FCC News Brief - March 12, 2019

Read Finding water quality at the crossroads of Florida’s environment and economy - “Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed $625 million in spending for environmental programs, including Everglades restoration, springs protection, and a septic-to-sewer conversion plan. Economic analyst Hank Fishkind tells 90.7’s Nicole Darden Creston why these programs are important to Florida’s environment and its economy. “Our recent terrible experience with fish kills in the Indian River Lagoon, red tides, and the releases of waters from Lake Okeechobee that were filled with toxic algae demonstrate vividly the costs of not protecting our water resources,” says Fishkind. He says current environmental and development-related laws and regulations need an upgrade, as do the state’s wastewater system and the handling of pumping water from Florida aquifers. Fishkind proposes that there’s a fundamental economic issue at work here: “mis-pricing.” Right now, there is no charge to withdraw water from Florida’s aquifers and surface waters (aside from a permit fee and the user’s cost to pump the water). “Because there is no direct correlation between the amount of water used and the costs of water usage, this system leads to an inefficient allocation of water,” explains Fishkind. “We need to establish a price for water use to improve economic efficiency. Then the funds raised could be used to pay for needed environmental programs.” However, he adds, it will take more than implementing a water use fee to solve the issues…” Nicole Darden-Creston reports for WMFE.

Read As the population booms, can the county’s water supply keep up? - “Once the water at the St. Johns County plant is pulled from the aquifer, up to 8 million gallons per day run through a reverse osmosis process and onward to county residents. But the aquifer wasn’t always the main source of water in the county. Up until 2007, much of the drinking water here was pulled from shallow aquifers. In order to keep up with the growing demand in a county that has added more than 120,000 residents in the last 20 years, the decision to drill deeper and pull from the Floridan aquifer has helped the county increase its water supply and keep up with its booming population. The change is just one of a handful made by the county and is part of a collective effort by the St. Johns Water Management District, local farmers and local government over the last 20 years that have helped it keep pace with growth and try to make sure there is plenty of water in a county that shows no signs of slowing down. Yet those same groups, along with conservationists, say there is still more work ahead to maintain current water quantity and quality. According to the county’s Integrated Water Resource Plan, the population served by the St. Johns County Utility Department is expected to grow by 69,000 people by the year 2040…” Travis Gibson reports for the St. Augustine Record.

Read State bills asks for up to 30-cent deposits on beverage containers - “New state bills call for you to pay a 20-cent or 30-cent deposit on plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers. You would then get your money back when you return the bottles and cans. But is this incentive enough? New bills proposed in the Florida House of Representatives (HB 853) and the Florida Senate (SB 672) are trying to stop litter in the state with a new incentive for bottle redemption. “Having an incentive for people to actually go out and collect things should help,” said Win Everham, professor of marine and ecological sciences at FGCU. “If I give 20 cents to when I buy it; then, I get 20 cents back.” These laws exist in 10 states currently — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Vermont. Some question how it will change local recycling programs. Others also question how these bills will impact retailers. Under the proposal, retailers would get a 20-percent cut…” Brea Hollingsworth and Jack Lowenstein report for WINK News.

Read Florida may join lawsuit to block underwater seismic blasting along Atlantic coast - “Florida was at first a noticeable holdout among the 10 states that filed a lawsuit in opposition to the push from the Trump administration and oil companies to revive seismic blasting along the Atlantic seafloor.  But Republican Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody may be having second thoughts, according to a report from the Florida Phoenix. Through a spokesperson, Moody told the media outlet she is now taking a look at the lawsuit "and seeing how it relates to Florida" and that her office is "meeting with relevant state agencies to assess the effects on our state." In December, five companies had already been issued incidental harassment authorizations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, allowing them to use high-powered air guns to search the Atlantic seafloor for oil in federal waters between Florida's Space Coast and New Jersey. Valid for one year, the permits ban testing in waters up to 56 miles offshore between November and April during calving season for some whale species. The testing consists of using visual and acoustic observers on ships, and seismic surveyors are required to stop work if they spot a whale within a mile…”  Xander Peters writes for Creative Loafing.

Read Community Foundation grant will help Calusa Waterkeeper connect the medical community to those working to solve algae crisis - “Armed with a $20,000 grant, Calusa Waterkeeper is taking aim at medical professionals. The nonprofit will use the funds from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to engage with healthcare frontline workers and decision-makers about the effects of the harmful algae blooms that have ravaged the region’s fresh and saltwater since 2017. Red tide in the Gulf and toxic cyanobacteria inland created an ecological and economic crises, and some fear short- and long-term health problems as well. For more than two decades, Waterkeeper has worked to do what government agencies don’t. The grassroots nonprofit tests and monitors water quality, then shares what it’s learned in hopes of shaping environmental policy. This grant will enable it to turn its attention to the possible health consequences as well. Florida's Department of Health has faced sharp criticism for its muted response to the algae disaster and in recent months, has ramped up its outreach. It did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment for this story…” Amy Bennett Williams reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.   

