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Water-Related News

One year after Piney Point, researchers assess its impact

In April 2021, over 215 million gallons of phosphate mining water and marine dredge water, rich in algae-driving nitrogen, were released into lower Tampa Bay from the Piney Point facility. Led by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, a group of scientists and managers immediately began to monitor the ecological impacts of the discharges. One year later, the Tampa Bay Times interviewed experts, including SBEP Executive Director Dr. David Tomasko, about the lingering impacts of the Piney Point event. Read the article here.

A new peer-reviewed paper in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin details researchers' findings. Lead authors with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program along with co-authors representing the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, New College of Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program describe diatom blooms and high levels of cyanobacteria and the red tide organism Karenia brevis in the impacted area in the months following the discharge. While the Piney Point facility is located in the lower Tampa Bay watershed, SBEP and colleagues observed ecological impacts as far south as upper Sarasota Bay.

In addition to documenting impacts, researchers from University of Florida are also looking to trace nutrient signatures from Piney Point to identify possible connections between the discharges and the variety of algae blooms that plagued Tampa and Sarasota Bays in 2021.

Read the open-access article in Marine Pollution Bulletin online or download the PDF from our website.

Read the April 8, 2022 Tampa Bay Times article "What we know about Piney Point’s impact on Tampa Bay" online or download the PDF from our website.