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Water-Related News

Sarasota Bay Water Quality Improving

Little Sarasota Bay, Roberts Bay, Blackburn Bay and a portion of Sarasota Bay were proposed for removal from a list of impaired waterways. But there’s still a lot to be done.

Sarasota Bay’s water quality has begun improving, though threats remain from warming sea temperatures, stormwater runoff and the legacy of more than 200 million gallons of polluted waste released from the Piney Point phosphate plant in 2021, officials say.

One of the first signs of good news for the water system that extends from Tampa Bay to Venice was recent word from state regulators that four southern sections—Little Sarasota Bay, Roberts Bay, Blackburn Bay and a portion of Sarasota Bay—were proposed for removal from a list of impaired waterways.

Environmental experts and county leaders, though, aren’t taking these initial encouraging developments as a sign that their work is done.

In Sarasota County, progress continues on the $210 million Bee Ridge Water Treatment Plant, designed to drastically reduce the release of compounds harmful to Sarasota Bay’s health. The facility is expected to open by the end of 2025.

In Manatee County, officials say they are constantly working to upgrade and rehab decades-old infrastructure that can be vulnerable to breaks and spills. About $40 million is budgeted for the next five years.