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Environment

Tampa Bay leaders discuss resiliency at regional conference

People sit at tables in a banquet room. Two large screens are at the back.
Bailey LeFever
/
WUSF Public Media
The two day conference is hosted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and its Regional Resiliency Coalition.

Leaders from a number of counties around the greater Tampa Bay region talked about issues such as wastewater management and making utilities stronger.

Tampa Bay region government officials, scientists, and business leaders met Tuesday in St. Petersburg to discuss current efforts and future plans for improving their communities’ resiliency.

Leaders from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, and Manatee counties talked about issues at the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Leadership Summit such as wastewater management and making utilities stronger.

The two-day conference is hosted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and its Regional Resiliency Coalition.

Multiple officials said while the counties are very different, their partnerships can help develop best practices to help inform their decisions and provide support to each other.

"I think why these regional efforts are important is we're all interconnected,” said Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes. “ We're connected by bodies of water. That’s kind of like the vascular system of a body….It’s all connected."

For example, he said, each county's decisions on dealing with issues like wastewater can impact surrounding areas.

For example, how Sarasota County handles its runoff can directly impact the estuaries and water that it and Manatee share.

“These regional efforts are important because we need to benefit from each other’s experience," said Hopes. "And in this area, we need to be on the same page. And we all need to be helping each other strive to reach those best practice goals.”

A mayoral panel featuring Woody Brown of Largo, Jane Castor of Tampa, Frank Hibbard of Clearwater, and Ken Welch of St. Petersburg will take place at the summit at 9 a.m. Wednesday.