Tom Palmer reports for News Chief – “One of the big issues in addressing future water demands in Florida is how the increased withdrawals affect lakes and streams, and water bodies connected to them such as springs, as well as the aquifer in general. Although water plans are increasingly including so-called “alternative water sources,” the fact is that all of these sources except conservation involve eating a different piece of the sample pie… We all know that rainfall varies from year to year, but a little more than a decade ago scientists produced some research papers documenting the connections between streamflow and something called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). At its most basic, this refers to the contention that there are some periods of recent history when rainfall was more plentiful than others and that directly affected surface water flows… The latest estimated state population is 20.6 million with no decrease projected. Meanwhile, the first in-depth regional water supply study for Central Florida has concluded that sustainable withdrawals from the aquifer have reached their limit – there’s still a lot of water down there, but if you pump too much too fast, salt water will replace fresh water. That means major water users have to look for “alternative” sources to feed their growth ambitions, which brings us back to the AMO. In some of the recent debates over minimum flows for some Florida springs, water management staff has used the AMO to argue that all of the decisions to pump billions of gallons out of the ground are irrelevant; it’s just lack of rain. Not everyone’s buying it… A 2004 scientific review of the concept concluded it is unknowable what the future wet and dry cycles will be because scientists don’t really understand how this all works… Since then there has been more discussion of the uncertainties associated with climate change… The biggest issue is whether the rate of withdrawal from any source… will exceed the rate at which rainfall will replenish it… No one can answer when we’ll reach that point and that uncertainty should be part of future water planning.” Read Water-use planning faces uncertainty
Russell Colburn reports for Action News Jax – “Community activists are fighting to preserve a section of land in Ponte Vedra Beach known as ‘the outpost.’ Activists say it’s home to countless species of wildlife, but developers want to turn a portion of it into a major subdivision.” Read ‘Save Guana Now’ movement working to preserve section of land in Ponte Vedra Beach
Jay Cashmere reports for WPTV – “If you’ve been to the Florida Keys you know how important diving is for the economy, but what if there was no coral left? The scary reality of that happening is not far off… ‘… This reef at Looe Key used to have 70 to 80 percent coral, it’s down to 5 percent or less now,’ says Dr. Brian Lapointe of FAU Harbor Branch… Algae covers much of the reef at Looe Key and is the dominant feature… ;The big hammer has been water quality,’ says Lapointe. It’s deteriorated so badly that Lapointe, who has studied this particular reef for 34 years, wonders if it will ever return to a fraction of what it was. ‘We’ve lost corals, big giant brain corals 6 feet tall or higher that are hundreds of years old.’… ‘If we do nothing more than just wait and hope it comes back, we’ll probably end up with no coral in 50 to 100 years,’ says Mote Marine Laboratory Executive Director Dr. David Vaughan. Vaughun is wasting no time. He’s growing coral in tanks. In fact, …[he] wants to replant a million corals before he retires… ‘We really have to do everything we can to get the water quality right and do everything we can in terms of management to protect this resource,’ says Lapointe.” Read Experts work to save North America’s last living coral reef in the Florida Keys
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “Toxic algae blooms could be considered an ‘event of national significance’ and impacted areas in coastal Florida could receive federal funds under a bill… which now heads to the Senate floor[. The bill] would allow $22 million annually from 2019 through 2023 for research into the causes and ways to control algae blooms such as the ones that fouled Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River last summer. Congress still would have to allocate the money, a tough task when Republicans aim to cut spending and President Donald Trump has called for cuts to the agencies that would carry out the bill… Nelson’s bill is similar to another one filed by U.S. Rep. Brian Mast that calls for harmful algae blooms caused by Lake Okeechobee discharges to be eligible for disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.” Read Sen. Bill Nelson’s bill would give algae blooms ‘national significance’
David Conway reports for Florida Sportsman – “The reservoir’s storage size equals 78 billion gallons… South Florida’s population of 8,00,000 people uses 1.3 billion gallons of drinking water daily. Additionally, the reservoir water will be treated and cycled through and released, so that the storage capacity is dynamic, with water flowing through the reservoir several times during the year. In 2016, the most recent year of devastating discharges from Lake O, 737 billion gallons of water were released through the rivers to the east and west, causing significant ecological, biological and economic damages to those regions… ‘The root cause of all this is the extreme drainage of the land that became the EAA,’ says Perry, of the Florida Oceanographic Society,… ‘Of the EAA’s 700,000 acres of land, 480,000 acres is sugar cane, and all that acreage is kept drained below its historical water level.’ By Perry’s estimates, completion of the proposed reservoir would reduce discharges from Lake O to both coasts by ‘perhaps 50 to 50 percent. But the entire CERP plan, with the EAA reservoir, when completed, would reduce discharges by 90 percent according to agency modeling,’ Perry says.” Read One Step Closer?
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “The Treasure Coast is loathe to repeat the “Mean Green 2016.” So TCPalm analyzed the top lessons learned from 2016: - Discharge lake water in “pulses” to help break up algae and keep salt in the estuary. – Hold more Orlando-area rainfall runoff in lakes north of Lake Okeechobee… - Send more lake water into Everglades National Park… - Keep vetting practical and environmentally safe algae removal methods.” Read Analysis: Ways to reduce algae blooms from Lake Okeechobee discharges
Shelly Steck Reale reports for the Tampa Bay Reporter – “Concerned residents, activists and public officials came to Treasure Island on Saturday to join hands against offshore drilling… (St. Petersburg Mayor) Kriseman was one of several public officials and community activists who urged participants to contract federal and state officials to let them know that the risks to the environment and economy of offshore drilling are unacceptable. The Treasure Island rally was one of… 26 in Florida and hundreds in 17 other states and three countries around the world. Hands Across the Sand was created in response to an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform seven years ago that killed 11 workers and spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico… This year’s rally had an added urgency coming on the heels of President Donald Trump’s April executive order that opens the door to expanded offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans and in the western and central Gulf of Mexico… Treasure Island Mayor Robert Minning and state Rep. Kathleen Peters…[participated.] U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson… was not there but sent a statement [to be read.]… Sierra Club senior organizing manager Frank Jackalone spoke of the hazards of airgun blasting… to identify potential oil and gas deposits… ‘This can be heard by dolphins, and whales, and other sea critters from over 2,500 miles away,’ Jackalone said. ‘These blasts are every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day. This will kill our dolphins and whales; it will disrupt our sea life, our fisheries. We cannot allow this to happen.’” Read ‘No way, No How’ to Offshore Drilling, Treasure Island Mayor Says
Deborah Wheeler reports for the NWF Daily News – “A Walton County company is working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture to help solve one of the world’s serious water-quality problems… US Iron was able to develop a cost-effective iron-oxide-based product called PhosRedeema. PhosRedeema absorbs phosphorus… According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 60 percent of America’s coastal rivers and bays have been negatively impacted by phosphorus pollution… Lake Okeechobee, Chesapeake Bay, and Lake Erie are prime examples of toxic outbreaks of algae created by nutrient pollution, which leads to a process called eutrophication, which depletes the oxygen levels in the water killing aquatic life… It… is toxic to humans.” Read Walton resident improving nation’s water quality
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