Restoration of Roberts Bay Shows Partnership Works
By Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water
On a beautiful, sunny Florida day last week, I visited Roberts Bay near Sarasota and saw several stormwater and wastewater treatment projects that have restored the bay’s health. It’s remarkable what the Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program has accomplished with a staff of five people. The keys were innovation, partnership and public support for the effort.
Many partners joined the tour, including state and local officials, environmental groups and even engineers that designed the projects. Clearly, they were very proud of their accomplishments and the end result of reducing the nutrient pollution entering Roberts Bay so successfully that it was removed from Florida’s impaired waters list in less than 10 years.
A wide variety of approaches were used to restore Roberts Bay. We went to see several of these innovations. The Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility is now crowded with birdlife and birdwatchers. The Honore Avenue low-impact development project used traffic circles to expand capacity on an existing road while also adding stormwater treatment on-site, calming traffic and beautifying the neighborhood. Unlike a traditional road widening project, it’s expected that the Honore Avenue project will help retain, if not increase, the value of homes along the road.