SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fl.a (WMBB) — Environmental results show that Choctawhatchee Bay is getting healthier over the years.
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance(CBA) collected data for the 2022 study.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff in there, but the one that we pay the most attention to is the trophic state index. Which is talking about the water bodies’ ability to produce life or biological productivity,” said monitoring coordinator Kayla Wingard. “We do not test for bacteria.”
Staff said overall the levels of nitrogen are decreasing in most areas and consistent in others. Chlorophyll is decreasing, and phosphorus is staying constant.
The CBA said both nitrogen and phosphorus are very important for life and for plant growth.
“We’re not seeing any alarming increasing trends for two of those three trends that I like to key in on. So overall that’s a good indicator that we’re having less pollution from stormwater runoff. It’s a good thing,” said Wingard.
The study shows a difference between 2021 and 2022. Hot spots shown in previous years have become under control showing improvement.
“We have been collecting this water quality information for potentially over 20 years, we have a lot of data. We are out at stations every single month without stopping, we work with a lot of volunteers to get this data done and there are no plans to stop,” said Wingard.
The CBA said that stems from less overall pollution and installing more filtering reefs bettering the water quality.
“So being a good water steward is contributing as little as possible to that runoff that stormwater brings into the Bay. That often comes from fertilizer, human waste, animal waste, all sorts of things,” said Wingard.
A good and healthy bay is important for both those that use the bay and live on it.
“In this community, a huge reason is to make it fishable and have the best conditions for that so 100% I think this is going to be useful for fishermen, for homeowners on the coast and for the public, and anyone who enjoys the bay, I think we all do,” said Wingard.
The full 20-22 study will be added to the water quality monitoring dashboard on the CBA website. More resources can be found on the dashboard including manatee sighting forms.