Program aims to teach water-friendly gardening in St. Pete

An organization dedicated to keeping Bay Area water clean is working with the community to protect the area's drinking water supply. 

Tampa Bay Water supplies drinking water to residents in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties and funds projects across the Bay Area through the Source Water Protection Mini-Grant Program.

Tampa Bay Water officials say these projects are important because the cleaner the source water, the less energy and fewer chemicals are needed to treat that water before it reaches the tap.

One of the winners of this year's grant was Pinellas County Schools, which received $3,400 to create a Florida-friendly pollinator garden at the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg.

The garden will be coupled with the city’s rain barrel education and composting programs and will provide educational programming to more than 4,000 students and 80,000 park visitors each year.

Through this project, students and park patrons will learn how pesticides and native plants contribute to can change water quality.

About $30,000 of grant funds are available each year to community groups, non-profit groups, schools and universities through the Source Water Mini-Grant Program. Those grants range from $2,000 to $10,000 for activities that help protect regional drinking water resources. 

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