Tampa Bay Water to Fund Community Programs to Protect Drinking Water Sources - Tampa Bay Water News Releases

Tampa Bay Water to Fund Community Programs to Protect Drinking Water Sources

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News Release

For Immediate Release

Six organizations receive $58,900 in grants and sponsorships

Clearwater, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2020) – Tampa Bay Water will distribute $58,900 in grant and sponsorship funds to help Tampa Bay area non-profits and schools protect the region’s sources of drinking water. The utility is partnering with the Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation, Glazer Children’s Museum, Keep Pinellas Beautiful, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Pasco County Schools and Pinellas County Schools on projects that educate families and students through exhibits, lesson plans and environmental education programs.

“We’re partnering with organizations that share our commitment to protect and conserve our water resources,” said Michelle Stom, chief communications officer for Tampa Bay Water. “These programs not only help protect our drinking water and environment; they are also a great public service to families throughout Tampa Bay.”

Tampa Bay Water will fund four organizations through its Source Water Protection Mini-grant program and two organizations through sponsorships.

The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation will use $5,500 in grant funding to replace educational signs around its Aquatic Demonstration Area in the Florida Botanical Gardens located in Pinellas County. The signs include educational information on how storm water runoff, swales and berms, watersheds, retention ponds and pollutants can affect our environment and drinking water sources. The original signs were installed through a partnership between the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Pinellas County more than 15 years ago.

Keep Pinellas Beautiful will use $10,000 in grant funding to re-envision its education and outreach efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic through its “Crafting a Resilient Environmental Education Program in a COVID World” program. It will create new, flexible, scalable programming to ensure a wider variety of ways to participate, including small-group and virtual learning.

Keep Pinellas Beautiful’s Environmental Education Program includes K-12 educational curriculum on watershed health, water quality, source water health and habitat improvement. For 2021, Keep Pinellas Beautiful will be broadening its reach within the community by creating four umbrella categories – virtual education, experiential learning, grassroots efforts, and its ambassador program and youth outreach.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful will use $10,000 in grant funding to create a distance learning video production room as part of its Environmental Education Program to support education initiatives and presentations to school groups and community groups. This project helps Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful adapt to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The distance learning video production facility will be in its Environmental Education Center where it can continue its programming through virtual learning with pre-recorded lessons and live streams. This provides opportunities for Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful to reach more students, including virtual school students.

Pinellas County Schools will use $3,400 in grant funding to create a Florida-friendly Pollinator Garden at the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg focusing on water conservation and minimal pesticide use. The garden will be coupled with the city of St. Petersburg’s Rain Barrel Education and Composting programs. The garden will contain educational programming to more than 4,000 students each school year in addition to more than 80,000 park visitors. Students and park patrons will have access to environmental education programming to help them understand the correlation between pesticide use and the use of native plants and how this helps to protect our water resources.

Pasco County School District will use a $20,000 sponsorship to fund its environmental education program. The school district has an agreement with Pinellas County to use the Cross Bar Ranch Education Center for in-field instruction for environmental education students. Students in the 7th grade Watershed Ambassador’s Program use the Cross Bar Ranch site to support water resource education. The program runs from September to June of each school year.

Pandemic-related restrictions required the school district to adapt and mobilize the program to continue. Funding from Tampa Bay Water goes to equipment and supplies, transportation costs, and environmental program resource teacher salary costs. This year, all students will continue to study water and will receive learning opportunities through the H2O Science project that includes conducting water quality tests using water samples collected from various sources at Cross Bar and Starkey Park. This data will allow students to make informed decisions about the necessity of maintaining pristine areas to guarantee the viability of our water supplies.

The Glazer Children’s Museum will use a $10,000 sponsorship for its Source Water Protection for Families project. The Wild Kratts®: Creature Power! exhibit, coming to Glazer Children’s Museum in January through May 2021, focuses on cultivating STEM skills in children ages 3 to 9, and invites families to explore animal habitats from around the world, discover incredible creature powers, and go on adventures. Guests will have the opportunity to explore different animal habitats including those located within local neighborhoods.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Source Water Protection for Families project will feature daily programming with education about Florida’s diverse animal habitats, the importance of water to their existence, and their interconnectedness. As a feature within the curriculum, source water protection programming focused on conservation, preservation, and protection will be provided daily for families in the family play project area. The programming will be a strong unifying thread across the museum's digital platforms - Zigazoo, Canvas, Facebook, GCM@Home and Twitter. Additionally, the museum will create a digital field trip experience that takes place in the Wild Kratts® exhibit as well as in key parts of the educational exhibits, including Water’s Journey. This experience will focus on educating students about the importance of protecting and maintaining our drinking water sources and will be shared with local schools.

About the Source Water Protection Mini-grant Program

Tampa Bay Water’s Source Water Protection Mini-grant program is an important component of the utility’s outreach and education efforts for source water protection. A major line of defense in protecting drinking water sources is public awareness and support. Non-profit groups, schools and community groups are eligible to apply for mini grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. Funds for these activities are approved by the Tampa Bay Water’s Board of Directors each year through its budget. Eligible projects must relate to protecting regional drinking water supplies such as education programs, workshops, exhibits, school activities, awareness campaigns and river cleanups.

About Tampa Bay Water

Tampa Bay Water is the largest wholesale water supplier in Florida, providing high-quality drinking water to its members, who in turn, supply water to more than 2.5 million residents of the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay Water’s member governments include Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties and the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa. To learn more, visit tampabaywater.org.