Read In a step forward for Everglades restoration, Senate approves reservoir plan - “A project intended to help address blue-green algae outbreaks took a major step forward Wednesday as the U.S. Senate passed a bill that includes a proposal for an Everglades water storage reservoir. Senators approved the bill, which includes many other water-related projects nationwide, by a margin of 99-1. The reservoir would be built south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce the need for water discharges east and west. The lake water contains high levels of nutrients like phosophorus and nitrogren, which fuels algae blooms in inland waterways and coastal areas, including the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. ‘The recurring toxic algae blooms in South Florida and the 2015 seagrass die-off in Florida Bay tell us our watershed is sick,’ Celeste De Palma, director of Everglades policy for the non-profit conservation group Audubon Florida, said in a statement. She called the reservoir and other Everglades restoration efforts ‘the antidote the ecosystem needs.’ The reservoir was championed by outgoing Florida Senate President Joe Negron and developed on an expedited timeline by state and federal water managers. Policymakers, scientists and environmental groups alike hope that momentum will continue as the water bill heads to President Trump for approval. In a statement, Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg said he's hopeful the project can be completed in as little as four years. That's an aggressive timeline, especially considering that in the years since a comprehensive Everglades restoration plan was approved in 2000, fewer than five of its original 68 projects have been completed. ‘The history of Everglades restoration is littered with back-slapping celebrations followed by communal amnesia as projects that began in earnest were abandoned, delayed or held hostage to special interest politics,’ Eikenberg said. ‘Now, the real work begins." Kate Stein reports for WLRN.
Read SFWMD Governing Board continues to preserve America’s Everglades - “ The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved another land purchase to help preserve the Shingle Creek Management Area in Orange and Osceola counties, which serves as the headwaters for America's Everglades. In the past year, the District has bought about 12.5 acres and is under contract to buy nearly 4 more acres in Shingle Creek from willing sellers. SFWMD now owns nearly 2,500 acres for conservation within Shingle Creek. "This Board is dedicated to ensuring the health of the Everglades, and Shingle Creek is critical to achieving this goal," said SFWMD Governing Board Member and Orange County resident Dan O'Keefe. ‘Every parcel we can secure helps preserve Shingle Creek, which is an important step for the Everglades and a worthy investment in the future of our environment.’ The Governing Board approved purchasing 1.27 acres from a willing seller in Shingle Creek as part of an effort to acquire these lands for conservation since 1991. Originally, the purchase of these lands occurred through the Save Our Rivers program and subsequently with mitigation funds. The creek's unique hydrologic function and environmental value continue to enhance for the Everglades. Recognized as the headwaters of America's Everglades, the Shingle Creek Management Area is the largest natural area in the Greater Orlando area. It is comprised primarily of hardwood swamps with some upland habitat and is home to 154 different wildlife species. The swamp plays a critical role in providing regional flood protection and ensuring water quality. This area also offers extensive public recreation opportunities for thousands of residents and visitors each year and includes activities such as kayaking, hiking, biking, fishing and wildlife viewing.” From the SFWMD Press Office.
Read Florida Recycling Summit provides update on statewide recycling efforts - “The Florida Recycling Partnership, Anheuser-Busch and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) hosted the Florida Recycling Summit Oct. 3 to address the state of recycling in Florida. The one-day event started at Anheuser-Busch’s Metal Container Corporation facility with a short press conference and tour of the facility, and then attendees moved to the Anheuser-Busch Jacksonville brewery for an educational session. ‘[The event] gave us an opportunity to highlight the recycling efforts of one our members,’ says Keyna Cory, executive director of the Florida Recycling Partnership. ‘Also, Florida has a 75 percent recycling goal, and we have been working with the FDEP on different educational outreach opportunities. John Truitt, deputy secretary for FDEP, was at the press conference lending their support for recycling efforts, and Karen Moore, FDEP, gave a presentation on how recycling efforts started in Florida and the different programs being offered by the department.’ Cory says the event also benefited Anheuser-Busch. ‘[The company] doesn’t toot their own horn,’ she says. ‘We wanted to let people know what a great job they do with regards to recycling. They were proud to showcase their facilities. Overall, about 30 people attended the event. Cory notes that the event could only invite a limited number of people due to the tours and the location...Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, spoke during the conference, addressing business owners, university professors and attendees from across Florida. ‘This event is about what we can do as citizens to protect our state instead of putting all of the responsibility on government officials,’ Bradley said at the conference. ‘Florida wants to continue to implement educational programs to raise awareness as we work towards 100 percent sustainability.’ Truitt also announced that FDEP has a new recycling program called ‘Rethink. Reset. Recycle.’ that assists citizens and industries in protecting Florida’s environment. Truitt reported that through FDEP’s efforts, Florida’s recycling rate has increased from 22 percent in 2011 to 52 percent in 2017...” Megan Smalley reports for Recycling Today.
