FCC News Brief - September 18, 2018

Read Lake O overflow may get pumped underground to fix algae problem- “Water managers are fast-tracking plans to dispose of Lake Okeechobee overflow by pumping it 3,000 feet underground, agreeing to spend $10 million this week to build two deep injection wells in a test of the project’s viability. The so-called “Emergency Estuary Protection Wells” are billed as a quick solution to reduce the amount of harmful lake water discharged into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries — a process that contributes to the plague of blue-green algae both waterways suffered this summer. But environmental groups oppose forcing billions of gallons of lake water into the cavernous boulder zone beneath South Florida’s drinking water supply. They argue it’s a waste of freshwater needed during the dry season, and diverts attention from the overall goal of Everglades restoration. While the two test wells were approved Thursday by the South Florida Water Management District governing board, the ultimate plan could include up to 60 wells at a cost of more than $5 million each. Each well could pump 15 million gallons of water per day. Shannon Estenoz, chief operating officer of the Everglades Foundation, said deep injection wells are ‘1940s thinking’ — a time when unwanted water was funneled places it shouldn’t be, leaving parts of the Everglades too dry, while other parts drown. She said the district should stick to projects outlined in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) that work toward a holistic repair of the Everglades from the northern estuaries to Florida Bay. ‘Restoration is about capturing the water, cleaning it and redirecting it to where it should go,’ said Estenoz, a former vice-chairman of the water district’s governing board. ‘The biggest problem is when we throw the water away in the wet season and then when the drought hits, we don’t have it.’ Balancing South Florida’s water needs is a puzzle created when man rerouted the natural plumbing of the state to provide dry land for agriculture and communities. When too much rain falls, filling up Lake Okeechobee and the stressing the Herbert Hoover Dike, the water must be released into the St. Lucie Estuary and Caloosahatchee River. That freshwater dilutes the brackish waterways, killing oyster beds and sea grasses, while encouraging the growth of blue-green algae. ‘We are running this with the thought that these will work in conjunction with restoration, not replace those projects,’ said Ansley Marr, the district’s chief of state and agricultural policy, during a Thursday board meeting. “Estuaries derive benefits from these wells under any CERP condition. A reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is one of the recent notable projects. It was approved Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives in its Water Resources Development Act…” Kimberly Miller reports for the Palm Beach Post.

Read Red tide retreating, but keep focus on fertilizer ordinances- “As the popular saying ‘life’s a beach’ once again becomes a realistic thought in Southwest Florida, the need to reassess local fertilizer ordinances shouldn’t dissipate. Southwest Florida waters in recent months were hit with a double whammy of red tide and blue-green algae, though the latter was far more prevalent in Lee County than Collier. A persistent red tide, which is naturally occurring in offshore waters, for months made it miserable to go to the beach in many areas in each county when it hugged the coast. (Marco Island wasn’t equally affected.) But those conditions were then. This is now. A Collier County red tide update from several days ago states in capital letters that it’s “not present” at all nine sampling locations in North Naples, Naples, Marco Island and Goodland...What does dissipating red tide near the beach have to do with fertilizer ordinances? Runoff containing excess nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, pollutes our waterways. As noted at a recent red tide forum and in a guest commentary on these pages, pollution exacerbates the red tide. Whether you’re from the camp that believes fertilizer contributed to the recent horrific red tide or the side that says it was applied on grasses too far inland from the Gulf for that to be the case, pollution is pollution. A December 2016 report by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, prepared using state data, leaves no question that we have impaired waterways. ‘Our economy, human health and our quality of life in Southwest Florida depend on the health of our waterways,’ Conservancy President Rob Moher wrote in the report. That’s why we applaud Collier Commissioners Penny Taylor and Burt Saunders who called Tuesday for a summit of city and county government officials, the grounds maintenance industry and other involved stakeholders to discuss fertilizer regulations. ‘Everyone is talking about fertilizer,’ Taylor said. Regardless of anyone’s position on what made the red tide worse for so many months, Saunders noted that fertilizer can have ‘adverse environmental impacts.’ We find good sense in their suggestion that the unincorporated area, plus the cities of Naples and Marco Island, could be best served by considering whether a uniform local ordinance should be developed, perhaps one tougher than the state’s. Fertilizer regulations recently have been on the radar of both Naples and Marco Island council members. A Florida statute says local governments can adopt rules more stringent than the state’s model fertilizer ordinance if certain conditions are met.” From the Naples Daily News Editorial Board.

