Clam Bayou Habitat Restoration and Stormwater Treatment

This project restored natural coastal habitats and treats stormwater runoff to improve the water quality and natural systems of Clam Bayou.

Property Information

Clam Bayou is a 170-acre estuary in Pinellas County. It is surrounded by the cities of Gulfport to the west, St. Petersburg to the north and east, and Boca Ciega Bay to the south. Approximately 127 acres of Clam Bayou are publicly owned.

Project Background

Until the 1920s, Clam Bayou was relatively unaltered by human activities. Since then, urban development around the bayou has drastically altered the natural habitats and the hydrology of the system. 

In addition, urban areas around the bayou were developed prior to stormwater regulations. This has increased the amount of trash, sediments and pollutants entering the estuary. Lastly, cleared and/or filled shorelines and uplands have become dominated by nonnative plant species, further reducing the values of the habitats. 

Environmental projects for Clam Bayou began in 1995, when the District, the City of Gulfport and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection restored 10 acres near the Gulfport Marina. In 2001, another 10-acre project was completed in cooperation with the City of St. Petersburg. The final and largest project, which improved Clam Bayou's ecosystems and treats stormwater runoff amount seven sites and 44 acres, was completed in 2012.

Water Quality Benefits

  • Twenty acres of stormwater ponds were constructed to the improve water quality of runoff from a 2,600-acre watershed, which flows from Clam Bayou into Boca Ciega Bay and ultimately Tampa Bay.
  • The stormwater ponds filter the pollutants and improve water quality before it reaches Clam Bayou.
  • Following construction, the District removed a limited area of sediments to promote tidal flushing in the system.   

Natural Systems Benefits

  • Removal of trash/debris.
  • Removal of exotic/nuisance plants such as Brazilian pepper, Australian pine trees and Guinea grass.
  • Restored 24 acres of estuarine and coastal habitats in Clam Bayou, including tidal creeks that are important for fish.
  • Planted native species.
  • Worked with project partners and the public for volunteer marsh plantings.

Project Partners

The Clam Bayou project partners include the City of St. Petersburg, City of Gulfport, Tampa Bay Estuary Program and Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The project was funded by the Florida Surface Water Improvement and Management Program, Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and United States Environmental Protection Agency Section 319h of the Clean Water Act Grant.

Project Timeline 

Construction for the stormwater treatment and ecosystem restoration began in April 2010 and was completed in 2012.