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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, 

DEP Celebrates Ribbon Cutting for 
Dona Bay Watershed Restoration
 in Sarasota

~New water control structure will benefit Charlotte Harbor~

Dona Bay ribbon cutting

DEP South District Assistant Director Jennifer Carpenter joined representatives from the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners, the Southwest Florida Water Management District and local officials for ribbon-cutting ceremony.

NOKOMIS, Fla. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently joined the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners, the Southwest Florida Water Management District and local officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Phase I of the Dona Bay Watershed Restoration project, benefitting Charlotte Harbor. The project was partially funded through a legislative appropriation grant.

"We are proud to partner with Sarasota County and provide this grant to improve the quality of Charlotte Harbor, which is Florida's second largest bay and an important estuary," said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystems restoration. "The department is committed to safeguarding Florida’s natural resources and enhancing its ecosystems while focusing taxpayer resources on projects that provide a direct benefit to the environment and local communities."

Sarasota County was awarded $650,000 for Phase I of the Dona Bay Watershed Restoration, which includes removing the existing water-level control structure at Cow Pen Slough, south of State Road 72, and constructing a more versatile structure in its place. Dona Bay is protected as an Outstanding Florida Water, and is an important part of the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program study area. This project will maintain a greater range of upstream water levels, and divert water into wet detention areas to reduce pollutants and decrease the annual freshwater volume being discharged into the Charlotte Harbor Estuary.

"Thanks to DEP for providing this funding to protect Dona Bay and ultimately Charlotte Harbor," said Paul Caragiulo, Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners chairman. "Having access to something as special as this estuary right in our backyard compels us to work hard to save it for future generations."

Future phases will include the construction of a new pipeline from the Phase I project to a 400-acre reclaimed shell rock mine in the path of Cow Pen Slough, and reinstating a historic connection to the nearby Myakka River.