Read Rick Scott’s disdain for the environment means he owns algae mess plaguing the state - “Black is white. Day is night. Governor Rick Scott has nothing to do with algae mess plaguing Florida. At least that’s what the Republican governor’s television ads slamming his opponent in the race for U.S. Senate say. Hahaha. That is like trying to blame world peace on Osama Bin Laden. Nobody with a grain of sense is buying it. The average person doesn’t spend days closely monitoring Florida’s efforts to stop the pollution typically causing big algae blooms, so the dispute between Scott and Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson — they each blame the other — might seem like two boys facing each other over a line in the sand on the playground. Except it’s not. There is truth, and there are lies, and Scott is lying. He has to own this slimy mess. Algae growth is spurred by heat and pollution. The pollution is not some radioactive noxious concoction — mostly it’s fertilizer, whether it runs from a suburban lawn, a massive farming operation or a city sewer plant. The nitrogen and phosphorous feed the algae, which, like Ohioans, luxuriate in Florida’s warm waters and high temperatures. What Scott failed to do was fight algae, and the result is not only unpleasant but has cost tourism dollars. Enforcement of environmental laws has all but disappeared since Scott first was elected governor in 2010. He diverted clean-up money and slashed staffs of environmental watchdog agencies, apparently figuring that this whole tree-hugging thing was just a scam to provide decent-paying jobs for college grads with useless specialties… The state opened 1,587 cases against polluters in 2010. Two years into Scott’ administration, the number had dropped by 87 percent to 210, and it has stayed low since. Do you think the polluters just stopped? Asked how many pollution enforcement cases the state has opened since January, a very cheerful young spokeswoman said she’d find out. If she ever did, she kept the answer to herself...Algae is not a local issue for, say, county commissions. The only way to keep it from getting worse and ruining tourism and resident enjoyment of both the coasts and the freshwater lakes is to stop the pollution. That requires commitment and the will to back it up with enforcement money from the governor, whoever that might be…” Lauren Ritchie writes commentary for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Fort Myers toxic sludge headed to Crystal River facility- “The city of Fort Myers has wrestled for years about what to do with toxic sludge that it deposited decades ago on land that is now surrounded by a neighborhood. So the city has a plan: The sludge will be removed and transported to Crystal River, and then to Alabama where it will be recycled into cement. Fort Myers officials hired a consultant to oversee the removal of 30,000 tons of toxic sludge. The consultant, in its plan with the city, says the sludge will be trucked to the LafargeHolcim quarry north of Crystal River for “pre-treatment,” then onto a LafargeHolcim cement plant in Theodore, Alabama.Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials say they are working closely with Fort Myers in ensuring the sludge is properly removed and transported. Asked, however, if DEP has issued a permit for the sludge’s processing in Citrus County, the agency said it doesn’t know yet whether one is required. ‘The city has not yet provided the department its disposal work plan,’ DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said in an email response to the Chronicle. ‘The review of that plan will inform the need for any additional permitting or authorization that may or may not be necessary.’... Media reports and Fort Myers website show the toxic sludge site has been a source of controversy for many months or even years. The city bought the property in the 1960s to dispose sludge from the city’s water plant. When the new water plant was built in 1993, it no longer needed the sludge disposal…” Mike Wright reports for the Citrus County Chronicle .

