Upper Tampa Bay watershed
With the destruction of swamps and wetlands in the postwar years, flooding during major storms became a major problem for the Tampa Bay area. To alleviate flooding in the Upper Tampa Bay Watershed, Senator Sam Gibbons sponsored an initiative to build canals and diversionary structures to lead water away from the predominantly agricultural area in the early 1960s. Like most of the efforts to transform the physical landscape of Florida before the environmental regulations of the late 1970s, the justification for a given project rested solely on the amount of money a project would create, or save. Thus, policymakers balanced the environmental degradation of a given area against the economic impacts of a project. Attempts to assign an economic value to a given piece of wetland or swamp continue to this day with the wetland mitigation program that allows developers and agencies to bulldoze environmentally sensitive areas, as long as they pay credits to a fund that purchases “equally sensitive” lands elsewhere.