Read Brevard County Commission approves septic tank restrictions to protect Indian River Lagoon - “County commissioners have given final approval to strict septic tank rules designed to reduce the flow of harmful nitrogen and phosphorus into the Indian River Lagoon. Through its 5-0 vote on Tuesday night, commissioners banned the installation of new conventional septic tanks along the beachside, on Merritt Island, and in areas of the mainland close to the lagoon and its tributaries. The measure allows installation of new ‘nitrogen-reducing septic systems’ that cut nitrogen emissions by at least 65 percent in these areas. These tanks cost thousands of dollars more than conventional systems, but better protect the environment. The ordinance is "an important step in restoring the lagoon back to health," said Frank Gidus of Orlando, director of habitat and environmental restoration for the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, one of 10 speakers to address county commissioners in support of the measure before the vote. "It's critical that you stop more nutrients" like nitrogen from entering the lagoon. Among the other speakers backing the plan were representatives of the Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition, Keep Brevard Beautiful, the Space Coast Progressive Alliance and the Turtle Coast Sierra Club. Under the new rules, in addition to all of Brevard's beachside barrier island and Merritt Island, the mainland areas affected include locations within 200 feet of the Indian River Lagoon shoreline. An exception is in the Melbourne-Tillman Water Control District area of South Brevard, where the buffer would be within 130 feet of the lagoon shoreline. ‘I'm glad we're doing this,’ County Commission Vice Chair Kristine Isnardi said, adding that she wouldn't rule out making the provisions countywide in the future. Isnardi said the county also must address issues related to sewage capacity and other infrastructure to reduce the likelihood of sewage flowing into the lagoon and to reduce the number of septic systems in the county. Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department Director Virginia Barker said the more efficient septic systems allowed under the new rules cost $4,000 or more on average than conventional systems. The new septic tanks rules affect only the installations of new septic systems. Residents in the affected areas who already have conventional septic tanks would not be required to upgrade them. The rules will affect both unincorporated areas of the county and municipalities. Brevard's cities and towns, however, would have the option of enacting an ordinance to opt out the county's rules. County Commissioner Curt Smith said that, while there is "no one silver bullet" and "no magic wand" to clean up the lagoon, this is an important step in the process. ‘We're dealing with 50 years of neglect,’ County Commissioner Jim Barfield said. ‘It will take time. We're trying to correct 50 years of problems. I wish we could do a lot more. But, financially, we can't eliminate every septic tank right now.’..” Dave Berman reports for Florida Today.
