Official: Clean water good for economy
REDINGTON SHORES – The many dolphins and manatees visible these days in the Intracoastal Waterway and Tampa Bay is symbolic of the economic value of the Tampa Bay Estuary program, according to Randy Deshazo, the principal planner for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
Speaking to members of the Barrier Island Government Council on Jan. 28, Deshazo said the health of Tampa Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway is a key asset for economic strength in the area.
Deshazo said the estuary is part of a 600-square-mile watershed that includes parts of six counties.
“The employment within that watershed area its about 1.4 million,” he said. “That includes a wide range of industries. They include fishing, sightseeing, forestry, retail trade.”
Deshazo said of the 1.4 million jobs, about half are not directly dependent upon the bay.
“But the other half have some interaction with the bay either through supply chain or through tourism,” he said, “and depend on a healthy bay, which we define as an environmentally sound ecosystem.”
Deshazo said watershed-related trade and commerce within the six-county area accounts for $22 billion annually or about 13 percent of the total economy.