Lucas Daprile reports for the Naples Daily News – “Farmers and sludge companies throughout the state dumped 98,000 tons of [“Class B,” treated human waste] over 82,503 acres in 2013… That’s enough to cover Port St. Lucie, the state’s eighth-largest city… [O]f the 65 active sites…: - 8 are in an Outstanding Florida Waters basin, where the state prohibits liquid wastewater discharges. – 24 are in the Springs Protection Area, where rainwater quickly flows underground to recharge the aquifer system and drinking water supply. – 44 are in a basin that drains directly into a stream, canal or lake… Citing concerns about phosphorus pollution, lawmakers in 2007 banned Class B waste in the Lake Okeechobee, St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee River watersheds. In response, some plants… moved their dump sites into other watersheds… Some soil at Peace River Ranch… contained 629 parts (phosphorous) per million. That’s 10 times the amount UF deems ‘very high.’… DEP granted a permit anyway, allowing the Bahia grass farm to dump… roughly 55 tons of phosphorus per year… Bahia grass is one crop UF says rarely needs extra phosphorus, but farms growing it account for 81 percent of the… DEP-permitted (dump) sites… ‘Should we be banning biosolids in more areas…? Absolutely,’ Smart (president of 1000 Friends of Florida) said, but ‘there has not been an appetite for addressing springs issues in the Legislature this year. Most of the attention has gone toward dealing with the Everglades and the estuaries.’… ‘Basically, the dumpers… just went over to St. Johns,’ said Audubon Florida scientist Paul Gray. ‘I don’t want the St. Johns River even more polluted because we’re trying to save (Lake) Okeechobee.’… Taxpayers have spent a quarter-billion dollars restoring [the St. Johns River] over the past four decades, yet… phosphorus levels have increased in half the Upper Basin’s measured areas.” Read Human waste dumped near Florida springs
Randolph Bracy III writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “Princeton Oaks, with over a million square feet of warehouse and industrial space will rise from the earth next to 300 acres of wetlands and woodlands, and the head of the little Wekiva… [R]esidents have been up in arms against the development. The city has responded by arguing the warehouse is the lesser of two evils; there had been plans to build thousands of square feet of homes, commercial space, and an elementary school on the site at one time… Touting a project that’s a threat to Florida’s water because it ‘could have been worse’ is hardly a reason to celebrate. It’s the blind acceptance that only two choices are viable, the buy-in to the notion that all development, no matter the unintended consequences, is progress… The toxic algae that overspilled the banks of Lake Okeechobee last summer and snaked its way onto South Florida beaches did not spring into life on its own. The green sludge is a product of our own creation, the potent result of the Lake Okeechobee cauldron fed by over-development, over-fertilization, and the destruction of natural areas that once filtered and cleansed the water… Just as the Kissimmee River heads south to Lake Okeechobee, water from the Little Wekiva River carries its pollutants into the St. Johns River… As we grapple with the problem to the south, I fear the same fate awaits us to the north. We can continue to approve developments where they don’t belong, tear up the natural filters in the few enclaves of nature still holding on, and then wring our hands over toxic sludge and polluted water. Or we can build with an eye to the future rather than a quick buck. We can offer better than ‘it could have been worse.’” Read To safeguard Florida water, the lesser of 2 evils is never acceptable
Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “Florida Forever was the largest land buying program in the nation from 1990 to 2009 when it received $300 million most years. But land conservation has received only 5 percent on average since then… HB 7119 would revamp the program’s funding formula to provide more for conservation easements through the agriculture department and a local parks grant program while removing funding for water management districts. The bill has received support from environmental groups who hope it will lead to a funding boost for Florida Forever… Rep. Matt Caldwell,… filed an amendment to provide increasing amounts to the program… After $57 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund [from the 2018-19 fiscal year through 2020-21], the amount increases to $78 million in 2021-22 and gradually increases to $200 million per year starting in FY 2029-2030. Eric Draper of Audubon Florida said he was concerned about water management districts not being included in the funding formula. But he also praised the proposed spending for Florida Forever… ‘We can’t get behind that level of funding and don’t think voters will either,’ Moncrief (of Florida Conservation Voters) told POLITICO Florida.” Read Bill amendment provides $57 million to Florida Forever