Read Hurricane Michael feeds a dangerous algae bloom, red tide could sicken Floridians - “Red tide, a naturally occurring algae that produces toxins when it occurs in large concentrations, could grow even bigger and sicken Florida residents inland due to Hurricane Michael. The side effect of the strongest storm to hit Florida since 1851 could lead to mass fish kills and harm fishing livelihoods, including shellfish harvesting. A massive algae bloom that stretches 145 miles along the southeast Florida coast and 10 miles into the Gulf of Mexico could be fed as heavy rains drive nutrients into the water from agricultural fertilizers, farm animal waste lagoons and storage tanks, and septic systems. ‘The heavy rain will dilute farm and agriculture areas of all the nutrients, nitrates, phosphates and rain them into the beaches and coastal areas that serve to fertilize the red tide,’ David Hastings, a professor of Marine Science and Chemistry at Eckerd College told a CBS News station in Tampa, Florida. But depending on wind direction and rainfall, the hurricane could also help disperse the bloom, driving it further into the gulf, and killing it off through lower temperatures. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert and professor at Florida International University, told Accuweather, ‘More likely than not, the hurricane is going to reduce the problem in the west coast, where it’s worse, for now.’ The Florida red tide results from Karenia brevis, an alga that’s generally harmless in small quantities—but in the right conditions it can reproduce into the billions, and release significant amounts of a toxic byproduct into the water and air. Red tide can cause humans to suffer respiratory ailments from airborne toxins. They can also get sicken or even die from eating affected marine life...Fish kills have also become frequent, as the algae consume oxygen in the water and their toxins poison fish. Birds, manatees, sea turtles, and other animals and species can also be poisoned directly by red tide, or by eating affected animals. A Florida news station reported that beaches facing the Gulf of Mexico in Pinellas County, which includes St. Petersburg, were recently covered with dead fish. The State of Florida’s red tide information site says that nutrient off-flows don’t cause red tides, but the Conservancy of Southwest Florida points to 2014 research that found certain nutrients feed them, or feed other algae blooms that red tides in turn feed from…” Glenn Fleishman reports for Fortune.
Read The hurricanes, and climate-change questions, keep coming. Yes, they’re linked - “Scientists are increasingly confident of the links between global warming and hurricanes. In a warming world, they say, hurricanes will be stronger, for a simple reason: Warmer water provides more energy that feeds them. Hurricanes and other extreme storms will also be wetter, for a simple reason: Warmer air holds more moisture. And, storm surges from hurricanes will be worse, for a simple reason that has nothing to do with the storms themselves: Sea levels are rising. Researchers cannot say, however, that global warming is to blame for the specifics of the latest storm, Hurricane Michael, which grew to Category 4 with sustained winds of 155 miles an hour, as it hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday. Such attribution may come later, when scientists compare the real-world storm to a fantasy-world computer simulation in which humans did not pump billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. There are already tantalizing suggestions, however, that the warming caused by all those greenhouse-gas emissions has had an impact on Michael. A 2013 study showed that sea-surface temperatures in the eastern Gulf of Mexico have warmed over the past century by more than what would be expected from natural variability. These are the waters that the hurricane churned across as it headed toward the Panhandle and its maximum wind speeds more than doubled. ‘That general region has been one where there has been long-term climate warming,” said Thomas R. Knutson, a climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lead author of the study. “We have reason to believe humans have made the water warmer.’ While there is debate over whether global warming will lead to more frequent hurricanes — many models suggest there may actually be fewer in the future, although with a greater proportion of major ones — scientists are generally agreed about the effects of warming on intensity, as measured by wind speeds. ‘We have a very clear theory on how tropical cyclones intensify,’ said Suzana J. Camargo, an ocean and climate physicist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y. The theory, largely the work of Kerry Emanuel, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, holds that the temperature difference between ocean and upper atmosphere determines how much a storm intensifies. A bigger temperature difference leads to the release of more energy into the storm. ‘The warmer you have the ocean, the bigger the difference,’ Dr. Camargo said. The theory has been reinforced by computer simulations that produce more intense storms with rising ocean temperatures. ‘We understand the theory behind it, and we have seen it in the models,’ Dr. Camargo said. As for storms producing more precipitation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that human-caused warming has affected the amount of water vapor in the air, and that extreme precipitation events have already increased in many parts of the world. The group’s latest report, issued this week, found that such extreme precipitation will likely further increase if the world cannot limit overall warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit)...” Henry Fountain reports for the New York Times.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
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, 10:00am-4:00pm - Miami Waterkeeper’s 4th Annual Bay Day (Coconut Grove): Join the Miami Waterkeeper’s annual ‘Bay Day’, celebrating Biscayne Bay at Shake-A-Leg in Coconut Grove. Tickets for this family-friendly event include: Lunch from SALT waterfront restaurant, 2 Veza Sur Brewing beers, kayaking, boat rides, sailing, arts & crafts, music, yoga, native plant and book sales, visits to Shake-A-Leg’s eco-island, and more! For tickets and more information, click here.
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.
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