FCC News Brief- October 9, 2018

Read Florida springs targeted for cleanup via state rebates for advanced septic systems - “Efforts to clean up polluted springs in Florida now include a state rebate for homeowners opting to replace their septic systems with models that perform better. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is offering as much as $10,000 to offset the cost of installing septic-tank systems that significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen pollution they discharge. Nitrogen pollution seeping through the ground into the Florida Aquifer is emerging at springs, triggering growths of harmful algae. The rebate would apply to springs priority areas in Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties, as well as in Citrus, Hernando, Leon, Marion, Pasco and Wakulla. ‘This is so new we are not sure how much the nitrogen-reduction systems are going to cost,’ said Drew Bartlett, deputy secretary at the Department of Environmental Protection. Bartlett said he has seen the systems priced at from $15,000 to $30,000, but the figures could change as nitrogen-reducing septic systems become more widespread. ere are now two types approved by the state for use. An ‘active’ model requires electricity and ongoing maintenance, while a ‘passive’ system uses materials in and around the septic system that absorb nitrogen pollution. Either system must remove at least 60 percent of nitrogen pollution. Bartlett said some systems are capable of 90 percent removal. Many springs-protect advocates contend that the state is not aggressive enough in reducing nitrogen pollution, which comes from many sources. Bartlett said there are as many as 200,000 homeowners with septic systems eligible for state rebates. But also being pursued by the state and local authorities are efforts to connect homes with septic systems to sewer systems within springs-protection priority areas…” Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Hurricane Michael may affect red tide and blue-green algae. Here’s how. - “As Hurricane Michael lumbered toward Florida’s west coast, speculation swirled about what effect the storm might have on the persistent red tide and toxic blue-green algae  blooms plaguing the region. Michael is forecast to pass Cuba, entering the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by tonight, then move across the eastern Gulf by Tuesday night. The storm, which is expected to strengthen as it goes, will likely turn inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday. Though scientists are loath to make detailed predictions at this stage, they agree that the hurricane’s winds and rain may bring a mixed bag of benefits and trouble. Serge Thomas, associate professor for environmental studies doesn't expect the wind to blow the blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) up or down the Caloosahatchee much, but in areas with canals, if the wind is moving alongside the water, ‘It could have a significant impact ... potentially, it could stack up the algae into  the back of canals, which could be a problem for some folks in Cape Coral,’ he said. If the storm lowers temperature, that could slow algae growth, Thomas said. ‘Lower temperatures do not favor cyanobacteria ... their metabolism responds negatively to temperature drops. The dual toxic blooms, each with its own Gov. Rick Scott-declared state of emergency, have ravaged wildlife and the region's tourism-dependent economy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first recorded the red tide last Oct. 16; the cyanobacteria bloom started flourishing once the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began sending polluted Lake Okeechobee water down the river June 1. Although Michael's not currently expected to bring huge amounts of rain, if it does, flooding could spur more algal growth as the water washes over the land and into the river, Thomas said. ‘If retention/detention ponds overflow, if septic tanks and sewage systems are overflowing ... that could fertilize the algae.’ Such nutrient-rich overflows might also revive the red tide bloom, which appeared to be dissipating near-shore last week. Then again, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept away a red tide that had lasted 18 months, but "I don't think we're going to get the Katrina effect," he said. The toxic tide may already have been on the way out. As of late last week, research scientist Rick Bartleson of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation found no Karenia brevis, the microorganism that causes red tide at any of the beach locations his nonprofit samples, and testing he did this weekend offshore failed to show any as well….” Amy Bennett Williams reports for Naples Daily News.

Read A unique environmental plan for Florida: Gillum promises to actually crack down on polluters - “Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum released his environmental policy last week, and it differs markedly from his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis in many respects, including one very unique one: Gillum pledges to go after the polluters who are causing Florida’s disastrous water contamination. It’s unusual to hear any Florida politician say we need to stop pollution at its source, even though everyone knows prevention is far cheaper than cleanup... [Gillum’s] environmental plan says, flat out, ‘Mayor Gillum believes that the best solution for water pollution is prevention’ and ‘We need to have a serious conversation about ensuring Florida’s business interests are the kind of responsible corporate citizens we need them to be, through whichever means are necessary’ and ‘no corporate profit is worth sacrificing our clean air and water.’ These are fighting words among the political class that populates the Florida Legislature and the corporate lobbying corps. But they ought to be welcome words to any citizen who cares about clean water; to anyone outraged as we watch private profiteers trash our common natural resources. Gillum pledges to set safer limits for so-called ‘nutrient’ pollution (sewage, manure and fertilizer). The current regulations were drafted by polluter lobbyists, and – as we can clearly see on our devastated shorelines – they are weak and largely ineffective... Gillum wants to bring back Florida’s now-gutted growth management policies. This was a key common-sense Florida policy for decades until the Florida Legislature killed the entire program – as if the nation’s third-largest state didn’t need that sort of oversight anymore. Growth management is supposed to ensure that when development happens, it is properly planned so the very things that draw new people here aren’t trashed in the process. Gov. Scott has gutted the state’s environmental agencies over eight years, Gillum pledges to shore them back up. This is incredibly important; you can’t protect the landscape that tourists come here to see unless you have scientists and experts administering strong environmental laws. Of course, these are merely campaign promises, and we’ll have to wait and see what happens. It’s true that every election cycle, a parade of politicians stands in front of television cameras with the buggy Everglades as a backdrop and promises to protect ‘our precious natural resources.’ It’s as predictable as kissing babies on the campaign trail.” Julie Hauserman reports for the Florida Phoenix.

