February 21, 2007

Six projects in the Manasota Basin were awarded Community Education Grants from the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The Manasota Basin includes Manatee and Sarasota counties. The grants, which are up to $5,000 each, will help fund projects that provide communities the opportunity to learn about water resources.

This year the District awarded 49 grants Districtwide for a total of $171,444. This is the 10th year Community Education Grants have been available.

The overall goal of the Community Education Grant Program is to actively engage adults in water-related issues pertaining to conservation, protection and preservation. Funded by the District’s Basin Boards, the program is intended to motivate communities to get involved in water protection through various activities and educational formats.

Funding for the following five projects is provided by the Manasota Basin Board.

The City of Venice Engineering Department will receive $1,000 to mark stormwater inlets. The inlet markings will indicate that any trash dumped into the inlets will flow directly into a larger body of water and can potentially clog stormwater drains, causing neighborhood flooding, and will negatively affect water quality. Volunteers will mark the inlets and answer questions from passersby about the project. The goal of this project is to reduce the amount of trash dumped into the inlets and raise awareness of the stormwater system and the effects that everyday activities can have on the surrounding water bodies. This project will potentially reach 5,000 residents.

Healthy Gulf Coalition/NEST of Sarasota County will receive $4,834 to restore Gillespie Pond. The restoration project will involve community and school volunteers planting aquatic and shoreline trees to help minimize bank erosion and filter storm water that enters and exits the pond. The project will also improve wildlife habitat and teach the community about healthy ponds, watershed protection and Florida-friendly landscape practices. This project will reach 450 people.

The Pines of Sarasota, Inc. will receive $4,000 for the Healthy Waterways project.

The Pines of Sarasota is a residential community for low-income seniors. This project involves planting shoreline and aquatic plants in the community’s newly established stormwater management waterways. The plants will minimize erosion, improve water quality entering and exiting the site and enhance flood protection. Volunteers, staff members and children from the on-site childcare center will participate in the planting. This project will reach 500 residents and visitors to the center.

The St. Armands Residents Association will receive $4,253 for a water conservation project that will distribute water measurement/rain shutoff devices to all St. Armands residents who currently do not have them. The devices will automatically shut off irrigation systems during rainy periods. The goal of this project is to save water and increase resident awareness of the ongoing need for water conservation. This project will reach 253 residents.

The Manatee Technical Institute will receive $413 for a conservation project that will highlight low-flow fixtures installed at Manatee Technical Institute. The signs, which will illustrate the water savings gained by using the new devices, will teach students and campus visitors how everyday fixtures can save water and encourage them to install these fixtures in their homes. Approximately 20,000 people will be reached by this project.

The following project is funded by the Manasota Basin Board and the Peace River Basin Board, which includes portions of Charlotte, Hardee, DeSoto, Highlands, and Polk counties.

The Herald-Tribune Media Group will receive $2,500 for the “Newspapers In Education” (NIE) Program. Through two separate 16-page tabloids, the paper’s NIE program will teach students and subscribers about estuaries and wetlands. The tabloids will feature information on major wetlands and estuaries around the world and then compare them to local estuaries and wetlands. The project will reach
200,000 people in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties, with the goal of showing them how to get involved in protecting and preserving wetlands and estuaries.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s 2008 Community Education Grant Program will begin its application process in June of this year if funding is approved by the Basin Boards. To be added to the mailing list to receive the 2008 application, call the District’s Communications Department at 1-800-423-1476 or (352) 796-7211, ext. 4757.

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