Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Swiftmud ready to clean up shooting range lead from Sawgrass Lake Park

Lead contamination at Sawgrass Lake Park comes from a shooting range across the lake. Separate from the lead cleanup, Swiftmud will dredge part of the lake to create cleaner water for wildlife.


Lead contamination at Sawgrass Lake Park comes from a shooting range across the lake. Separate from the lead cleanup, Swiftmud will dredge part of the lake to create cleaner water for wildlife.

PINELLAS PARK — Work is expected to begin next month on a multimillion-dollar project to clean lead pollutants out of Sawgrass Lake Park.

The project, which is expected to take almost three years, will begin almost six years after the state settled lawsuits with a nearby shooting range to determine who was responsible for cleaning up the pollution.

The construction will not interfere with visitors to the park, and they will be able to watch progress from an observation tower on the lake.

Sawgrass Lake Park is a 330-acre natural oasis just west of Interstate 275 and south of Gandy Boulevard off 62nd Avenue N. It is owned by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, also known as Swiftmud, and managed by Pinellas County. A lake and wetland system on the property provides natural water treatment to enhance the quality of water draining into Tampa Bay.

The contaminated area consists of about 9 acres in the western portion of the park, which is not open to visitors.

The cleanup will begin with some minor work to level some land and stabilize an access road into the area, said Swiftmud engineer Matt Preston, the project's director.

Bids for the bulk of the work should be awarded no later than mid February, with work to begin in the spring. When the 30-month project is finished, the district will have spent an estimated $23 million to remove spent lead shot and contaminants from park property. Contaminated vegetation will be cleared.

Swiftmud also will dredge a portion of Sawgrass Lake to create cleaner water for the fish and animals, as well as to improve the overall health of Tampa Bay and its sea life. The dredging is not part of the lead cleanup and has long been planned. But it was delayed while Swiftmud and the state Department of Environmental Protection worked out lawsuits against the Skyway Trap & Skeet Club shooting range in Pinellas Park.

The nonprofit Skyway range sits at the end of 74th Avenue N near the Shoppes at Park Place. It has been open since the late 1940s.

When Swiftmud took 14 acres of the range in a 1975 condemnation case, a judge gave Skyway an easement to continue shooting over the property. Then, in 2000, Swiftmud sued when it discovered that large amounts of lead shot from Skyway had been straying into wetlands beyond the easement. After Swiftmud sued, so did the DEP, which enforces pollution laws.

The two lawsuits were settled in 2004. Under terms of the settlement, Swiftmud agreed to clean up the lead pollution on its land and give the gun club 5 acres of that wetlands and prepare the land for range use, even allowing a fence up to 50 feet high to keep pellets out of the remaining wetlands.

In the six years since the settlement, Preston said, Swiftmud has been saving money to pay for the project as well as doing tests and studies to determine the scope of it.

Contact Anne Lindberg at (727) 893-8450 or

Swiftmud ready to clean up shooting range lead from Sawgrass Lake Park 12/29/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 4:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]