Read Why are we still swimming and fishing in effluent?- “At Navarre Beach, Santa Rosa County’s wastewater treatment plant has a state permit to dump as much as 900,000 gallons of sewage effluent per day into Santa Rosa Sound. For much of the year, it’s much less than that, but during the summer – peak swimming and fishing season – it increases dramatically. The County is now requesting another 5-year permit to continue this primitive and unhealthy method of sewage disposal. Despite promises made as much as 20 years ago to remove this direct discharge into the Sound, it continues, growing each year as development brings more people to the beach that we advertise as a pristine destination for family vacations. Most parents would never let their children swim in sewage effluent, but there are no signs to warn them about the Navarre Beach plant and its discharge. When you think of sewage plant effluent, you picture very unpleasant images. There are other pollutants, however, that you can’t even see, and probably never imagined. Many of them are not removed by the treatment plant. They aren’t even tested for during monitoring…” Frances Dunham writes Opinion for the Pensacola News Journal.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Manatee Conservation Contractor - Defenders of Wildlife

Digital Marketing Specialist - Miami Waterkeeper

Development Coordinator - Conservation Florida

Sustainability Administrator - City of Fort Lauderdale

Marine Science Faculty Position- Florida Keys Community College

Communications Coordinator - Florida Sea Grant

Pinellas County Sustainability & Resiliency Coordinator

Education Specialist - Nature’s Academy

Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowship

Executive Director - Friends of Gumbo Limbo

Upcoming Environmental Events:

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 13 - 7:30AM-6:00PM - Ride the Bus for Clean Water! - (Jacksonville-Tallahassee) - St. Johns Riverkeeper and fellow river advocates are joining partners on March 13th for Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All Advocacy Day at the Statehouse in Tallahassee. During our bus ride from Jacksonville, St. Johns Riverkeeper staff will provide training and talking points to help bus riders become effective advocates. At the Capitol, you will have the opportunity to meet your state legislators and ask them to protect all of St. Johns River’s waterways, including its springs and tributaries. Bring family and friends with you to support water conservation efforts. 2019 is off to a clean start for our state’s waters, but we need to ensure the St. Johns River is not forgotten! Bus Meeting Location: Lowe’s, 5155 Lenox Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205. For more information and to register (FREE), visit the website here. Register by Friday, March 8, 2019. Registration is FREE but seating is limited.

March 13 - 1:30 PM- 2:45PM - Villages Environmental Discussions Group (VEDG) - The Villages) - The Villages Environmental Discussions Group will host speaker Steve Hendrickson from a Villages Lifestyle Club, Citizens Climate Lobby. Steve will address the topic ‘Solving the Climate Challenge.’ He will describe the 2019 Climate Action Conference held in February at USF in Tampa, and the bi-partisan federal bill HR 763. Bring your questions, comments, and a friend or two. If you have a question, email it to  raivedg@gmail.com. (Belvedere Library, 325 Belvedere Blvd., The Villages, FL 32162).

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 8 & 9 - Everglades Action Day - ( Tallahassee) - The Everglades Coalition is hosting an advocacy day at the Florida State Capitol (400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301). !Join fellow advocates from all corners of the state and meet with legislators to discuss the importance of a healthy Everglades ecosystem for a clean water supply and for a strong economy. Your voice on Everglades Action Day ensures that the famed ecosystem remains a top priority for elected officials! New to advocacy? No problem. Training and materials will be provided. Register to save your spot, see you in Tallahassee! Follow this link to register: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T83FL2D. The Everglades Coalition will sponsor group transportation to make it easy for all to get to Tallahassee (we have an east coast and a west coast bus). We reserved a block of hotel rooms at a discounted rate of $109 at the Wyndham Garden Tallahassee Capitol (hotel booking link forthcoming). We will also be offering a limited number of scholarships to cover lodging for students and other individuals. Please email info@evergladescoalition.org with any questions or concerns. 

April 12-13 - 10th Annual Florida Wildflower Symposium - (Gainesville) - The Florida Wildflower Foundation’s signature annual event, focusing exclusively on the state’s native wildflowers and their ecosystems. The purpose of the event is to immerse participants in an educational experience that exposes them to the reality of Florida’s environmental challenges while giving them the tools to affect change. The symposium will offer field trips to local natural areas, hands-on workshops, and educational presentations by experts on planting and growing native wildflowers, creating habitat for pollinators, and much more. Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center 2142 Shealy Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608. For more information and registration, visit the website here.

April 13 - 11:00AM-3:00PM - Earth Day Celebration - (Fort Walton Beach) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. for an Earth Day Celebration at Liza Jackson Park, 338 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548. The theme for Earth Day 2019 is  "to protect our species”. We will have vendors that will support the theme, but others will include recycling, hybrid vehicles, solar energy, water education, plastic pollution, and more! This year Earth Day FWB is partnering with Drive Electric Earth Day website. Interested in being a vendor? Click here. Interested in being a sponsor? Click here. Stay up to date on the event’s activities at the Facebook event site here,   and website here.

April 13 - 9:30 AM-4:00 PM - Recognizing the Rights of Nature in Florida Law - (Apopka) - Speak Up Wekiva has organized a workshop featuring the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to discuss a campaign to bring Rights of Nature to Florida’s charter counties. This particular meeting is for community organizers who have an understanding about the Rights of Nature movement and are ready to take action in Florida.  Space is limited-please email ChuckforFlorida@gmail.com to RSVP and ask for more information.

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) 

May 16-19 - 39th Annual Florida Native Plant Society Conference - (Crystal River)- Our theme this year "Transitions" is pertinent to the Nature Coast region of Florida in a number of ways - sea level rise, migrations of ecosystems due to climate change, and the transition zone between north and south Florida.  You will be delighted by mind-expanding experiences, tempted by sumptuous meals (including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free) and amazed by the networking and social opportunities. As always, we will offer an abundance of presentations and workshops. 9301 West Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429 . Click here for attendee and vendor registration.

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.


Save the Heritage Trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park - Winter Park

No Fracked Gas in Tampa Bay

Help Save Our Panthers

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

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

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.  

For more information, visit https://www.wearefcc.org/

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