Greg Stanely reports for the Naples Daily News – “It started right around 2000. Nothing had changed before then. Even though all the decades of new houses, even as canals were sloppily dug and roads hastily built by high-pressure property salesmen, even as agriculture grew and wetlands were steadily paved over, nothing seemed to greatly change the water levels in the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. But in 2000 and 2001, the water began disappearing… Over the past 18 years, the swamp has been getting the same amount of rainfall as it always has. It fills to its capacity during the wet months. But as soon as the rains stop during the dry season, the standing water and ponds that should be receding slowly are instead sucked away rapidly. In most recent years, the swamp has been completely dry for months. Researchers at Corkscrew now are racing to find out what is causing the water loss, and what the dry spells mean for the future of the wildlife, environment and aquifers there, and in Collier County as a whole… ‘I don’t think it’s one thing (causing it). My best guess is that there are four big possibilities that stressed… the system until in the late ‘90s it hit a breaking point.’ Clem and Duever believe the water loss is due to some combination of increasing human use, with more wells and more homes demanding more water; agricultural water demand; canals that are flushing water out of the system; and changing vegetation, where drier conditions are causing the thriving of more leafy plants like willow, which hold less and lose more water, encouraging drier conditions.” Read Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary losing water; scientists wonder why
Lisa Rinaman writes for The Florida Times Union – “I want to commend The Florida Times-Union for its outstanding special report about how dredging continues to allow saltwater to move farther up the St. Johns putting homes more at risk of storm surges and flooding. The St. Johns Riverkeeper has sounded the alarm for more than five years that the current plan to dredge the river an additional 7 feet deeper will make these problems worse… Unfortunately, too many elected officials, JaxPort authorities and the Army Corps of Engineers continue to downplay the elevated risk… [W]e are now well aware of the consequences of dredging, and sea level rise is occurring at a much faster rate than in previous decades. Yet, the Deep Dredge is moving forward with virtually no mitigation plan to offset the impacts, minimize risk, and protect our river and our communities from harm… [T]he Army Corps has somehow come to the improbable conclusion that there is no need to conduct a flood analysis!... As a result, our community will only become more vulnerable as waters rise, flooding becomes more frequent and widespread, public infrastructure fails, and our river is further degraded by more sewage spills and pollution. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to what history has taught us and to the damage that will likely occur. We call on our city leaders to protect the St. Johns River, our homes and businesses and our health. There is no time to waste.” Read Dredging likely to worsen flooding, storm surge
The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Here’s one sure bet about the hundreds gathering for the annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference…: They’ll all want to hear forecasters’ predictions on how active the 2018 hurricane season is going to be… They’ll be talking… about science. And they’ll be heeding scientists… But if science is to be trusted when it comes to hurricanes, why is it so hard for state officials in Florida and federal officials in the Trump administration to respect science when it comes to climate change and sea-level rise?... One of the greatest dangers of global warming and rising seas to us will be the increasing intensity of hurricanes as they feed on warmer ocean water… The sea isn’t going to wait for us to get our act together. It’s time to start now.” Read Florida heeds hurricane science, but ignores the facts about sea-level rise
Elisabeth Doehring writes for the Tallahassee Democrat – “CCD and the lack of water flow threaten not only one of the world’s most sacred resources – white Ogeechee tupelo honey – but a way of life for a small Florida town.” Read Hard times fall on the American tupelo honeybee
Dale White reports for the Herald Tribune – “For planning purposes… the [Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority] continues to think decades ahead about how to keep its customers’ thirsts quenched… The authority wants to draw additional water from the Peace River, expand its treatment plant in southwest DeSoto County and create a third… reservoir. The drenching that the Sarasota-Manatee area took during Hurricane Irma in September 2017 is an example of a period in which the authority could have safely diverted more water form the river without adversely affecting Charlotte Harbor downstream. Yet it did not have the storage capacity.” Read Regional water agency envisions third reservoir for future demand