Read Pensacola area worried about Trump Administration’s moves to relax offshore drilling rules - “Pensacola City Manager Keith Wilkins doesn't hesitate to offer his opinion on recent moves by the Trump Administration to ease regulations on the offshore drilling industry.  ‘It's not good,’ said Wilkins, who has a degree in environmental studies and was Escambia County's director of environmental resources in 2010 when BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 men and spewing nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.   The massive spill, which coated beaches from Perdido Key to Navarre with thick globs of weathered oil, could happen again, said Wilkins, who has prior experience working as logging engineer offshore. ‘The oil industry is already very reliant on self-monitoring,’ Wilkins said. ‘What is happening is that more self-monitoring and self-reporting is being allowed in an industry where more third-party oversight and government oversight is actually needed.’ Under plans approved by the Trump Administration last month and set to take effect on Dec. 27, a requirement for third-party inspections of offshore drilling safety equipment would be dropped and replaced with testing and documentation by equipment operators. Under plans approved by the Trump Administration last month and set to take effect on Dec. 27, a requirement for third-party inspections of offshore drilling safety equipment would be dropped and replaced with testing and documentation by equipment operators. The changes are part of a 48-page notice from the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The notice stated that some Obama-era drilling regulations had created ‘unduly burdensome requirements on oil and natural gas production operators.’ The notice also stated that the requirements failed to meaningfully increase safety...Floridians frequently get mixed messages from politicians about whether the state is indeed off limits to drilling or protected by a moratorium, said Steve Jones of the national Center for Biological Diversity. ‘Moratoriums can expire and politicians can change,’ he said. ‘It is dangerous to refuse to learn the lessons of Deepwater Horizon.” Melissa Nelson Gabriel reports for the Pensacola News Journal.

Read The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say - “The world stands on the brink of failure when it comes to holding global warming to moderate levels, and nations will need to take ‘unprecedented’ actions to cut their carbon emissions over the next decade, according to a landmark report by the top scientific body studying climate change. With global emissions showing few signs of slowing and the United States — the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide — rolling back a suite of Obama-era climate measures, the prospects for meeting the most ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris agreement look increasingly slim. To avoid racing past warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels would require a ‘rapid and far-reaching’ transformation of human civilization at a magnitude that has never happened before, the group found. ‘There is no documented historic precedent’ for the sweeping change to energy, transportation and other systems required to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote in a report requested as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. At the same time, however, the report is being received with hope in some quarters because it affirms that 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible — if emissions stopped today, for instance, the planet would not reach that temperature. It is also likely to galvanize even stronger climate action by focusing on 1.5 degrees Celsius, rather than 2 degrees, as a target that the world cannot afford to miss. ‘Frankly, we’ve delivered a message to the governments,’ said Jim Skea, a co-chair of the IPCC panel and professor at Imperial College London, at a press event following the document’s release. ‘It’s now their responsibility … to decide whether they can act on it.’ He added, ‘What we’ve done is said what the world needs to do.’...” Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis report for the Washington Post.


