Water-Related News

Regional water agency envisions third reservoir for future demand

As the area’s population expands, a regional water authority with a network of pipelines that cross county lines says it must do the same.

“Right now, we’re meeting everybody’s water needs,” Patrick Lehman, executive director of the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, said. “Everybody’s satisfied.”

For planning purposes, however, the authority continues to think decades again about how to keep its customers’ thirsts quenched.

On May 22, the authority will ask the board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District to again be its partner as it seeks to increase the amount of water it withdraws from the Peace River during the rainy season.

The authority and the district already have partnered in more than $370 million in infrastructure for water storage and treatment capacity as well as a regional transmission system. That association is likely, over the course of several years, to invest in another $200 million expansion.

The authority wants to draw additional water from the Peace River, expand its treatment plant in southwest DeSoto County and create a third, yet-to-be-built reservoir.

Majorities see government efforts to protect the environment as insufficient

Majorities of Americans say the federal government is doing too little to protect key aspects of the environment including water (69%) and air quality (64%). And two-thirds of Americans (67%) say the government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change. These findings come after a year of change in climate and energy regulatory policies under the Trump administration.

Majorities of U.S. adults say federal government is not doing enough to protect environment in these waysAt the same time, Americans are closely divided (52% to 48%) over whether or not it is possible to cut back on regulations while still effectively protecting air and water quality. There are wide political divides on this issue, with roughly three-quarters of Republicans (74%, including independents who lean Republican) convinced this is possible but 64% of Democrats (including Democratic-leaning independents) convinced it is not possible.

The national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 27-April 9 among 2,541 adults, finds pockets of partisan agreement over expanding solar and wind power, though wide political divides remain over increasing fossil fuels through such methods as coal mining, hydraulic fracturing and offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, a pattern consistent with a 2016 Pew Research Center survey.

Water permit delayed after Polk files petition

BARTOW — A vote to approve a 50-year permit that would more than double the amount of water the Manasota regional water authority can withdraw has been delayed.

Officials with the Southwest Water Management District said the May 22 vote by the governing board was suspended after the Polk Regional Water Cooperative and the cities of Lakeland and Winter Haven filed a petition challenging the permit.

The regional water authority owned by Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Sarasota counties wants to increase the amount of water it withdraws from 120 million gallons to 258 million gallons per day. Polk officials fear the permit increase, and its requested 50-year term, would make it harder for Polk County municipalities to take from the same source in the future.

Polk officials have said they weren’t aware of the permit until it came up during a Southwest Florida Management District meeting in late February when Manasota officials made a presentation about building a reservoir. Swiftmud received the permit application Oct. 2.

EPA releases 5-year review of Recreational Water Quality Criteria

The EPA has released its Five-year Review of the 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria (RWQC), as required by the BEACH Act amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA). The review report describes the state of the science since the release of the 2012 RWQC, related to the protection of human health in water bodies designated for primary contact recreation (e.g., swimming) in these areas:

  • Health studies;
  • Indicators and performance of qPCR methods;
  • Microbial source tracking;
  • RWQC implementation tools; and
  • Criteria adoption by states, territories and authorized tribes.
  • Based on the EPA’s review of the existing criteria and developments in the available science, and consistent with CWA Section 304(a)(9)(B), the EPA has decided not to revise the 2012 Recreational Water Criteria during this review cycle. The Agency believes, however, that further research and analysis as identified in this report will contribute to EPA's future review of the 2012 RWQC. The EPA will work with the environmental public health community as it moves forward with its research efforts. The use of qPCR and ongoing research in methods and indicators continue to strengthen and augment the tools available to support the current criteria.

    Irma report: Devastation – and a huge warning sign

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    The forecasters got Hurricane Irma mostly right. At least compared to the predictions of past storms. That’s one of the conclusions from a National Hurricane Center report on the big storm that hit Florida last September.

    John Cangialosi is the lead author of the center’s report on Irma.

    “We’re not trying to brag here in any sense, but the Irma forecasts we had were really successful. That was very, very low errors that we made for track prediction,” Cangialosi said.

    In the future, they won’t always be so successful, he said — that’s why hurricane forecasters and emergency managers keep telling the public not to focus on the exact forecast track or even the wider cone.

    “Try to look at what might happen in your area and don’t be overly deterministic if I’m in the cone or out of the cone,” he said. “Every storm will be different, so let’s take these one at a time and please don’t compare systems over time like say, ‘Oh I survived Irma, I’ll be OK with the next one.’ They really are very different.”

    Funds set aside toward constructing 3 Polk Regional Water Cooperative projects

    A cooperative effort to keep up with the ever-growing water demands of thirsty Polk County residents got a boost Tuesday with a $25 million commitment from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

    The district’s governing board agreed to allocate $5 million a year for each of the next five years toward constructing up to three projects being studied by a cooperative of local cities and Polk County, said Susanna Martinez Tarokh, water district spokeswoman.

    If local governing bodies do nothing to enhance our water supply, by the year 2035, the Polk County region is expected to be short 46.5 million gallons per day.

    While the issue might seem a long way off, it is not when it comes to ensuring water supplies, said Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz, who represents his city on the Polk Regional Water Cooperative.

    The cooperative was formed in March 2017 by 15 cities and towns and the county to search for alternative water sources. The cooperative’s board – consisting of representatives from each city and the county — looked at some 200 options to conserve water and meet future needs. They came up with three projects that together could bring in an additional 55 million gallons of water a day.