Water-Related News

Lake Rochelle Hydrilla Treatment

BARTOW – Teams from Polk County’s Parks and Natural Resources and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct aquatic plant control on Lake Rochelle the week of June 30, weather permitting.

Polk County and the FWC will treat invasive hydrilla in the lake where it is encroaching on beneficial native submersed aquatic plants and may impact access to navigation.

To find out more about the herbicides being used and if there are any use restrictions associated with these treatments, visit MyFWC.com/Lake and click on the “Plant Mgmt Schedule of Operations” under the “Aquatic Plants” dropdown menu.

Polk County and the FWC manages hydrilla on a lake-by-lake basis using a collaborative approach. For general waterbody information, fishing forecasts, virtual tours, plant control operation schedules and annual workplans, boat ramp information, and more, visit the “What’s Happening on My Lake” website at MyFWC.com/Lake.

For questions or concerns regarding this treatment, contact Bryan Finder, Natural Areas coordinator for Polk County Parks and Natural Resources, at (863) 534-7377, or Charlie Thomson, regional biologist for FWC, at (863) 578-1121.

Polk County Utilities’ Southwest Regional WWTF honored

BARTOW - Winner of several national awards, the Southwest Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility was the cover story in “Treatment Plant Operator Magazine.” Located in Mulberry, the plant serves a number of communities in Polk County. Every drop of wastewater that enters the Southwest Regional Wastewater Treatment facility is recycled through a 41-mile piping system and then used either for irrigation at more than 1,800 homes, two golf courses, and a park; or, is used as cooling water at Tampa Electric Company.

Innovation

Using a floating UV balls (shade balls) supplied by Environmental Controls Company, wastewater is shielded from the sun’s UV rays. This results in cooler water temperature which in turn limits the evaporation of chlorine as well as minimizes the growth of algae. The facility also transitioned from a dissolved oxygen control to an oxidation reduction potential control which allows the aerators to run at slower speeds - saving energy and further reducing nitrogen and ammonia..

Fiscal Responsibility

The reduced chlorine demand from these process innovations saves the county more than $30,000 per year. Using the same UV ball technology at all three regional plants has saved $450,000 on chlorine over the past five years.

Conservation

At 100% reuse, the Southwest Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility reduces the demand for potable water, recharges the wetlands and provides habitat for wildlife.

“We received the 2018 David W. York Reuse Award from the Florida Water Environment Association and the 2018 Plant of the Year award from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection,” says Tamara Richardson, Director of Polk County Utilities. “To win the 2018 Safety Award from the Florida Water and Pollution Control Operators Association means just as much to us. It’s proof that you can provide innovative, cost effective, enviro

SWFWMD schedules prescribed fires in Polk, Lake and Pasco Counties

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Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s wildfire emergency in 2017.

That’s why the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns June through September at the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, which includes the Green Swamp East Tract in Polk, Sumter and Lake counties, the Hampton Tract in Polk County, and the Green Swamp West Tract in Pasco County.

The Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve is located north of U.S. Highway 98 along Highway 471 and Rockridge Road between Lakeland and Dade City. Approximately 11,800 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.

View the video at the link below to see aerial footage from a prescribed fire in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve where District land management staff burned 320 acres.

New law gives Florida DEP gets new duties, including septic systems oversight

Under a new bill signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis Tuesday [June 30th], the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will take on new duties as an agency. Notably, those duties will include regulating the more than two and a half million septic systems in the state.

DeSantis, speaking to press in Juno Beach, said DEP is inheriting that responsibility from another state agency:

“The Florida Department of Health, which currently oversees the state septic system regulations, only contemplates the human health impacts of septic systems, but not their environmental impact,” the governor said. “This legislation transfers the authority of septic tank inspection from the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection, to make sure environmental harm by septic systems is finally accounted for.”

The legislation also directs the state DEP to update regulations that apply to storm water systems. The governor says emphasis in storm water regulation has historically been on preventing flooding, and has neglected taking into account environmental impact.

DeSantis told reporters storm water systems throughout the state are based on “outdated science,” and allow pollutants to enter Florida waterways.

Study: Florida has thousands more high-risk properties than FEMA says

Cape Coral and Tampa are the first and second most-exposed cities in the state, the disaster modeling found.

About 114,000 more Florida properties are at risk of flooding in a 100-year storm than the Federal Emergency Management Agency currently estimates, according to a model released Monday by a nonprofit arguing the country has undersold its vulnerability to disasters.

