Read With focus on toxic algae and Everglades, some wonder about other troubled waterways - “Along the Indian River Lagoon the local newspaper hit driveways one January morning with a plea on the front page. Isadora Rangel is a Florida Today editor. “Maybe a month after Ron DeSantis’ election we sat down as an editorial board, and I’m the leader, and I proposed we do a series of editorials with priorities for the governor, and the first one was a no-brainer for us.” The rare front page editorial pointed out that while three years have passed since a stunning fish kill here filled the lagoon with floating carcasses, problems remain as urgent as ever. “It is an issue that is unique to Brevard, but it affects everyone. It’s a bipartisan issue, and it’s an issue not only that we love the environment but that we rely on that environment.” Among other things the editorial touted a measure filed by Representative Randy Fine, a Republican, that would put $50 million dollars toward septic upgrades along the lagoon. “People won’t fish in it. People won’t boat in it. People won’t swim in it. People look at it as a cesspool, and we have to do something about it.” Florida’s annual legislative session is getting underway this week in Tallahassee. Among the top priorities for lawmakers are toxic algae and the Everglades, but some Floridians are wondering about other troubled waterways…” Read WMFE Legislative Preview 2019, Part IV by Amy Green.
Read Restore balance to water district - “Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly used the phrase “war footing” to describe his plans to fight for the health of Florida’s water supply, lakes, rivers and coastlines. Over the coming months, the governor will have the opportunity to line up his key troops. But among the many positions he fills, DeSantis should pay special attention to six pending vacancies on the St. Johns River Water Management District governing board, which covers an 18-county area that includes Volusia and Flagler counties, and is charged with protecting some of the most environmentally sensitive and at-risk ecosystems in the state. The district shares oversight of the troubled Indian River Lagoon, one of the most diverse estuaries on the nation’s east coast, where a slow-moving environmental meltdown is unfolding. It also has jurisdiction over many of Florida’s most iconic springs, including Blue Spring, DeLeon Springs and Gemini Springs in Volusia County; Silver Springs and Silver Glen Springs in Marion County; Ginnie Springs and Ichetucknee Springs in Alachua and many more. Contamination and decreasing volume in spring flows point to serious trouble in the vast underground aquifer that supplies Florida with clean drinking water. And finally, there’s the district’s namesake, the mighty St. Johns River. The state has spent untold millions cleaning up sewage discharge and industrial waste, but last year the river saw the same algae outbreaks and high bacteria counts that are getting more attention in the Indian River Lagoon...But the real problems were below the surface. The district purged many of its experienced staff, including a cut in 2011 that discarded 20 percent of the district’s employees, many of them engineers, hydrologists and scientists. The board also pushed many significant decisions down to the remaining staff, where they were made with little public notice or scrutiny. The goal shifted from protecting resources to getting permits out as quickly and efficiently as possible, in many cases reducing a formerly rigorous scientific review to the bureaucratic equivalent of a rubber-stamp machine…” From the Ocala Star Banner Editorial Board
Read Controversial pipeline under Indian River Lagoon delayed by Indian River County Commission - “A controversial wastewater pipeline 80 feet under the Indian River Lagoon won't move ahead until the county gets results of an engineering report on the project. County Commissioners Tuesday agreed to wait until they receive the results of a $102,800 feasibility analysis before considering plans to send treated reuse water to the barrier island...John’s Island Water Management Co. proposed the controversial pipeline to get public water for irrigating the community’s homes and golf courses. The $6 million plan would send treated wastewater from the county’s northern treatment plan through a 16-inch pipe under the lagoon, emerging at Old Winter Beach Road and continuing south along the A1A corridor. But the plan has run into major opposition from environmentalists concerned about the effects on the lagoon, including what happens if the pipe ruptures. In addition, the Indian River Mosquito Control District has said it would not grant an easement for the pipeline, and the Indian River County Historical Society has questioned the project because of the historical significance of property along Old Winter Beach Road…” Janet Begley writes Special to TCPalm.
