As we move down the Hillsborough River into downtown Tampa, things begin to look different. You'll notice that the plants and trees we saw in the Green Swamp and upper Hillsborough have now been replaced by a concrete-lined channel, buildings and roads. This is because the lower part of the Hillsborough River Watershed is an urban watershed.
Waterways have always been important to people. People have settled next to waterways because they made living, traveling, trading and working easier. Often, these land uses along the river resulted in modifications. Even today there are many jobs in the area that depend upon the Hillsborough River and Tampa Bay. The river and bay are also used for recreation. Many people swim, boat, water ski, jet ski, fish, canoe and kayak in these waterways.
Unfortunately, so many water users also means more pollution. Stormwater runoff is rainfall that mixes with pollution. Pollution from factories, farms and businesses, oil and gas that runs off from roads and parking lots, and even the litter that irresponsible people sometimes throw out of car windows or off of boats are some of the problems that face the Hillsborough River Watershed. Combine these pollutants with the destruction of wetland habitats that filter out some of these contaminants and you could have a serious pollution problem. That's why the Southwest Florida Water Management District works with governments, businesses, farmers, schools, neighborhoods and other groups on restoration and cleanup projects. Restoration projects include replanting wetland habitats that were previously destroyed. Cleanup projects use volunteers to help pick up garbage that other people leave behind. Your school, church or family could organize its own cleanup event. Just pick a day, time, place and take along some garbage bags. Then, put the garbage you picked up in the right place - a garbage can or recycling bin. Cleanups are inexpensive and easy, and they help our watershed! It's even easier to dispose of litter properly in the first place. If everyone followed this rule, cleanups would be unnecessary.
Don't forget to see the virtual reality sequence (represented by the moving icon at the top of this page) before you move on to the next stop:
Southwest Florida Water Management District