Robert Knight writes for The Gainesville Sun – “In 2012, the middle segment of the Santa Fe River…stopped flowing. Stagnant and loaded with nutrients, the river between High Springs and Gilchrist Blue Spring devolved into a guacamole quagmire. Flows were at an all-time low…and nitrogen concentrations were the highest ever measured…[Following were] depleted dissolved oxygen in the water and dying fish…The Santa Fe is even more vulnerable to another horrific algal bloom today than it was four years ago. Average river flows continue to decline because of new groundwater pumping permits. Fertilized row crops, pastures and confined animal feeding operations are proliferating throughout the region. These changes are occurring despite the state’s admission that the aquifer is unacceptably depleted and nutrient pollution in the springs is well above harmful levels. Well-meaning laws approved by the Legislature…continue to be ineffective…After two years of meetings between Columbia County leadership and stakeholders, the county’s planning and zoning board…developed a proposed ordinance restricting new large and medium-sized industrial livestock operations south of U.S. 27. The purpose was limiting the rate of increase in groundwater pollution reaching the springs along the Santa Fe…On Feb. 16, the County Commission unexpectedly voted 5 to 0 against the proposed amendment.” Read Take personal responsibility for pollution
The Panama City News Herald Editorial Board writes – “This long-time dormancy in fossil fuel production should remain the norm for Florida, which is why we support state Sen. Dana Young’s effort to ban…fracking in the state…Admittedly it likely is hypocritical to benefit from this process and oppose it. But we don’t see it as viable for Florida…For Florida, the chemicals understandably provide much of the motivation for fracking opponents. That concern is enhanced by fracking’s potential to disrupt the sensitive karst geological formation that houses the bulk of our drinking water.” Read Keep fracking out of Florida
Paula Dockery writes for the Tallahassee Democrat – “A decade ago, the governor and other elected officials focused on water quality, Everglades’ restoration, and land acquisition by spending $300 million a year under Florida Forever…Despite warnings from scientists, local governments and the environmental community, there was a major shift in the mindset and actions of elected officials. Florida Forever funding disappeared, water management budgets were slashed and the Department of Community Affairs…was abolished. Improperly installed or maintained septic tanks have leached into our water bodies. Natural systems that filter polluted surface waters have been altered…Angered by the state’s blatant disregard of protecting our natural resources, Florida voters in 2014 overwhelmingly supported a constitutional amendment forcing the state to invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually in land acquisition and management and restoration projects…The Florida Legislature has found creative ways to ignore the intent of the voters and shift funds while still claiming to have legally complied…[Negron’s plan has] merits. It protects fragile ecosystems, reduces potential flooding risks, and provides storage from Lake Okeechobee releases…The devil’s in the details.” Read Incoming Senate president Negron’s gutsy water plan has merits
Frank Torres reports for Orlando Politics – “The Seminole County Commission will be considering an ordinance…regarding the use of nitrogen based fertilizer which in recent years has caused run-off harming water quality and marine life in the state. The proposed ordinance would restrict the use of fertilizer containing Nitrogen or Phosphorus between June 1st and September 30th…Outside of the restricted period, any nitrogen based fertilizer would have to utilize a 50% slow release formula. The ordinance would also restrict the use of fertilizer within 15 feet of any body of water…The Commission will hear the proposed ordinance on February 28th.” Read Seminole County to consider Ordinance regulating Fertilizer use
Jennifer Portman reports for the Tallahassee Democrat – “Florida State Parks Director Lisa Edgar has resigned from the post after less than two months on the job.” Read New Florida State Parks Director resigns
Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “[Martin County] has agreed to pay Lake Point LLC, a company that operates a rock mine in western Martin County, more than $371,800 in attorneys’ fees and establish a new policy for how to handle public business on private email accounts. It was a long-fought victory for the company, which originally sued in February 2013, alleging that former Martin County Commissioner and environmental advocate Maggy Hurchalla colluded with commissioners to derail the contract between the company, the county and the South Florida Water Management District…The case against the county and Hurchalla is still pending and, if successful, could expose the county to millions in additional fees and damages…The Lake Point venture began as a public-private partnership that would allow Lake Point’s owners to operate a for-profit rockpit…In exchange, Lake Point would donate the 2,200-acre property to the district, which would use it to divert water from Lake Okeechobee or the C-44 Canal to avoid discharges into the St. Lucie Estuary. The water…would be treated and then sent south into Florida Bay. The proposal is similar to a plan by Florida Senate President Joe Negron…Lake Point argued the agreement…gave it the right to transport and supply water; the company wanted to sell water to Palm Beach County. Martin County countered that Lake Point was not allowed to conduct a revenue-generating public water-supply project on the property. The county canceled the contract in late 2012, after Hurchalla urged county commissioners to reject it, claiming it could destroy as much as 60 acres of wetlands.” Read Martin County slapped with big public records fine
Amanda Lamela reports for the Clearwater Patch – “In an effort to ensure the future of its water supply, Clearwater engineers are moving forward with the design and permitting phase of the city’s groundwater replenishment project…Groundwater replenishment purifies reclaimed water to ‘better-than-drinking-water,’ according to the City of Clearwater. It also recharges the aquifer using the purified water. The process is…used throughout the country and the world, according to the city…[T]he project is expected to cost about $33 million, with construction to begin in 2017…Clearwater will host a third public information open house on…May 2…” Read Clearwater Groundwater Replenishment Topic of 2nd Public Meeting
Jeffrey Rissman writes for Forbes – “The Trump administration has prioritized repealing the Clean Power Plan…New analysis shows that repealing the rule would cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars, add more than a billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and cause more than 100,000 premature deaths due to inhaled particulate pollution.” Read Clean Power Plan Repeal Would Cost America $600 Billion, Cause 120,000 Premature Deaths
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
March 2, 6:30 pm – Join the Sierra Club Adventure Coast Committee when featured speaker Phil Compton will present the Sierra Club Campaign “Ready for 100,” designed to help communities transition to 100% renewable energy use. The meeting will be held at the Harvey Martin Democratic Center (3432 Deltona Blvd.) in Spring Hill. Social begins at 6:30 pm followed by the meeting and program at 7:00 pm. For more information, email email@example.com.
March 8, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group Meeting at the Belvedere Library in The Villages, FL. Guest speakers will include Laura Seckbach Finn, the founder of Fly By Night, Inc., and Nigel Rudolph, from the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Laura will focus on Florida bats and Nigel will discuss the history and culture of the Crystal River. For more information and to RSVP, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
March 7-9 – Attend FGCU’s Biodiversity Conference in Fort Myers. For more information and to register, click here.
March 10, 7:30 PM – Attend the Panthers vs. Wild Hockey game and support conservation efforts for the Florida panther. To buy your tickets, click here.
March 14, 9:00 AM – Participate in Florida Coasts & Ocean Advocacy Day at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. Join the Surfrider Foundation and Florida Coastal & Ocean Coalition in sharing your support for our ocean and beaches with your legislators! Advocate for clean water, healthy beaches, and an end to plastic pollution. For more information, click here.
March 22, 10:00 AM – Participate in Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. Floridians will make their voices heard by speaking directly with their elected officials on key energy and water issues facing Florida. Public transportation from several cities across the state will be offered, as will advocacy training on March 21st. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
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We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest environmental news from around the state. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.
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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 70 conservation organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.
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