Manatee County places a high emphasis on its most vital natural asset: water. The county is dedicated to regularly assessing water quality, ensuring it remains safe for both residents and visitors. On Tuesday’s Manatee County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, the commissioners received updates on the significant improvements in water quality.

Charlie Hunsicker, the Director of Natural Resources, emphasized the commitment of the team, saying, “Our people in water quality and environmental protection are working hard every day. And with our utility partners and Public Works partners, we are working to protect the water quality in Manatee County.”

He highlighted the extensive monitoring efforts undertaken in the county, where over 80 sites are regularly checked and more than 11,000 samples are tested annually. Hunsicker noted, “Manatee County is working hard to always observe where we are in our water-quality picture.”

In his presentation, Hunsicker showcased various charts that illustrated areas and ways in which water quality is improving.

The improvement in water quality is attributed to several proactive measures undertaken by the County, as explained by Hunsicker. These include major investments in wastewater treatment upgrades, with $600 million allocated for the next five years, increased frequency of street sweeping, the planting of 5,000 seagrass plugs, and the addition of 25,000 trees in 2023. Furthermore, efforts have been made to restore 15,000 acres of habitat and install 1,500 vertical oyster gardens.

The commissioners also commended the Natural Resources staff for their effective stewardship in managing voter-supported initiatives, particularly through the County’s Environmental Lands Management and Acquisition Committee (ELMAC), which focuses on acquiring more land for environmental conservation.

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