Lloyd Dunkelberger reports for the News Service of Florida – “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a key player in Florida’s decades-old legal fight with Georgia over water flow in the Apalachicola River, has weighed into the pending case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The federal agency’s comments… are important because a special master has recommended that Florida’s claim for relief be denied because the Corps, which controls water flow through the region in a series of dams and reservoirs, was not directly involved in the lawsuit… In its brief, the federal agency said it was possible that the U.S. Supreme Court could impose a water-use cap on Georgia without requiring the Corps to change its policies for handling the dams and reservoirs in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system… But the [Corps] also said a court ruling requiring more extensive changes in the water-flow policies in the region would have to be viewed as ‘part of the constellation of laws to be considered by the Corps when deciding how best to operate the federal projects in the ACF basin for their congressionally authorized purposes.’… The brief also warned there is the ‘significant and difficult question’ as to whether any additional water releases would be permitted under the already approved ‘master manual,’ an operating guide for the water-control system in the region.” Read Army Corps Gives Input in Florida-Georgia Water War
James Call reports for the Tallahassee Democrat – “Nearly $8 million will be spent in Leon and Wakulla counties to reduce the amount of nitrates from human waste going into the iconic Wakulla Springs. Once the Northwest Florida Water Management District gives its final okay, more than $5 million will be spent to connect 373 south Leon homes and the Wakulla Gardens subdivision to a centralized sewer system. Officials want to replace as many septic systems in areas of the watershed where studies show nitrates have a direct and quick route to Wakulla Springs… ‘Every septic tank removed and replaced with a sewer is like removing a cancerous tumor from the spring shed,’ said McGlynn (president of the Wakulla Springs Alliance). ‘This won’t finish the restoration but it sure is a kick start… Also included in Scott’s announcement was… $2.4 million to buy land to conserve as a way to reduce the nitrates load in the Wakulla spring shed.” Read $7.8 million released to curb Wakulla Springs pollution
Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “The state’s water regulator for Central and North Florida renewed permits… for two of Florida’s biggest industrial consumers of aquifer water. The swift approvals without deliberation, which allow a pair of pulp mills to pump nearly half as much Florida Aquifer water as used by the city of Orlando, reflected a makeover during the past several years of the St. Johns River Water Management District by Gov. Rick Scott. The agency’s governing board is now dominated by developer and industry representatives and is without environmental advocates who in previous years routinely called for a close board examination of big permits when they came up for renewal amid increased tensions over water supplies. The permits were awarded to pulp mills in Fernandina Beach that chemically convert timber into paper and plastic products; they also are among Florida’s biggest dischargers of factory wastewater into a river.” Read Florida water regulators approve big permits for pulp mills
Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Before Gov. Rick Scott named Taylor Teepell to be the finance director of the New Republican super PAC, the governor gave him a $110,000 job in Florida government for which he had no experience… [Teepell] served… in the Department of Economic Opportunity – as head of growth management oversight in Florida… [Teepell] moved to Tallahassee, rented a townhouse from former Scott legislative affairs director Jon Costello and applied to head the division charged with fostering ‘economic development and planning…’ Teepell filled out the standard application for the job… but left most of it blank. He did, however, refer to a two-page resume that listed 10 years working in political jobs and one year as marketing director at a Colorado printing company… The idea that Scott would name someone with no planning experience to head the department in charge of serving as the state watchdog over local government regulation of developers was ‘very surprising’ but not out of character for the governor, said Ryan Smart, president of 1000 Friends of Florida, the non-profit growth management advocacy group. One of the first jobs Scott did when he was elected in 2011 was to dismantle the Department of Community Affairs. The agency oversaw how local governments review large and small land use changes that could alter a region for decades to come. Although Florida’s economy soared under governors Lawton Chiles and Jeb Bush in an era of robust state planning oversight, ‘growth management became a bogeyman during the recession,’ Smart said. By eliminating the rigorous review, ‘DEO has become a rubber stamp for development proposals.’” Read How did a $110,000 state job go to someone like this guy?
David Bauerlein reports for the Florida Times Union – “Some (Jacksonville) council members say the process has sidelined them from having a say on one of the most costly projects (the $484 million river dredging proposal) in city history. But no council member has come out flatly against the dredging, which the Jacksonville Port Authority’s board has green-lighted to start by early 2018… ‘At this point, I’m probably in the category of one confused council member,’ Crescimbeni said. ‘My comfort level is not great, and it’s a very complicated issue because of all the different numbers and figures that are being bandied about by a variety of sources. I think I need to hire my own forensic accountant to try to reconcile everything down to two files – fact and fiction.’… Councilman Aaron Bowman is the most rock-solid advocate for the project… City Councilman Greg Anderson said…, ‘The piece that we’ve not heard enough about is the economic benefit… We need to have a compelling case that says we should spend this money to get enough of a return…’… City Councilman Tommy Hazouri said he supports the deepening as a way to generate jobs, but he doesn’t think the $3 million amount for environmental mitigation… is enough to protect the ‘health, safety and welfare of our St. Johns River, which is our national treasure.’… City Councilman Jim Love said job projections as a result of river deepening are debatable, but it’s ‘common sense’ that if Jacksonville doesn’t have a deeper ship channel, it will lose current port-related jobs… ‘I want to make sure they put aside enough money for any (environmental) mitigation that may be needed in the event it causes a problem,’ [he said.] Brosche… supports the deepening…” Read City Council members have questions about port dredging; timetable frustrates some
Scott Powers reports for Florida Politics – “State Rep. Bob Cortes is speaking out about a rate hike approved by the Public Service Commission last week. The Altamont Springs Republican believes the hike will double water and sewer rates for western Seminole County residents… Utilities, Inc. of Florida… sought rate increases to cover capital investment in its petition to upgrade aging infrastructure and to replace aging water main piping for systems in Seminole, Orange, Pasco and Pinellas counties… Cortes and other lawmakers from the service areas – including state Rep. Scott Plakon and state Sen. David Simmons from Seminole – had argued against the rate increases at public hearings earlier this year and in correspondence. Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine also was active in opposing the Seminole rate increase.” Read Bob Cortes blasts Public Service Commission for Seminole water rate hike
John Charles Robbins reports for Miami Today – “Cleanup of the long-polluted Miami River tributary comes two years after the city commission approved the Wagner Creek and Seybold Canal Maintenance Dredging and Environmental Cleanup Project.” Read Cleanup of polluted Wagner Creek and Seybold Canal begins
Lisa Friedman reports for The New York Times – “The (climate change) report was completed this year and is a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report (written by scientists from 13 federal agencies), and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it… The report concludes that even if humans immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the world would still feel at least an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit (0.30 degrees Celsius) of warming over this century compared with today. The projected actual rise, scientists say, will be as much as 2 degrees Celsius… Among the more significant of the study’s findings is that it is possible to attribute some extreme weather to climate change… Scientists say they fear that the Trump administration could change or suppress the report… Worldwide, the draft report finds it ‘extremely likely’ that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 can be linked to human influence… The study… notes that stabilizing the global mean temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius – what scientists have referred to as the guardrail beyond which changes become catastrophic – will require significant reductions in global levels of carbon dioxide.” Read Scientists Fear Trump will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
August 9, 6:30 pm – Attend a free screening of “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” in Orlando. For more information, and to register, click here. Seating is limited.
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 email@example.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.
September 16, 9:00 AM – Participate in the Big Talbot Island Cleanup. For more information, click here.
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