FCC News Brief - February 4, 2019

Read DeSantis budget fueling hopes for First Coast water-cleaning projects - “Although the Everglades had top billing, the state budget Gov. Ron DeSantis recommended Friday could significantly boost projects to protect and clean Northeast Florida’s water. The $91.3 billion spending plan included cash for curbing algae and developing alternative water supplies through projects like ones that have been planned to make First Coast waterways healthier. Other than $360 million for Everglades restoration, relatively few projects were listed by name in the budget. But DeSantis’ spending choices won early praise from environmental activists who said they could affect millions of Floridians...DeSantis’ budget includes $150 million for “targeted water quality improvements” that cut algae-feeding nutrients in selected waterways around the state. A separate $25 million is budgeted for innovative and short-term fixes for harmful algae blooms and to support a state algal bloom task force...Another part of the budget allots $40 million to so-called alternative water supply projects that provide for public needs without draining the Floridan aquifer, the underground layer that is the state’s main water source. Those projects have sometimes been controversial, such as when Jacksonville, St. Johns County and the St. Johns Riverkeeper organization unsuccessfully sued a decade ago to stop the water management district from permitting Seminole County’s utility to pump water from the St. Johns River. An ongoing project to move water from Black Creek in Clay County to an aquifer recharge area in Keystone Heights has also sparked concern among the Riverkeeper and some Clay residents…” Steve Patterson reports for Jacksonville.com.

Read Locals call on Bill Galvano to support removing ‘Florida’s shadow’ on Groundhog Day - “A group of local activists is hoping Bradenton lawmaker Bill Galvano will see “the shadow hanging over Florida’s environment” on Groundhog Day and support a statewide ban on fracking. The new Florida Senate president has already announced he would allow the vote to come before lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session but has yet to signal his position on the matter. In a recent executive order, Gov. Ron DeSantis called for a ban on the practice, as well. “After facing one of the worst algae crises to date, Floridians are calling urgently for our leaders to step up and protect our water by supporting a fracking ban and comprehensive legislation to combat nutrient pollution,” said Brooke Errett, a Florida organizer with Food and Water Watch. “There has been a shadow on our environment for a while now, but 2019 is the year that our leaders, especially Senate President Galvano, must lead the way and champion clean water.”...The gathering was also a chance to show appreciation for what she called a step in the right direction when it comes to taking care of Florida water. “It’s a breath of fresh air after eight years of an environmental foe, but at the same time we have to continue holding (DeSantis) accountable,” Errett said. “We’re hopeful thanks to all the things he’s done so far, and we urge him to follow through with a complete ban on fracking and nutrient pollution.” Ryan Callihan reports for the Bradenton Herald.

