Water-Related News

Critics of DEP water rules now are more hopeful for appeals

Critics of state limits on toxic chemicals in waterways expressed optimism following an appeals court ruling on Tuesday that reversed the dismissal of legal challenges to the state standards.

In July 2016, a sharply divided state Environmental Regulation Commission voted 3-2 during a boisterous meeting to approve new human health criteria despite opposition from environmental activists, some local governments and industry groups.

An administrative law judge threw out challenges filed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the city of Miami, the Florida Pulp and Paper Association and Martin County because he said they were filed late. But the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday that Judge Bram D. E. Canter erred by siding with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in ruling that the deadline had passed.

District aims to reduce risk of wildfires by scheduling prescribed fires for Polk County

etting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s recent drought. That’s why the Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of July, August, and September on the Upper Hillsborough property in Polk County.

The Upper Hillsborough property is in the area of Chancy Rd. and S.R. 54 near Zephyrhills. Approximately 950 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Reducing overgrown plants which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires
  • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants
  • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat
  • Maintaining access for public recreation

The District’s land management section conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year.

CFWI Projects Taking Shape Throughout Region

BARTOW — Drilling more than half a mile below ground to find new sources of water in the Lower Florida aquifer (LFA).

Finding new ways to reuse reclaimed water.

Combining stormwater and reclaimed water to build a sustainable supply.

These are some of the innovative projects the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) is developing to meet the growing water needs of the five-county Central Florida region while also protecting the region’s water resources. Water experts project the region will need an additional 300 million gallons of water per day by 2035. Only about 50 mgd will be available from traditional sources without harming the water and related natural resources like wetlands and lakes.

“We have to be creative and collaborative if we want to ensure that our citizens have the water they need and that our natural resources, which define our quality of life, are protected,” said Brian Armstrong, Southwest Florida Water Management District executive director.

“By working together on alternative water supply projects that benefit the CFWI region we help extend our future water supply,” said St. Johns River Water Management Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “It’s through this type of collaboration we can ensure residents and our natural resources have the water needed to thrive in the years to come.”

“It is very encouraging to see this region’s water supply planning now being implemented in projects underway and on the horizon,” said Dan O’Keefe, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board chairman.

Bartow street drops about a foot after new sewer line installed

Water infiltration around new 30-inch line at least partially to blame for the problem on Wabash Street

BARTOW — No sooner did construction crews finish replacing a dilapidated sewer line beneath Wabash Street in East Bartow than an area beneath the roadway began to crumble, causing a portion of the road to sink by up to a foot.

Now, the city faces spending as much as $200,000 to correct the problem on the eastern end of the project.

City Manager George Long said the problem is twofold:

  • The fill dirt around the manholes and pipes in the area of Idlewood Drive and Wabash Street wasn’t adequately compacted during the recent wastewater line installation.
  • The backfill material was laden with clay, which creates problems with compaction with the surrounding soil.

But the problem may not be completely the fault of the contractor, Metro Equipment Services in Miami. Despite the problems with the fill dirt, city administrators aren’t certain there isn’t a hidden void beneath the new pipe.

Three residential water lines can be seen above the trench through which the 30-inch sewer line runs across Wabash Street. Bartow city crews are digging down and around the sewer lines to determine the problems. The collapsed section of roadway measured about 70 feet long, 8 feet wide and at least a foot deep.

“There are construction deficiencies, we know that,” Long said, “but we don’t want to blame the contractor for something that wasn’t his fault.” Further testing and excavating will be done to determine whether such a void exists, he said, and whether it contributed to the collapse of the roadway.

Tom Palmer: Problem of water use is not a new issue

To hear some political leaders discuss the increasing challenges of addressing water supply issues lately, you might think this is a relatively recent issue. The same goes for some of the approaches to storing water for future use.

I was reading something the other day about this topic.

“Our water resources can and will be exhausted unless we use them wisely and plan for some method of storing to be used in dry seasons,” it read.