Read Ron Bergeron’s appointment to water board ‘under review’ after $25 million contract comes to light - “Broward County’s Ron Bergeron signed a $25 million no-bid construction contract with the South Florida Water Management District more than a week after Gov. Ron DeSantis tapped him for the district’s board. Bergeron signed the contract calling for Bergeron Land Development Inc. to complete the district's work on a stormwater treatment area in western Martin County on Feb. 6...Bergeron's appointment is still "under review" to determine whether he "has any conflict of interest that might impede the work he would need to do" on the board, DeSantis spokeswoman Helen Ferre said late Tuesday afternoon…” Tyler Treadway reports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Read Ron DeSantis could fall short on environment money - “Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request for $625 million next year for environmental projects, including Everglades restoration, may be “pushing” the limits of a budget expected to be taxed because of the response to Hurricane Michael. Senate President Bill Galvano said Tuesday he supports environmental efforts that include combating a potential return of red tide and helping communities shift from septic tanks to sewers. However, the Bradenton Republican said the governor’s “big numbers” proposed for the 2019-2020 fiscal year will require lawmakers to determine what is “realistic and what is the most effective and efficient means of pursuing” some of the ideas. “It’s pushing it a bit giving the challenges we have budget-wise with Hurricane Michael and the impact of Hurricane Michael and what we’ve spent there already,” Galvano told reporters…“These are important issues, but a lot has been done already, and it’s just a question of having it move up in the queue,” Galvano said. “It’s not an issue of, these are issues that we are starting out with this session. We’ve been working on these for quite a while.” In his State of the State address on Tuesday, DeSantis reiterated his call for $2.5 billion over the next four years for environmental projects.” By the News Service of Florida.
Read Waterkeepers Florida committed to protecting Sunshine State waters - “The Florida Waterkeepers have been working for years to protect our state’s waterways,” said Jen Lomberk, Matanzas Riverkeeper. “We all work extremely hard to focus on the issues in each of our watersheds, but water does not abide by political boundaries, so it was clear that we need statewide coordination to tackle the broader issues at the state level. We represent more than 15 million Floridians who live, work, and play in our watersheds. The Waterkeepers Florida regional entity provides us the opportunity to formally leverage our collective statewide voice for our waterways.”...In their letter to Governor DeSantis, Waterkeepers Florida highlights harmful algal blooms, caused by agricultural pollution, which hurt the tourism and fishing industries. They also face continued threats of pollution from other sources including power plants, sewage leaks, and litter. And, as with the whole United States, the Waterkeepers of Florida face the possibility of a weakened federal Clean Water Act that would make it harder to hold polluters accountable....As one of their first actions as a Waterkeeper Regional Entity, Waterkeepers Florida wrote and signed A Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida. They joined several other environmental groups in opposing these mines and the impacts of their toxic byproducts including radon and uranium, effectively highlighting a lesser-known danger to Florida waters...Waterkeepers Florida looks forward to future coordinated efforts for the protection of Florida waters. Their plans include following their letter to Governor DeSantis with a meeting and more specific asks regarding his Executive Order, Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment, and a letter to First Lady Casey DeSantis responding to her stated commitment to swimmable and clean waters…” Julia Widmann, Jen Lomberk, John S. Quarterman, Lisa Rinaman and Kelly Cox write for Waterkeeper Alliance
Read Now is your chance to protect the Clean Water Act- “The Trump administration is trying to remove Clean Water Act protections for at least 60 percent of streams and up to 110 million acres of wetlands across the entire country. That’s bad, but before they can pull it off, the Environmental Protection Agency has to solicit and consider public comment. So you should go tell them what you think of the plan right now. o repeat: This redefinition of what are considered Waters of the United States (WOTUS) would strip Clean Water Act protections from 60 percent of streams and 110 million acres of wetlands. In the end, that's really all you need to know. The majority of Americans could lose access to clean drinking water. Much of the protections wetlands offer against flooding could be lost. Fish and animal habitat would be devastated, as would the recreational hunting and fishing and commercial fishing industries. Recreating in and on clean water would become a relic of the past. This is by far the most environmentally harmful proposal put forward by the Trump administration to date. "Big polluters could not have crafted a bigger free pass to dump if they wrote it themselves," says Blan Holman, of the Southern Environmental Law Center…”Wes Siler reports for Outside.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. (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 email@example.com 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.
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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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