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Tampa Bay Estuary Program
In 1990, Tampa Bay was designated an "estuary of national significance" by the US Congress, and joined the ranks of the National Estuary Program (which currently contains 28 estuaries) in 1991. As an urban watershed confronted with pollution, habitat loss and increasing development, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) faced significant challenges. Over fifteen years later, TBEP stands as a model for collaborative partnerships, innovative agreements and approaches for habitat restoration and addressing atmospheric nitrogen deposition as a contributor to eutrophication.Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest open-water estuary, spanning 400 square miles, with a drainage area nearly six times that size. While the Bay contains rich biodiversity, it is impacted by a rapidly growing human population and the second largest metropolitan area in the state. As of 2008, more than 2.3 million people lived in the watershed, and that number is expected to grow by nearly 20 percent by the year 2015.