Gulfport Gets Serious About Clam Bayou

At long last, Gulfport city council plans to take action on Clam Bayou.

After years of waiting on the local district of the state water management agency, Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD, or Swiftmud) to complete its work redesigning water flow in the bayou, the Gulfport city council agreed at last week’s workshop to hire an outside firm to research the history and science of Clam Bayou as well as any engineering work performed in the past.

Clam Bayou belongs to several different entities: the state, St. Petersburg, Gulfport all share ownership of 127 acres. In addition, property owners on the bayou have riparian rights over some of the water. While recent state efforts redirected the stormwater flow into the bayou, through the tidal estuary, and out to Boca Ciega Bay, some have expressed concerns that the work did not go far enough to stop source-point pollution and further degradation of the bayou (Editor’s note: Gabber reporter Cathy Salustri has expressed such concerns in her column).

The first phase of the work, information gathering, will including document which portions of Clam Bayou the city has the legal right to oversee. It will also include historic, scientific, and engineering research for the area. City staff suggested the council make any bayou-related decisions based on “actual independent scientific, engineering and study data in lieu of anecdotal references or opinions.”

Lame duck Councilwoman Jennifer Salmon requested that the firm the city hire not have a relationship with any Florida agencies.

In the next two or three weeks the city will publish a request for qualifications, according to City Manager Jim O’Reilly. If the work will cost less than $20,000, council will not vote on the contract.

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