Read Andrew Gillum, Ron DeSantis: Environmental records different on climate change, algae bloom - “Florida's environment is one issue on which gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis agree more than they disagree, with two major exceptions: climate change and who plays the biggest role in toxic blue-green algae blooms. Gillum, a Democrat endorsed by the Sierra Club and Florida Conservation Voters, calls climate change "an urgent threat" and blames it for worsening algae blooms and red tides. He is quick to criticize Republican Gov. Rick Scott for largely ignoring it. Gillum, who has not released an official environmental platform but has listed policies he supports on his website, promises to increase funding, beef up agencies Scott cut, strengthen regulations and make Florida focus on renewable energies. DeSantis, who calls himself a ‘Teddy Roosevelt conservationist’ and says he differs philosophically with "liberal environmentalists," isn't a "climate change denier," but doesn't want to be labeled a ‘climate change believer,’ he told reporters during a tour of the Everglades last week. Climate change "may be a factor" in red tide, DeSantis told reporters, but added it's a global issue requiring federal funds, not something the state government can mitigate...Gillum blasts Scott for gutting the Department of Environmental Protection, South Florida Water Management District and Florida Forever land conservation program...The gubernatorial opponents have expressed far more similar stances. Both have: Supported a fracking ban, blamed corporate polluters for algae problems, supported mandatory septic tank inspections and stricter regulations, pushed for more science-driven state board members, supported Amendment 1, a 2014 voter-approved ballot initiative that provides $20 billion or more for water and land conservation, and promised to oversee construction of a reservoir to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges, which the state approved in 2017 and is awaiting U.S. Senate approval…” Ali Schmitz reports for Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read Judge hears case over private boardwalk on Fort Myers beach- “ A Florida administrative law judge in Fort Myers began hearing testimony this week over the proposed construction of a private boardwalk over a publically owned wildlife area on Fort Myers Beach that is considered critical to a variety of threatened and endangered species. The case before Administrative Judge Gary Early concerns a permit for a boardwalk sought by two out-of-state companies that own homes adjacent to the Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Arena near the south end of Fort Myers Beach. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection had been poised to grant the permit to Texas Hold ‘Em LLC and Squeeze Me Inn LLC in 2016 before the Florida Audubon Society intervened to stop it. Audubon Florida executive director Julie Wraithmell describes the location in question as a ‘hit parade’ of imperiled and declining wildlife species. ‘Beach nesting birds like Wilson’s plovers, snowy plovers, which are state threatened; least terns and black skimmers have used the area historically, as well as federally threatened wintering red knots and piping plovers,’ said Wraithmell. ‘You have roseate spoonbills and reddish egrets, both of which are threatened, that use the tidal lagoon for foraging habitat. It’s a really special place, a really remarkable place.’...The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which initially designated the spot as a critical wildlife area in 1992 has also expressed concerns over the proposed boardwalk….Judge Early said he plans to make a decision in the case in about a month.” John Davis reports for WJCT.
Read Brevard County must approve new septic tank rules for Indian River Lagoon - “While the Indian River Lagoon has experienced algae blooms and fish kills in recent years, new permits for conventional septic systems have continued to be issued at rates of approximately 800 per year. Studies have revealed that nutrient pollutants from such systems provide 18 percent of the nutrient pollution entering the lagoon. In May 2018, the Brevard County Commission passed a 150-day moratorium on the issuance of septic system permits for properties within 50 meters of the lagoon. The Commissioners directed the Natural Resources Management Department staff to develop a recommended ordinance regarding septic system permits during this period. On Tuesday and again on Oct. 9 Brevard County commissioners will discuss and potentially vote on a proposed ordinance that requires aerobic or advanced septic systems that remove at least 65 percent of the nutrients before fluids are released into the ground-water. This ordinance is limited to the permits for new septic systems for properties within 40 to 60 meters of the lagoon depending upon the location and soil conditions. The proposed ordinance is included in the agenda package for the Tuesday meeting available for download from the county website...The Florida Department of Environmental Protection imposed regulations in July requiring new septic systems to reduce nitrogen pollution by 65 percent or more in areas where septic systems are 20 percent or more of the nutrient sources. While the Brevard County portion of the lagoon is slightly under this limit, imposing similar regulations is consistent with the DEP approach. The banning of old-style, inefficient septic systems is one of several important steps to restore our lagoon. At a time when we are spending millions to remove nutrient pollutants, we simply must stop allowing more to enter. Public support is needed to encourage Brevard County commissioners to pass this ordinance and to ensure municipalities comply with the new guidelines…” Vince Lamb writes for Florida Today
