Experienced educator and scientist Abbey Tyrna appointed executive director of Suncoast Waterkeeper

Suncoast Waterkeeper Executive Director Abbey Tyrna takes a sample of water from a Sarasota roadside ditch.

Suncoast Waterkeeper Executive Director Abbey Tyrna takes a sample of water from a Sarasota roadside ditch. Provided photo

Abbey Tyrna brings an impressive record of personal, educational and professional dedication to protecting the precious natural resource of water to Suncoast Waterkeeper as its new executive director.

Tyrna has a doctorate in geography from the Pennsylvania State University, where her research focused on measuring the effects of development on wetlands. She worked with Sarasota County government and the University of Florida to help bring scientific knowledge and expertise to the public as the Water Resources Agent for UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability.

The board of Suncoast Waterkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for everyone’s right to clean water, is proud to welcome someone with Tyrna’s experience and credentials, chairman Rusty Chinnis said.

“The board and I look forward to making great progress under the direction of someone with the dedication, energy and expertise of Abbey Tyrna,” Chinnis said.

Raised in Cape Coral on Florida’s West Coast, the new executive director realized the importance of clean water — from ponds and creeks to coastal estuaries — when she spent her time as a child playing among mangrove forests.

"In seventh grade, I got to walk through Six Mile Cypress in Fort Myers,” she said.  “I was in water up to my chest, and I couldn't have been happier.  Even though it was 30-plus years ago, I still remember the serenity of the swamp and the feel of the water.  I knew the swamp was special and learned it was connected to our limited groundwater resources. From that day on, I devoted my education to learning about wetlands and protecting Florida waters.

“I am just one example of the impact that outdoor learning and environmental education have on developing lifelong stewardship."

She said joining Suncoast Waterkeeper is a natural extension of that work.

"At Suncoast Waterkeeper, I plan to expand our waterway monitoring efforts and staff capacity to engage the community and influence decision-makers to protect our waters.  I will seek out diverse voices and points of view.  In doing so, I hope to lead Suncoast Waterkeeper to realize its vision of clean water for all."

Before receiving her doctorate in 2015, Tyrna earned a master’s in Environmental Science concentrating on wetland science and management in 2008 and a bachelor’s in environmental studies from Florida State University in 2001.

Among many leadership roles in her field, Tyrna served as Secretary of the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals; co-created and chaired the Society of Wetland Scientists’ Wetlands of Distinction initiative; was a member of the UF/IFAS Extension and Sarasota County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee; and is a Technical Advisor for the Natural Assets Advisory Committee with the Palmer Ranch Community Association in Sarasota.

She has taught at Penn State and the State College of Florida and written or co-written nearly 20 published academic papers.

Early in her career, she was a Junior Policy Analyst for OMB Watch in Washington, D.C.

She likes to kayak and paddleboard with her kids and has tried to make it out on every creek and bay in the Suncoast.

Tyrna lives in Sarasota County with her husband, two kids, a dog, and three pet rats.

August 2022 Newsletter

Here is our latest update for you.  Click here for the full six pages as a PDF.

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May 2022 Newsletter

A Look Back at 2021 and What's Ahead for 2022

We want to wish a happy new year to the entire Suncoast Waterkeeper family.  Our waterways and natural areas support the local economy and quality of life.  Together, we fought to protect our water in 2021 and, with your help, will continue to work to preserve what makes the Suncoast special.  

Here’s a look back at our work in 2021 and a preview of what we’re working on for 2022:

Piney Point

Piney Point has been a ticking time bomb.  Due to neglect and inaction, the State of Florida was forced to dump over 200 million gallons of contaminated water into Tampa Bay.  Over the course of 2021, we experienced some of the worst red tides, other harmful algae blooms and fish kills that we have ever seen.  The threat doesn’t end there.  Now the State of Florida and DEP are working to inject the wastewater into our aquifer without adequate testing or filtration.  

That is why we launched and are continuing to pursue a federal lawsuit to safely close Piney Point with other partners and organizations in the region.  

In addition to the lawsuit, we hosted educational forums and conducted advocacy campaigns to demand better from our local and state elected officials on Piney Point.  

Stopping Sewage Spills   

Our region has suffered from numerous sewage spills due to poor management of aging environmental infrastructure.  According to the City of Bradenton’s own reports, 160 million gallons of raw and partially treated sewage was dumped into the Manatee River over the last four years.  This contributed to declining conditions in our estuaries.  In 2021, we filed a notice of intent to sue the City of Bradenton over repeated sewage spills into our waterways.  We hope to resolve our case against Bradenton in 2022. Our previous sewage lawsuits have resulted in major investments in wastewater infrastructure and fewer sewage spills.  Together, we’re going to continue our work to reduce sewage spills on the Suncoast. 

