Tampa Bay Seagrass Returning

The uptick in seagrass growth is occurring because of reduced nitrogen pollution into area waters.

Tampa Bay, Florida now has more seagrass than at any time since 1950. By implementing a variety of pollution-control projects, the Nitrogen Management Consortium -- a partnership of local and state agencies and key industries impacting the bay -- has reduced nitrogen loads to the bay by more than 100 tons from 2007-2011, and more than 500 tons since 1996. The collaborative approach used to reduce nitrogen pollution in Tampa Bay has been formally designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection as meeting new federal standards for water quality. This important milestone means that state and federal regulators agree that Tampa Bay's nutrient management strategy is sufficient to achieve the water quality targets they have established for the bay. "This is a great example of how local, state and federal entities can work together, with our public and private partners, to develop the strong technical basis needed for effective policies for clean waters and the aquatic resources that they support," said TBEP Executive Director Holly Greening. EPA released its Numeric Nutrient Criteria last month, adopting the standards developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to protect recreation and a healthy-well-balanced population of fish and wildlife. DEP had previously determined that the nitrogen management approach developed by TBEP and the Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium would address state water quality targets.