Read Let’s save the paradise that is Florida - “Many old Florida natives like me used to believe we were living in paradise, a special place “full of flowers,” as Juan Ponce de Leon had observed. Our peninsula was mostly pristine and undeveloped, more sand dune than pavement, more earthy green than kitschy pastels, more shoreline than seawall. We old-timers were awed by our wilderness. We instinctively understood that healthy bodies of water, including our springs and wetlands, were our essence and major drivers of our economy...Today, paradise is spoiled. And we voters have ourselves to blame. We are left with, among many other problems, choking algal blooms, dying fish populations, red tide and human health concerns...Last month, during the 34th annual Everglades Coalition Conference in Duck Key, former Gov. Bob Graham, an environmentalist, did something unique for a politician. He acknowledged that he had failed to do enough to prevent the catastrophes the South Florida Water Management District has allowed to occur year after year because of its policies. While acknowledging his failures, Graham also gave current and future lawmakers a path forward. I quote him at length: “The current federal law that regulates federal action … was written in 1948. That’s a long time ago, and it was written primarily — almost exclusively — for the goal of flood control. ... We now have a much broader palette of issues and the federal statute that authorizes the Army Corps to be engaged with managing those issues needs to reflect that broader palette. “I’m going to be self-critical. I was in the Senate for 18 years. I failed you. I should have done this while I was there. I didn’t. Now it’s your responsibility…” Bill Maxwell writes opinion for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Speak out on FWC spraying herbicides, including Roundup, on water plants - “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to know what you think about using herbicides, including Roundup, to kill invasive plants in the state's lakes and streams. The FWC will hold several public meetings to gather community input about the agency’s aquatic plant herbicide treatment program, both statewide and particularly on Lake Okeechobee...On Jan. 24, the agency suspended its practice of spraying aquatic plant killers, including the controversial herbicide Roundup. Most environmentalists and anglers agree some herbicide use on Lake O is needed to combat exotic plant species such as hydrilla, torpedo grass and water lettuce, which choke out native vegetation and block boaters' access to the lake's marshes. But they say the practice has gotten out of hand. FWC sprayed more than 20,000 pounds of herbicides on Lake O in 2017. That's about the weight of a typical garbage truck. Of special interest is the chemical glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. More than half the herbicides sprayed at Lake O last year, 11,658 pounds — about the weight of a monster truck, was Roundup. In 2015, the World Health Organization reclassified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic...” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Stuart, Palm City: Health advisory issued for bacteria in St. Lucie River, Martin County - “Stay out of the St. Lucie River at Leighton Park in Palm City and the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart because of bacteria, the Florida Department of Health warned Friday. Water samples taken at the sites Monday and Wednesday showed higher-than-normal levels of enteric bacteria, an indication of fecal pollution. Potential health risks for those who ingest or come in contact with the water include upset stomach, diarrhea, eye irritation and skin rashes.Samples taken at Sandsprit Park near Port Salerno and the Stuart sandbar in the Indian River Lagoon between Sewall's Point and Sailfish Point each registered 53 colonies per 100 milliliter, which is in the moderate level. The high-level areas will be tested again Monday. The advisories will remain in effect until results show consistent readings in the good range. The bacteria typically gets in waterways when heavy rains — like those in the area since Sunday — wash fecal matter from pets, livestock and wildlife into the water. "That's exactly our theory about what happened," said Health Department spokeswoman Renay Rouse. "We had all that rain that started Saturday, and it rained all day Sunday. All that stuff with bacteria on the land washed into the water." Leaky septic systems and sewage lines also can cause the bacteria to enter waterways…” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Water district presses ahead for end of federal oversight of Everglades water quality - “The South Florida Water Management District says sugar farming is no longer a threat to Everglades water in its latest motion calling for an end to federal oversight of restoration, but other organizations disagree. The district motion is the latest in some 30 years of litigation that began when the federal government sued the state for allowing sugar farming to pollute the Everglades. A settlement in the early 1990s led to the construction of the world’s largest treatment wetlands aimed at cleansing Everglades water of sugar farming pollution, among other remedies. The district’s position that the work now is complete is opposed by the federal government, state Department of Environmental Protection and environmental groups. The work targets phosphorus not nitrogen, which is at the heart of the toxic algae that gripped the state last year. Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a sweeping spending plan on algae this week.” Amy Green reports for WFSU.

Read After plant die-off, what fate awaits alligator snapping turtles - “The water in the upper Santa Fe River was pitch black on this summer day in 2005. It was as if someone poured 200 million gallons of dark roast coffee into the snaking waterway and left it untouched for centuries. Thomas traveled to the swampy Santa Fe River with his zoology professor, Jerry Johnston, with only one mission in mind: Find the beasts. “Let’s see if we can find some giant turtles,” Johnston remembers telling Thomas. “It’ll be an adventure”...In 2012, a massive die-off of submerged aquatic plants in the lower Santa Fe River left herbivorous turtles searching for food. This die-off, which scientists think was caused by a changing climate and declining aquifer levels, altered the river’s water quality indefinitely. Some turtles traveled up to 25 miles away from the river just to find food, the Santa Fe College Biology and Zoology professor Johnston said. “After 2012, the river has transformed into something different,” Johnston said. “Now we need to have a complete, 100 percent protection on these turtles.” Starting in March, just as the alligator snapping turtles begin their nesting season, Johnston will begin a three-year study to measure the die-off’s impact on the animals. With 114 tagged animals in the river, Johnston aims to compare the turtles’ abundance, weight and reproduction frequency to past studies from as early as 2005…” Max Chesnes reports for the Gainesville Sun.

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Upcoming Environmental Events:

February 4 - 6:00PM - Pensacola Confronts the Climate Crisis - (Pensacola) - Hotter temperatures, stronger storms and flooding, rising seas and more. Can Pensacola survive the crisis of climate change? Join 350 Pensacola as we welcome Elaine Sargent, chair of the City of Pensacola’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Task Force, as she leads us through recommendations for how Pensacola can confront the global climate crisis. 350 Pensacola board members will join Elaine to outline plans to push Pensacola to climate action in 2019. Please join us for an interactive presentation and discussion! The presentation is part of a monthly speaker series on climate change and related issues sponsored by 350 Pensacola. For more information: 350pensacola@gmail.com. Event held at the Pensacola Public Library, 239 N. Spring St., Pensacola.

