Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START) Launches Regional Healthy Ponds Collaborative

The Giving Coast

Building on a successful pilot program that helped about a dozen Sarasota County communities bolster and beautify their stormwater retention ponds, Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START) has secured a $250,000 grant from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation to develop a regional “Healthy Pond Collaborative” initiative. The effort will officially kick off during a press conference on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' terrace behind the event center, 9:00 am – 9:30 am.

According to START, stormwater contributes 65% of the nitrogen in Sarasota Bay, which feeds red tide and causes other damage to water quality and wildlife. You may call them lakes, but the more than 6,000 bodies of water in Sarasota County are all manmade and only operate at 40% to 60% efficiency in removing the excess nutrients that contribute to water pollution. This new collaborative will help more neighborhoods upgrade their ponds and cost-share the improvements. It also will create and distribute a step-by-step pond enhancement guide, host educational focus groups, and do follow-up monitoring of pond enhancements. This effort looks to ultimately establish state-wide and national models that can be recreated in other communities. 

Partners include START, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Sarasota County’s Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team, the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, and the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida. The work was in part inspired by Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Water Quality Playbook.

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