Current News Items (within the last 30 days)
Force main break at Cross Bayou (UPDATED)
Update to Force main failure at South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation Facility
Time: 4:05 p.m., Thursday 6/13/2013
Upon review of engineering plans of the South Cross facility, it was determined that the force main that failed was in fact a 42-inch main rather than a 30-inch. All flow has been contained and is no longer going to surface water. Work crews expect to have a by-pass main in full operation by Friday, June 14 so permanent repairs can begin on the 42-inch main.
A 30-inch force main at South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation Facility collapsed around noon today (Thurs. June 13) which resulted in raw sewage flowing into the plant’s stormwater basin. The spill overflowed the basin and entered Joe’s Creek
Department of Environment and Infrastructure crews from maintenance and engineering are on site and a private contractor has been mobilized to assist with the repair.
Nearby residents are being advised to avoid swimming or other recreational use of Joe’s Creek until further notice.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been advised and additional information will be provided as soon as assessments from the field are received.
Florida Geological Survey collaborates to study groundwater in Pinellas County
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Geological Survey is participating in a study that will investigate the effects of recharging up to 3 million gallons per day of purified reclaimed water into the Suwannee Limestone of the Upper Floridan aquifer at the Northwest Wastewater Treatment Facility in Clearwater.
“The Florida Geological Survey is excited to contribute to this important project by helping provide an understanding of complex water-rock interactions that can help the people of Clearwater,” said Cindy Fischler, a professional geologist with the Florida Geological Survey. “Studies like this are highly important as Florida water managers explore development of alternative water resources.”
In partnership with the University of Florida and IndeWater, LLC, the groundwater replenishment study is being led by Tetra Tech and Leggette, Brashears & Graham, Inc. for the city of Clearwater and the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The project is currently underway and is expected to be completed in one year.
The Florida Geological Survey’s portion of the study, which includes a $13,200 grant from the University of Florida, will begin in July with multiple methods of geochemical analysis of rock samples taken from the aquifer. The samples will be taken from rock that has not been exposed to pretreated waters and compared to rock that has been exposed.
Continued on Florida DEP''s website...
Gulf of Mexico Alliance Invites Public to Learn About Gulf Restoration Progress, Partnerships
The 2013 "All Hands Meeting" will be June 25-27 at Tampa's Grand Hyatt hotel
OCEAN SPRINGS, MS – The Gulf of Mexico Alliance will hold its 8th Annual Meeting in Tampa, FL on June 25-27, 2013. The overall theme for the three-day meeting is "Collaboration is the Key to Successful Gulf Restoration." The meeting will focus on how the Alliance is working to expand and maintain partnerships to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. The meeting will be held at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and is open to the public. Links to registration and a full schedule of events are available at www.GulfofMexicoAlliance.org.
As Gulf restoration is a key topic at the meeting, there will be an update on the RESTORE Comprehensive Plan and how Alliance partners are addressing restoration opportunities. The week will begin with a public meeting Monday evening, June 24, 2013, from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m. on the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Science, Observation, Monitoring and Technology Program (RESTORE Act Science Program).
The following two days of the meeting will provide information and updates on several topics of interest including a presentation on conservation economics by Scott Burns of the Walton Family Foundation. Moderated sessions will explore the state of science in the Gulf, Gulf restoration/conservation needs, and the incorporation of new networks into the Alliance. Keynote speakers include the newly appointed Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency as well as state environmental agencies. Each agency will give updates on current priorities.
The two-day plenary meeting will be followed on Thursday by concurrent sessions on the Alliance's Priority Issues: water quality, nutrient impacts, ecosystem integration and assessment, habitat conservation and restoration, coastal community resilience, and environmental education. These working sessions will engage participants in the Alliance's goals and actions at the community level and leaders from around the Gulf Coast will share knowledge and expertise. The Alliance plans to build on discussions from the previous days and take advantage of broad membership to further integrate with regional priorities.
It's turtle nesting time... Lights out!
The first nests found on North Redington Beach and at Fort De Soto Park mark the start of sea turtle season. The residents and owners of beachfront properties are reminded of the “lights out” ban. Most of the Pinellas County beach communities have ordinances in place prohibiting lighting that casts glare onto the beach during turtle nesting season, from May 1 to Oct. 31.
Florida’s beaches are essential for nesting loggerheads. The Pinellas County beachfront area averages about 120 nests per season and each nest can contain, on average, 100 to 110 eggs. The last nest is expected to hatch by the end of October.
