Caution

2 out of 3 indicators were rated as PASS.

All three indicators must pass for the bay to be rated as PASS.

Learn more about how this report is created

Summary:

The overall health of Little Sarasota Bay in 2017 was good and changed little from the previous year. The annual mean concentration of chlorophyll increased slightly, while nitrogen concentration decreased; they retained their 2016 ratings of "Caution" and "Good", respectively. Phosphorus concentration was slightly higher, but it still fell well below the desired target value.

Water Quality: The ratings for chlorophyll a, nitrogen, and phosphorus remained unchanged from 2016. Chlorophyll a concentration increased to 0.015 mg/l, remaining above the threshold of 0.0104 mg/l. The mean nitrogen concentration decreased slightly, to 0.565 mg/l, exceeding the target concentration of 0.52 mg/l but remaining below the threshold of 0.60 mg/l. While phosphorus concentration increased to 0.1076 mg/l, that value is  well below the target of 0.180 mg/l. The mean for chlorophyll a was calculated as an arithmetic mean and the means for nitrogen and phosphorus were calculated as geometric means (per the Numeric Nutrient Criteria outlined in the Florida Administrative Code, section 62-302.532).

Biotic Indicator: Measurement of the biotic indicator, seagrass, was performed in 2016 by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Total seagrass acreage in Little Sarasota Bay decreased from 999 acres to 872 acres, remaining above the target level of 702 acres.

Little Sarasota Bay

Little Sarasota Bay

Water Chemistry Ratings

Total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and chlorophyll a levels are monitored carefully by water resource managers and used by regulatory authorities to determine whether a bay meets the water quality standards mandated by the Clean Water Act. The trend graphs for these indicators are shown below, along with their target and threshold values. A target value is a desirable goal to be attained, while a threshold is an undesirable level which is to be avoided. An individual indicator receives an "Excellent" rating if its mean value is below the target, a "Good" rating if its mean value is above the target but does not exceed the threshold, and a "Caution" rating if the mean value exceeds the threshold. Learn More about these ratings and how they are calculated »

The Five-year Rolling Average Graphs below illustrate the general trend of water quality parameters. They show a six-month running average, which moderates high and low values in the data.

Chart Legend
  • Trend Line
  • Annual Mean
  • Target
  • Threshold
Caution

Chlorophyll a

Score: Caution How was this determined?
Units: mg/l Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 0.097 0.097
Mean 0.015 0.008 0.00803342 0.0082000000
Low 0.000 0.000
No. of Samples 74 2698

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean
Good

Nitrogen, Total

Units: mg/l Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 1.465 1.465
Mean 0.565 0.482 0.17929653 0.5200000000
Low 0.265 0.055
No. of Samples 74 1508

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean
Excellent

Phosphorus, Total

Score: Excellent How was this determined?
Units: mg/l Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 0.250 0.699
Mean 0.114 0.130 0.07526311 0.1800000000
Low 0.050 0.050
No. of Samples 98 1571

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Dissolved Oxygen

Units: mg/l Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 9.00 11.60
Mean 6.92 6.59 1.1558
Low 4.60 2.80
No. of Samples 72 1650

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Apparent Color

Units: PCU Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 160.00 190.00
Mean 31.57 25.48 20.36744
Low 3.00 3.00
No. of Samples 92 1565

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

BOD, Biochemical oxygen demand

Units: mg/l Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 5.90 6.50
Mean 2.12 1.74 0.96949
Low 0.50 0.50
No. of Samples 92 1418

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Dissolved oxygen saturation

Units: percent (%) Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 131.00 167.00
Mean 100.91 95.49 14.54626
Low 76.00 45.00
No. of Samples 96 1674

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Karenia brevis ("red tide")

Units: #/l Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 103000.00 2603000.00
Mean 4671.64 28555.69 168426.5976
Low 0.00 0.00
No. of Samples 67 835

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Light Attenuation

Units: K(1/m) Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 4.14 4.14
Mean 1.17 1.01 0.47066
Low 0.20 0.08
No. of Samples 72 1432

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Nitrogen, Ammonia + Ammonium as N

Units: ug/l Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 59.00 246.00
Mean 8.85 16.24 20.90899
Low 5.00 5.00
No. of Samples 92 1537

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Nitrogen, Kjeldahl

Units: ug/l Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 1460.00 1460.00
Mean 602.55 513.17 185.00393
Low 260.00 0.05
No. of Samples 98 1571

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Nitrogen, Nitrite + Nitrate as N

Units: ug/l Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 12.00 536.00
Mean 5.45 8.98 30.00019
Low 5.00 5.00
No. of Samples 98 2128

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

pH

Units: None Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 8.30 8.50
Mean 7.94 7.96 0.17315
Low 7.70 6.20
No. of Samples 96 1674

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Salinity

Units: PSS Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 35.90 39.50
Mean 28.59 30.50 4.94167
Low 12.30 7.30
No. of Samples 72 1650

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Specific conductance

Units: umho Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 54100.00 59030.00
Mean 43148.96 46690.91 6919.09145
Low 20600.00 12670.00
No. of Samples 96 1674