Read Clay may combat Florida’s Red Tide, but opposition ended experiments here 15 years ago - “ With Red Tide creeping up the Southwest Florida coast and into the Panhandle, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday announced an international research partnership to determine if the toxic algae bloom can be quelled by clay. The effort is bringing together Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of South Florida, Mote Marine Laboratory and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Scott also called for the state wildlife commission to set up the Florida Center for Red Tide Research. Coming just days after Scott was heckled at a campaign stop by protestors who dubbed him ‘Red Tide Rick’, the new action plan drew criticism from the Sierra Club, which called the proposed center ‘nothing more than a self-serving publicity stunt.’ Resorting to clay to treat the algae is not new. Prior experiments with it in Florida ran into strong public opposition, according to a Don Anderson, a senior scientist with Woods Hole who was involved in those studies 15 years ago. ‘We made a naive mistake,’ Anderson said. Surprised by the blowback, ‘we gave up.’...The concept is simple: Find something heavy that sticks to the algae in the bloom and weighs it down like anchors. Dragged to the ocean bottom, away from sunlight and the nutrients it feeds on, the algae dies. But the clay had to be just the right type. The wrong one might irritate the algae rather than kill it. In the early 2000s, Woods Hole launched experiments to test what would be the right clay to use against Red Tide. The one the Woods Hole scientists chose was phosphatic clay — a residue of Florida’s controversial phosphate industry. It’s usually dumped into settling ponds as waste. ‘We saw great promise in it,’ Anderson said. ‘It was free, it was available close by and it was extremely effective.’ The scientists commenced experiments in Sarasota Bay, with help from Mote, spraying the clay in small areas to see what impact it would have. But then, Anderson said, ‘we ran into a buzz saw of environmental opposition. People did not want this dumped into the ocean.’ There were two problems, he said. One was that the phosphate industry has what he called "a lot of baggage" in terms of public opposition. The other is that to be effective, Woods Hole would have to spray a tremendous amount of clay into the water, because a lot was just dirt, Anderson said. Experiments showed the toxic algae wasn’t the only thing affected by the clay. One experiment found "significant negative impacts of clay on filtration" on filter-feeding bivalves such as scallops, clams and other crustaceans. The cure seemed as bad as the disease…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read Gov. Rick Scott initially denied untested Alico water farm, then OK’d $124 million project- “In 2015, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed funding for several water farms, including the massive Alico project in Hendry County. But in 2017, Scott approved a $35 million appropriation that led to the Alico cattle ranch receiving its final water district permit Wednesday. A state contract calls for Alico to receive $124 million in taxpayer money over 11 years. The governor's change of heart came because pilot projects had proven their worth over the previous two years, said Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis. ‘In 2015, the water management district was still gathering results from these pilot projects," Lewis said. "So our take at the time was, 'If you want these projects funded, fine; but you'll have to use money from the district's budget.’ Two years later, Lewis said, ‘the projects had produced proven results, so we were ready to proceed with state funding.’ There's only one problem: Alico wasn't one of the pilot projects. Water farms are designed to help protect coastal estuaries such as the St. Lucie River on the east coast and the Caloosahatchee River on the west coast. The farms pump polluted water out of canals and rivers leading to the estuaries and store it until it eventually evaporates into the air or percolates into the ground...Alico's 35,192-acre project, designed to prevent water from the Caloosahatchee River from polluting the estuary near Fort Myers, wasn't part of the three-year project. ‘Unfortunately, all the water farm projects were grouped together in a single line item,’ Lewis said. ‘The governor can't pull one project out of a line item. It was an all-or-nothing kind of deal. The results of the whole pilot project process played into the decision making.’ The Alico project received funding ‘after ranking highly in an open and transparent solicitation by the South Florida Water Management District,’ company President and CEO Remy W. Trafelet said in a statement emailed Friday afternoon to TCPalm...The Alico project would remove water before it can cause environmental damage to the Caloosahatchee River estuary. The EAA Reservoir project is designed to take water from Lake Okeechobee that otherwise would be discharged to both the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, hold it and clean it so it can be sent south, where it's desperately needed in the Everglades and Florida Bay. So the reservoir wouldn't only protect the estuaries, it would help save the Everglades and Florida Bay. Without naming Alico specifically, Florida Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who steered the reservoir project through the state Legislature, said approval of the project's permit shows the district is ‘utilizing every possible option to store water and prevent it from being sent east and west to our estuaries.’ Alico Inc., the country's largest citrus producer, has given more than $500,000 to Scott, the Republican Party and state lawmakers since 2014 and is one of Negron's top donors…” Tyler Treadway reports for Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read We don’t need their mess - “Thanks to the Chronicle for alerting us to the disturbing prospect that LafargeHolcim, a Citrus County Chamber of Commerce member, is about to transport 30,000 tons of toxic sludge from the City of Fort Myers to a quarry just north of Crystal River for treatment. Does the chamber support this move? How about the county commissioners? How about the city of Crystal River? How about our other elected representatives? Who will be providing oversight on the sludge treatment process other than the LafargeHolcim people? Are we to rely on Governor Scott’s notorious Department of Environmental Protection? So far, Citrus County has avoided the toxic sludge mess that has devastated a large portion of the Florida Peninsula. Do we really have to treat their befouled mess in the LafargeHolcim quarry immediately adjacent to the barge canal and our precious inshore ecosystem? The City of Fort Myers reports that arsenic levels in their sludge generally fall below state standards — how reassuring! Who knows what else is in the sludge, and what percentage of it will find its way into our coastal waters? It’s time for our community leaders to step up and do whatever it takes to keep Fort Myers’ mess from becoming ours. My vote in November will hinge on your response.” Gary Rankel writes Opinion for the Citrus County Chronicle.
