Projects

Salinity barrier removal feasibility & restoration in Tampa Bay tidal tributaries

End Date: 07/01/14

Objectives

Restore tidal connection of the Channel 5/Roosevelt Basin conveyance in Old Tampa Bay, FL. Enhance/create oligohaline marsh and mangrove habitats within the tidal extent of the channel and its shorelines to promote estuarine fish and wildlife use within the restored channel by December 2013. Reduce and attenuate pulsed hydrologic and nutrient loads entering Old Tampa Bay through the urbanized conveyance to improve water quality conditions and promote seagrass recovery within the Feather Sound region of Old Tampa Bay. Further enhance recreational opportunities and aesthetics of the channelized conveyance to mimic a more natural tidal tributary with open connection to the estuary.

Methodology

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP), in partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is currently conducting a Salinity Barrier Removal Feasibility and Restoration Study. Preliminary results from this study have identified the Channel 5 salinity barrier as a prime candidate for hydrologic and estuarine habitat restoration. As part of this current project, TBEP’s contractor, GPI Southeast, Inc., will develop final restoration plans that incorporate removal/modification of the Channel 5 salinity barrier into a 
combined hydrologic and habitat restoration project for this tidal tributary. Public input from residents and homeowner associations adjacent to Channel 5 will be requested in the development of the final estoration plans and strategy. All necessary permits for construction of the final restoration design will be secured during the first year of this project in order to commence restoration construction by January 2012. The SWFWMD-SWIM staff will oversee the construction phases of the project. Funding for the construction phases of the Channel 5 hydrologic restoration project is being sought through this NOAA/GOM Sea Grant Hydrologic Restoration Grant proposal. An additional matching contribution for the construction costs of the Channel 5 hydrologic restoration project is available through an existing TBEP-SWFWMD agreement ($102,330 non-federal matching funds).

Rationale

Small tidally-influenced tributaries play a key ecological role in the Tampa Bay estuary. They serve as highly-productive estuarine fish nursery and forage areas, as well as, provide important ecosystem services in attenuating nutrient and pollutant loads from coastal watersheds. Any impediments to the exchange and flux of resources from the watershed to the estuary, and vice-versa, can short-circuit the ecological productivity of these systems. The TBEP is committed to implementing restoration strategies that restore tidal connectivity of tidal tributaries to ensure that these systems continue to provide important ecological services within the Tampa Bay estuary (Sherwood 2008). Additionally, the TBEP has an adopted goal to “restore the balance” of critical coastal habitats within the Tampa Bay estuary (LES 1996; PBS&J 2010). Oligohaline habitats typically distributed in tidally-influenced tributaries within the Tampa Bay estuary have been disproportionately lost over time due to urbanization and 
development of the watershed. This restoration project will be focused on restoring both the hydrologic and estuarine ecologic function of the Channel 5 tributary flowing into Old Tampa Bay. The project will involve both direct habitat enhancements/creation (i.e. oligohaline marsh and mangrove) and the removal/modification of the salinity barrier located at the terminus of Channel 5. Therefore, the Channel 5 hydrologic restoration project will serve to accomplish several TBEP-adopted management and restoration goals within the Tampa Bay estuary.

Results

Salinity barrier removal feasibility and restoration in Tampa Bay tidal tributaries