February 5 - 6:00 PM - Blue Revolution: A Water Ethic for Florida and America - (Sebring) - Join water author Cynthia Barnett at Highlands Hammock State Park for her program Blue Revolution: A Water Ethic for Florida and America. For the first time since the vaunted environmental laws of the early 1970s, Florida's children are not inheriting water as clean and abundant as their parents enjoyed. Barnett, author of the water books Mirage, Blue Revolution and Rain, will talk about the need for a new water ethic: Coming together to use less, pollute less and live with water today in ways that don't jeopardize fresh, clean water for our children, ecosystems and businesses tomorrow. Sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council and Friends of Highlands Hammock State Park. Mingle and book sale at 6 p.m., the formal program will begin at 7 p.m.

February 11 - 6:00PM-7:30PM CST - “The Problem with Plastics” screening & discussion - (Pensacola) - Join Dr. Enid Sisskin Chair of the Natural Resource Committee for the League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, as she discusses the “The Problem with Plastics”. The presentation is part of Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series on Monday, February 11th beginning at 6 p.m.at Ever’man Educational Center, 327 W Garden Street, Pensacola, FL. Stay up to date on the event or to RSVP at the Facebook event here. Or get your free event tickets from Eventbrite here. Light refreshments will be served.

February 13- 12:45PM-2:45PM - Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting - (The Villages) -Villages Environmental Discussions Group (VEDG) will host its next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m., at the Belvedere Library, 325 Belvedere Blvd., The Villages, FL. Our guest speaker will be Lisa Sanderson, Sumter County UF/IFAS Residential Horticulture Extension Agent II and Master Gardener Coordinator. Lisa will discuss simple home vegetable gardens. She will also describe plants that can be used to attract pollinators. Beginning gardeners and Master Gardeners are welcome to this FREE program. Questions? Email:  raivedg@gmail.com

March 11 - 6:00 PM-7:30 PM - ‘Environmental Justice: What, Why, You’ discussion - (Pensacola) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. in welcoming Wilma Subra, environmental scientist and advocate, guest speaker for Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series for March. Ms. Subra will discuss Environmental Justice issues in our community and across the state and nation. Subra served for seven years as vice-chair of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, for six years on the EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and for five years on the National Advisory Committee of the US Representative to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She appeared in the 2010 documentary Gasland. The event is being held at Ever’ man Educational Center, 327 W Garden Street, Pensacola, FL. RSVP on Facebook here, or get your free event ticket from EventBrite here. Light refreshments will be served.

March 13 - 10:00 AM-4:00 PM - Reclaiming Florida’s Future For All: Clean Water, Clean Air, Clean Energy - (Tallahassee) - Rethink Energy Florida is hosting an advocacy day at the Florida State Capitol (400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee FL 32301)! We are advocating to protect Florida’s clean water, support renewable energy, and BAN Fracking! We will be talking with our legislators about these critical issues. This event is co-sponsored by Floridians Against Fracking, Sierra Club Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida, Environment Florida, ReThink Energy Action Fund, Food and Water Watch Florida, Center for Biological Diversity, Ignite Change, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. RSVP here or check out the Facebook event for more information.

March 27 - 12:00 PM -1:30 PM - Free 2019 Florida Legislative Update Webinar - This free webinar is scheduled for a little more than three weeks into the 2019 Florida Legislative Session. The actions taken during the session likely will have significant public policy impacts for planning, conservation, transportation, community design and other issues of concern to many Floridians with myriad impacts for concerned citizens, professionals, local elected officials and others. 1000 Friends President Paul Owens, Policy and Planning Director Thomas Hawkins, and Board Member Emeritus and Past Chairman Lester Abberger will discuss key growth management, design, conservation and related bills including budget recommendations that are being considered during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and other legislation that may surface as the session progresses. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM LEGAL CREDITS for planners (#9162194). 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, Florida Environmental Health Professionals, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.

April 27 - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM - The Water Festival - (Deland) - The Volusia Water Alliance invites one and all to a street party celebrating water with a day of fun activities and performances in historic downtown DeLand. The festival will feature live mermaids, sidewalk chalk artists, dance and musical performances, a Blessing of the Waters (a Native American tradition), children’s games and activities, a Dog Zone, educational displays, and vendor booths. Visit VolusiaWater.org for more information. Admission is FREE. A few sponsorships and vendor spaces are still available. (West Indiana Avenue, DeLand, FL 32720) 

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