John Chambliss reports for The Ledger – “A water war may be brewing between Polk County and its neighbors to the south. The regional water authority owned by Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Sarasota counties has filed for a 50-year permit to more than double the amount of water it withdraws, from 120 million gallons to 258 million gallons per day. Upstream, officials with Polk County’s regional water cooperative are concerned. They may have a plan in the future to increase aquifer recharge in the Peace Creek Basin… to receive groundwater credits to allow increased withdrawals from existing wells. That project would involve diverting 5 to 10 million gallons of water a day into mini-reservoirs. They fear that if downstream users secure 50 years worth of rights, there won’t be water available when Polk County comes calling… The city of Lakeland filed a petition challenging the proposed permit… The Polk Regional Water cooperative, which represents 15 cities,… plans… to file its own petition… The Regional Water Cooperative wants more time to study the impacts… Though the filing may have been working its way through Swiftmud’s hydrogeologists and engineers for years, the emergence of the plan on a public agenda and an upcoming decision is sudden, Delgado said… Heath said he’s unaware of any other 50-year permit plan in the state. ‘Our plans only go out 20 years,’ Heath said. ‘If you give a 50-year permit it impacts that pending plan.’” Read Water war spat brewing between Polk and other counties
Deborah Strange reports for the Ocala Star Banner – “Yousong Ding, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry at UF’s College of Pharmacy, writes that sunscreens often contain minerals and synthetic compounds that harm coastal marine organisms at high concentrations. With 28,000 pounds of sunscreen released into bodies of water each year, the ingredients stress 10 percent of reefs globally. Ding is working to harvest shinorine, a naturally-occurring sunscreen produced by cyanobacteria microbes… Shinorine is already used in the cosmetic industry, and it’s harvested from marine red algae. It’s a time-consuming process, though, and Ding wanted to find a faster way… [T]hey were able to get the same amount of shonorine in one week as it has been possible to do with red algae in one year.” Read UF harvests natural sunscreen
Marc Caputo reports for Politico – “The elections supervisor in Florida’s second-most populous county broke state and federal law by unlawfully destroying ballots cast in Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s 2016 Democratic primary, a judge ruled… in a case brought by the congresswoman’s challenger who wanted to check for voting irregularities.” Read Florida to monitor Broward election chief after judge finds ‘unlawful’ ballot destruction in Wasserman Schultz race
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
May 16, 10:00 am – Attend a webinar, pass a test, and become a Certified Stormwater Volunteer. You’ll learn the federal, state, and local requirements for stormwater and how to report illicit violations. Annual (non-voting) membership with the Stormwater Compliance Center is $50 and includes additional webinar training, certificate, safety vest, handbook, & quarterly newsletter. For more information, call (888) 527 – 5404. To sign up, email Betty@npdes.com and include your name, address, and phone number in the email.
May 17-20 – Attend The Florida Native Plant Society’s 38th Annual Conference in Miami. For more information, click here.
May 19, 10:00 am – Participate in Hands Across the Sand at Pensacola Beach. Hands Across the Sand is an annual gathering of people who come together to express their opposition to dirty fossil fuels and to champion a new era of clean, renewable energy. There will be speeches, snacks, live music, and more. For more information, click here.
May 19, 11:00 am – Participate in Hands Across the Sand at Fort Walton Beach. Hands Across the Sand is an annual gathering of people who come together to express their opposition to dirty fossil fuels and to champion a new era of clean, renewable energy. For more information, click here.
May 19, 11:30 am – Participate in Hands Across the Sand at Fernandina Beach. Hands Across the Sand is an annual gathering of people who come together to express their opposition to dirty fossil fuels and to champion a new era of clean, renewable energy. For more information, click here.
May 22 – June 23 – Solar United Neighbors is hosting several solar co-op information sessions around Florida throughout the next few months. Attendees will learn about solar equipment, financing, and the benefits of joining a solar co-op. For a complete list of sessions, click here.
May 23, 5:30 pm – Attend Before the Flood at the Pensacola Public Library (239 N. Spring St.) in Pensacola. Before the Flood is a film that follows actor Leonardo DiCaprio to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand. Following the film, 350 Pensacola and Northwest Florida Move to Amend will discuss how the influence of corporate money in politics is delaying action on climate change and how the public can take action to free the political system of that influence. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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