Read President Trump signs law authorizing reservoir to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges - “Building the reservoir to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges is now federal law. President Donald Trump signed the federal Water Resources Development Act Tuesday. WRDA includes a nationwide list of water projects that included the reservoir south of the lake. The law authorizes but doesn't allocate money for the feds to pay their half of the $1.6 billion Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir. The appropriation process could take a couple of years to get money rolling. In late spring 2017, the Florida Legislature approved, and Gov. Rick Scott signed into law, both the proposal to build the reservoir and a mechanism to pay for it. With 'consistent funding,' designing and building the 16,600-acre project will take nine to 10 years, said South Florida Water Management District spokesman Randy Smith.” Tyler Treadway, Ali Schmitz report for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read Lake Okeechobee reservoir is a point of agreement and contention - “Daniel Andrews, with Captains for Clean Water, is questioning the motives of U.S. Sugar in the midst of the SWFL water quality crisis. ‘Sugar often likes to put blame on north of the lake,’ Andrews said. ‘It kind of gives them a way to pass the blame, but really the Everglades agriculture area sits in the way of sending water south,’ This comes after U.S. Sugar said the 16,000 acre reservoir being built south of the lake will not impede harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges. 'It was a good thing for the Everglades,' Malcom Wade, senior vice president for U.S. Sugar, said. 'It had a minor benefit for the estuary discharges. It wasn’t the primary purpose and now it’s turning into a primary purpose.' Both candidates for governor in the state of Florida, Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Congressman Ron DeSantis, have been big supporters of the reservoir. Both candidates for governor in the state of Florida, Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Congressman Ron DeSantis, have been big supporters of the reservoir. 'I was the one that got White House approval for the federal component of the southern reservoir, which we will get online,' DeSantis said. 'We were billed because what you need to do is you need to send water into that reservoir, clean it and send it south to the Everglades and Florida bay, so you’re not discharging the polluted water into the Caloosahatche and St. Lucie estuaries. 'I’ll be able to get that done,' DeSantis said. 'Not only is it agriculture that plays a role, but it’s also some of the hyper developments taking place north of Lake Okeechobee,' Gillum said. 'We need to deal with all that in the state.' But Wade said we should focus mainly on the north. 'We’ve got to figure out how we stop that water from coming in,' Wade said, 'and having to be discharged from out of the lake.' But Andrews disagrees. 'We can’t stop the water from flowing into Lake Okeechobee,' Andrews said. 'That’s the way it’s always flowed; that’s the way it always will.” Brendon Leslie and Michael Mora report for WINK News.
Read Here are key environmental differences between Gillum, DeSantis - “What do you do when two opposing candidates tell you what you want to hear? In Florida’s governor’s race, both candidates have told us they hate toxic algae and love the Everglades and our estuary. They have both checked YES to the key questions in the Bullsugar survey. Both promised not to take Big Sugar money. For Ron DeSantis, it turns out that only applies to direct contributions to his campaign. Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce political action committees, with heavy support from Big Sugar, will be involved in the campaign against Andrew Gillum. Tracing all of the PAC influence on either campaign is difficult to impossible. They differ in philosophy. DeSantis has promised to dismantle regulations that burden business and to veto any tax increases. Gillum has promised strict enforcement of regulations and a resumption of the corporate income tax to raise teachers’ pay and meet the state’s environmental challenges. They differ in background. DeSantis has been in Congress fighting for deregulation as part of the Freedom Caucus. His ratings by national conservation organizations run from 0 to 2 percent. Gillum has been mayor of Tallahassee. The city was named a Green City for protecting natural resources.The city's parks and recreation department was selected 'Best in America.' Mayor Gillum also spearheaded a 120-acre solar farm that provides clean, affordable power for residents of Tallahassee. They differ decidedly on whether they are continuing Florida’s legacy of successful environmental programs or are promising dramatic change in the face of mounting environmental problems… Gillum’s platform states, 'Decades of mismanagement, under-funding and ignoring science have led to catastrophic results for our coastal communities, lakes and rivers.' DeSantis' new campaign chair, on loan from Ballard Partners — which lobbies for U.S. Sugar — announced: 'I think Ron DeSantis can build on the legacy that Rick Scott has built for eight years in Florida.' The starkest difference between the two is on climate change. That difference may be critical to Florida’s future... The candidates appear to differ on how much water we need to send south. DeSantis has applauded the small EAA reservoir proposed by the South Florida Water Management District. Scientists have questioned it. Now that Congress has authorized an EAA reservoir as part of the Water Resources Development Act, we need to listen to hydrologists and enlarge the reservoir to make it work for all of us. Gillum has promised to follow science and make sure the EAA component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan sends enough clean water south to meet CERP goals and the challenge of climate change. Those of us who have watched for the last decade know that continuing Florida’s current legacy will make things worse. Facing the challenge of change and making Florida a leader in caring for its environment seems like a better way to go.” Maggy Hurchalla writes Opinion for the TCPalm.