Each May and July, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium conducts a beach lighting survey to identify problem lighting that may not be in compliance with turtle protection ordinances. Properties with lights shining on the beach at night are reported to Pinellas County Coastal Management and the local code enforcement agency.
While conducting the lighting surveys, the aquarium staff provides educational posters and brochures to visitors and residents explaining the “lights out” policy during nesting and hatching season.
The aquarium monitors nearly 26 miles of coastline and reports on sea turtle nesting activity. The staff engages in early morning patrols to locate new nesting sites and late night patrols to check existing nests for hatchlings and watches the nests from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. to make sure that hatchlings make it to the water safely.
In addition to checking the beaches every morning for signs of nests, the aquarium marks the nests and accounts for false crawls – times when the female that comes ashore does not complete her nest. Successful nests are roped off to avoid human disturbance.
As an endangered species, federal law protects loggerhead turtles and bothering their nests is illegal. The nests are caged and volunteers watch the site at night to alert officials when the hatchlings emerge.
By obeying the law and following some simple guidelines, residents and visitors can greatly improve the chances of sea turtle survival, while being given the opportunity to experience first-hand the wonder of their life cycle.
If residents encounter a turtle, eggs or hatchlings:
- Turn off outside lights, draw drapes and avoid using flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach. Turtle nesting season runs from May 1 to Oct. 31.
- Do not approach or harass adult turtles as they make their way back to sea.
- If residents spot turtle tracks or what might be a nest, and it does not appear to be protected by stakes or ribbon, call the Clearwater Marina Aquarium at (727) 441-1790, ext. 224.
- Do not pick up hatchlings heading toward the water, shine lights or use photo equipment with a flash. Hatchlings use starlight and moonlight reflecting off the water to find their way to the ocean, and if they become misled by artificial light, they can become disoriented and die.
Learn more about Florida's sea turtles
Environmentalists missing from state's water-management boards
By Kevin Spear
For the first time in nearly three decades, none of the Florida's water-management agencies — which are supposed to safeguard the state's wetlands, rivers and aquifers — has a board member who is an environmentalist.
Environmental activists are troubled because the boards are dominated by representatives of agribusiness, real estate and development industries.
"It is indeed a concern that there are no environmental representatives on any of the boards, when other interest groups are adequately and sometimes abundantly represented," said Rae Ann Wessel, policy director at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. "Because Florida's economy depends on its unique environment."
Gov. Rick Scott recently chose not to reappoint for a second term on the governing board of the St. Johns River Water Management District a University of Florida water-law expert known for his environmental advocacy.
It was the latest move by the governor to make the state's water-management agencies smaller, weaker and, now, less environmentally minded; none of the five water districts' combined 49 board seats is filled by someone readily identifiable as an active environmentalist.
Continued on the Orlando Sentinel online...
Stormwater project in the works for Manadalay (Clearwater Beach)
By Jane Bongo
CLEARWATER BEACH - Primed for a stormwater upgrade, a $1.65 million cooperative funding, floodplain improvement project for the Mandalay Avenue watershed area is underway.
The nine-month improvement project should relieve street flooding within the business and marina districts, and improve water quality of stormwater runoff discharging into Clearwater Harbor. A public hearing is expected to be scheduled soon to discuss project details and timeframes with residents and business owners.
Severe weather outbreaks like Tropical Storm Debby in June or even just an intense downpour turn some streets into waterways on the resort island, and in the case of Mandalay Avenue, floodwaters pool curb-high and have lapped-up against buildings and in some cases, inside businesses.
Identified by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) as a “high” priority project, SWFWMD and the city will evenly share in the cost of the six-month project, both contributing $800,000. The City is requesting $800,000 in the FY2013 budget for construction, engineering and inspection work.
Continued in the Clearwater Gazette online...
Madeira OKs stormwater check
By Waynd Ayers
MADEIRA BEACH – The city of Maderia Beach will spend more than $160,000 for a thorough examination to determine the condition of its entire stormwater drainage system.
The system’s proper functioning is critical to the control of flooding during storm events, which has been a major issue for large portions of the city. Hurricane season began June 1.
The City Commission approved the expense at a special meeting held May 29, along with an emergency expenditure to repair two collapsed pipes.
Continued at TBNweekly.com...
EPA: $384B needed for drinking water infrastructure by 2030
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released results of a survey showing that $384 billion in improvements are needed for the nation’s drinking water infrastructure through 2030 for systems to continue providing safe drinking water to 297 million Americans.
