The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board writes – “In the same meeting where it imposed tighter water restrictions on Tampa Bay residents due to drought, the Southwest Florida Water Management District board voted to allow developers to further plunder a critical water source. The paradoxical votes are reflective of a state water policy that caters to developers to the ongoing detriment of the environment.” Read Plundering Florida’s precious springs
Carl Hiaasen writes for the Miami Herald – “[T]he Southwest Florida Water Management District voted to cut the flow of the famed freshwater springs that feed Crystal River and Kings Bay by up to 11 percent. Billions and billions more gallons will be diverted to benefit developers… [P]lenty of people showed up… to speak against it… This sort of sellout has been happening at water districts throughout Florida since Gov. Rick Scott packed the boards with pro-development and pro-Big Agriculture surrogates… Bottled water companies, for example, are encouraged to help themselves to our aquifers. The nestle corporation… spent a measly $230 for a permit to suck almost 1.5 million gallons daily from the Blue Spring in Madison County. Worried about the threat of dangerous droughts, the staff of the local water management district argued for a reduction in the amount of water Nestle would be allowed to take. State officials sided with Nestle and even offered tax breaks for its bottling plant… Ironically, while Nestle is allowed to continue this massively lucrative suckfest, Florida officials are pursuing a costly lawsuit against the state of Georgia, alleging that it diverts too much water from the Apalachicola… ” Read Florida’s water seems free for the taking – at a cost to the rest of us
Dinah Voyles Pulver reports for The Daytona Beach News Journal – “A recent state study showed that DeLeon Springs and Gemini Springs – like many other springs in Florida – have too much algae-causing nitrate in the water… The targets the state is setting for reducing pollution… are state averages, about 35 milligrams per liter of water. At Gemini Springs, that’s going to require a 74 percent reduction in nitrogen levels… The target at DeLeon Springs is a 56 percent reduction… The targeted reductions would be good for the springs, said Clay Henderson, executive director of the Stetson Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience… Springs advocate Dana Bryan… noted that ‘achievement of the target concentration is a very very high bar, especially given that regulations are lax and incentives minimal.’… The water flow targets for the springs were not as well-received… Henderson said he was ‘disappointed’ the district’s governing board agreed to allow further reductions in flow in the beleaguered Gemini Springs. ‘All of the other springs that have an established MFL are for less than a 10 percent reduction,’ Henderson said. The minimum flow target the district approved for Gemini would be a 15 percent reduction from the estimates of historic water flow before groundwater pumping.” Read State study considers water quality improvements at Gemini, DeLeon springs
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “Evaluating whether Florida’s environment is better off since voters approved a measure to fund land and water preservation three years ago is a matter of perspective. Funding for environmental agencies has fluctuated and was cut by 17 percent this year. The number of full-time jobs at the agencies has been on a steady decline since the Great Recession. And the Legislature cut all money for a popular land conservation program this year. But money for Everglades restoration, springs and beaches has grown thanks to lobbying by influential lawmakers. Money to remove invasive species and manage existing state land also is up… After lawmakers used [Amendment 1] money to pay salaries and routine operating expenses at environmental agencies, environmentalists filed a lawsuit in 2015 alleging that’s a violation of the measure. That lawsuit is pending… [D]espite funding increases for springs and the Everglades, the environment is playing catch-up after lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 forced water management districts, which are in charge of restoration, to slash their budgets by cutting property taxes, said Ryan Smart, president of 1000 Friends of Florida. ‘The Everglades and springs are emergencies,’ Smart said. ‘What Florida Forever does is prevent the crisis from ever happening.’” Read Is the environment better off since Amendment 1? That depends
Tom Palmer writes for The Ledger – “What these recent (bear) sightings mean is that it is difficult to predict when or where a bear will show up in Polk County… There may come a time when residents in some parts of Polk County will have to consider bear-resistant garbage cans as more development spread across sections of Florida’s landscape where bears have roamed relatively unmolested. State funds are available for [the] containers if the Polk County Commission decides to ask for them… [T]he revival of the Florida Forever program is important because additional conservation land protection will provide corridors that wide-ranging species such as Florida black bears require.” Read Spreading development brings more bear sightings
Gimleteye writes for Eye on Miami – “Before the start of the Florida legislature, senate President Joe Negron pledged that acquiring 60,000 acres of land from Big Sugar owners was a top priority. The addition of significant additional acreage for water storage and cleansing marshes – using lands south of Lake Okeechobee now in sugarcane production – had been a science-based goal of Everglades restoration since at least 2000… By the end of the session, a bill emerged without the additional 60,000 acres. (For fifteen years, environmentalists had been urging the acquisition of 100,000 acres from Big Sugar.)… What happened to the 60,000 acre reservoir…? The simple answer: Big Sugar stage craft… Negron, with Big Sugar’s support, had already been designated the incoming senate president for 2017 when historic, heavy rainfall began to fall across his southeast Florida district in late 2015. Something else happened in late 2015 that didn’t escape the attention of top Republicans like Negron: the GOP presidential primary was edging toward chaos. When it started pouring during South Florida’s dry season, causing water managers to open the flood gates of hell onto waterways, GOP voters were furious… As Negron’s GOP districts were rumbling with discontent, the primary campaign bids of Big Sugar’s proxies, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, were falling to pieces. Both had proven their worth to Big Sugar in the early 2000’s, spearheading passage of a state law that broke a federal state Everglades consent agreement arising over Big Sugar’s pollution in the early 1990’s.” Read Part One: The Agony of Florida, Its Rivers, Bays, Estuaries, and Politics
Chad Gillis reports for the News Press – “The feds recently scrapped the idea of sending stormwater 3,000 feet beneath sea level as a way to deal with heavy rain events and the damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges they ultimately lead to… Miller (with the Army Corps) said deep injection wells should be looked at in the scope of the overall Everglades restoration instead of specifically for the Caloosahathcee and St. Lucie rivers, which were artificially connected to Lake Okeechobee to drain the Everglades… The farming community… seems to support the wells as a way to cut down on the destructive discharges… But environmental and fishing groups have largely opposed deep injection wells, saying the federal and state agencies should simply restore the Everglades… Daniel Andrews, one of the founders of Captains for Clean Water [said,] ‘It’s an irresponsible practice that wastes our most valuable natural resource – water.’” Read Army Corps: No deep injection wells
WINK news reports – “The U.S. Department of Agriculture… designated eight Florida counties, including Collier and Sarasota, as primary natural disaster areas because of the drought that’s gripped the state for months… All qualified farm operators within those counties are eligible for FSA’s emergency loans… ” Read SWFL farmers, ranchers eligible for drought relief loans
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