Executive Summary

  •  The Sarasota League Natural Resources’ Committee (Committee) began its study of surface water pollution in Sarasota County June 2013 after toxic blue green algae blooms and beach closings in Sarasota County (see previous photos).
  • Nitrogen and phosphorous cause blue green algae blooms. The sources of nitrogen and phosphorous are fertilizers (storm water runoff), leaking /old sewer systems, septic tanks and animal feedlots. Other sources that have been identified are bird and dog feces.
  • Toxic algae can cause mild to serious health effects, even death.
  • The fish in the entire Myakka river are listed as impaired because of mercury levels in the fish flesh.
  • The Committee sent a questionnaire to:
    • Sarasota City (City)
    • Sarasota County (County) Sarasota County did collaborate with Sarasota Health Department.
    • Venice
    •  North Port (N.P.)
    •  City of Longboat Key (Longboat), answers provided by Juan Florensa, Longboat Key Public Works and Utility Director
    •  Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program (SBNEP)
    •  Sarasota Health Department (Health)
    •  Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD).

        Not all the questions were applicable to identified entities.

The Committee makes the following recommendations based on the facts learned from the study:

  1. Slow down water runoff to allow percolation into the surficial aquifer 
  2. More swales should be installed in the county/cities.
  3. Appropriate equipment for lift stations should be at hand, in stock.
  4. Continue improving seagrass beds.
  5. Sarasota County continue to test for water quality at the beaches monthly and increase testing if warranted.
  6. Prevention is less expensive than restoration/cleanup.
  7. Wetlands filter nutrients. Land development can greatly impact pollution filtration.
  8. Corporations should be made responsible for the cost of cleanup.
  9. Corporations should find new ways of producing their products to limit pollution.
  10. All fertilizing should be organic, slow release and long lasting. Enforcement must be a priority.
  11. Restoration of oyster beds. Scientific research has proven oysters to be very effect in removing pollution from water bodies.
  12. Mangrove cutting must be monitored. Fines for cutting mangroves must be increased.
  13. Greater setbacks for coastal development.
  14. Better public outreach/ education on projects to deter pollution from entering waterbodies.
  15. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and water management districts need to be diligent in their oversight of efforts in cleaning up Sarasota’s waterways.