Lucas Daprile reports for the TC Palm – “Two-thirds of the state’s waste is spread on private land. Half of that requires permits and is banned in certain watersheds…The other half is not. Classified as “fertilizer,” limitless amounts of it can be dumped near waterways – despite containing just as much nitrogen and phosphorus as…sewage sludge. It’s the source of nearly a fourth of the phosphorus in the Lake Okeechobee watershed…Lawmakers tried to ban waste dumping in the St. Lucie, Caloosahatchee and Lake Okeechobee watersheds when they unanimously passed the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program in 2007. But a committee rewrite of the bill exempted the waste that contains less bacteria and heavy metals, without regard to its nitrogen and phosphorus content…The state should monitor, track and regulate all waste and dispose of it differently, say environmentalists…” Read Investigation: Human waste fertilizes farms, but fuels toxic algae blooms
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “A Florida Senate committee approved legislation…for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee…But several members…said to expect changes to Senate Bill 10 before it reaches the full Florida Legislature. Responding to numerous residents south of the lake who testified…that the reservoir would ruin the local economy, Committee Chairman Jack Latvala (standing in for Chairman Book)…promised the bill ‘will have an economic development component…’…Sen. David Simmons…said he planned to add an amendment to the bill calling for the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corps of Engineers to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike…in three years so it could hold enough water to prevent discharges. Acquiring the land and building the reservoir could take 15 to 25 years, Simmons said, but fixing the dike would be ‘an immediate solution.’…Corps officials said the lake can’t hold more water until work on the south side of the dike is completed, which is scheduled for 2025.” Read Senate panel OKs Negron’s reservoir plan, promises changes
Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Bradenton Herald – “Two Democrats on the (EPC) committee, Sen. Gary Farmer…and Linda Stewart…raised doubts about the cause of…pollution-laden discharges into the…estuaries. ‘Sugar is being vilified in this whole thing,’ Farmer said. ‘Sugar cleans a lot of that water before it goes into the lake.’…Bradley…urged the groups to bring new ideas forward…One option…is a proposal by Sen. David Simmons…which would shift responsibility of repairs of…Herbert Hoover dike from the federal Army Corps of Engineers to the state. Under the bill being drafted by Simmons, Florida would offer the federal government a $1 billion interest-free loan to accelerate the repairs to the dike and rebuild it to raise the lake levels from the 15.5 feet currently allowed to up to 19 feet. If the Army Corps refuses to do the work by 2020, the South Florida Water Management district would assume control of the dike... ‘This is a starting point but we need to have some alternatives from people who don’t like [SB 10],’ said Sen. Jack Latvala…” Read Contentious Everglades reservoir plan gets swift early approval but opposition grows
Jake Martin reports for The St. Augustine Record – “St. Johns County commissioners…will consider a resolution urging the Florida Legislature and Cabinet to more equally disburse funds for water conservation projects. Money is pouring into the state’s waterways after…Amendment 1, but it seems most of that money is flowing south. Commissioner Jeb Smith told The Record…he has concerns about a…proposal put forward by Senate President Joe Negron…to spend nearly $2.4 billion in Amendment 1 money to buy 60,000 acres and build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee…‘We (St. Johns County) pay the doc stamps, we’re one of the larger contributors to that fund right now and we’re not going to get anything out of it for years to come. That doesn’t make sense. That’s not a real proper allocation of what those monies were intended to do.’ Smith said Negron’s proposal ties up too many dollars meant for the whole state into one big project whose viability has already been called into question…As written in the county’s draft resolution, North and Central Florida are home to 70 percent of the state’s river watersheds, the majority of Florida’s springs, and provide nearly all of the recharge to the Florida aquifer. Meanwhile, in 2016, the Everglades and southern estuaries received about 4.8 times the Amendment 1 funding than statewide springs protection did.” Read St. Johns County Commission to consider resolution urging state to spread spending on water conservation