Read This South Florida haunted house stages a real-life horror: environmental apocalypse - “What’s scarier than a world where an environmental apocalypse has destroyed all we hold dear? This Halloween, Space of Mind, a homeschooling center in Delray Beach, will produce an educational, dystopian haunted house titled Planet SOS that displays an environment ravaged by wasteful humans. 'The goal [of Planet SOS] is to educate and inspire, not just scare… It’s supposed to scare people into changing their habits,' says Ali Kaufman, founder and CEO of Space of Mind. 'We’re going to tell the story through the lens of our own experience, so everyone here [in South Florida] can relate to it. We look at sea level rise, rising temperatures, the impact of toxic chemicals in the air, [and] what happens if the food supply and ecosystem are depleted.' Space of Mind’s academic theme this year is 'Our Planet, Our Health.' For Halloween, the students learned about environmental risk factors in their science classes, creating research reports and using evidence-based research skills. The reports were then turned into scripts and storyboarded to make science documentaries, which will be featured at the haunted house. In the humanities classes, students translated the scientific facts they gleaned from research and wrote horror stories for Planet SOS. This is Space of Mind’s fifth-annual haunted house, and while earlier events earned a reputation as frightening, Kaufman says this version may be the scariest yet: 'The reality is — and this is supported by this year’s climate report — that it’s down to ten years to solve this problem. This year’s haunted house is based on the present and the future, and the real facts are superhauntingly real,' she says...Despite the evidence, which is documented unequivocally in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report released earlier this October, many in the current U.S. government continue to deny the effects of climate change. Kaufman wishes all politicians, Republican and Democrat, could come to Planet SOS. 'For those who do not believe the evidence is real, the kids can educate them on how they learned research skills and gathered facts and why they are not made up,' she says. 'And the politicians on the side of environmental science will be proud of the kids and how they communicate this message.” Read Minhae Shim Roth reports for the Miami New Times.
Read Conservation groups file lawsuit to protect Florida bonneted bats- “They’re called bonneted bats because their broad ears extend over their forehead like a bonnet. They’re endangered and several conservation groups say federal officials aren’t doing enough to protect them. This week, three conservation groups sued U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Florida bonneted bats. The species is at the brink of extinction due to urban and agricultural sprawl and climate change, according to Center for Biological Diversity. In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the groups allege that although the bats received protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to designate habitat to save the species. 'We can’t save Florida bonneted bats without protecting the places where they live and forage,' said Rachael Curran, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney based in Florida, in a news release. 'If these bats are to have any chance at surviving sea-level rise, federal wildlife officials need to protect their remaining habitat now.' Protecting their habitat will also help save other species, including butterflies, moths and skippers, the groups said. Florida bonneted bats live in old tree cavities and artificial structures. They eat insects over open spaces like fresh water and wetlands. There are about 26 colonies of these bats at 11 different sites in southern and southwestern Florida. But the projected sea-level rise could flood nine of the 11 sites, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Studies show federally-protected species are more than twice as likely to recover from an endangered status.” Naseem S. Miller reports for the St. Augustine Record.
