Water-Related News

CFWI calls for projects to help meet Florida’s water demands

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Source: Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI)

A colorful collection of pipes and pumps sits behind a fence in Seminole County. Segments of blue, green and red are riveted together like a sophisticated LEGO set, but this structure is capable of something far more impressive than any toy.

It’s part of an integrated stormwater, reuse, and reclaimed water system that will deliver excess stormwater and reclaimed water from Altamonte Springs to the city of Apopka.

This alternative water supply project is an example of the kinds of projects that the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) is soliciting to meet the area’s future water demands.

Because of the projected limitations on existing sources of water, water suppliers and other stakeholders within the CFWI planning area were recently asked to identify potential water supply and conservation projects to help meet water demands through 2040.

These projects will help manage the region’s water supply needs by providing water to meet a variety of needs, like public supply, agricultural, commercial and recreational, all while sustaining Florida’s water resources and related natural systems.

“Collaboration is a central and vital element to the CFWI. We’ve put out this call for projects because we want to involve our stakeholders in developing solutions to our regional water supply challenges,” said Thomas Kiger, who leads the CFWI Water Projects Options sub-team.

“Our goal is to create a broad suite of water supply and conservation options that will enable us to meet our water supply needs now and into the future.”

Kiger said in addition to water conservation, he anticipates other water supply options will help meet CFWI needs, including surface water, brackish groundwater, an increased use of reclaimed water and aquifer recharge.

The call for projects runs through October 2018. Project options that meet the goals of the

CFWI regional water supply plan will be included in the list.

Stakeholders are encouraged to submit potential projects, even if they are in early planning stages. While submitting a potential project does not commit a stakeholder to build a project, it will provide a central place where water users can collaborate to evaluate future water supply options. These projects will serve as a list of options in the upcoming Regional Water Supply Plan from which local governments, utilities and others can choose to help meet their water demands over time.

Administrative judge to hear Polk and Manasota regional water dispute

Water war heating up as Polk Regional Water Cooperative argues 50-year permit sought by Peace River Manasota Regional Water Authority to double water it can withdraw.

BARTOW — The regional water war continues.

In the coming months, a judge from the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings will listen to the Polk Regional Water Cooperative’s argument that the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Authority should not be allowed to obtain a 50-year permit that would more than double the amount of water it can withdraw.

On June 25, Chris Tumminia, a lawyer for the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud), wrote to the chief judge of the Division of Administrative Hearings.

“The District has concerns regarding whether it conclusively appears from the face of the Petitions that the pleadings contain defects that cannot be cured,” Tumminia wrote. “However in an abundance of caution the District requests that you assign this matter to an Administrative Law Judge to conduct all necessary and formal proceedings.”

Ryan Taylor, executive director of the Polk Regional Water Cooperative, and George Lindsey, who represents Polk on the PRWC, said they hope the two sides can reach a compromise before the hearing. A date for the hearing has not been set.

The PRWC represents the county and 15 cities, including Lakeland.

The fate of Florida's wetlands could be decided behind closed doors, groups say

Environmental and activist groups are criticizing the state for drafting in secrecy the details of a new permitting process to build in Florida’s wetlands.

In a letter Monday addressed to Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, environmental groups Audubon Florida and 1000 Friends of Florida alongside the League of Women Voters called for a more transparent process in DEP’s workshopping of an application that would give the state almost exclusive discretion in doling out permits to build in wetlands.

Currently, there are two systems in place to authorize building in Florida’s wetlands. Developers can request a permit through the state, or they can go through the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Over the years, the state’s permitting process has been streamlined, whereas the EPA’s system has remained slow. Some have described it as redundant.

HB 7043, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March, gives DEP permission to draft an application to the EPA to allow the state to authorize federal permits, so long as they don’t breach Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act, which approves on a case-by-case basis development — known as “dredge and fill” activities — in wetlands.

DEP is rapidly drafting the application and taking public comment as is standard during accompanying rule-making workshops. It’s held three workshops around the state already, along with an online webinar. An estimated 300 Floridians have weighed in on rule-making, according to DEP, and the agency recently extended its public comment period by two weeks.

But the signatories of the Monday letter fear that a great bulk of the details of the application are being drafted outside of the sunshine.