9. Coordination, Collaboration & Communications



Dozens of national, state, regional, and local environmental agencies and organizations work to protect and restore water quality through science, policy, management, education, and outreach. Improved local coordination and collaboration will catalyze synergies and efficiencies to achieve and sustain better water quality outcomes, faster.

Creating a regional Water Quality Consortium is an innovative way to coordinate strategic planning for water quality across agencies and organizations with local jurisdiction. Developing and coordinating funding across public and private sectors is also important.

A common, publicly accessible website for data storage, visualization, and information sharing can raise awareness, understanding, and support for water quality protection and improvement. Strengthening the skills, resources, and networks of area water professionals will further elevate their efficacy and catalyze synergies within and among organizations. Ensuring best available science and information about cost-effective nutrient management strategies is accessible and comprehensible to policymakers can lead to more responsive and effective policies that restore and protect water quality.

Multiple benefits can be achieved by developing and delivering collaborative public education and outreach using local partnerships and networks, including leveraging of experienced education and outreach specialists, websites, email lists, snail mail lists, and annual festivals and events.

Activity 1:

Create and Support a Water Quality Consortium to Address Impaired Waters

 Continued water quality declines in local water bodies, especially in Sarasota County’s southern bays, are likely to be exacerbated by increasing development pressure. The potential for regulatory remedies reinforces the urgent need for a broad-based, regional consortium to examine water quality trends and implement timely solutions.

Activity 2:

Coordinate Strategic Planning for Water Quality within and Across Agencies and Organizations with Local Jurisdiction

Coordination of water quality protection and restoration in Sarasota County can be improved by aligning common goals and policies across multiple federal, state, and local management plants. Improved coordination can leverage limited resources, build partnerships, and generate momentum to achieve progress.

Activity 3:

Inventory, Develop, and Coordinate Grant Funding

Intergovernmental coordination to identify, secure and manage grant funds for water quality projects can lead to economies of scale and faster results. This is especially important for municipalities working with Sarasota County Government and SWFWMD to implement water infrastructure projects. A dedicated grants specialist affiliated with either the National Estuary Programs or the Gulf Coast Community Foundation could provide a cohesive and coordinated regional approach.

Activity 4:

Support a Common Publicly Accessible Website for Data Storage, Visualization, and Information Sharing (e.g., Water Atlas)

The Water Atlas websites for Sarasota County and the Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership are a valuable but underutilized resource for collecting and conveying a variety of data to citizens, scientists, resource managers and users, and policymakers. These platforms are deserving of ongoing support and additional marketing to increase use of the Atlases.

Activity 5:

Increase Capacity of Area Water Quality Professionals, Managers, and Education and Outreach Specialists by Supporting Summits, Workshops, Trainings, Tech Transfer, and Network Building

Strategic investments in elevating the skills, knowledge and networks of water quality professionals in the Sarasota area will strengthen their capacity to communicate and collaborate to solve the region’s water quality challenges.

Activity 6:

Develop and Deliver Collaborative Water Quality Education and Outreach Using Local Partnerships and Networks

Collaborative education and outreach that capitalizes on trusted local networks, embraces multi-cultural communication, and skillfully delivers consistent and creative science-based messages can inspire and motivate homeowners, students, bay users and other audiences to reduce their nutrient pollution footprint.

Activity 7:

Support Local Policymaker Understanding of the Science-Policy Connections of Nutrient Management and Cost-Effectiveness of Water Quality Protection Policies

Supporting policymakers with the best available science and information about cost-effective nutrient management strategies, and communicating those concepts clearly and consistently, can lead to water quality outcomes with a high return on investment. An organizational ombudsman could serve as an impartial conduit for sharing critical information, and establish policies and procedures for effective communication of issues to policymakers.