DEP Develops Restoration Plan For Manatee and Alafia River Basins

On March 14, 2014, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection adopted restoration plans for the Alafia and Manatee River Basins.The restoration plans, also called Basin Management Action Plans, are designed to reduce nutrients – both nitrogen and phosphorus – and control fecal coliform bacteria that would otherwise enter the river systems and Tampa Bay.

The Alafia River Basin covers an area of more than 410 square miles in Hillsborough and Polk Counties. The Manatee River drains an area of 360 square miles, flowing 45 miles westward before discharging to lower Tampa Bay. Lake Manatee provides potable water to Manatee County and the Bill Evers Reservoir on the Braden River supplies the City of Bradenton.

These restoration plans implement water quality restoration goals adopted by DEP in 2005 and 2009 and dovetail with and support the Tampa Bay Reasonable Assurance Plan prepared by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

“The restoration plans for these basins are examples of the collaborative effort required to achieve restoration of the impaired waters of our state,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “With the support of the estuary program and local stakeholders, progess is being made, but we must remain committed to completing the job.”

The Alafia River Basin restoration plan identifies 78 restoration projects totaling more than $170 million. The projects include land acquisition, wetland restoration, stormwater management, street sweeping, industrial process improvement, public education and agricultural best management practices.

“The health of Tampa Bay is very much linked to the health of the major river systems that flow to the bay. We are pleased to have facilitated this important planning process to bring together industries, local governments, scientists and citizens who share a common concern for the future of Tampa Bay,” said Holly Greening, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

The total cost of the 62 water quality restoration projects in the Manatee River Basin restoration plan is approximately $50 million.The projects include improvements to stormwater management, central sewer hook-ups, ordinances, land acquisition and restoration, public education and agricultural best management practices.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will work with agricultural producers in the area to institute best management practices that will assist with nutrient load reductions.

Information on all completed restoration plans for waterbodies throughout the state, as well as those currently under development can be found here.

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