EPA’s fifth Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment identifies investments needed over the next 20 years for thousands of miles of pipes and thousands of treatment plants, storage tanks and water distribution systems, which are all vital to public health and the economy. The national total of $384 billion includes the needs of 73,400 water systems across the country, as well as American Indian and Alaska Native Village water systems.
“A safe and adequate supply of drinking water in our homes, schools and businesses is essential to the health and prosperity of every American,” said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “The survey EPA released today shows that the nation’s water systems have entered a rehabilitation and replacement era in which much of the existing infrastructure has reached or is approaching the end of its useful life. This is a major issue that must be addressed so that American families continue to have the access they need to clean and healthy water sources.”
The survey, required under the Safe Drinking Water Act to be submitted to Congress every four years by EPA, was developed in consultation with all 50 states and the Navajo Nation. The survey looked at the funding and operational needs of more than 3,000 public drinking water systems across the United States, including those in Tribal communities, through an extensive questionnaire. In many cases, drinking water infrastructure was reported to be 50-100 years old.
The assessment shows that improvements are primarily needed in:
- Distribution and transmission: $247.5 billion to replace or refurbish aging or deteriorating lines
- Treatment: $72.5 billion to construct, expand or rehabilitate infrastructure to reduce contamination
- Storage: $39.5 billion to construct, rehabilitate or cover finished water storage reservoirs
- Source: $20.5 billion to construct or rehabilitate intake structures, wells and spring collectors
EPA allocates Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants to states based on the finding of the assessment. These funds help states to provide low-cost financing to public water systems for infrastructure improvements necessary to protect public health and comply with drinking water regulations.
Since its inception in 1997, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has provided close to $15 billion in grants to all 50 states and Puerto Rico to improve drinking water treatment, transmission and distribution. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program has also provided more than $5.5 billion to protect drinking water in disadvantaged communities.
EPA is committed to utilizing the tools provided under the Safe Drinking Water Act to assist states and to better target resources and technical assistance toward managing the nation’s drinking water infrastructure. In addition to Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants, EPA awarded nearly $15 million in funding in 2012 to provide training and technical assistance to small drinking and wastewater systems – those serving fewer than 10,000 people – and to private well owners to improve small system operations and management practices and to promote sustainability. EPA also works with states, municipalities and water utilities to strengthen the resiliency of drinking water systems against the potential impacts of severe weather events and climate change.
Read detailed results from the survey
Rip Current Safety Awareness Week is June 2-8, 2013
Although tropical cyclones, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are often the first that come to mind when thinking of “most dangerous weather phenomenon in Florida”, there is another weather-related hazard that ranks as the deadliest. Florida’s beaches attract millions of residents and tourists each year. However, while there may be beautiful weather in the sky, there are unseen dangers in the waters.
Rip currents, sometimes erroneously referred to as rip tides or undertows, occur naturally and affect many Florida beaches year-round. Since 1995, rip currents have accounted for more than 300 drownings along Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic beaches. In fact, rip currents kill more people in Florida in an average year than hurricanes, tornadoes and lightning combined. In 2012, 22 people lost their lives due to rip currents: 8 along the Florida Panhandle coast, 8 deaths occurring along the Florida East Coast and 5 deaths along the Florida West Coast. In addition, 2 people died in 2011 from high surf not associated with a rip current. Many of these drowning incidents occur on days when the weather is quite pleasant, with a nice breeze blowing onshore. This catches beachgoers by surprise since fair weather is usually associated with pleasant ocean conditions.
Learn more about rip currents and summer beach safety
SBEP to host king tide photo exhibit in Sarasota
SARASOTA – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) and Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) have partnered to present Chasing the Waves, a special exhibit of photos showing king high tides. The free exhibit will open Thursday, June 6 in downtown Sarasota at the Federal Building located at 111 S. Orange Avenue. The public is invited to attend the opening night from 5:30 to 7 pm. The photos will be on display through July before traveling to other venues in Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, and Pinellas Counties.
The goal of the exhibit is to raise awareness about the effects of sea level rise on our shorelines, structures and communities. Images will include winning submissions to the King Tide Photo Contest held last year by SBEP and TBEP. The exhibit will also include photos from the U.S., Australia, and small Pacific Island nations, showing the global impact of rising seas.
The current schedule includes:
• The Federal Building in downtown Sarasota through July
• The South Florida Museum in Bradenton in September and October
• The Sarasota Bay Water Festival on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Ken Thompson Park
• Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg Nov. 4-30
• Robinson Preserve in Bradenton in January and February 2014
Visit SarasotaBay.org for the current schedule and venue information.
