On behalf of the Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium, please find attached the 2012 update on water quality and seagrass resources in the Tampa Bay estuary. This update has been developed in accordance with the compliance assessment adopted through FDEP’s Tampa Bay Reasonable Assurance determination on December 22nd, 2010 (Link to FDEP Final Order) and the federally-recognized TMDL for Tampa Bay (Link to EPA TMDL). The formal annual compliance assessment utilized by the Consortium is detailed in Section VIII.B. of the Final 2009 Reasonable Assurance Addendum: Allocation and Assessment Report (Link to Final Document).
In summary, chlorophyll-a concentrations in the four major bay segments of the Tampa Bay estuary were below FDEP-approved thresholds. The thresholds were adopted as part of FDEP’s 2002 Reasonable Assurance determination for Tampa Bay and, at that time, it was determined that Tampa Bay’s seagrass restoration goals could be achieved if annual chlorophyll-a concentrations remained below the thresholds. This nutrient management strategy has been utilized by the TBEP and Consortium in their Annual Decision Matrix reports for Tampa Bay since 2000 (Link to 2012 Update Report). Furthermore, recent estimates from the SWFWMD indicate that baywide seagrass coverage increased by 1,745 acres from 2010 to 2012 (Link to SWFWMD Estimates). With this latest estimate, Tampa Bay now supports 34,642 acres of seagrass – the greatest amount since the 1950s. Clearly, implementation of the Consortium’s approved nutrient management strategy continues to be a successful, adaptive management approach for the Tampa Bay estuary.