Our Work

How We Work
Suncoast Waterkeeper follows the functional model established by the Waterkeeper Alliance, built on the foundation of the original Hudson Riverkeeper, where the Suncoast Waterkeeper founder worked for several years.  It is a watchdog model, in which either staff or a member of the public will report a possible violation of the Clean Water Act or other environmental regulation, or identify an environmental threat to a local waterway. Read more

Protecting Marine and Coastal Habitat
Sarasota Bay has more ”hard” coastline than most areas along the Gulf coast.  Hard shoreline includes seawalls, bulkheads and other vertical surfaces meant to resist erosion.  Part of the hardening process involves removing the mangroves that prevent erosion and provide critical nursery habitat for the young of many economically important marine species – the very fish that many people come here to catch. Read more

Dredging and Inlet Management
Because of the role dredging has played in bringing the region’s ecosystems to the brink of disaster, we will oppose most dredging projects, unless they seek to restore ecosystem functions (historic flows) or are designed to physically remove specific contaminant deposits from the bottom. Read more

Upland Habitat Loss and Degradation
Not all development is good development. Strip mining, for example, however economically important, is destructive to native habitats that are becoming increasingly scarce. Residential sprawl development is little more than another form of strip mining, because miles upon miles of native habitat are stripped away and covered with houses and lawns. Read more

Aquatic and Terrestrial Species
The Suncoast is home to a number of threatened and endangered animals. The Suncoast Waterkeeper will support efforts to protect and restore these and many other animals. Read more 

Stormwater and Sewage Pollution
Stormwater pollution is believed to be the greatest source of pollution of the Suncoast’s waterways.  Development practices that harden and compact surfaces have caused a 50 percent increase in stormwater runoff flowing into Sarasota Bay, carrying pollutants such as litter, motor oil, gasoline, fertilizers, pesticides, pet wastes, sediments and anything else that can float, dissolve or be swept away by moving water. Read more

Toxic Substances
The staff of Suncoast Waterkeeper has a long history of successful opposition to the presence of toxic materials in our environment, and take every reasonable action needed to ensure the removal of toxic substances, inhibit the transport of such materials, and ensure the lawful safety of their storage. Read more

Power Plants
Tampa Bay is home to numerous power plants that are responsible for a host of environmental ills. Atmospheric deposition of nutrients and toxins into the watershed, leaking coal ash impoundments, water pollution, habitat destruction, and devastating direct impacts to local waters and fisheries from outdated once-through cooling technology top the list. Read more

Offshore Oil Development
The threat of offshore oil development will be back. It’s just a matter of when. Suncoast Waterkeeper will oppose offshore drilling unequivocally. Read more

Fisheries Management
Suncoast Waterkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance strongly support community-level commercial fisheries and their traditions, but oppose unsustainable modes of harvesting, such as draggers and factory trawlers. Read more

Water Quality
One of the foremost, guiding principles of the Waterkeeper Alliance is to fight for fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters around the world. In the Suncoast region, we encounter waters that are above and below the water quality thresholds for three metrics: phosphorus, chlorophyll-a and nitrogen. But do these measures tell the whole story? Read more

Drinking Water
In general, drinking water in the Suncoast is poor quality water, highly mineralized. Floridan Aquifer waters are migrating through the porous bedrock of the region into the Intermediate Aquifers and creating a lateral spread of waters with a high mineral content. This water is entering the area’s rivers, creating difficulty for the surface-water treatment facilities, which must now deal with high-conductivity ground waters. Read more

Resilience to Climate Change
Florida is ground zero for sea level rise, which is likely to be one of the most pronounced impacts of climate change. Large areas of Florida are projected to be underwater by the end of this century. We favor higher mileage vehicles and clean energy now, as two of the most obvious solutions that must be adopted.
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Public Access to Waterways
Excepting limited beach access points, there are remarkably few places where the public can enjoy access to the sights, smells and recreational opportunities of the Suncoast’s waterways.  Suncoast Waterkeeper, following upon lessons learned on the Hudson River and waterways around the world, will support the creation of parks and mixed-use public amenities on the Suncoast’s shores.

Preserving Cultural Traditions
Suncoast Waterkeeper understands and respects the importance of the region’s maritime cultural heritage, and supports its sustainable continuance unimpeded by development or economic interests.

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