What are King Tides?
Isle of Palms Bridge work effects reclaimed water
As part of the Isle of Palms bridge construction by the city of Treasure Island, the city contractor will start installing concrete piles and steel sheet piles for the next two to three weeks. An existing 12-inch subaqueous reclaimed water line is within the construction area.
To minimize any potential damage if the reclaimed water line gets hit, reclaimed water service to Isle of Palms will be temporarily shutdown starting Wednesday, May 29, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The services will be restored from 7:01 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. each day for the duration of this construction activity.
In addition to reduced reclaimed water availability due to construction, residents are reminded that, effective Tuesday, May 28, Pinellas County reclaimed water customers will have reclaimed water available two days per week for irrigation in 24-hour intervals beginning at 12:01 a.m.
The watering on alternate days should follow the schedule based on house numbers:
- Addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8), water on Tuesday and Saturday.
- Addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9), water on Wednesday and Sunday.
- If your property contains a mix of addresses or if an address cannot be determined, such as common areas associated with a residential subdivision, water on Wednesday and Sunday.
On Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, the reclaimed water system will be down for maintenance and storage level recovery. Watering is prohibited between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Endangered sea turtle feeding grounds discovered in Gulf
Turtles dine in waters affected by oil spills, fishing and oxygen depletion
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The favored feeding grounds of the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle coincide with some Gulf of Mexico waters that are subject to oil spills, extensive commercial fishing and oxygen depletion.
These first-of-their kind details on foraging locations and migration patterns of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle are from a new National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey study, providing resource managers new information on how best to manage the species.
Scientists do not know why the turtles feed where they do, how human influences may affect turtle health or behavior, or whether human impacts on their chosen feeding areas might change their future foraging behavior.
The researchers identified the feeding grounds of the Kemp’s ridley, considered the most endangered and smallest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world, by analyzing 13 years of satellite-tracking data. The researchers tagged turtles at nesting sites between 1998 and 2011 and tracked them as they went on to foraging locations throughout the Gulf. Turtles from two major nesting sites in the study fed at specific locations off the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi and at other locations in the Gulf.
Donna Shaver, chief of the National Park Service’s Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Division at Padre Island National Seashore, said, “Protecting feeding grounds for adult female sea turtles is important for the recovery of the species and this new information is important for future planning and restoration decisions.”
Cooperative efforts between Mexico and several U.S. agencies have helped increase the population of this species of sea turtle. Species support includes protection of nesting turtles and their eggs on nesting beaches and reducing threats from fishing. The number of Kemp’s ridleys nesting in the region has increased from 702 nests in 1985 to about 22,000 in 2012.
The research, in which dozens of adult female sea turtles were tagged after they nested on the beach at Padre Island National Seashore offers a “first glimpse” of how and when the turtles feed, said Kristen Hart, a research ecologist for the USGS Southeast Ecological Science Center. “We were able to decipher Kemp’s ridleys foraging behavior in space and time using a combination of satellite telemetry and new statistical techniques.”
Previous tracking studies generally showed Kemp’s ridley migration from nesting beaches along the Gulf of Mexico coastline to northern Texas and Louisiana with some turtles migrating as far as peninsular Florida. Until the current study, it was not known whether turtles displayed movement behavior indicative of foraging or migration at a particular location. The modeling done as part of the study has allowed scientists to pinpoint where these turtles may be feeding, a key finding in terms of identifying important at-sea habitats for these imperiled turtles.
Continued on USGS.gov...
Summer fertilizer restrictions begin Saturday in Manatee, Pinellas, Tampa
Be Floridian and Protect Our Fun!
The partners of the Be Floridian fertilizer education campaign remind residents of Manatee and Pinellas counties and the city of Tampa that they can't apply nitrogen or phosphorous to lawn and landscape plants from June 1-September 30.
But that doesn't mean your grass will turn brown, shrivel up and die!
Garden centers throughout these communities offer a variety of "summer-safe" yard products that will help keep your landscape green and growing throughout our long, hot summer. Look for fertilizers with "0" as the first two numbers on the label (as in 0-0-6). These do not contain either nitrogen or phosphorous.
Summer rains don't water fertilizer in, they wash it away -- right into our ponds, bays, rivers and the Gulf of Mexico. Too much fertilizer can cause algae blooms and fish kills, spoiling the beautiful waterways that are our major source of recreation. Follow these Florida-friendly lawn care practices to "protect our fun" this summer:
- Pump some iron. An application of iron, readily available at most garden centers, will keep your lawn green during the summer.