Read Bradenton wants more development along the water. New rules may limit growth- “ Bradenton officials have made no secret about their long-term development goals along the Manatee River. The hope is to one day change the skyline with high-density development. The city wants more residents in downtown and along the riverfront to attract more businesses., whether they in live high rises along the water or in apartment/townhouse complexes. However, the Flood Peril Act adopted by state lawmakers in 2015 could make that more difficult. Every seven years cities must review and amend comprehensive plans to fall in line with new state statutes. It’s Bradenton’s turn and they must address the 2015 law by updating its high coastal hazard map, which identifies properties that are prone to significant flooding during storms. The new law now takes into account sea level rise predictions...The Flood Peril Act stemmed from predicted rises in sea levels that some attribute to climate change. With sea levels rising, the potential for future storm damage can grow in severity. Florida wants development on coastal properties done right, but Glenn Compton, chairman of the environmental group Manasota-88, says the city has already gone too far. ‘The importance of this is such that the city of Bradenton does not meet the requirements that everybody faces in increased insurance rates,’ Compton said. ‘Apparently they haven’t followed much of the recommendations from the state of Florida in the past and all you have to do is look at the development allowed in the existing high coastal hazard area to see that.’...What the law requires is for cities to develop a coastal management plan, ‘to eliminate inappropriate and unsafe development in the coastal areas when opportunities arise.’ That includes encouraging the use of best practices, strategies and engineering solutions to reduce losses due to flooding and, at a very minimum, be consistent with flood-resistant construction requirements…” Mark Young reports for the Bradenton Herald.

Read How coastal development and climate change are making hurricanes more costly - “Nine of the ten costliest hurricanes to hit the US mainland since 1900 have come in the last two decades. Just last year, Hurricane Harvey caused $125 million in damage and Irma caused $50 million, making them two of the five most expensive storms in more than a century. The trend is clear. Hurricanes are causing more damage in terms of dollars than in the past. But why? The explanation, experts said, is relatively simple: More and more people are choosing to live near the coast, and housing and building costs in those locations are more expensive than they used to be. ‘Continued development along the East and Gulf coasts of the United States is likely to increase hurricane damage simply by increasing the amount of property that is exposed to damage,’ a 2016 Congressional Budget Office report said. In addition, those demographic and economic changes are exacerbated by rising sea levels and more powerful hurricanes due to climate change, experts said…’The most effective way to mitigate hurricane damage in coastal properties would be to not build on coastal land. That would be very effective,’ Tom Birkland [professor of public policy at North Carolina State University] said. ‘But that's politically unpopular.’ Indeed, it's been particularly unpopular in North Carolina, where Birkland said tourism and real estate interests along the coasts hold considerable political power. In 2010, a state commission report estimated that sea levels could rise by up to 39 inches by the year 2100, the New York Times reports. But rather than adjust the state's plans for coastal development, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a law in 2012 that banned state and local agencies from using sea-level estimates that ‘include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise.’ The law required predictions to stick to historical trends, despite scientific evidence that sea levels are rising at an accelerated rate due to climate change...Instead, policymakers have focused more on creating tougher building codes so homes built along the coast are sturdier and better able to withstand storms. ‘Even though we all know that land use regulation is probably a better way to address this hazard ... more stringent land use regulation is probably less likely than more stringent building codes,’ Birkland said.” Eric Levenson reports for CNN.

Read Blackwater River State Forest expands by 800 acres- “Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced Friday that the Blackwater River State Forest will expand by 800 acres from the acquisition of the Florida Forever Project Area Wolfe Creek Forest, thanks to funding from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Navy. The Florida Forest Service partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Santa Rosa County, Naval Air Station Whiting Field and the Trust for Public Land to secure the acquisition through the Forest Legacy Program. The acquisition is home to a number of rare and endangered species, and serves as a major wildlife corridor with frontage on Big Coldwater Creek. The land will also act as a buffer for NAS Whiting Field and is crucial for protecting military training missions. The Florida Forest Service will manage the tract as part of the Blackwater River State Forest — Florida’s largest state forest with more than 211,000 acres. ‘This land acquisition adds invaluable natural resources and recreational opportunities to Florida’s robust state forest system, covering more than one million acres,’ Florida Forest Service Director Jim Karels said. ‘I thank Santa Rosa County Commissioner Don Salter and our other partners for their support to enhance Florida’s green spaces and military safety.’ The U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, administered by the Florida Forest Service on the state level, encourages the conservation and protection of privately owned forest lands. Since 1990, the Florida Legacy Program has protected more than 2.6 million acres of forest land throughout the United States.” Special to the NWF Daily News.