Read Citrus County to Fort Myers: ‘Keep your sludge. DEP should have to sue us to take it’ - “A presentation that was intended to give Citrus County commissioners more facts and assurances about Fort Myers' plans for the sludge in its South Street landfill was stopped in its tracks Tuesday almost as soon as it began. I'm going to be short and sweet: Do something else with it.'- Citrus County Commissioner Ron Kitchen'I'm going to be short and sweet,' Commissioner Ron Kitchen told the visiting delegation that included Southwest Florida's DEP chief Jon Iglehart and city of Fort Myers project engineer Richard Thompson. 'Do something else with it.' The county doesn't have authority to stop the sludge from coming there if the DEP approves the plan, but it can go to court to try to stop it. With trees almost cleared for the cleanup on the Fort Myers end, the north Florida county was so adamantly opposed that Kitchen threatened, 'The DEP should have to sue us to take the material because our citizens don't want it.' How did we get here? Like a match to autumn leaves, a call to the Citrus County Chronicle from a former Fort Myers resident lit a bonfire of alarm, according to Chronicle senior reporter Mike Wright. 'Someone sent me the consultant’s report that had the detail of what they were going to do with the sludge,' Wright explained. With no other background – and midterms around the corner – opposition set in against a hard-won cleanup that, for the Fort Myers families who live around the South Street site, is decades overdue. Fervor has reached such a pitch that a legislator seeking a midterm House seat is calling himself 'the anti-sludge candidate.' Overblown? Before Tuesday, Jimmie Smith, the lone Citrus commissioner who supported Fort Myers’ plan, thought so. 'Here is a community trying to clean up, with an effective and known process for dealing with it, that we could help,' said Smith, who had done his homework and saw the arsenic levels in the sludge were relatively low. 'It’s pro-environment to support the cleanup because with the FDEP’s checks and balances, the chance of harm to us is minuscule,' he said. But by Tuesday's meeting he began changing his tune...Asked why it had to be removed at all, county officials were unable – or didn't want to – grasp that the sludge contains arsenic at unsafe levels for a residential neighborhood, and it's currently buried in unlined pits below the water table. Commissioner Jeff Kinnard went so far as to call on Lafarge-Holcim – the cement maker that was going to dry and blend the waste product at its Citrus County plant and then ship it to Alabama for recycling – to be 'a good neighbor' and not accept the sludge. Matt Brownlee, a manager with Lafarge-owned Geocycle, the recycler, addressed the commission with concern. 'We want to do the right thing, but I'm not sure I'm being given the opportunity to get the facts straight,' Brownlee said. 'People here are saying things that just aren't factual. It has been compared with Love Canal. The court of public opinion overrides anything scientific of what we do." Read Patricia Borns reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
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.
November 27 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. – FREE WORKSHOP -- Palm Beach County 2070: What’s Next? (Palm Beach Gardens) - Join 1000 Friends of Florida and the North County Neighborhood Coalition on Tuesday, November 27 to identify the steps needed now to promote a more sustainable future for Palm Beach County. We want to hear from you about what you think the biggest obstacles are to sustainability and what needs to be done, both short- and long-term, to overcome them. The workshop is at Nova’s Palm Beach Campus, 11501 North Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens. This event is free, no registration is required, and light refreshments will be served. Visit www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070plan to find out more.
November 28 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. – FREE WORKSHOP – Martin County 2070: What’s Next? (Stuart) - Join 1000 Friends and The Guardians of Martin County on Wednesday, November 28 to share your thoughts on steps needed now to promote a more sustainable future for Martin County. We want to hear from you about what you think are the biggest obstacles to sustainability in Martin County and what needs to be done, both short- and long-term, to overcome them. The workshop is at the Susan H. Johnson Auditorium, Wolf High-Technology Center, 2400 SE Salerno Road, Stuart. This event is free, no registration is required, and light refreshments will be served. Visit www.1000friendsofflorida.org/mco2070plan to find out more.
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