The Tampa Bay estuary faces major challenges: exploding population growth, demands for water, expansion at three major shipping ports, dredging, construction of a desalination plant and gas pipeline, and ships that transport 55 billion gallons of hazardous material each year.
The Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) was created in 1991 to help local science and resource management agencies cooperatively implement a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Tampa Bay. Partners asked the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to lead an effort to identify scientiﬁc information needed to understand the Bay and to improve resource management. The result was the Tampa Bay Study, a cross-discipline effort that could only be accomplished through partnerships.
Examples of Key PartnersGulf of Mexico Program, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Counties of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco, and Polk; Tampa Bay Water, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, City of Tampa, University of the South, Eckerd College, University of Louisiana, Wayne State University, Lewis Environmental Services, Inc., non-governmental organizations and others.
Results and AccomplishmentsThe Tampa Bay Estuary Program coordinates work needed to meet the objectives of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. The USGS is a TBEP member and coordinates organizations and participants working on the Tampa Bay Study. To complete the study, multidisciplinary teams of scientists work across and beyond their scientiﬁc ﬁelds. The study has led to new partnerships with private sector and local interests, and with universities outside of Florida. Partnerships have grown stronger as they discover ways to integrate their research.
Project scientists from the key organizations doing the study have provided data critical to understanding how past activities have affected the Bay, and critical to predicting future impacts of urbanization on wetlands, aquatic habitats, and water quality. Examples of their work include:
- Collected essential wetland data to improve wetland restoration decision-making in Tampa Bay Preserves.
- Quantiﬁed groundwater ﬂow to the Bay, using the data to modify the Tampa Bay water budget used by water resource managers.
- Used expertise and data sets from different agencies and the private sector to create web-accessible tools that help synthesize science information.
- Worked collaboratively to provide training to hundreds of scientists, resource managers, and to K- 12 and higher education teachers on how to use web-accessible tools.
- Worked cooperatively to develop a numerical integrated coastal model to predict bay-wide impacts of environmental disturbances.