- Micro-size It! Apply micronutrients such as zinc and manganese to keep your grass healthy.
- Get Better Dirt. Mix in composted cow or chicken manure, or your own home compost, to enrich your soil. It's like giving vitamins to your yard.
- Pick better plants. Buy plants adapted to Florida's hot, humid climate and plant them in the right place according to their sun and water needs. They'll need less water, fertilizer and chemicals year-round, and you'll have more time for bicycling, boating, grilling or just relaxing by the pool sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it.
For more information on landscaping and gardening like a Floridian, go to BeFloridian.org
List of ordinance-compliant products
Draft Gulf Coast Ecosystem Comprehensive Restoration Plan released
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council marked significant progress today with the public release of the Draft Initial Comprehensive Plan: Restoring the Gulf Coast’s Ecosystem and Economy and accompanying Draft Environmental Assessment for formal public comment. The Draft Plan provides a framework to implement a coordinated region-wide restoration effort in a way that restores, protects, and revitalizes the Gulf Coast region following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The Draft Plan establishes overarching restoration goals for the Gulf Coast region; provides details about how the Council will solicit, evaluate, and fund projects and programs for ecosystem restoration in the Gulf Coast region; outlines the process for the development, review, and approval of State Expenditure Plans; and highlights the Council’s next steps. The Council expects to release a Final Plan this summer.
Along with the release of the Draft Plan, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and Council Chair announced today that Justin Ehrenwerth will serve as the Executive Director of the Council. These steps signify the Council’s efforts to ensure that it is ready to move efficiently and effectively to implement a restoration plan once funds are received.
“As Chair of the Council, I am proud to announce that my Chief of Staff, Justin Ehrenwerth, will move into the role of Executive Director of the Council. I can think of no better person to help the Council continue to move forward with implementing a plan that ensures the long-term health, prosperity, and resilience of the Gulf Coast,” said Council Chair Blank.
In order to ensure robust public input throughout the entire process, the Council is hosting a series of public engagement sessions in each of the five impacted Gulf States in June to give the public the opportunity to provide input on the Draft Plan and the Council’s restoration planning efforts. The 30-day formal public comment period for the Draft Plan and associated documents begins May 23 and ends June 24.
Public meeting dates, link to online comment form, background information
Pinellas County Utilities to perform routine maintenance on water system May 29-June 17
WHAT: Pinellas County will conduct a routine maintenance program on the water system in order to optimize water quality. The method of water treatment will be temporarily changed from chloramine to chlorine disinfection.
WHEN: May 29 - June 17, 2013
WHO: This change will affect all Pinellas County water customers, as well as the water customers of Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Safety Harbor, and Tarpon Springs.
Many utilities using chloramine for water disinfection
routinely switch to chlorine for a short period in order
to maintain system integrity.
Customers will not experience low pressure
or disruption of service. The water will continue to
meet federal and state standards for safe drinking
water. The only noticeable change may be a
slight difference in the taste and/or odor
of the water.
Kidney dialysis patients should not be impacted, but
should contact their dialysis care provider for more
information about chlorine treatment. Fish owners
should not be affected if they already have a system
in place to remove chloramine, but they should contact
local pet suppliers with any questions.
High Five seeks local teams for Sarasota Dragon Boat races this fall
The races will be part of this year's Sarasota Bay Water Festival
SARASOTA – High Five Dragon Boat, LLC is seeking local teams from Sarasota and Manatee County to compete in the fun dragon boat races to be showcased at the 2013 Sarasota Bay Water Festival. The regional event will be held at City Island’s Ken Thompson Park on Saturday, November 2.
High Five provides registered teams with boats, paddles, life vests, a steerperson, and training prior to the event. Training includes practicing the proper paddling techniques and racing etiquette. Each dragon boat is 42-feet in length and coed teams consist of 20 paddlers with a minimum of 8 being female. Participants must be 14-years of age or older. The races involve three race heats during the day on a 350-meter course. Participants can enjoy activities at the Water Festival between the scheduled heats.
“This is a great way for local businesses and other organizations to encourage team-building while promoting their brand,” explained Christine Canevari with High Five. “We already have teams committed from the Tampa Bay area and our goal is to add additional new teams from Sarasota and Manatee County.”
Dragon boat racing is popular worldwide with hundreds of events each year throughout the U.S. and many other nations. Most participants race for fun, but there are also highly-competitive club level teams. The world championship was held in Tampa in 2011. Registration information and helpful guidelines is available at sarasotabaydragonboat.com.
