restored and Natural Oyster Reefs in Tampa Bay (89,190)**                                                    This project will establish systematic monitoring for oyster restoration projects and natural reefs within Tampa Bay  and use information gained to help accelerate development of restored reefs through improved targeting of locations, timing, and appropriate materials. A new oyster restoration project at MacDill Air Force Base will also be installed, including before and after monitoring and comparison with a series of nearby well-established restoration projects. Project partners include FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Tampa Bay Watch, and TBEP.                                                                                     
  • Sunken Island Habitat Restoration for Waterbird Nesting ($80,300)**
    Audubon Florida will restore waterbird nesting habitat by removing invasive trees and planting native species at the Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary, one of Florida's most important bird colonies. Monocultures of non-native vegetation will be replaced with native tree species, increasing nesting habitat, and maintained for several years.                                                                  
  • Tampa Bay Living Shoreline Suitability Extension ($25,600)**
    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute will extend the application of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Living Shoreline Suitability Model to approximately 750 linear miles of shoreline within TBEP's boundary, extending from the western side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, northward through "The Narrows" of Indian Rocks Beach, southward to the Manatee Ave. bridge near Holmes Beach, and westward to the shoreward side of Egmont Key. Approximately 950 linear miles of Tampa Bay, stretching from the eastern side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (I-275) into Tampa Bay, Old Tampa Bay, Hillsborough Bay, and the associated tributaries have previously been mapped with this model application.
  • Connor Park  ($50,000)** 
    The City of Palmetto will install educational signage and a living shoreline on a 3-acre site along the north side of the Manatee River. The project will implement various low impact design techniques and feature an inverted living shoreline using reef balls.
**Grant to be administered by Restore America's Estuaries

Learn more about the Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund. 

TBEP Seeking Communications & Outreach Coordinator
Applications Due June 1 
TBEP is seeking qualified applicants for a full-time Communications & Outreach Coordinator position. The successful applicant will have demonstrated experience in science communication and synthesis utilizing a variety of traditional and newer mediums (e.g. print, video, internet-based formats). 

Primary responsibilities will include managing the organization's website, newsletter, and media presence (social and traditional) to meet programmatic goals and raise regional and national visibility. The position will also require the development and execution of marketing and communications strategies that promote the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, its activities, and build awareness and engagement for protecting and restoring the Tampa Bay estuary. 

Click here for more information about job duties and qualifications. 

Modeling a Brighter Future for Old Tampa Bay
Openings along causeway show promise for bay's perennial "Problem Child"

This animation shows Chlorophyll-a levels sampled in the bay from 2007-2017. Chlorophyll is an indicator of plant pigment (algae) in the water. Old Tampa exceeded chlorophyll-a targets more than any other bay segment.  SOURCE: TBEP, EPCHC
Creating openings in the western causeway approach to the Howard Frankland Bridge could improve water quality in Old Tampa Bay, according to a computer model developed as part of a comprehensive plan to rejuvenate this important bay segment. 

The model, developed for TBEP and the Southwest Florida Water Management District by Janicki Environmental, examines existing circulation patterns in the upper bay, and predicts changes that would occur if various management actions are taken. 

The models show that creating breaches on the Pinellas side of the Howard Frankland Bridge (by building a series of small bridges or culverts, for example) would enhance tidal flows in Old Tampa Bay. The infusions of cleaner, saltier water may reduce blooms of the nuisance algae Pyrodinium bahamense that occur there every summer.

The research is timely as the Florida Department of Transportation moves ahead with plans to replace the aging northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge. In fact, F DOT is currently working on similar modifications to the Courtney Campbell Causeway to improve tidal flushing in Old Tampa Bay. 
TBEP's Nitrogen Management Consortium is working to determine if physical changes to the causeway would also help diminish any nitrogen load impacts associated with anticipated growth in the watershed.

Seagrass recovery in Old Tampa Bay has lagged behind other bay areas, earning it a dubious distinction as "Tampa Bay's problem child." Among its water quality challenges are large algae blooms, fish kills, altered freshwater flows and a buildup of thick o rganic muck on the bay bottom near Oldsmar and Safety Harbor. Poor circulation and stagnant water are a major culprit.
Seasonal salinity distribution is among the factors incorporated in the Old Tampa Bay circulation model.

Improving Old Tampa Bay is a priority for TBEP and its local and regional partners. Several projects to better understand and improve ecological conditions there have been completed:
  • TBEP and the Southwest Florida Water Management District developed an integrated ecosystem model to determine potential management actions that could further enhance recovery in the upper bay.                   
  • The City of Clearwater is working to remove point source discharges to OTB as part of a larger groundwater replenishment project.              
  • The City of Safety Harbor recently completed a habitat restoration that provides additional stormwater polishing as part of a new waterfront park near downtown.                                                              
  • TBEP and FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute recently completed research to better understand the life history, distribution and factors contributing to blooms of Pyrodinium algae. A project underway now is testing the potential for filter-feeding oysters and bivalves to serve as a biological control for the algae.

Bragging About The Bay

TBEP staffers Maya Burke and Gary Raulerson were proud to show off regional bay improvement efforts recently to EPA representatives Felicia Burks and Nancy Laurson. The EPA duo visited Tampa Bay as part of a required 5-Year Review of the Estuary Program, which receives federal funding. Maya and Gary took them snorkeling in the bay for an up-close look at rare coral and limestone "hard bottom" habitats that are a special restoration focus, then to Lakeland to tour the  Se7en Wetlands, a 1,600-acre network of wetlands used to treat wastewater. Se7en Wetlands is connected to the Tampa Bay estuary via the Alafia River, and open for passive recreational use.

The EPA representatives also attended meetings of the Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium and the TBEP Community Advisory Committee and witnessed, firsthand, the partnerships being forged within the region.


Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium Recognized

TBEP and the Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium (TBNMC) were recognized in the Natural Environment category at the 26th Annual Future of the Region Awards for their work to remove Tampa Bay from the State's Impaired Water List for Total Nitrogen.  This determination reflects the many investments that have been made by the community and participants of the TBNMC to reduce nutrient pollution and restore the Tampa Bay estuary. 

The Future of the Region Awards event highlights projects and programs that exemplify regionalism, and recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions that benefit the regional community --  We're delighted to be an honoree!
Thank you, Volunteers!

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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.