Tampa is the second-most exposed city in the state, says the First Street Foundation, with 43,111 properties that could flood in such an event — the seventh most at-risk in the country. No. 1 in the United States is Cape Coral, according to the analysis, with more than 90,000 at-risk properties.

The foundation’s flood tool is meant to highlight gaps in federal insurance maps and give home buyers what First Street promises is a better view of vulnerability. The data include property-specific reports that are accessible online for users to search their address — and will soon also be displayed on realtor.com, one of the largest real estate listing websites in the country, the company said.

Lake Winterset Hydrilla Treatment, 6/18

BARTOW – Hydrilla treatments will take place June 18 on Lake Winterset in Winter Haven as crews from Polk County’s Parks and Natural Resources plan to spray for the invasive plant.

The herbicide ProcellaCOR will be applied by airboat in a band around the edge of the lake to the inshore areas where hydrilla is present. Hydrilla in this area is encroaching on beneficial native plants and may impact access to navigation. This herbicide is approved for use in lakes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Hydrilla is an invasive aquatic plant easily spread by boats throughout the state’s lakes and rivers. It can clog waterways, making recreational activities difficult or impossible, and competes with beneficial native plants. Managing and treating it is necessary for the health of Florida’s waters and to enable continued recreational boating and other aquatic activities.

Water Use Restrictions:

  • Fourteen days for irrigation of landscape vegetation or other forms of non-agricultural irrigation, applies throughout the entire lake.
  • Turf may be irrigated immediately after treatment. No restrictions for swimming or fishing.

For questions or concerns regarding this treatment, contact Bryan Finder, Natural Areas coordinator for Polk County Parks and Natural Resources, at (863) 534-7377, or Charlie Thomson, regional biologist for FWC, at (863) 578-1120.

SWFWMD draft 2020 Regional Water Supply Plan available

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The Southwest Florida Water Management District's (District) draft 2020 Regional Water Supply Plan (RWSP) is now available on the District’s website for review and comment by stakeholders and the public. The plan identifies existing and projected water demands across all water use categories, available potential water sources, and projects and funding sources to meet those demands within the District’s four planning regions over the next 20 years.

Two online webinar workshops will be held in June to provide opportunities for the public and stakeholders to learn more and comment on the draft plan. All public comments and feedback are taken into consideration and may be included in the final plan document. The comment period ends July 15 at 5 p.m.

The public webinars will take place:

  • June 24 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

This meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams. Please copy and paste the following URL into your browser, https://bit.ly/3cJFaOI and follow the instructions to connect to the meeting. Please use the web interface for Teams. Google Chrome is the recommended browser for best compatibility. Members of the public can also call into the meeting at (888) 585-9008 using the conference code 346-054-201.

  • June 30 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

This meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams. Please copy and paste the following URL into your browser, https://bit.ly/2BUzG79 and follow the instructions to connect to the meeting. Please use the web interface for Teams. Google Chrome is the recommended browser for best compatibility. Members of the public can also call into the meeting at (888) 585-9008 using the conference code 346-054-201.

The Draft 2020 RWSP has been developed in collaboration with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Suwannee River, St. Johns River and South Florida water management districts, public water supply utilities and other stakeholder groups. The District includes four planning regions that consist of all or part of 16 counties in west-central Florida, covering approximately 10,000 square miles.

The final plan will be presented to the District’s Governing Board for approval in November. To view the draft plan, please click here.

The Draft 2020 RWSP is in the process of being converted to an ADA compliant document. The Final 2020 RWSP will be ADA compliant. If you need assistance, please contact the District at (352) 796-7211 or 1-800-423-1476.

2020 CHNEP Watershed Summit videos available

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Missed the Summit? Now you can watch it all at your leisure.

The 2020 CHNEP Watershed Summit, sponsored by the Florida Section of the American Water Resources Association and FGCU Media, was held on June 1-2. The Summit, which is usually an in-person event, was held virtually to protect the health of participants because of the COVID-19 virus.

Videos of 34 presentations are now available for viewing online. Visit the CHNEP website to see a list of the presentations in each session. Each listed presentation is linked to its associated video. The Summit included four sessions:

  • Water Quality Improvement
  • Hydrological Restoration
  • Fish, Wildlife & Habitat Protection
  • Public Engagement for Protecting Our Water & Wildlife

Visit the CHNEP's YouTube channel to view presentations from past CHNEP Watershed Summits. The Video Library page on this Water Atlas also has videos on conservation topics.