Other highlights for this year’s Water Festival include live music, fine artists selling unique gift items, workshops that promote Bay-friendly living, food trucks and local restaurants, vintage boats, activities for kids, and exhibits promoting recreational boating, fishing, kayaking, paddle board sports, scuba diving, cycling, birding, and other fun activities.
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) is the Presenting Sponsor and HDR, Inc. is the Host Sponsor for 2013. Other sponsors include Sarasota County, Freedom Boat Club, City of Sarasota, Whole Foods Market, Manatee County, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Mote Marine Laboratory, West Coast Inland Management District, Caldwell Trust Company, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Town of Longboat Key, Triple 3 Marketing, City of Bradenton, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Save Our Seabirds, Around the Bend Nature Tours, High Five Dragon Boat, Suncoast Waterkeeper, and Sun King Disc Sports.
Festival organizers are seeking additional sponsors and exhibitors. Sponsor donations support the festival and SBEP education and volunteer programs benefiting Sarasota Bay. Details about sponsorship and exhibiting are posted at sarasotabaywaterfestival.com.
Governor approves $32 million in water projects; vetoes total of $27.3 million
TALLAHASSEE – Florida governor Rick Scott used his line-item veto authority to veto $368 million in spending from Florida's 2013-2014 budget, including a number of projects related to wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and water resource protection. These included:
- Bonita Springs ‐ Oak Creek Restoration ‐ Sediment & Exotic Plant Removal, $250,000
- Charlotte County ‐ Regional Reclaimed Water Expansion ‐ Phase 2, $500,000
- DeSoto County ‐ Lettuce Lake/Oak Haven MH Park Utility MCL Water Supply Improvement Projec,t $90,000
- DeSoto County ‐ Lake Suzy Utility Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements, $350,000
- LaBelle ‐ Wastewater Recycle Project, $1,812,500
- Lake County ‐ Umatilla Sewer System, $1,225,000
- Lakeland ‐ Skyview Water and Wastewater System Modification, $3,750,000
- Manatee County ‐ Wastewater Clarifier Retrofit ‐ Southwest Water Reclamation Facility, $1,000,000
- St. Johns River Restoration and Economic Impact Study, $7,000,000
- Tampa ‐ Met West Ditch Stormwater Project, $125,000
For a complete list of the approved and vetoed water projects, see the link below.
Water project vetoed/approved list (prepared by The Florida Current/LobbyTools)
Tampa Bay Water has a new general manager
CLEARWATER – Tampa Bay Water's Chairman and General Counsel have successfully completed contract negotiations with Matthew W. Jordan, P.E., and he has accepted the position as Tampa Bay Water's new general manager. The contract will go before the Board of Directors for consideration at its June 17 regular board meeting. Pending board approval, Mr. Jordan will start work on July 8, 2013.
Mr. Jordan currently serves as Chief Executive Officer at the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, in North Carolina. He also worked as the Director of Public Works for the City of Gastonia, North Carolina.
Mr. Jordan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology from the University of North Carolina, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Drafting, and is a Professional Engineer in the State of North Carolina.
Tampa Bay Water's Board of Directors began the search for a new general manager after Gerald J. Seeber informed the board in February of his intentions to leave the agency.
More than 180 applications were received. Of those, 52 met the minimum criteria and were reviewed by a screening committee, which included the agency's three officers, the outgoing general manager, representatives from each member government, and the chairman of the board.
Tampa Bay Water's board interviewed the top five candidates on April 29, 2013 before beginning negotiations with Mr. Jordan.
Tampa Bay Water will hold its regular board meeting on Monday, June, 17 at 9:00 a.m. This meeting is open to the public and will be held at Tampa Bay Water's administrative offices at 2575 Enterprise Road, Clearwater, FL 33763.
Tampa Bay Water provides wholesale water to the public utility systems of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, as well as the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa. To learn more about Tampa Bay Water, please visit www.tampabaywater.org.
Water projects left off Florida TaxWatch's "turkey" list this year
By Bruce Ritchie
Florida TaxWatch spared local water projects totaling $59.4 million from its list of "turkeys" in Legislature's 2013-14 state budget.
The group each year lists projects that it says were placed in the budget without proper public review and debate. The group says it doesn't condemn the projects but it does request that the governor consider them for vetoes.
In 2011, Scott vetoed more than $600 million of what he described as "special interest earmarks" including $16.5 million in water projects.
