In the last 30 years, there have been many efforts toward improving the wetlands of Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, there has been detrimental loss to the sea grass since 1982. With the loss of sea grass, the shoreline is altered and food is decreasing for wildlife. The major contributor to this problem is the influx of Nitrogen. Indeed nitrogen is necessary for wetlands, but too much equates to an overgrowth of algae and of course a lowering of vital sea grass. Holly Greening, the Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program was the featured speaking in today’s Sustainability Task Force meeting at the Chamber. She spoke about the vast efforts towards sustaining the improvements that have been made to preserving our lands.
The Tampa Bay Estuary program was founded in 1990 and its main goal is to restore sea grass acreage. Holly explains that there are approximately 500 different restorative programs in action. One of these actions is that applicators of fertilizers that carry nitrogen must be certified. There is also a ban on buying these nitrogen-enriched fertilizers in the rainy summer months of June-September. This is done to limit the amount of nitrogen pollution from storm water runoff. There is a $5.5 billion CWA civil penalty from the BP oil spill that “must be used wisely and focus on protecting our resources,” said Holly.
Fortunately, Tampa Bay has met its 2015 restoration of sea grass goal. There still needs to be more effort ahead in maintaining these improvements. A healthy bay leads this area to become an economic powerhouse. A clean bay contributes an impressive 13% or $22 billion of the total economic activity in the six counties in the bay’s watershed—Pasco, Polk, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota. In addition, one in five jobs in the inner watershed are due to the fact that we have a healthy bay. Bay front locations have a tendency to demand premium prices, and
Waterfront property is 2.2-2.8 times that of non-waterfront. A healthy bay will only continue to create economic strength in this area.