Read Protect Florida’s waters statewide - “Protecting and conserving Florida’s water is an economic as well as environmental issue, not one defined by geography or party lines. Both of us, a Democrat from Miami Lakes and Republican from Altamonte Springs, have made protecting and restoring Florida’s waters a cornerstone of our public service. Today, we redouble our efforts to safeguard Florida’s most valuable resource. Spurred by outbreaks of red tide and blue-green algae leading to another summer of dramatic loss in revenue and decline of water quality and quantity in Florida’s springs, rivers, and lakes, the Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC), a coalition of over 80 conservation-minded groups, released “A Water Policy for Florida.” This position statement provides an overview of many of the existing threats to our waters and a pathway for their successful conservation, restoration and protection statewide. The FCC lays out five critical steps that must be undertaken immediately by our policymakers to safeguard our waters…” Bob Graham and Lee Constantine write Guest Column for the Orlando Sentinel.
Read St. Johns Riverkeeper warns of harmful effects of ‘sewage sludge’ - “Whether it be a day out on the boat or fishing from shore, many people in Jacksonville feel connected to the water. The St. Johns Riverkeeper says the river and wildlife are being threatened -- by sewage sludge. “Sewage sludge is treated sewage. A fancier word for it is bio-solids,” Kelly Thompson, outreach director with the riverkeeper, said. “Excess runoff from the land in the upper basin from rain and storms is getting into our waterways.” The sludge is banned in South Florida but is still being used to fertilize land in Central Florida. The riverkeeper says its runoff can cause toxic algae blooms. “They can cause fish kills. They block sun light so grasses can’t grow and they’re toxic to us,” Thompson said...The riverkeeper is also inviting people to board a bus to Tallahassee March 13 to call for protective measures. “It’s all about protecting our rivers, so we’re focusing on stopping pollution at its source,” Thompson said. Algae blooms are most common beginning in May but can start as early as April in areas where homeowners are using fertilizers. The riverkeeper said if you see a bloom that you suspect might be toxic, call their office or the Department of Environmental Protection immediately…” Brittney Donovan reports for Action News Jax.
Read Firefighting chemicals a health risk at many Florida sites. Just four have been tested - “It has been six months since Florida health officials learned that there was a potential problem with groundwater contamination, linked to fire retardant chemicals, at firefighting training sites across the state. Of Florida’s 45 certified firefighting training facilities, 27 are known or suspected to have used those toxic chemicals, part of a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. But so far only four sites have been tested by the state Department of Environmental Protection for environmental contamination...When state officials first discovered elevated levels of toxic chemicals in the water at the state-run Fire College in Ocala last August, they discovered the problem had been years in the making. PFAS, a popular ingredient in firefighting foams had leached into the groundwater after years of firefighter training. Officials would soon discover it was tainting both water at the facility and the well water of some neighbors…” Elizabeth Koh and Samantha J. Gross report for the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
Read Governor needs Florida legislature to approve his environmental spending requests - “The Republican–controlled Legislature will be tasked with an unexpected job: deciding whether to allocate funds for environmental causes championed by the governor. The environment wasn’t a priority under former Governor Rick Scott. Florida’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, is taking a different approach - and raising eyebrows - as he seeks massive dollars to clean up the state’s water ways...“We have a great expression - never let a good crisis go to waste," said Rob Moher, president of Conservancy of Southwest Florida. "I think this governor’s just coming at the right time and has a coalition, a broad coalition of support regardless of political party, regardless of what sector you’re in – private, non-profit. We all have to pull together in the same direction.”...Galvano says he’s pleased the governor is making water quality a priority. “We have to realize that the governor has the ability to make recommendations to the legislature, and we are taking those recommendations seriously, but we have to go through our own budget process…” Gina Jordan reports for WFSU.
Read Miami bans controversial herbicides that are killing Biscayne Bay - “Glyphosate is a popular ingredient in weed-killing herbicides because it's extremely effective. But it's also a well-known pollutant — researchers have found the chemical in samples of the air we breathe, the food we eat, and even the beer and wine we buy from the liquor store. Now, the ingredient has been banned in Miami. On Thursday, city commissioners approved a resolution prohibiting the city and its contractors from using herbicides containing glyphosate, including Roundup. The ban went into effect immediately. Miami Waterkeeper, a local clean-water advocacy group, applauded commissioners for the decision...Commissioner Ken Russell, who sponsored the resolution, says he started looking into the city's use of herbicides and pesticides after Miami was swept by blue-green algae blooms, red tide, and fecal contamination. One of his main concerns was the city's stormwater outfalls, which pump dirty, unfiltered water from the streets into Biscayne Bay. "Water quality issues are so important to the city of Miami, and we can be one of the worst polluters as a municipality," Russell says. "We ask for residents to make a change in their habits and that they be conscious of what they put in their gardens, but when I realized the totality of what the city uses at any given time, we had to change our habits…” Jessica Lipscomb reports for the Miami New Times.