Last year, Florida TaxWatch labeled as turkeys 23 local water projects totaling $19 million. Scott eventually vetoed $12.6 million in water projects.
TaxWatch last year also called on the Legislature to establish a review process for water projects and the Legislature did so, said Kurt Wenner, the group's vice president for tax research.
Continued on The Florida Current...
Reservoirs language stripped from federal bill while Florida groups support alternative approach
By Bruce Ritchie
Georgia's U.S. senators have stripped from a bill language apparently supported by Gov. Rick Scott to require congressional approval of water for the Lake Lanier reservoir north of Atlanta.
Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been fighting in federal court over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system since 1990. Cities, farmers and industry upstream depend on the water while Florida says it needs flow to support fish and wildlife in the Apalachicola River and the seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay.
Continued on The Florida Current...
Clearwater's new water plant will use deep well to dispose of brine
By Charlie Frago
CLEARWATER – Clearwater is moving closer to producing nearly all of its own water as it prepares to build a second reverse osmosis water treatment plant.
The facility, projected to open by the end of next year, will treat millions of gallons of slightly salty water per day through a process that purifies water by removing salt and other materials.
The $34 million plant, set to begin construction in June, will be able to produce a maximum of 6.25 million gallons per day, although it will pump out about 5 million gallons on an average day, said Nan Bennett, assistant director of public utilities.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District will provide $15.2 million for the project. City water revenue will cover the rest.
Continued on the Tampa Bay Times website...
Foundation will direct $356 million from oil spill criminal cases to Florida for natural resource pr
By Bruce Ritchie
Natural resource projects in Florida will receive $356 million from plea agreements in criminal cases involving the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced the establishment of the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund and allocations Monday to five Gulf states. The foundation, created by Congress and overseen by federal agencies, will administer and monitor $2.5 billion provided by plea agreements.
The foundation says on its website that it will consult with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as well as with federal agencies identify projects in Florida.
Applications for projects are being accepted and those that have been submitted for other oil spill funds will automatically be considered, said Doc Kokol, a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman.
Continued on The Florida Current...
USGS Study: Spring 2012 earliest on record
March 2012 set records for warm temperatures that promoted early leafing and flowering across large areas of the United States. A team of scientists at the USA National Phenology Network, which is sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, have published a study which shows that 2012 was the earliest spring over the 48 U.S. states since 1900 when systematic weather data began to be available for the entire area.
Phenology is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, especially their timing and relationships with weather and climate. Assessing the severity and impacts of such extreme climatic events, either in the past or as they happen, requires consistent indicators of variability and change that can be mapped both nationally and historically.
The USA National Phenology Network provides a suite of "spring indices" based on the accumulated warmth needed to end dormancy and initiate growth in many native and cultivated plants. These complex, evidence-based algorithms can be calculated for any weather station that records daily maximum and minimum temperatures. Spring indices are independently validated using historical observations of leafing and flowering in lilac and honeysuckle nationwide.
The historical trend of spring indices suggests that the 2012 growing season advanced as much as 20-30 days in the East and Midwest from the 1900-2012 long-term mean.
"The results of this study clearly demonstrate the great importance of long-term monitoring of natural processes. A long record allows us to identify patterns of change that we might otherwise miss," said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director.
Today the response of vegetation to temperature and precipitation can be readily observed across wide areas by Earth-observing satellites at intervals of only a few days. USGS scientist Julio Betancourt, a co-author of the study, noted, "Indicators such as spring indices and satellite-based evaluations of vegetation growth will become essential tools for assessing climate variability and change and their impacts."
Satellite data show that the cumulative effects of the unusually early 2012 spring were most pronounced across the Corn Belt, the western Great Lakes region, and the northeastern U.S.
The beneficial effects of spring's quick start in 2012 were subsequently offset by a late spring frost and summer drought. In fact, the unusually early spring combined with late frosts in April to produce a so-called "false spring" that damaged fruit trees across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions.
The study appears in EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union.
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USGS Study: Deficit in nation's aquifers accelerating
A new U.S. Geological Survey study documents that the Nation's aquifers are being drawn down at an accelerating rate.
Groundwater Depletion in the United States (1900-2008) comprehensively evaluates long-term cumulative depletion volumes in 40 separate aquifers (distinct underground water storage areas) in the United States, bringing together reliable information from previous references and from new analyses.
