Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Uses Mini-Grants for Community Education Program

CLEARWATER, Fla. – More than 70 percent of litter in the Tampa Bay Area will end up in our water supply. This statistic prompted Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Community Education Liaison, Patricia DePlasco, to take an active role in protecting the Tampa Bay region’s water sources. Through Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Patricia is on a mission to make a difference by teaching community members about ways they can help protect their drinking water supply.

“We at Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful believe that early involvement is vital to building a generation of environmentally responsible citizens,” said Patricia. “Through our environmental education programs we encourage our youth to become lifelong stewards of our environment.”

In 2011, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful was awarded a $5,000 mini-grant from Tampa Bay Water, the region’s drinking water utility, to help fund their environmental education program. The grant allowed Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful to reach out to schools and teach students about environmental stewardship. The environmental education program’s goal is to educate residents and volunteers about the impacts of stormwater runoff on the Hillsborough River Watershed, Alafia River Watershed and Tampa Bay/Anclote River Watershed.

Each year, Tampa Bay Water’s Source Water Protection Mini Grant Program offers $20,000 to help fund projects and events sponsored by local community groups, non-profit groups, schools and universities that help promote protection of the region’s drinking water sources.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful wanted to inspire area residents to take active roles in protecting the regional water supply. Their project focused on teaching individuals ways to positively impact water basins. Project topics covered litter and its impact on the environment, water and natural resource conservation, and general watershed information.

“Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful’s project has all the elements of a great source water protection program,” said Ivana Blankenship, Senior Environmental Planner at Tampa Bay Water. “This is exactly the type of project we want to fund.”

The mini-grant funded the creation of educational materials to use in presentations and outreach activities, and also funded an environmental conference for 300 high school students last March.

The educational materials included custom activity handbooks that were used as an added resource to students attending the environmental education presentations. Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful also created educational posters and bumper stickers that were distributed to residents to assist with source water protection education.

With the financial support from Tampa Bay Water, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful reached more than 30,000 residents and participated in more than 100 presentations/outreach events during the 2012 fiscal year.

Other contributors to Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Environmental Education Program were Hillsborough County Schools, the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County Department of Public Works, the Tampa Bay Estuary and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

“Protecting the regional drinking water supply is not just a task for utilities and regulators," said Ivana. “The Source Water Protection Mini-Grant Program was developed to help residents be a part of the process too.”

Tampa Bay Water’s mini-grants are available for 2013 and the last day to apply is October 31, 2012 by 5:00 p.m.

For more information on grant details, information regarding eligible projects and to get your application started, visit tampabaywater.org/source-water-protection or call Ivana Blankenship at 727-796-2355.

About Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Inc. (KTBB), a Keep America Beautiful Affiliate, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide environmental education and volunteer opportunities that develop individual responsibility and environmental stewardship. Since 1989, KTBB has formed partnerships with local governments, corporations, schools, and neighborhood organizations to engage individuals and provide opportunities to enhance the community through volunteer participation. To get involved with KTBB, call (813) 221-8733 or visit KeepTampaBayBeautiful.org.

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 2.3 million residents of the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay Water member governments include the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa, and the counties of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas. tampabaywater.org.