Peter Schorsch reports for Florida Politics – “In a joint letter sent…from Sugar Labor Management Committee, IAMAW District 166, Florida State Council of Machinists, and Local 2152 (Osceola & Okeelanta), union representatives expressed ‘strong opposition’ to Senate Bill 10, which seeks to purchase private sugar industry land for storing Lake O runoff…The union letter also comes on the heels of another objection from 14 EAA landowners – U.S. Sugar, Florida Crystals among others – which firmly stated they are ‘not willing sellers of their property to the government.’ ” Read Florida Sugar Union blasts Joe Negron’s ‘job killing’ Lake O reservoir plan
Katie Landeck reports for the Panama City News Herald – “[T]he Northwest Florida Water Management group is updating the Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) plan for the St. Andrew Bay and St. Joe Bay Watershed…To make sure the SWIM plan fully addresses environmental impacts citizens are seeking in the bays, springs and lakes, the district is asking for the public’s input on the plan.” Read Input sought on SWIM plan
Jim Waymer reports for Florida Today – “[T]he Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission directed staff to gather input on how a limited harvest of [goliath grouper] or other future management of goliath grouper might work…FWC biologists say allowing some limited catch and kill would helpanswer key questions about the fish, such as whether, like other grouper, they can “genderbend,” changing from males to females as they age…Some divers and fishermen say the mammoth fish is hogging prized crabs, lobsters and fish…Goliath grouper have been off limits to harvest from state and federal waters off the Southeastern United States since 1990…Scientists…warn that long-term loss of the mangroves – crucial habitat for young goliaths – makes it especially difficult to predict the fish’s future…Years of commercial divers overfishing them almost did the goliath in before the 1990 ban. But fishermen say this top predator has bounced back with a vengeance.” Read Florida weighs goliath grouper hunt
Noreen O’Donnell reports for NBC – “[W]hen California Gov. Jerry Brown defended the science of climate change at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, he put California’s economic growth up against Texas’. Far from hindering California’s growth, climate rules contributed to the state’s economic rise, Brown said. ‘California is growing a hell of a lot faster than Texas, and we have more sun than you have oil,’ he said.” Read Environmentalists Dispute Republican Claims Over ‘Job-Killing’ Regulations
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
February 9-11 – Attend the Public Interest Environmental Conference: Land Conservation: The Worth of the Earth at the University of Florida. FCC Chairman, Senator Bob Graham, and FCC Steering Committee members will be presenting. For more information, click here.
February 13, 6:00 pm – Attend Sun Power: What’s Next for Solar in Florida at the Kapnick Center Auditorium (4820 Bayshore Dr.) in Naples. This will be a panel presentation featuring Mary Dipboye, founder of Florida’s first solar co-op and a FLSUN advisory board member; Jim Henderson, president of a solar-powered business; and Chad Washburn, Deputy Director at Naples Botanical Garden, a LEED Gold Standard institution. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
February 15, 12:00 pm – Participate in 1000 Friends of Florida’s FREE webinar: Implementing Water 2070: Water Conservation Planning for Florida Communities. Dr. Pierce Jones, Director of the University of Florida’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities, will discuss water conservation planning for Florida’s communities based on a series of studies he’s conducted on behalf of the Toho Water Authority, Envision Alachua (Plum Creek), and other local governments, developers, and water authorities. For more information and to register, click here.
February 15, 6:30 pm – Attend Troubled Waters: Tallahassee Screening and Panel Discussion at the Challenger Learning Center IMAX (200 South Duval St, Tallahassee, FL 32301). Florida’s waterways are suffering from significant pollution problems. Combined with the impacts from a rapidly growing population, we have a potential recipe for disaster. The documentary will be shown (48) minutes and followed by a panel discussion featuring Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper; Sarah Owen Gledhill, Florida Wildlife Federation; and Ryan Smart, 1000 Friends of Florida. For more information and your FREE tickets, click here.
March 7-9 – Attend FGCU’s Biodiversity Conference in Fort Myers. For more information and to register, click here.
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