"Groundwater is one of the Nation's most important natural resources. It provides drinking water in both rural and urban communities. It supports irrigation and industry, sustains the flow of streams and rivers, and maintains ecosystems," said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. "Because groundwater systems typically respond slowly to human actions, a long-term perspective is vital to manage this valuable resource in sustainable ways."
To outline the scale of groundwater depletion across the country, here are two startling facts drawn from the study's wealth of statistics. First, from 1900 to 2008, the Nation's aquifers, the natural stocks of water found under the land, decreased (were depleted) by more than twice the volume of water found in Lake Erie. Second, groundwater depletion in the U.S. in the years 2000-2008 can explain more than 2 percent of the observed global sea-level rise during that period.
Since 1950, the use of groundwater resources for agricultural, industrial, and municipal purposes has greatly expanded in the United States. When groundwater is withdrawn from subsurface storage faster than it is recharged by precipitation or other water sources, the result is groundwater depletion. The depletion of groundwater has many negative consequences, including land subsidence, reduced well yields, and diminished spring and stream flows.
While the rate of groundwater depletion across the country has increased markedly since about 1950, the maximum rates have occurred during the most recent period of the study (2000–2008), when the depletion rate averaged almost 25 cubic kilometers per year. For comparison, 9.2 cubic kilometers per year is the historical average calculated over the 1900–2008 timespan of the study.
One of the best known and most investigated aquifers in the U.S. is the High Plains (or Ogallala) aquifer. It underlies more than 170,000 square miles of the Nation's midsection and represents the principal source of water for irrigation and drinking in this major agricultural area. Substantial pumping of the High Plains aquifer for irrigation since the 1940s has resulted in large water-table declines that exceed 160 feet in places.
The study shows that, since 2000, depletion of the High Plains aquifer appears to be continuing at a high rate. The depletion during the last 8 years of record (2001–2008, inclusive) is about 32 percent of the cumulative depletion in this aquifer during the entire 20th century. The annual rate of depletion during this recent period averaged about 10.2 cubic kilometers, roughly 2 percent of the volume of water in Lake Erie.
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Pinellas Land Development Code update begins
Plans are under way to update the Pinellas County Land Development Code. This document contains regulations that govern how land is developed in the unincorporated areas of Pinellas County.
The code affects the everyday lives of people in our community in many ways. It addresses everything from zoning, site development, the natural environment and stormwater management. It extends to parking, sidewalks, landscaping and energy efficiency.
The county is now in the process of updating its Land Development Code. Pinellas County is almost built out, and most of “development” activity is actually “redevelopment.”
Each new project provides an opportunity to improve the community. New approaches are being considered to guide the development process in a way that will enhance the condition of the county’s natural and built environments, promote economic opportunity and help us achieve a more sustainable future.
More information about the project, and how you can be involved
Register now for 7th Symposium on Harmful Algae
Students, established HAB researchers and policy makers, managers and scientists from NGO, academic institutions, and local, state and federal agencies are invited to participate in the 7th Symposium on Harmful Algae in the U.S., in Sarasota. Everyone who works on HAB issues should attend the only national conference focused exclusively on HABs. Whether your focus is freshwater or saltwater, microalgae or macroalgae, basic research or policy and management, this conference is relevant to your work.
Important Dates & Info
- Early registration and abstract submission closes at midnight EDT May 24. Please make sure all co-authors have reviewed your abstract prior to submission.
- Your abstract WILL NOT be reviewed if you are not registered for the meeting by May 24.
- Registration ends Sept. 6.
- The Symposium will be held at the Hyatt Regency, Sarasota. Book your room early to guarantee the special conference rate of $132 per night for non-government employees or $87 per night for government employees.
- While Symposium registration ends Sept. 6, you may still book your hotel at the special rate if rooms are still available through Sept. 27.
Tampa biologist gets national award for restoration work
By Yvette Hammett
APOLLO BEACH – Pride, for biologist Tom Ries, comes in the form of meandering wetlands, native grasses and flowers and a flourishing nursery for Tampa Bay’s prized fish. All on private land.
He calls the projects P3s—public-private partnerships—restoration where it’s needed, not just where public land is available.
For years, Ries worked for various agencies whose mission was to restore or recreate wetlands. In 2003, he added another layer, creating a non-profit group to specifically target private landowners willing to partner on restoration projects and give up future development rights.
He was recognized for his work last week when he headed to Washington, D.C. to claim the coveted National Wetlands Award for Conservation & Restoration from the Environmental Law Institute.
Ries, executive vice president of Scheda Ecological Associates, was honored at the U.S. Botanic Garden on May 9.
Continued on TBO.com...