START is very pleased to announce the formation of an important new three-year water quality partnership known as the Healthy Pond Collaborative. Funded by a major grant from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, the Healthy Pond Collaborative includes START, the Sarasota County Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) Program, University of Florida IFAS Extension Sarasota County, and the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida.

The Barancik Foundation grant will allow START to greatly expand our Stormwater Pond Enhancement Program that began this year and has served nearly a dozen neighborhoods with advice on how to upgrade their ailing stormwater ponds and some funding to help cover the cost of buying the aquatic plants necessary for a successful pond enhancement program.

In addition to funding assistance for plant stock for participating neighborhood communities, the Healthy Pond Collaborative will also create and distribute a step-by-step community ponds enhancement guide to help neighborhoods get started, host educational focus groups for community leaders, and provide follow-up monitoring of pond enhancement projects.

With stormwater contributing 65% of the nitrogen in Sarasota Bay that feeds red tide and most of our local stormwater ponds only operating at 40% to 60% efficiency in removing excess nutrients, this important new collaborative is poised to make a real difference in the quality of our waterways over the next three years.

If your neighborhood or organization is having trouble with algal blooms or erosion in your stormwater ponds, contact Sandy Gilbert with the Healthy Pond Collaborative for assistance at

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