Dona Bay, located in southern Sarasota County, is a source of beauty and recreation. It is an estuary where fresh and salt water meet and provide a habitat for fish, shellfish and wildlife.
Before 1916, the watershed for Dona Bay was 16 square miles. It is now more than five times its original size. Over the years, drainage projects to control mosquitos, create farmland and pastures, and to reduce flooding, changed the flow of runoff to the bay. The most significant of these projects is Cow Pen Slough.
Scientists have been documenting conditions in the bay and have found environmental damage that includes desalination of the water, and reduced oyster production, fish spawning and sea grass growth.
To address this problem that has upset the ecosystem of the bay and to restore Dona Bay to its natural salinity, Sarasota County is considering funding that would include a weir to slow water flow in Cow Pen Slough. It will keep fresh water, filled with too many nutrients, from entering the bay. Funding for this project will also come from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.