Read Alachua County must plan for environmental challenges - “Ecological collapse in Florida is not hypothetical. It is happening now in South Florida, where population pressure and the interests of agriculture have resulted in the annual recurrence of the biggest pollution catastrophe in our state’s history. It is happening now in our springs, streams and lakes, where nitrates have disrupted the normal ecological processes that kept these bodies of water crystalline. It is happening now as political and financial interests continue to delay and derail our ability to respond to ongoing climate and ecosystem disruptions... Surrounded on three sides by the buffering effect of the oceans, daily weather in Florida has arguably changed slowly compared to conditions elsewhere. In many ways, we have been lucky, but events of this summer should convince us that our luck has run out. Increasing sea and land temperatures, sea level rise, salt water incursion of freshwater sources and specific features of hurricanes are manifestations of climate change in Florida. These elements amplify the predominant factors disrupting our environment in the near term: unrestrained development and poor management of our resources, especially fresh water. Pollution has caused damaging transformation of our lakes and spring-fed streams. A trip down the Santa Fe River is no longer the joy that it once was before nitrate pollution and reduced flows crippled the ecosystem processes of the river...Despite its dedicated civil servants and scientists, the state of Florida has not adequately responded to our unfolding environmental crises. The climate agenda outlined by former Gov. Charlie Crist’s administration was swept aside by the politics of denial and the financial imperatives of fossil fuel and big ag interests. Similarly, our federal government is shackled to a political mandate that makes aggressive support for climate mitigation and adaptation a nonstarter. In the absence of outside leadership, the community is the front line of adaptation to environmental change...What will Florida be like when we hit 2 degrees C global average rise in land temperatures? When will coastal property values plummet? What will be the fate of the Floridan Aquifer as our population continues to explode and sea level rise accelerates? Addressing these issues requires a multi-generational plan for positive change. Proactive adaptation is far less expensive and disruptive than reactive adaptation. The county and city commissions should make a much greater investment in planning. Alachua County needs a plan that includes scenarios over a timeline that extends at least through 2050, with more general contingency planning extending to the end of the century.” Stephen Mulkey writes Opinion for the Gainesville Sun
Read New WOTUS rule could have widespread impact - “Since the Supreme Court’s 2006 split-decision in United States v. Rapanos, successive administrations have struggled to define the extent of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA). That struggle continued through the Obama administration and now, into the Trump administration. The stakes are high because of the substantial federal oversight triggered if a property is subject to CWA jurisdiction. Now-retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy remarked that the scope of jurisdiction under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) is ‘notoriously unclear.’ He went on to note that ‘the reach and systemic consequences of the [CWA] remain a cause for concern … and the consequences to landowners even for inadvertent violations can be crushing.’ The task of determining whether the CWA applies has become even more difficult due to a recent district court opinion that effectively creates different standards depending your state. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a nationwide stay of the 2015 rule pending adjudication of the substantive challenges to the rulemaking. As a result, the Obama administration rule was never implemented and stakeholders, including property owners, have never internalized the rule’s requirements into their operations and long-term planning…”Samuel L. Brown and J. Tom Boer write for The Recorder.
From Our Readers
The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.
Upcoming Environmental Events
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
September 26, 6:00-8:00 pm – Environmental Center Night: Owls of North Florida (High Springs): Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute and Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation for a fun evening learning about “Owls of North Florida” at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center. Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation (SWR) will introduce three owl species individually enlightening visitors with a bit of natural history on each owl. Then, SWR wildlife ambassadors and their handlers will spread out-to stations in the various area of North Florida Springs Environmental Center garden to display each owl and allow up close/safe viewing. Learn more here: https://floridaspringsinstitute.org/event/owlsofnf/. Address North Florida Springs Environmental Center, 99 NW 1st Avenue, High Springs, FL 32643.
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 2, 12:00-1:00 pm – Springs Academy Tuesday: Springs Overview (High Springs): Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for an hour-long presentation with Florida Springs Institute Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. During this class, Dr. Knight will be presenting an in-depth overview of springs and how they support our land and our daily lives! After each class, students get a chance to sit down for lunch with Dr. Knight and Florida Springs Institute staff to ask questions and find out more about how they can get involved in protecting these important natural resources. Registration for each class is not required; however, there is a $5 suggested donation for each class. Address: North Florida Springs Environmental Center, 99 NW 1st Avenue, High Springs, FL 32643.
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 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 20-21 – 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.
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