A surprising new finding about the polluted release from Piney Point was just revealed in an article in the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program’s Newsletter, Bay Reflections. It has been well documented that the spill at Piney Point contributed to algal blooms and red tide in the surrounding watersheds of Tampa Bay, but a new study shows that its impact reached 30 miles away to St Joseph Sound near Tarpon Springs.

Right after the spill in 2021, The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) partnered with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and the Universities of Florida and South Florida to set up a series of research sites to monitor existing conditions and determine the extent of the spills’ impact. Recently published in May, the results of the monitoring show evidence of algal blooms and high concentrations of red tide in the months following the spill and that it reached considerably beyond expectations up near Tarpon Springs.

The SBEP’s Bay Reflections reports that the study validates model predictions and emphasizes the great threat that major infrastructure failures pose to our coastal waterways.

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