Read For the sake of the Everglades, don’t expand State Road 836 to South Dade - “Recent articles in the Miami Herald have exposed how MDX  [Miami-Dade Expressway] has misrepresented to the public essential facts about the plan to extend State Road 836 in South Dade, through some of the last undeveloped areas of Florida’s most populous county. That absence of transparency — a feature of state law — is appalling. The state of Florida already expressed its concern about the quality of information and data provided by MDX. A more muscular response by the state has regrettably been eroded in the past decade by the state legislature. And because the state is weak, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez believes he can push through the most impactful development project in recent county history. We don’t know to what extent coordination has been done on environmental impacts to Everglades Restoration with federal and state partners, because MDX has refused to release requested information in a timely way...The public should demand progress to improve current services on the SMART plan first with the East/West corridor being built now before this or any other new road project is prioritized or even approved.  The reality is this project with a now billion-dollar price tag will distract and pull available toll revenue dollars from MDX that could and should be allocated to transit to be spent to pay down a bond on this project instead. Many Floridians do not want to continue to be so car dependent, but we need real options — all of our resources should go to maintain the roads and infrastructure we have and build a better expanded and updated transit system that services the entire county for the future. Not build new roads and continue to not invest in transit. West Kendall should have heavy rail and other transit options just like the US 1 corridor, let’s complete that first and give people real options. As Senator Marco Rubio pointed out — we cannot let anything get in the way of Everglades Restoration as it is the key to our future resiliency. It should be prioritized and accelerated, not diminished by projects that constrain it like this one does. Miamians should care about these projects as they will help protect us by staving off saltwater intrusion and protecting our future water supply, protecting wetlands and providing water storage to help clean our water and it will help with flood attenuation for future flooding events as we deal with a changing climate and superstorms.” Laura Reynolds writes for the Miami Herald.


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Upcoming Environmental Events

September 19, 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m. – FREE Trouble in Paradise Webinar:  This project was spearheaded by the late Nathaniel Pryor Reed to educate candidates for office and citizens on key environmental issues facing our state and strategies to address them.  Attend this free webinar to learn more and gain insights on how to advocate for change.  Trouble in Paradise was produced by 1000 Friends of Florida, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Florida Springs Council, Florida Springs Institute, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Florida Wildlife Federation and League of Women Voters of Florida. The webinar has been approved for professional certification credits for planners, Florida attorneys, and certified environmental health professionals.  The full report and registration information are available at http://www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/

September 24, 7:00-9:00 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (High Springs): The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information. High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, 23674 U.S. Highway 27, High Springs, FL 32643.

September 25, 6:00 PM - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Destin) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of Okaloosa & Walton County, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here

October 2, 6:30-8:30 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (Lake City): The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information.  Columbia County Public Library – Main, 308 NW Columbia Ave., Lake City, FL  32055

October 2, 12:00 pm - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Pensacola) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here

October 5, 9:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m. - Palm Beach County 2070 Workshop:   What does the future hold for Palm Beach County?  Can the county accommodate the more than 750,000 new residents anticipated by 2070 and still maintain its quality of life and natural lands?  Join 1000 Friends of Florida in exploring how Palm Beach County should grow with experts on conservation, planning, urban development, economic development and citizen engagement.  What can we do today to plan for a better tomorrow in Palm Beach County?   This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida at the Vista Center in West Palm Beach.  The cost is $20 per attendee and professional certification credits have been approved for planners (7 AICP CM #221015), Certified Foodplain Managers, and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Find out more and register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070.

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 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 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.

Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.

Petitions

Stop the spraying of glyphosate herbicide in Florida waters

Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Rezoning 5-acres in Palm Harbor

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

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