BASIS 6 looks at emerging trends in restoration of Tampa Bay

Teamwork ­­— from professional scientists and researchers to activists and politicians — helped transform Tampa Bay from a nearly lifeless body of water to one of the only urban estuaries in the world where water quality is improving.

basis-logo-smallSharing the science that propelled the amazing recovery (see story pages 8 and 9) has been the focus of BASIS —Tampa Bay Area Scientific Information Symposium—for more than 30 years. With goals for seagrass acreage achieved, scientists will convene BASIS 6 Sept. 28 to 30 to focus on emerging issues that weren’t even considered at the first BASIS in 1982.

“We’ve largely addressed the serious issues facing the bay in 1982,” notes Maya Burke, senior environmental planner for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and a coordinator for the event. “Now we’re looking at how climate change and sea level rise may affect existing bay restoration projects, the influence of contaminants like microplastics, and the possibility of reusing wastewater for hydrologic restoration or even indirect potable use — issues that weren’t even on the horizon then.”

But while the goal for seagrass acreage has been met – Tampa Bay had as many acres of seagrasses in 2014 as it did in the mid-1950s – nutrients from stormwater, wastewater and air pollution are still a top priority. “We don’t want to lose ground on the progress made so far. Everything fell into place and nearly every location where we occasionally found seagrasses was densely covered last year,” Burke said. “We can’t count on that happening every year – particularly after a summer with the high levels of rainfall we just had.”

Themed “Navigating Changing Tides: Addressing New Challenges with Effective Science and Management,” the symposium will explore a variety of new trends and emerging topics.

Organizers also tried to reach beyond the scientists who have traditionally been involved in BASIS and set aside space for students from local colleges and universities, including the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science. “These are incredibly bright and articulate students who will be the generation that carries on our work,” Burke said.

Additionally, several non-scientists will speak at BASIS. Jeff Klinkenberg, the retired Tampa Bay Times reporter who covered the people who make Florida unique, will speak on Sept 29. Ernie Franke, a retired Raytheon engineer who has transformed retention ponds and nature preserves at his St. Petersburg condominium community, will speak on motivating volunteers on Sept. 30.

A critical goal of this year’s BASIS will be identifying priorities for the Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s new Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. Revised every 10 years, the CCMP drives restoration and management initiatives for TBEP as well as its member governments across the watershed.

“One of the most important sessions may be the synthesis scheduled as the last event of the symposium that will hopefully identify new information gaps and the research on emerging issues that we might need to focus on during our next CCMP update,” said Ed Sherwood, TBEP’s senior scientist.

Learn more:

View the full agenda and registration information.

Stories in this issue that tie back to BASIS presentations include:

Roger Johansson’s front-row seat for Tampa Bay’s recovery (presentation Sept. 28 at 11:15 a.m.)

Delaney Creek stormwater system targeted for multi-purpose make-over (Sept. 29 at 1:45 p.m.)

20-year EPC monitoring study shows benthic index improvement (Sept. 29 at 8:30 a.m., potential biotic effects of sediment contamination in McKay Bay.)

Bay Soundings also has covered stories on topics that will be featured presentations at BASIS 6 including:

Mangroves: Tampa Bay’s Cash Crop? and Study aims to calculate economic benefit of Tampa Bay, Sept. 28, 9:30 a.m.

Tampa Bay’s ‘problem child’ gets extra attention, Sept. 28, 2 p.m.

Erosion jeopardizes Egmont Key, Sept. 29, 9 a.m.

Slip-sliding away, erosion threatens critical coastal habitat, Sept. 29, 9:30 a.m.

Restoring our natural legacy, Sept. 30, 9:45 a.m.

MacDill wages war on stormwater pollution, Sept. 30, 10 a.m.

Could ‘blue carbon’ change the tide?, Sept. 30, 10:45 am

Helping habitats get a hand up for climate change, Sept. 30, 1:30 p.m.

Changing the conversation: communication about local climate change impacts and scenarios, Sept. 30, 2:45 p.m.

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