March 22 is identified internationally as World Water Day, and the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners signified the importance of the day and the county’s year-round commitment to water quality with a local proclamation during their March 21 meeting.
Water resources are vital for quality of life, environmental stability, and a flourishing economy. Sarasota County works diligently to implement programs that provide ample clean and safe water through all the county’s departments, including Public Utilities, Public Works, and Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, as well as the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and Sustainability (UF/IFAS), and community partners.
Sarasota County's Public Works department continually updates watershed management plans and evaluates best practices for improving water quality and reducing stormwater runoff and flooding.
Several Public Works Stormwater projects are in progress including the Alligator Creek Stream Restoration, Phillippi Creek Northwest Tributaries Natural Systems Restoration, Catfish Creek Natural Systems Restoration, and Dona Bay Phases two through five. These projects are intended to reduce nutrient loading to our bays resulting in increased seagrass and the plethora of marine life dependent on this underwater habitat.
“As we celebrate and recognize World Water Day it is important to remember that water is cyclical. Each of us affects the water we recreate on, the water we fish in, and the water we drink," said Public Utilities Stormwater Division Manager Amanda Boone. “It is important to remember we all play a role in ensuring clean water, and as one community, we must all recognize our impacts and be the best stewards we can be.”
Community members are invited to adopt one of the county’s Watergoats, barriers that help to collect floatable debris and microplastic before they enter streams, bays or canals, participate in the annual Citizen Seagrass Survey in June, and reduce the use of lawn fertilizers June through September.
In addition to upgrading the Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility to Advanced Wastewater Treatment, the Sarasota County Public Utilities department has also initiated enhancements to the Carlton Water Treatment Facility, eliminating fats, oils, and greases, and reducing flushing.
“Sarasota County has done an excellent job at implementing projects to support our future and protect our freshwater supply. Since implementing these projects, more than 70 million gallons of water were saved last year,” said Public Utilities Water Division Manager Brooke Bailey. “By replacing end-of-life equipment, Public Utilities is reducing demand and increasing efficiency on waste, reclaimed, and potable water systems.”
Residents and businesses are reminded to scrape, contain and trash fats, oils and greases to ensure the safe flow of sewage and protect area waters.
An additional 1.3 million gallons of water were also saved through UF/IFAS’s free irrigation evaluation service, plus 1.4 million gallons of rainwater was collected by nearly 400 rain barrels and reused for irrigation.
"Together with our county and community partners, UF/IFAS aims to provide the knowledge and education necessary to empower residents to adopt habits that reduce non-point source pollution and the associated potential for water quality impairment,” said UF/IFAS Water Resource Agent Michael D’Imperio. “Through collaboration, we can save water, reduce pollution, and protect nature.”
Community members are invited to the UF/IFAS "Protecting Our Waters: World Water Day" event on March 25, install a rain barrel, schedule an irrigation assessment, or volunteer for the water stewardship program.
Water quality is important to every Sarasota County resident and visitor. Sarasota County Government is committed to protecting and enhancing water quality wherever and whenever possible. Together, we can preserve our most precious resource and, by doing so, protect the Sarasota County way of life and economy, as well as wildlife, habitats, and more.
Click here to watch the board's presentation of the proclamation.
Learn more at scgov.net or by calling 311.