TPA completes major environmental restoration project, restores habitat

Sep 13, 2013

Tampa, Fla.—The Tampa Port Authority (TPA) is pleased to announce completion of a major environmental rehabilitation project at the Port of Tampa, greatly enhancing the quality of life for the flora and fauna in the area.  The McKay Bay Mitigation Site (MBMS) is a 19± acre mitigation site located on the McKay Bay peninsula, in the northern portion of McKay Bay.

The peninsula was created in the 1950’s, with dredge spoil from the channelization of the Palm River. The topography of the site was raised to an elevation of 10-plus feet above the historic elevation of the site.  In the five decades since the creation of the peninsula, the interior site became extensively colonized by exotic vegetation with a fringe of mangroves along the shoreline.

In 2009, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) issued permits authorizing the project. Collectively these permits allowed for the development of the East Port Berths 151 and 152 and the construction of the MBMS.

In 2011, the Tampa Port Authority entered in a joint partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) group to fill the McKay Bay Dredge Hole (MBDH). Under FDEP and USACE permits, the material to be excavated from the MBMS was to be transported and placed into the MBDH to raise the bottom elevation of the dredge hole to approximately match the surrounding grades.

Design for the MBMS consisted of clearing the 19-acre site of exotic vegetation and excavating approximately 200,000 cubic yards (CY) of material to create a mixture of planting habitats and open water features. The authorized activities included the preservation of a 1.7-acre mangrove shoreline, creation of 3.5 acres of mangrove habitat, creation of 8.4 acres of saltwater marsh, creation of a 3.6-acre tidal channel and intertidal pond lined with 1,500 linear feet of artificial oyster reef, enhancement of 0.3 acres of freshwater marsh, and the enhancement of a 1.3-acre upland buffer by removing invasive Brazilian pepper trees and planting native vegetation. Construction was completed in June 2013.

The TPA is extremely grateful to its project partners for their individual and collective contributions to this important environmental milestone project.  Project partners are as follows:  Southwest Florida Water Management District, Tampa Contracting Services Inc., and Orion Marine Construction Services Inc. for the Eastport Mitigation and McKay Bay dredge hole restoration, and the design team of CH2M-Hill.   

“This is yet another major project that has involved the dedication, vision, and talents of a tremendous team of port staff and external partners,” Paul Anderson, port president and CEO, said.  “We work hard to contribute in very significant ways to the integrity and health of Tampa Bay and its delicate natural habitats.”

“Improving the water quality and habitat in the McKay Bay dredge hole is a priority for Southwest Florida Water Management District,” said Kris Kaufman, District environmental scientist project manager.  “The Port’s donation of mitigation site material and expertise in marine construction made the restoration of the dredge hole possible.  Agency cooperation and partnership made this project a success and we look forward to future opportunities to work together.”

One of the nation’s largest and most cargo-diverse seaports, the Port of Tampa handles a full array of cargoes, from building materials to petroleum products for the entire region. The port is the largest economic engine in west-central Florida, supporting about 80,000 jobs and generating $15.1 billion in annual economic impact. For more information about the Port of Tampa, visit www.tampaport.com.

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