Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 38, Supplement 1, pp 9–18 | Cite as

Estimating Benefits in a Recovering Estuary: Tampa Bay, Florida

  • Marc RussellEmail author
  • Holly Greening


Restoration and preservation of riparian forests and coastal marshes provides nutrient removal and other biochemical and physical functions which may preclude, reduce, or delay the need for additional water treatment, while also protecting human health. We examined the ecosystem goods and related potential cost savings for the Tampa Bay community from seagrass expansion (more than 3,100 ha since 1990), coastal marsh, and mangrove restoration/recovery (more than 600 ha since 1990), and habitat that has been maintained or preserved. Habitats in and around Tampa Bay provide nutrient reductions equivalent to just over US$22 million per year in avoided wastewater treatment plant costs. Future accrual of value associated with maintaining the ecosystem good of usable clean water could rapidly increase to as high as ∼US$3 billion per year, when one takes into account the additional costs of water treatment and storm water diversion infrastructure that is likely as the region’s population continues to grow. There is additional value accrual close to a quarter million dollars per year based on avoided social costs to the global community due to greenhouse gases sequestered by bay habitats. Most human beneficiaries associated with the maintenance of usable clean water in Tampa Bay are part of the surrounding regional community. The large current and future cost savings for the community surrounding Tampa Bay and additional benefits for the global community speak to the value of maintaining a healthy bay through past and continued restoration and preservation efforts.


Ecosystem goods Tampa Bay Estuarine valuation Habitat restoration Water quality 



We acknowledge the fact that this type of study cannot take place without, and would like to thank, dedicated teams at the US EPA and the Tampa Bay estuary program for their contributions, several reviewers for quality feedback and suggestions, and the many people involved to protecting and restoring Tampa Bay for providing us the rare resource of a recovering bay.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (outside the USA) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US EPAGulf Ecology DivisionGulf BreezeUSA
  2. 2.Tampa Bay Estuary ProgramPetersburgUSA

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