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Job Openings

Executive Director- Florida Wildlife Corridor

Organizing Representative for Sierra Club Florida’s Clean Energy for All Campaign

Upcoming Environmental Events:

October 11, 12:45pm - 2:45pm - Villages Environmental Discussions Group kick-off event (The Villages): Our guest speakers will include Jaret Daniels, Ph.D., associate curator and program director at the Florida Museum of Natural History, who will discuss Florida native butterflies. Other guest speakers include Mike Archer and Jody Woodson-Swartzman, of Green Party Lake County, who will discuss their project to inspire others to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags. They will even show how to revise an old t-shirt into a usable shopping bag. Please send an RSVP to resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

October 12, 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Martin County 2070 Workshop:  Martin County is expected to grow by about 30% by 2070. How can the County accommodate new residents and still maintain its quality of life and natural areas?  A team of conservationists, planners, developers and others will explore how to lay the foundation now for a more sustainable future for Martin County.  This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida and The Guardians of Martin County and is being held in Stuart.  Registration is $20 per attendee and includes lunch.  Professional certification credits have been approved for planners (5.75 AICP CM) and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.   We hope you’ll join us!  Find out more and register at /www.1000friendsofflorida.org/martin-county-2070/

October 12-November 16 - Save our Springs & Rivers Academy (Volusia County)- Want to become a Blue Spring advocate and help spread the word about solutions to water pollution? Attend this FREE adult education courses that includes classroom and field trip experiences, guest speakers, hands-on, feet-wet learning to provide the ultimate citizen engagement experience. Those participating in the six-week course will gain valuable knowledge and will pledge to educate others on behalf of Volusia Blue Spring. For more information or to register, visit www.greenvolusia.org or call 386-736-5927. View course dates and locations here.

October 13, 9:00am-3:00pm - Fall Wildflower Festival & Native Plant Sale (Parrish): The Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program present the Fall Wildflower Festival and Native Plant Sale at Sweetbay Nursery, 10824 Erie Road, Parrish. Get all the latest information from conservation groups such as Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Audubon Society, Tampa Bay Watch, and more. Ray’s Vegan Soul food available for purchase. For more information, call 941-776-0501.

October 20-21 – Into the Springs Music Festival (Alachua):  Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for its second annual Into the Springs Music Festival at Deep Spring Farm. Enjoy a weekend full of live music, camping, organic farming workshops, yoga, and community in support of Florida springs! To learn more and purchase tickets, visit https://floridaspringsinstitute.org/event/intothesprings/. Funding for this event was provided in part by Visit Gainesville/Alachua County. Address: Deep Springs Farm,  16419 W County Rd 1491, Alachua, FL 32615.

October 26, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Water Symposium: The State of our Water (DeLand): The Volusia Water Alliance hosts a series of short presentations on the water problems we face and possible solutions by leaders and experts, focused on Volusia County and applicable statewide. This free event features keynote speaker Dr. Jason Evans, Faculty Director of the Institute for Water & Environmental Resilience, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Studies at Stetson University, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Environmental Management. His topic is "Reclaiming the Future: Science, Engagement, and Hope in Our State of Watery Peril.” Seating is limited; please register online at VolusiaWater.org. Optional catered lunch from DeLand Natural Market (wrap, chips, water, and a brownie) is available for $12 with registration. Visit VolusiaWater.org for more information. Sponsorships are available. Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center - 815 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand, FL 32724

November 1, 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. -- FREE Sustainable Landscaping Principles and Practices Webinar:  This free webinar will explore best practices, trends and market opportunities for sustainable landscaping in the State of Florida. Sustainable Landscaping is a set of landscaping principles and practices which minimize environmental degradation and make more efficient use of energy, water and other natural resources. This course will review the latest research and present current best practices for designing, building and maintaining sustainable landscapes. Project case studies will be used to discuss a framework for how to promote sustainable landscaping on large scale commercial projects working with multiple stakeholders through conceptual planning through implementation and long-term maintenance. The instructors are Pierce Jones, Ph.D., the University of Florida Extension Program Leader for Energy Programs, and Timothee Sallin, president of Cherrylake, an integrated landscape company.  This event has been approved for credits for planners, Certified Floodplain Manger and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar.

November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit (Ocala) - Join the Florida Springs Council in Ocala to learn from state leaders and experts on how we can make meaningful springs restoration a reality. The Florida Springs Restoration Summit brings together scientists, academics, advocates, reporters, policy makers, and other citizens to discuss the status of springs health and steps needed for meaningful springs restoration and long-term protection. The cost to attend the Springs Summit is kept low to encourage participation by members of the public and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about the 2018 Springs Restoration Summit and register, see the Summit website.

November 17 - 9:00am-4:00pm - Highlands County Master Gardeners Festival (Sebring) - Join the Highlands County Master Gardeners for the inaugural Garden Festival. Kicked off at 9:00am by Shannon Reed singing the National Anthem, there will be live music, vendors, food, a kids zone, and plant classes. Where: Bert J Harris Agricultural Civic Center in Sebring: 4509 George Blvd.

Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.

Petitions

End collection & removal of tropical marine life from Phil Foster Park

Stop the spraying of glyphosate herbicide in Florida waters

Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Rezoning 5-acres in Palm Harbor

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 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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