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “Senate President Joe Negron said Wednesday the House has tentatively agreed to reverse its anti-debt stance and borrow $800 million to build a reservoir to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges… ‘Nothing has been agreed to,’ said Speakar Richard Corcoran’s spokesman Fred Piccolo. ‘Everything is up in the air. The ball is currently in the Senate’s court.’ Budget negotiations between the Senate and House have been bumpy this year as the two chambers try to agree on a spending plan before the May 5 end of session. After talks deteriorated Monday, they seemed to be close to a deal that included money for the reservoir but by Wednesday evening they still were in a stalemate and no official compromise was released… Negron said the reservoir was one of the big-ticket items… Negron and Corcoran agreed to fund behind the scenes before they release so-called allocations. That’s the first step toward drafting a budget because it’s an agreement on how much money goes into each area of the budget, such as education and the environment. Corcoran… said… he agreed to build the reservoir but didn’t give details about whether to pay cash or bond for it… Negron has made it clear to the House he doesn’t want to end session without a reservoir… Without a budget by May 5, the Legislature will need a special session.” Read With Legislature in stalemate, borrowing for Lake Okeechobee reservoir uncertain
Eve Samples reports for the TC Palm – “[Nathaniel Reed] would… play a key role in the federal government’s banning of DDT in 1972. It’s one bullet point on a long list of environmental accomplishments he recently documented in his new book, “Travels on the Green Highway: An Environmentalist’s Journey.” Reed served two presidents (Nixon and Ford) and advised six Florida governors. He helped craft some of the country’s most important conservation laws, including the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Reed worked to save and expand Redwoods National Park in California and Big Cypress Preserve in Florida’s Everglades… In 1969, Reed became the first environmental adviser to any governor in the history of Florida… Working with state leaders, Reed cracked down on the practice of discharging raw sewage into Florida’s waters… Reed believes no modern Florida governor has done more to erode environmental protections in Florida than Scott, who severely cut funding from the state’s five water management districts… ‘It’s petty nonsense, and the Legislature allowed it to happen,’ said Reed, who supports plans for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that would store, treat and move water to the Everglades.” Read 47 years after first Earth Day, it’s time for another awakening
Mark Woods writs for The Florida Times Union – “We consistently tend to overlook the value of environmental assets – and underestimate the cost of destroying them.” Read Talleyrand land a reminder of the cost of righting wrongs
Laura Parker reports for National Geographic – “David Titley…is the founding director of the Center for Solutions for Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State University and a retired Rear Admiral with the U.S. Navy wo worked… first at the Pentagon and then as chief operating officer for [NOAA]…He [said]: The budget… proposed by the president is absolutely devoid of looking into the future… What do we do with the… scientists who worked on these issues?... The best ones will try to go to Europe… If you are early-career… it’s going to be really hard. Do we lose a generation of scientists if we go through this for three, four, five years?... [A] world where you have… 35 feet of sea-level rise – that is a world that we literally do not recognize. That is a world where Orlando is the southernmost point in Florida… We’ve seen that 700,000 refugees coming from Syria have shaken the European Union to its core. Take that number and multiply it by 100 who would be forced to leave the coasts and that’s the kind of change we are going to unleash upon ourselves… If I could do one financial transaction, I would short South Florida real estate. Ultimately, it’s worth zero and there will be hundreds of billions of dollars lost. Miami’s strategy is to encourage as much development as possible and then use money in the tax bas to try to figure this out. It’s the ultimate Ponzi scheme… Congress will not lead, but Congress can be led… Enough people have to care enough. It can’t be Number 15 on a list of one-to-ten. Right now, the public does not care enough about climate change… ” Read Why a ‘War on Science’ Puts Us All at Risk
Ben Wolfgang reports for The Washington Times – “Top congressional Democrats… introduced a bill that would set up a government fund to pay for global warming adaptation projects and also would authorize up to $200 million annually in “climate change bonds” to be sold to the public. The bicameral measure, introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, both democrats, has virtually no chance of advancing in either chamber of Congress, both of which are controlled by Republicans.” Read Democrats push bill to offer $200 million in ‘climate change bonds’
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
April 29, 10:00 am – Participate in the People’s Climate March in Pensacola. The march will start at Long Hollow Park (1001 N. Guillemard St.). For more information click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 29, 1:00 pm – Participate in the People’s Climate March in Orlando. Tim Canova, and U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch will speak. For more information, click here.
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May 21, 3:00 pm – Attend a free “Solar Co-op Information Meeting” for the Alachua County Solar Co-op at the Alachua Library Branch (14913 NW 140 Street) in Alachua. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
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