Water Quality

One of the foremost, guiding principles of the Waterkeeper Alliance is to fight for fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters around the world. We celebrate the fact that bay waters in the Suncoast are, on average, over the course of a full year, below thresholds in three metrics: phosphorus, chlorophyll-a and nitrogen.

The Manatee River, on the other hand, is listed as “Impaired” for mercury in fish tissue. The Water Atlas page for Tampa Bay shows far more detail than the Sarasota Bay page, and gives hints of periodic spikes in various bacteria, as well as the nutrients measured in Sarasota Bay. One should expect periods of elevated levels of fresh water, nutrients, bacteria, heavy metals and toxics throughout the Suncoast region. Sarasota Bay water is clearer than waters to the north and south, apparently the result of “improved freshwater drainage,” which may be impacting the Bay’s ability to sustain historic shellfish populations, e.g. bay scallops.

Suncoast Waterkeeper, through volunteer and citizen science programs under development, will attempt to track surges in inputs that adversely affect water quality, and at times, human health. We will issue water quality alerts as needed, coordinating our efforts with ongoing State, County and City sampling programs.

We will also make fish consumption advisories available on this web site.