This was from a Florida textbook titled “Florida: Wealth of Waste.” It was published in 1946.

Flash forward to 1973 and read a treatise written by Garald Parker (1905-2000). Parker was known as the “father of Florida groundwater hydrology” and the person credited with coining the term “Swiftmud” to refer to the Southwest Florida Water Management District. At the time, he was Swiftmud’s chief hydrologist and senior scientist.

He suggested more efficient irrigation, treating and reusing sewer discharges, building desalination plants, development of regional wellfield complexes and water distribution systems, capturing and storing storm runoff underground, and taking care not to mine the aquifer.

The last term refers to withdrawing water from the aquifer faster than it can be replenished by rainfall.

It has taken time, but many of these measures were eventually adopted in this part of the state.

Water Atlas program, faculty, Atlas sponsors receive FLMS Awards

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The USF Water Institute was one of five recipients of FLMS Awards of Excellence at the 2017 Florida Lake Management Society symposium in Captiva Island. Former USF Water Institute faculty member Jim Griffin was honored by the Society with its highest award, the Marjorie Carr Award, for lifetime achievement.

The USF Water Institute received the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award, given to individuals or organizations who report on aquatic resource issues, for its use of informatics to publicly disseminate data and supporting, explanatory information related to water resource management. The Water Atlas program is Institute's primary vehicle for distributing water information.

Dr. Jim Griffin, principal investigator for the Water Atlas program from 2005 until he retired in 2014, received the Marjorie Carr Award, the Florida Lake Management Society’s highest award. It is given for lifetime work on behalf of Florida’s aquatic resources. The award is named in honor of Marjorie Carr who, among other things, organized citizens and brought to an end the proposed Cross Florida Barge Canal.

Other 2017 FLMS award recipients:

  • Judy Ott received the Edward Deevey, Jr. Award, given to an individual for contributing to our scientific understanding of Florida’s water bodies. Edward Devey was an internationally recognized limnologist and was affiliated with the State Museum of Florida at the time of his death. Judy retired in March after nine years as program scientist for the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.
  • The Seminole County SERV Program received the Dr. Daniel E. Canfield Jr. Volunteerism Award, given to a volunteer organization or outstanding volunteer for significant contributions to the research, restoration, and/or preservation of our water resources. The award is named after Dr. Daniel Canfield, founder of Florida LAKEWATCH, the pioneering citizen-volunteer water quality monitoring program involving over 1,200 lakes statewide, and now being emulated across the United States. The Seminole Education, Restoration and Volunteer (SERV) Program works to actively restore and educate people on how to protect the waterways and natural areas of Seminole County.
  • Nia Wellendorf, Environmental Administrator for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, received the FLMS Young Professional Award, presented to a young lake management professional who exhibits exemplary professional accomplishments and a commitment to water resource protection and management of our lakes and watersheds.

FWC asking for public’s help in tracking fish kills

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) needs your help in monitoring fish health by tracking marine and freshwater fish kills in Florida.

FWC scientists monitor and document fish kills and diseases, as well as other aquatic animal health issues and associated environmental events. Many factors can contribute to a fish kill. The good news is that most natural water bodies are resilient to fish kill events.

The public can report fish kills to the FWC at MyFWC.com/FishKill or by calling the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511. You can also submit a report through the “FWC Reporter” app on your iOS or Android mobile devices.

Trump administration moves to withdraw clean-water rule

The Trump administration moved Tuesday to roll back an Obama administration policy that protected more than half the nation's streams from pollution but drew attacks from farmers, fossil fuel companies and property-rights groups as federal overreach.

The 2015 regulation sought to settle a debate over which waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act, which has dragged on for years and remained murky despite two Supreme Court rulings. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in February instructing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rescind or revise the Obama rule, which environmentalists say is essential to protecting water for human consumption and wildlife.

In a statement, the agencies announced plans to begin the withdrawal process, describing it as an interim step. When it is completed, the agencies said, they will undergo a broader review of which waters should fall under federal jurisdiction.