Sarasota County Water Atlas

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Sarasota Bay Watershed

Sarasota Bay Watershed



This section includes information about the geography and land use within the watershed, including the historical and current forms of land use.

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Map Legend

Water Quality sampling site
Hydrology sampling site
Closest Rainfall site
Rainfall sampling site
Multi-type sampling site
Other sampling site


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Source(s): U.S. Department of Commerce

The following information illustrates the change in population within the watershed during the past few decades.

Total Population within each Watershed from 1970-2010
Watershed 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010  
Dona and Roberts Bay Watershed 11,866 21,154 34,088 37,120 41,724 Graph
Gulf of Mexico Watershed 100 151 344 0 0 Graph
Lemon Bay Watershed 8,495 24,128 35,420 43,226 44,119 Graph
Little Sarasota Bay Watershed 13,717 24,265 32,397 42,296 47,229 Graph
Manatee River Watershed 348 487 3,378 990 1,507 Graph
Myakka River Watershed 4,031 13,720 23,248 33,279 72,317 Graph
Peace River Watershed 19 30 0 16 64 Graph
Sarasota Bay Watershed 81,838 118,307 148,901 169,046 172,494 Graph
Totals for All Watershed Areas 120,414 202,242 277,776 325,973 379,454  

Source(s): U.S. Department of Commerce

    (Statistics shown are only for the watershed area within the boundary of this Water Atlas)

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    Land Acquisition and Protection

    The Florida Natural Areas Inventory is the primary source for information on Florida's conservation lands. The Inventory database includes boundaries and statistics for more than 1,400 federal, state, local, and private managed areas, all provided directly by the managing agencies. National parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, local and private preserves are examples of the managed areas included.

    3% of the land area within the Sarasota Bay Watershed is under protection.

    The amount of protected land under federal, state, local, and private ownership
    Ownership Area (square miles)
    Local 2.60
    Private 0.32
    Source: Florida Natural Areas Inventory
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      Impervious Surfaces

      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.

      Impervious Surface Coverage (acres) by Watershed, Type
      Watershed Total Impervious Buildings Parking Lots Pavement Sidewalks Map
      Dona and Roberts Bay Watershed 4,151 8% 1,853 708 1,519 71
      Gulf of Mexico Watershed 2 1% 1 0 1 0
      Lemon Bay Watershed 3,339 10% 1,742 384 1,157 56
      Little Sarasota Bay Watershed 3,933 15% 1,879 776 1,206 72
      Manatee River Watershed 539 10% 101 234 192 13
      Myakka River Watershed 6,101 4% 2,358 338 3,356 49
      Peace River Watershed 77 9% 2 0 75 0
      Sarasota Bay Watershed 11,768 20% 5,418 2,571 3,537 242

      Source(s): Sarasota County

      † The impervious surface for the Myakka River and Peace River watersheds were not mapped in their entirety.

      (Statistics shown are only for the watershed area within the boundary of this Water Atlas)

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      Land Use / Land Cover

      Land Cover categorizes the land in terms of the observed physical surface characteristics. For example, while the land use may be classified as agricultural, the land cover may be classified as upland or wetland. Learn more about land use and land cover »

      Interactive Land Use Viewer

      The interactive map shown below demonstrates how the use of land within and around Sarasota Bay Watershed has changed over time. Use the slider control at the top left of the map to change the year displayed. Use the visibility slider at the top right to change the opacity of the land use layer.

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      Land Use Legend

      • Urban & Built-up
      • Agriculture
      • Rangeland
      • Upland Forests
      • Water
      • Wetlands
      • Barren Land
      • Utilities
      • Watershed Boundary
      Acreage and Percentage within each Land Use / Land Cover Category for Sarasota Bay Watershed (Statistics shown are only for the watershed area within the boundary of this Water Atlas)
      Year Urban & Built-up Agriculture Rangeland Upland Forests Water Wetlands Barren Land Transportation and Utilities
      Acres% Acres% Acres% Acres% Acres% Acres% Acres% Acres%
      201738,749631,8223208< 11,756314,255232,3274100< 12,5114
      201437,987622,3094430< 11,923314,131232,3724109< 12,4534
      201138,343622,2154225< 11,874314,278232,229499< 12,4524
      201038,295622,2384225< 11,902314,120232,2424189< 12,5044
      200938,234622,3544189< 11,953314,095232,23341302,6454
      200838,146622,3254215< 11,977314,186232,2084502,6524
      200738,054622,3614213< 12,011314,204232,2114502,6574
      200638,006622,3644210< 12,061314,200232,22242002,6304
      200537,844612,4974199< 12,109314,227232,2274902,6024
      200436,879603,4476210< 12,187414,117232,226466< 12,5844
      199935,334574,6468297< 12,619413,633222,352472112,1133
      199534,517565,94510337< 12,854513,445222,3794108< 12,1304
      199032,908536,33810547< 13,588613,350222,87052901,8453

      Source(s): Southwest Florida Water Management District

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