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Temperature, water

Units: deg F Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 91.76 92.12
Mean 80.33 77.18 8.84163
Low 70.52 47.48
No. of Samples 90 1607

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Turbidity

Units: NTU Year
2017
Historical
period of record
High 11.00 18.00
Mean 3.68 3.93 2.02021
Low 1.40 0.60
No. of Samples 74 1547

Five-year Rolling Average

  • Annual Mean

Other Measures of Bay Health

In addition to nutrient levels and chlorophyll concentration, dissolved oxygen levels, and water clarity are also objective indicators of bay health. These have complex interactive cycles which are affected by rainfall, temperature, and tidal action, as well as other factors. High nutrient levels (nitrogen and phosphorus) can stimulate excessive growth of marine algae (indicated by chlorophyll a level), resulting in reduced water clarity (and increased light attenuation) and depleted oxygen levels. Both plants and animals in a bay need oxygen to survive, and the seagrasses which provide food and cover for bay creatures need light for photosynthesis.

Bay Contour Maps (2017)

Contour mapping is one of the best ways to visualize spatial differences in coastal water quality. The interactive map shown below presents monthly data for one selected water quality indicator atop an aerial view of the bay. Choose a different water quality parameter from the list at the top to change the map. Learn More about Water Quality Contour Mapping »

Showing 2017 Monthly Contour Maps for: January
Loading interactive contour map viewer...
Contour Visibility:

Visit the Water Quality Contour Mapping Tool to view and compare monthly water quality contour maps for ten different water quality indicators. In addition, you can generate your own custom maps.

Contour Legend:

  • Less than 1 mg/l
  • 1.0 - 5.9 mg/l
  • 6.0 - 10.9 mg/l
  • 11.0 - 17.9 mg/l
  • Greater than 18 mg/l

Seagrasses

Among the most important habitats in Florida's estuarine environments, seagrass beds are indispensable for the role they play in cycling nutrients, supplying food for wildlife, stabilizing sediments, and providing habitat for juvenile and adult finfish and shellfish. Use the interactive map below to observe the size, density and location of seagrass beds from year to year. The graph shows how the total amount of seagrass in the bay has changed over time.
Learn More about Seagrasses »

Showing Seagrass Coverage for :
Loading interactive seagrass coverage viewer...
Loading interactive chart...
  • Target 702 acres

Visit our Seagrass page to discover the beauty and importance of seagrass habitats, and sign up to help monitor their health.

Impervious Features

Little Sarasota Bay is located within the Little Sarasota Bay Watershed. View details about the Little Sarasota Bay Watershed »

Rain that falls on land that is in a natural state is absorbed and filtered by soils and vegetation as it makes it way into underground aquifers. However, in developed areas, "impervious surfaces" impede this process and contribute to polluted urban runoff entering surface waters. These surfaces include human infrastructure like roads, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots that are covered by impenetrable materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick and stone, as well as buildings and other permanent structures. Soils that have been disturbed and compacted by urban development are often impervious as well. Learn more about Impervious Features »

The Sarasota County Stormwater Environmental Utility (SEU) mapped impervious surfaces in the County in 2014. A map showing impervious surfaces can be viewed using the interactive Sarasota NPDES Viewer.

14% of the land area within the Little Sarasota Bay Watershed is covered by impervious surfaces

Impervious Surface Coverage by Type

Land Use / Land Cover

Land use within a bay's watershed has a major effect on its water quality. In general, less development means better water quality. Land Cover/Land Use classifications categorize land in terms of its observed physical surface characteristics (upland or wetland, e.g.), and also reflect the types of activity that are taking place on it (agriculture, urban/built-up, utilities, etc.). Florida uses as its standard a set of statewide classifications which were developed by the Florida Department of Transportation. Learn More about Land Use and Land Cover »

Little Sarasota Bay is located within the Little Sarasota Bay Watershed. The chart below shows the land use / land cover characteristics for Little Sarasota Bay Watershed within the boundary of this Water Atlas. View details about the Little Sarasota Bay Watershed »

Acreage and Percentage within each Land Use / Land Cover Category for Little Sarasota Bay Watershed
Land Use Classification 1990 2005 2014 Trend
Urban & Built-up 8,94331.9% 11,83442.2% 12,16243.3%
Agriculture 3,55012.6% 3,22811.5% 4,22315%
Rangeland 8252.9% 1,8226.5% 5792.1%
Upland Forests 7,09825.3% 3,06610.9% 2,7259.7%
Water 3,42912.2% 4,12314.7% 4,17514.9%
Wetlands 3,49012.4% 3,13311.2% 3,22711.5%
Barren Land 620.2% 180.1% 200.1%
Transportation and Utilities 6752.4% 8413% 9523.4%
Land Use Chart

Data Sources

The data sources listed below provided water quality data used to create the report on this page. Not all data sources provided data for every bay, and not every Bay Conditions Report used data from all listed data sources. While some data sources have no data for the scored year, they provided period-of-record (historical high, mean, low) data. Click on a data source name to review its metadata.