Sawgrass Lake Restoration Project

This project removed contaminants in Sawgrass Lake, improving its water quality.  

Property Information

  • Sawgrass Lake Boardwalk
    Sawgrass Lake Park is located just southwest of the intersection of Gandy Boulevard and I-275 in Pinellas County.
  • The property is owned by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) and managed by Pinellas County.
  • The lake and the wetland system on the property provide flood protection and natural water treatment to enhance the quality of water draining into Tampa Bay.

Project Background

  • A study conducted in the late 1990s showed that the land on the west side of Sawgrass Lake contained elevated levels of lead and arsenic.
  • This is a result of shooting from a nearby gun range that, by law, was allowed to have spent lead shot fall on a portion of the District’s land.
  • Cleanup activities were put on hold during litigation between the District and the Skyway Trap and Skeet Club.
  • Several years of litigation resulted in a settlement agreement between the District and the Skyway Trap and Skeet Club and new state legislation in April 2004, directing “Best Management Practices” and improved environmental controls for gun clubs.
  • Under the terms of the agreement, the District removed lead shot and other contaminants from areas within the Sawgrass Lake Park Water Management Area.
  • The Skyway Trap and Skeet Club will be responsible for cleaning up its property and creating a shot barrier. Club members are also shooting with steel shot instead of lead shot until the project is completed.

Project Details

  • Contaminated materials cleanup and restoration construction began in February 2011 and was completed in Spring 2015.
  • As part of the project, the District:
    • Removed spent lead shot and contaminants from the system.
    • Cleared contaminated vegetation and managed it according to state regulations.
    • Dredged a portion of Sawgrass Lake and removed sediments.
  • Water quality monitoring was conducted quarterly for the first year following project completion. Sampling was performed in June 2015, September 2015, December 2015 and March 2016.
  • This project was permitted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • This project was paid for by the District’s Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board. The Board budgeted more than $25 million for this project, which includes $1 million from state appropriations through the Ecosystems Trust Fund for Tampa Bay and $455,000 from a Florida Department of Environmental Protection 319(h) grant.

Water Quality Benefits

  • Sawgrass Lake sidewalk along canal
    Contaminated materials were recycled, remediated and removed in accordance with state regulations, improving the water quality onsite.
  • This project helps to improve the overall health of Tampa Bay. 

Health and Safety

  • There is no risk of lead contamination to nearby residents or to park visitors.
  • Drinking water was not affected by the contamination and will not be affected by the restoration project.
  • The Skyway Trap & Skeet Club will create a shot barrier to ensure that future lead contamination does not occur at Sawgrass Lake Park.
  • The animals of Sawgrass Lake Park were not harmed.