Improving Sarasota Bay

Much progress has been made to restore Sarasota Bay since it was designated an "estuary of national significance" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1987.

That same year, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program was formed and remains very active today. It is one of three cooperative partnerships along Florida’s Gulf Coast that includes local communities, researchers and government agencies all focused on improving the health of the region’s bays and estuaries, including Sarasota Bay. The other two programs are the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and the Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is a public agency in all or part of 16 counties in west-central and southwest Florida. The District has spent more than 30 years working to improve Sarasota Bay through its Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program. As directed by state statue, the District identifies a list of SWIM priority water bodies within its authority and develops and implements comprehensive plans known as SWIM plans to conserve and manage them.

SWIM projects help improve and preserve natural habitats that are necessary for so many species, like this snook.

The District designated Sarasota Bay a SWIM priority water body in 1995, and through cooperation with other agencies, has implemented many projects to improve the bay’s water quality and natural systems. SWIM projects focus on reducing the pollution in stormwater runoff by reducing excess nutrients and other pollutants which affect water quality. SWIM projects also restore degraded or destroyed natural systems, enhance existing habitats, and promote the preservation of natural habitats.

Our journey through the watershed continues south at the Oscar Scherer State Park