Pensacola Bay System


The Pensacola Bay System watershed covers nearly 7,000 square miles in northwest Florida and southern Alabama. Approximately 34 percent of the watershed is within Florida, with the remainder within Alabama. The watershed includes a series of interconnected estuaries, including Escambia Bay, Pensacola Bay, Blackwater Bay, East Bay, and Santa Rosa Sound, as well as the Escambia, Blackwater, and Yellow rivers. The entire system discharges into the Gulf of Mexico south of Pensacola.

Pensacola Bay SWIM Plan

The Pensacola Bay System Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) plan includes strategies and actions designed to protect and restore watershed resources and functions. The plan was most recently updated in 2017.

Addressing continuing challenges affecting water quality and natural systems requires a range of strategies. Among these are additional improvements in the treatment and management of stormwater runoff; continued implementation of best management practices for agriculture, silviculture, and construction; and additional efforts to improve wastewater treatment and management. To complement these, long-term protection of critical habitats and associated buffer areas will further help protect water resources. Projects identified in the Pensacola Bay System SWIM Plan include the following:

  • Stormwater Planning and Retrofit
  • Septic Tank Abatement
  • Advanced Onsite Treatment Systems
  • Agriculture and Silviculture BMPs
  • Basinwide Sedimentation Abatement
  • Riparian Buffer Zones
  • Aquatic, Hydrologic and Wetland Restoration
  • Estuarine Habitat Restoration
  • Strategic Land Conservation
  • Watershed Stewardship Initiative
  • Sub-basin Restoration Plans
  • Wastewater Treatment and Management Improvements
  • Interstate Coordination
  • Analytical Program Support
  • Comprehensive Monitoring Program

Any questions concerning the Pensacola Bay System SWIM program may be directed to Paul Thorpe at or (850) 539-5999.

Supporting Documents

Water Supply Assessments

East Bay/Blackwater Bay/Yellow River Preliminary Baseline Resource Characterization (2010)

Wellhead Protection Area Delineation in Southern Escambia County (1997)

Hydrogeology of the Northwest Florida Water Management District (1996)