Bob Knight writes for the Citrus County Chronicle – “Water flow and water quality of the 70 or so springs that support King’s Bay have been steadily degrading for the past 40 years… Underwater visibility of more than 100 feet has now declined to less than 6 feet… Declining spring flow has reduced the natural flushing time of the bay and allowed floating algae to multiply... Less spring flow promotes salt water intrusion in the bay and in the underlying groundwater. Altered salinity and elevated nutrients, combined with unwise aquatic plant management practices, eliminated the native grasses that formerly flourished in and around the springs… Crystal River/King’s Bay spring flows have declined by an average of 58 percent since the 1960s. However, the SWFWMD scientists have chosen to use a flawed groundwater flow model and ignore 20 years of historic spring flow data. The results have led those scientists to conclude that reduced spring flows are normal. Those staff are instructing their board to authorize more pumping, which will lead to additional harm to the ecology and economy of Crystal River… The district’s new rule will be good for the algae but not for the wildlife, residents, or tourists. Demand that the governing board (your public servants) reduce their staff’s proposed 11 percent additional flow reduction to zero, and that they direct staff to prepare a flow recovery plan.” Read Stand up for our waters
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “All over Florida, clashes are erupting over how much water can be diverted from the state’s springs to keep development going. The latest battleground was Tuesday’s meeting of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Despite opposition from more than 30 speakers, the water district’s board voted 9-1 to allow the flow of Crystal River and the 70 springs that make up Kings Bay to be cut up to 11 percent… Of particular concern in Crystal River and Kings Bay: the ecosystem is [refuge] to hundreds of manatees… Several residents said that so much groundwater pumping is going on… that the amount of salt in the river has risen to a noticeable level. They talked of finding saltwater barnacles on their boats, and seeing saltwater fish in what had been a freshwater estuary.” Read Florida’s ailing springs subject of clash over how much water to divert for development
Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying… to be the state’s top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying groups, many of whom sought to influence the administration’s policy or advance the governor’s political fortunes… One of Valenstein’s more contentious actions as head of the Suwannee River Water Management District came last summer when the district consented to allow Sabal Trail to lay a natural gas pipeline through an environmentally sensitive conservation area… (Gov.) Scott owned a stake in Spectra Energy, the Houston company chosen by Florida Power & Light to build and operate the $3 billion pipeline that the district approved.” Read New DEP secretary says there’s no conflict in political side business
Nathan Hale reports for Law 360 – “Frank Jackalone, staff director of the Sierra Club’s Florida chapter, told Law360 the appointment (of DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein) is one of Scott’s best. ‘Noah... has a lot of experience and he’s got good conservation values.’ Jackalone said. ‘He is a Republican and has Republican values, too, so we don’t always see eye to eye, but he is someone who has shown a lot of dedication to conservation issues.’… Gaining environmentalists’ endorsement is notable as the DEP has come under fire throughout Scott’s time as governor. In August 2013, a public employee group accused the state agency of allowing Florida’s anti-pollution enforcement efforts to plummet… That’s a lingering issue, according to Jackalone. But Jackalone said the top challenge Valenstein will need to address is a crisis over water pollution from a variety of sources, including nutrient-rich fertilizers and human and animal waste. ‘Stopping that pollution at the source has to be a very high priority of the DEP’s,’ Jackalone said. Other priorities Jackalone listed included working with the federal government to put various restoration projects… back on track;…being a good steward of the state’s public lands by protecting them from mining, logging or other inappropriate development; and addressing climate change. Jackalone said he also is hopeful that Valenstein’s past evidence of valuing conservation and his close relationship with the governor will put him in a position to influence Scott to see a revival of funding for the Florida Forever and the Florida Rural and Family Lands Protection programs.” Read Environmentalists Support Fla.’s New DEP Secretary
Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “The 2017-18 state budget that will be sent to Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t include the $17 million in his… budget request to pay bills for Apalachicola River litigation… The [DEP] asked the Legislature… for spending authority in its current budget to cover costs in the legal case, which topped $41 million. But the request was withdrawn after news reports highlighted the cost of the litigation and DEP secretary Jon Steverson abruptly left to join a law firm involved in the case… A DEP spokeswoman this week didn’t answer when asked how the department will handle the $17 million legal bill… House Speaker Richard Corcoran said his chamber was going to review the bills…. While saying he supported defending the rights of Floridians, Corcoran also said ‘We are getting gouged and that needs to be fixed.’… Rep. Thad Altman… raised concerns on April 13 during House budget debate about the threat to Apalachicola… from lack of funding for litigation… ‘When they send us a bill for $100 million and nobody is really taking the time to review them, and when we push back and say we won’t write a check for $100 million, guess what’s happening? Those bills are magically going down,’ said (Rep.) Trujillo… DEP [stated] that the budget includes $3 million for contracted services, which includes outside litigation and can be spend on… the water dispute with Georgia… Meanwhile, Florida and Georgia face a May 31 deadline for filing arguments to dispute a Supreme Court official’s recommendation to dismiss the case… Dan Tonsmeire of the Apalachicola Riverkeeper group… said he’s concerned about the lack of funding for Apalachicola River litigation. ‘My concern is that it demonstrates a lack of commitment by the Legislature to protect the Apalachicola and North Florida resources, while continuing to appropriate hundreds of millions to the Everglades and South Florida,’ he said. ‘The Everglades is certainly important, just as the Apalachicola is,’ for all Floridians.’” Read Legislature nixed Scott’s request for $17M to pay bills in water wars with Georgia
Lauren Ritchie writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “Trout Lake… is one disgusting mess and has been for years. Last year, children learning about animals in the water at the Trout Lake Nature Center had to wear latex gloves to avoid a type of toxic algae known to kill cattle that drink water that has it… The level [of nitrogen and phosphorus] is considered ‘dangerous,’ and the result of all those nutrients in the water is so little oxygen that ‘few aquatic species can survive,’ according to [a] study by Environmental Research & Design Inc. of Orlando… The state Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services ponied up $5 million to do a project… That project is designed to capture water from the [canal that feeds the lake] and lace it with alum, a relatively heavy compound that binds itself to the pollution and pulls it to the bottom of the lake, getting it out of the water stream.” Read Timing perfect for cleanup of dirty Lake Trout
Jim Waymer reports for Florida Today – “Researchers studying our closest relatives that live in the Indian River Lagoon have delivered a grim diagnosis: our local dolphins are ailing under a relentless barrage of pathogens, mercury and pollution. Half suffer chronic illness, and biologists say we had better pay attention to their plight, or we may be next.” Read Dolphin ills echo human health risks
Partha Das reports for Science Times – “Analysis of a historic dataset unveils that oxygen levels in the ocean… have dropped drastically. The key reason behind this grim condition is the increasing ocean temperature… Shockingly, the outcome of the research revealed that the oxygen levels in the oceans are decreasing more rapidly than the increasing rate of water temperature.” Read Oxygen Level in the Ocean Water is Facing a Crisis as Temperature Rises Rapidly
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