Read Florida toxic algae: Lake Okeechobee releases cause concerns about water quality, blooms- “Lake Okeechobee releases started again last week, and the results are a mixed bag for the Caloosahatchee River and its delicate estuary. The volume of water is not concerning to many local environmental groups, but they do question the quality of water coming from the big lake. "I don’t have any problem with those flow rates coming out of Franklin Lock," said Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani. "(But) part of the uncertainty is if the discharges bring algal biomass, hopefully not, cyanobacteria, into the river. People are worried we're going to see another bloom." Franklin Lock and Dam in Alva is the demarcation line between the brackish estuary and the upstream freshwater conditions. The releases are being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and have reached as high as 2,800 cubic feet per second at the lock. The river was plagued last summer by a particularly nasty, toxic blue-green algae bloom that caused waters to turn into an avocado-colored stew. The hope this year is that releases now will help avoid harmful discharges during the summer when blue-green algae is most prevalent…” Chad Gillis reports for the News-Press
Read New Florida AG ‘examining’ 10-state lawsuit filed to block underwater blasting that harms whales, dolphins- “When 10 states along the Atlantic seaboard recently joined a federal lawsuit to stop offshore drilling companies from doing loud underwater blasting that hurts and kills dolphins, whales, and other sea life, Florida was notably absent. Now, Florida’s new Attorney General Ashley Moody is taking a look at the lawsuit “and how it relates to Florida,” her spokeswoman says. The state Attorneys General joined with environmental groups to try to block the Trump administration’s decision to allow “incidental harm” to tens of thousands of marine creatures. The Trump administration already issued the permits to allow five corporations to harm sea life. One of the rarest creatures on Earth, the endangered North American right whale, gives birth off Cape Canaveral. Only about 400 of the whales exist, with only about 100 breeding females. The Florida coast is their only known breeding ground. Erin Hardy, of Oceana, says environmental advocates met with the staffers for Gov. Ron DeSantis last month and “specifically asked the governor to urge the Attorney General to join the suit.” “We absolutely feel that the state of Florida should join the suit, along with the other 10 states in taking a stand against this potentially dangerous offshore oil exploration that could lead to oil rigs off our Atlantic coast,” Hardy said. Trump’s National Marine Fisheries Service has authorized one company to harm more than 50,000 dolphins and another company to harm 20,000 more, the groups say. The federal government estimates that the blasting will cause more than 373,000 instances of harm to marine mammals, according to a press release from Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. Frosh is among the 10 state attorneys general along the Atlantic Coast which sued to stop the blasting…” Julie Hauserman reports for the Florida Phoenix.
Read America has a sewage problem- “For more than 15 years, Catherine Flowers has been spearheading a lonely and frustrating campaign in Alabama’s Black Belt to install and improve a simple but crucial piece of infrastructure for the far-flung homes in the area: septic tanks. Her efforts began in 2002 shortly after officials in the Black Belt’s Lowndes County threatened to jail two dozen residents for inadequate sewage treatment, which is a misdemeanor under Alabama law. Somewhere between 40 and 90 percent of the homes in the county had a failing septic system, or none at all. The residents, who were predominantly black and poor, could not afford the thousands of dollars needed to install new underground sewage tanks...But there was another group of people who started getting in touch with Flowers. To them, the problems associated with septic systems weren’t exotic stories in faraway locales; they were all-too-familiar situations right at home. Flowers started hearing from activists and community leaders from California, Kentucky, Texas and Virginia. Leaky septic tanks cause algae blooms that close beaches on New York’s Long Island. They threaten dolphins and other aquatic wildlife in Florida…”Daniel C. Vock writes for Governing
From Our Readers
The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.
Upcoming Environmental Events:
March 5 - 9:00 AM - “The Future Land Use and Buildout Workshop” - (Naples)- On Tuesday, the Collier County Board of County Commissioners is hosting a “Future Land Use and Build-Out Workshop.” The workshop will be held in the Board of County Commissioner chambers at 3299 Tamiami Trail E. 3rd Floor. The workshop will include a discussion of growth management policies, population projections at the year 2040, and how those policies will shape the continued build-out of Collier County. This workshop is an ideal opportunity for the community to share their perspective on what is going well in the County and voice any concerns about the impacts of future growth. For more information about the event, visit the County’s site here, and more information about the topic here at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s website.
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 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 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 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 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.
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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.
Please send all suggestions, comments, and criticism to Haley Burger at WeAreFCC@gmail.com
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/