State signs off on Alafia cleanup

Yvette C. Hammett, (@Yvette_Hammett)

RIVERVIEW — There were days in years past when water flowing by homes on the Alafia River more closely resembled cafe con leche than an inviting place for people to swim and fish.

Seagrasses in Hillsborough Bay near the mouth of the river were nearly nonexistent when the Tampa Bay Estuary Program began monitoring such things in 1990.

Farming, phosphate mining, wildlife waste and natural levels of nitrogen from phosphate in Florida waters all have contributed to the Alafia River’s designation as an “impaired” water body. It is one of several rivers that flows directly into Tampa Bay.

The state recently approved a basin management plan that includes 78 projects meant to stem the tide of pollution running into the Alafia River and, eventually, Tampa Bay.

Some of the projects have been completed, and results are palpable.

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