Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program

Your Questions Answered

November 2022

Q: What is the SWIM Program?
A: The Surface Water Improvement and Management or SWIM Program evaluates priority water bodies, identifies issues and drivers, and implements projects to improve water quality and habitat. In 1987, the Florida Legislature established the SWIM Act to protect, maintain, and restore Florida's surface water bodies. The Act required the five water management districts to identify and select a list of priority water bodies of statewide significance within their boundaries and develop programs to improve them. With the help of state agencies, local governments and other organizations, the SWIM Program focuses on water quality and natural systems restoration projects to accomplish these initiatives.

Q: What are the District’s priority water bodies?
A: Currently, the District’s 12 SWIM priority water bodies include: Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Weeki Wachee River, Chassahowitzka River, Homosassa River, Rainbow River, Crystal River/Kings Bay, Lake Panasoffkee, Lake Tarpon, Lake Thonotosassa and the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes. The list of priority water bodies is updated every five years. The last update was approved in 2020.

Q: What type of improvements does the public see from SWIM projects?
A: SWIM projects focus on reducing the pollution in stormwater runoff by reducing excess nutrients and other pollutants which affect water quality. The District and its partners have implemented projects which have provided water quality treatment of more than 230,725 acres of watershed. SWIM projects also restore degraded or disturbed natural systems, enhance existing habitats, and promote the preservation of natural habitats. Since 1987, the SWIM Program has restored more than 15,596 acres of freshwater, estuarine and upland habitat.

Q: How many restoration projects has the District completed?
A: Over the last 35 years, the SWIM Program has completed 384 natural systems restoration and water quality improvement projects, resulting in more than 15,596 acres of restored natural systems. The SWIM Program has received 65 environmental excellence awards for outstanding projects that protect water resources and restore natural systems.

Q: Who does the District collaborate with to complete SWIM projects?
A: Partners include the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership, various federal and state agencies, local governments, and other organizations such as Tampa Bay Watch. These partnerships and the continued support by the Governing Board have been key to the success of the SWIM Program.

Q: How can I learn more about the SWIM Program?
A: More information on the SWIM Program, including information on each priority water body and its corresponding SWIM Plan, is available at

Vivianna Bendixson
SWIM Program Manager