Tampa Bay Water to Fund Community Programs to Protect Drinking Water Sources
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Five organizations receive $30,100 in grants

CLEARWATER, Fla. (Dec. 13, 2021) – Tampa Bay Water will distribute $30,100 in grant funds to help Tampa Bay area nonprofits protect the region’s sources of drinking water. The utility is partnering with the Coffeepot Bayou Watershed Alliance, Ecosphere Restoration Institute, Keep Pasco Beautiful, Tampa Reforestation and Environmental Efforts and The Florida Aquarium on projects that protect and restore sensitive waterways, and educate families, students and residents through environmental education programs.

"Safe drinking water starts at the source but we cannot do this work alone," said Michelle Stom, Tampa Bay Water’s chief communications officer. "Partnering with organizations that share common environmental goals reaches more people and helps to ensure that we have clean, safe water supplies for generations to come."

Tampa Bay Water will fund five organizations through its Source Water Protection Mini-grant program.

Coffeepot Bayou Watershed Alliance will use $3,500 in grant funding to host quarterly volunteer cleanups and invasive plant removals through its Ramon Creek Invasive Plant Removal and Restoration Project. Ramon Creek, located in Pinellas County, accumulates stormwater runoff from surrounding neighborhoods and upstream communities. Through the removal of invasive vegetation, and the introduction of native species, the project will restore the habitat’s natural mechanisms for water filtration and nutrient cycling before entering Tampa Bay. The cleanups and restoration activities will be performed in collaboration with neighborhood community groups and residents.

Ecosphere Restoration Institute will use $7,200 in grant funding to restore a local spring and create a living shoreline. The Purity Spring Restoration and Living Shoreline Project aims to enlarge the spring pool, add submerged aquatic grasses, and plant emergent wetland grass along the water’s edge to remove nutrients and improve water quality prior to entering Hillsborough River. The living shoreline will stabilize the riverbank and reduce sedimentation. The project team will collaborate with the Sulfur Springs Neighborhood Group to coordinate outreach and education activities. Plant installations will be performed by neighborhood community groups and residents.

Keep Pasco Beautifulwill use $10,000 in grant funding to develop its Fertilizer Education and Outreach Program in Pasco County. When it rains, excess nitrogen and phosphorus found in fertilizers ends up in the stormwater systems and water bodies. Keep Pasco Beautiful will work together with the Pasco County government to create outreach strategies to increase the awareness of the Pasco County ordinance which regulates the application of fertilizer. Outreach efforts will include newsletters, workshops, water bill inserts, social media and advertising. The program will provide internship opportunities to students from the University of South Florida and information will be incorporated into existing programming and cleanups.

Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort will use $2,000 in grant funding to implement its Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Plant City Campus Wetland and Stormwater Enhancement Program. The grant will fund the removal of invasive plants, and installation of wetland plants to improve the water quality of the Park Road Outfall and decrease runoff pollutants into the Hillsborough River. Educational signage will be installed at the remediated site to create a living classroom. The outdoor classroom will be used by HCC students and faculty and the greater Plant City community, including the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida Plant City Troop and several elementary and middle schools.

The Florida Aquarium will use $7,400 in grant funding to develop and facilitate train-the-trainer workshops for educators. From Drops to Drink: Protecting Tampa Bay’s Drinking Water workshops will provide opportunities for educators to interact with inquiry-based activities that can be used with students and other audiences they teach. Activities will support important watershed and drinking water source concepts for students and teachers alike. The project’s main goal is to provide water education outreach to the broader Tampa Bay community through educators and their students. With a target of 40 teachers, the program will reach approximately 800 students annually and will be designed for easy replication and use for many years to come.

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 environmental 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.