The Southwest Florida Water Management District, or SWIFTMUD, is asking the state for permission to pump up to 3.9 million gallons of water per day from a sinkhole known as the Morris Bridge Sink. The sinkhole is in northeast Hillsborough County in the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve. If the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approves, this would be used to boost the flow of the river during dry periods. In the past, the river flowed with enough volume to keep saltier water from Tampa Bay from coming upstream, but that changed after the city built a dam at Rowlett Park to create a reservoir in 1897. After decades of dwindling river flows, local and state officials came up with a strategy to boost the flow of the river. It calls for first using water from Sulphur Springs and from a complex of sinkholes known as the Blue Sink, then, as necessary, from the Tampa Bypass Canal and the Morris Bridge Sink. The average amount pumped from the Morris Bridge Sink would be about 2 million gallons a day over the course of a year. Ideally, this will also help to make sure there’s enough water flowing in the Hillsborough River to keep it from becoming so salty that it stresses fish and other wildlife.
The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is hosting an event called ‘Give a Day for the Bay’. Put your volunteer spirit on and come out and join the fun at Cockroach Bay in Ruskin, on November 14th. The Cockroach Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project represents one of the largest, most complex coastal ecosystem restoration projects ever developed for Tampa Bay. The 20-year restoration project was initiated and managed by the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department and the SWIFTMUD’s Surface Water Improvement and Management Program.