How does growth affect the health of the Hillsborough River?

October 2018 – By 2045, Hillsborough County’s population is expected to increase by about 40%, or 600,000 new residents, according to the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Understanding and mitigating environmental impacts associated with such rapid growth is a key focus of the Planning Commission, the Hillsborough MPO, and Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board. Stormwater runoff from developed areas is a chief source of pollution to the bay and river and can result in flooding. More growth generally leads to increases in impervious surfaces from roads, parking lots, and pavement, preventing stormwater from filtering through the soil. Car emissions, road runoff, fertilizers, and pesticides are all major sources of surface water pollution.

Much of the Hillsborough River basin is already developed. In these areas, redevelopment is an important strategy, because it minimizes the need for additional impervious surface and offers opportunities for improving stormwater treatment and downstream water quality. Local governments are always working to improve surface water quality and minimize development impacts. For example, Tampa and Hillsborough County have made significant strides in improving the health of the Hillsborough River and other surface waters over the past three decades.

Learn more about the Hillsborough River Board and how you can become involved.

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