FCC News Brief - August 1, 2017

Andy Reid reports for the Sun Sentinel – “[T]he South Florida Water Management District… picked Ernie Marks as its new executive director. Marks… had been director of Everglades efforts for the district… the district board cited Mark’s district ties and past experience, working for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, as reasons to give him the agency’s top post.” Read South Florida Water Management District names Everglades expert as new leader

Clay Montague writes for The Florida Times Union – “Decisions about JaxPort harbor deepening are being based on incomplete data that may affect your food supply. Harbor deepening could eliminate key habitat for seafood production near the freshwater ends of tidal creeks… Habor deepening lets in more saltwater from the ocean. Saltwater travels upstream with incoming tides, at worst overwhelming fresher habitat, or at least squeezing it into a smaller space between saltwater and upland. Over the past 50 years, shad, striped bass and eels have been in steep decline owing to assaults on habitat… Fishery managers are now trying to restore habitat for all food species. Unmitigated impacts of harbor deepening set back this effort. Modeling studies to assess the impact of deepening JaxPort have not evaluated loss of habitat in vital upstream portions of tributaries.” Read Deepening river could harm habitat for fish species

Nada Hassanein reports for the Tallahassee Democrat – “Parents wondering what’s in the water their kids are drinking can now find out… Users can type in their zip codes to see how many and what contaminants in their water systems are above health guidelines, which sometimes differ from government regulation levels… The difference can be small. Other times it’s larger, like in the case of arsenic: The heath guideline is .004 parts per billion (ppb), but the legal limit is 10 ppb… No contaminants were reported above legal regulations in the city of Tallahassee’s drinking water… But according to the EWG database, some were above health recommendations… Both Leon County’s 2017 water report and the EWG recommend tap filters, such as carbon-based ones, to lessen exposure to water pollutants.” Read What’s in your water? A new online tool lets you find out

Steve Patterson reports for The Florida Times Union – “Tests of water that JEA supplies to about 700,000 Jacksonville-area customers… met federal safety standards, including a standard for safe levels of the possible carcinogen, a family of chemicals called total trihalomethanes. But the average level of trihalomethanes was more than twice the average among utilities in Florida and nationally, according to data being released… by the activist Environmental Working Group. The group collects information that almost 50,000 utilities report to environmental agencies. It’s posting updated information… in an online “tap water database” about tests from 2010 to 2015. It’s not clear why trihalomethanes are more common in JEA’s water, but their presence is a direct result of using chlorine to disinfect water the utility pumps from Florida’s aquifer. Trihalomethanes are produced when chlorine mixes with the sort of organic materials that will always be found in water pumped from the ground... The length of JEA’s water pipe grid, stretching more than 4,300 miles, could add to the counts, because water that sits undisturbed longer will develop more trihalomethanes.” Read Water database shows some buildups of cancer-causing chemical in JEA system

Jake Stofan reports for News 4 Jax – “[A] recent study by NOAA said a sea-level rise of 3 feet could displace an estimated 1.2 million people (in Florida)… The… study also suggests sea levels are likely to rise 9 inches within the next 10 years… Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, said the Legislature should do more to prepare. ‘I think the Legislature, at a minimum, needs to start getting on the bandwagon that… local communities have… and… sit down and come up with a plan,’ Moncrief said. ‘How are we going to adapt?...’” Read Rising tides could displace more than 1 million in Florida, NOAA says

Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec report for The Observer – “The House Natural Resources Committee debated 5 bills that would force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider economic costs before listing a species as endangered, force the federal agency to prioritize the inputs of states on decisions related to the Act, remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list, and place a cap on attorney fees in any litigation related to the Endangered Species Act, meaning that corporations and developers could strong arm the government from enacting or enforcing the act. In February 2017, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee began hearings on legislation to strip the Endangered Species Act of its effectiveness by making it more difficult to add species to the list… Three Republicans leading the anti-Endangered Species Act effort – Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Sen. John Barrasso, Congressman Rob Bishop, and Sen. James Inhofe – have received hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past few years from mining, oil and gas companies that seek to have the Endangered Species Act scaled back so lands protected under it can be exploited for mining or drilling… CEO of Defenders of Wildlife Jamie Rappaport Clark… [said, ‘] Based on data from the (Fish and Wildlife Service), the ESA has saved 99 percent of listed species from extinction.’... Calls to scale back or repeal the Endangered Species Act fail to acknowledge the mass extinction occurring throughout Earth… [T]he rate of extinction on Earth has increased by 1,000 times the natural rate.” Read Republicans Get Big Money to Fight Endangered Species Protections

T. Edward Nickens writes for Garden & Gun – “The gopher tortoise ranks as one of the most important animals in the longleaf ecosystem, contends Dr. Christopher Jenkins... The tortoise, though, could especially use a hand now. Fire suppression, development, and road building in its range have decimated populations. The animals… are listed as a threatened species by the federal government in western Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and by the state in Georgia and Florida. South Carolina lists them as endangered. Thankfully, taking care of the gopher tortoise is gaining traction in the South, particularly in Georgia... There, a five-year $150 million public-private endeavor to keep the state’s population off the federal endangered species list is already largely financed. Georgia’s Gopher Tortoise Conservation Initiative aims to protect a minimum of one hundred thousand acres for gopher tortoises and sixty-five ‘viable populations,’ each of which would include at least 250 adults, and has attracted a wide array of partners.” Read The Tortoise and the Lair

Tatiana Scholossberg reports for The New York Times – “Nitrogen-based fertilizers, which came into wide use after World War II, helped prompt the agricultural revolution that has allowed the Earth to feed its seven billion people. But that revolution came at a cost: Artificial fertilizers, often applied in amounts beyond what crops need to grow, are carried in runoff from farmland into streams, lakes and the ocean. New research suggests that climate change will substantially increase this form of pollution, leading to more damaging algae blooms and dead zones in American coastal waters… Heavier rains caused by warmer temperatures will cause more agricultural runoff… The authors found that future climate change-driven increases in rainfall in the United States could boost nitrogen runoff by as much as 20 percent by the end of the century.” Read Fertilizers, a Boon to Agriculture, Pose Growing Threat to U.S. Waterways





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Upcoming Environmental Events    


August 1, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs. August’s lecture is on Springs Stresses with Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 - 2427.

August 4-6, 3:00 pm – Watch the Florida Wildlife Corridor’s newest documentary, “The Forgotten Coast” at The Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers. The film showcases an expedition along Florida’s west coast from the Everglades to the Panhandle. The film showing is included with regular admission to the museum. For more information, click here.

August 10, 7:00 pm – Attend Chasing Coral – Movie Night in Tallahassee. Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Divers, photographers and scientists set out on an ocean adventure to discover why the reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. For more information, click here.

August 12, 4:00 pm – Participate in the Hot City-Cool City Walking Tour in Pensacola. During the walk, participants will explore old and new ways that cities can adapt to the higher temperatures and heavier rainfall of our changing climate. For more information email 350pensacola@gmail.com, call (850) 687 – 9968, or click here.

August 15, 7:00 – Attend a free, public solar information meeting at the Coral Gables Adult Center (2 Andalusia Ave.) in Coral Gables. The meeting is hosted by the Central Miami (North) Solar Co-op. For more information and to register, click here.

August 16, 7:00 – Attend a free, public solar information meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church (7701 SW 76th Ave.) in Miami. The meeting is hosted by the Central Miami (South) Solar Co-op. For more information, click here.

August 20-23 – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for its annual Florida Springs Field School; four days of outdoor activities and springs education in the Ocala National Forest! Field trip locations include Silver Springs State Park, Salt Springs, Juniper Springs, and Silver Glen Springs. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 - 2427.



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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.  

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