Water Quality Monitoring 

To enjoy our waterways, we need to ensure that they are clean.  We sample water quality weekly to keep our community informed about the water they rely on for recreation, work and more.  In 2022, because of your support, we’ll continue to monitor water quality in our waterways.  

Monitoring Public Information & Demanding Accountability

In many ways, regulation and oversight in Florida is broken.  Our regulators have repeatedly ignored or failed to address threats to our water quality, quality of life and local economy.  That’s why we regularly monitor public records for information on water quality, pollution, harmful algae blooms and new and existing projects.  Monitoring this information allows us to let you know what is happening in our community and lets us know when we need to take action.  

Your support means that we’ll be able to continue to work to protect our water.  We can’t afford to let pollution, contamination and inaction from our government officials threaten our water, quality of life and local economy.  Together, we’ll continue to make a difference in 2022. 

Thank you, 

Suncoast Waterkeeper

Stopping Bradenton Sewage Spills


November 11, 2021

Bradenton, FL - Suncoast Waterkeeper (“SCWK”), Our Children’s Earth Foundation (“OCE”), ManaSota-88, and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper (“TBWK”) have filed another Sixty-Day Notice of Violations of Clean Water Act and Notice of Intent to File Suit for serious and ongoing violations of the federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”) by the City of Bradenton, which has repeatedly sent raw and partially treated sewage into the Manatee River, storm drains, streams, neighborhoods, and local waters including Wares Creek, Palma Sola Creek, and Palma Sola Bay which flow into Lower Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

A 60-day notice is the required first step of filing a formal lawsuit in Federal Court. Today’s notice to Bradenton follows successful Clean Water Act municipal sewage enforcement cases resulting in settlements with St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Sarasota County and most recently, Largo.  If no resolution is achieved within the 60-day timeframe, litigation will proceed. 

Justin Bloom, founder and a board member of Suncoast Waterkeeper said, “Bradenton’s sewage woes are unfortunate and follow a familiar pattern of municipalities neglecting critical environmental infrastructure.  We hope that Bradenton will follow the path of the other municipalities that we’ve sued and focus their attention of fixing the problems and reducing the sewage pollution that plagues our waterways.”

According to Bradenton’s own reports, within the last four years, over 160 million gallons of raw and partially treated sewage was dumped into the Manatee River, bypassing the City’s treatment plant. Most recently, the City bypassed 13 million gallons in August of 2021.  The City’s sampling data confirms that its bypasses resulted in high levels of fecal coliform and enterococci in the Manatee River.  

Similarly, during that time frame, the City has discharged millions more gallons of raw sewage from their aging sewage collection system, which is plagued by structural deficiencies.  The result is excessive infiltration and inflow of stormwater and groundwater into sewage infrastructure during wet weather, causing repeated sewage spills that not only contain human waste, but also contain various toxic chemicals from the solvents, detergents, cleansers, inks, pesticides, paints, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals discarded by households and businesses into local waterways.  

“Bradenton’s sewage spills pose a serious public health risk in exposing members of the public to sewage-borne pathogens and various toxic pollutants,” said Annie Beaman of Our Children’s Earth.  “This pollution also harms aquatic wildlife and degrades fragile ecosystems. The Manatee River cannot take it, and people deserve clean water. It is time for the City to prioritize water quality. If we invest in clean water now, we can avoid much higher costs to people and the environment in the future.”

These spills contribute to declining conditions in our region’s waterways.  The City of Bradenton’s persistent exceedances of its allocation for Total Nitrogen, its repeated bypasses of millions of gallons of partially treated sewage, and its sanitary sewer overflows of raw and partially treated sewage and reclaimed water have contributed to seagrass losses and to increased harmful algal blooms or “HABs” in the Tampa and Sarasota Bay Estuaries.  The harmful toxins produced as a result of HABs give rise to severe human health consequences, economic and social impacts, as well as harm to the environment.  

“We just endured an incredibly difficult summer, where we witnessed Red Tide kill large quantities of marine life. If we don’t fix these problems, we’re likely to endure more pain in perpetuity.  Red Tide and contamination is hurting our local economy, much of which relies on our waterways, said Glenn Compton, Chairman of ManaSota-88.  “We have to do better for our quality of life and for future generations.”

"These repeat spills have repercussions that affect all of Tampa Bay." said Megan Eakins, Board Chair of Tampa Bay Waterkeeper.  "We hope to be a part of the solution in finding ways to mitigate unnecessary nutrient loads and reduce pollution flowing into our waterways."


Download the Release Here

For more information, please contact:

 Justin Bloom, Suncoast Waterkeeper

(941) 275-2922[email protected]


Glenn Compton, ManaSota-88

(941) 966-6256, [email protected]


Annie Beaman, Our Children’s Earth Foundation 

(510) 910-4535, [email protected]