Water-Related News

Polk County Utilities to share plans for new Crooked Lake Park wastewater treatment facility

Polk County logo

BARTOW – Polk County Utilities (PCU) will host a Crooked Lake Park neighborhood community meeting to discuss the future of the wastewater collection and treatment system that serves that area on Monday, January 30, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the South Lake Wales Church of God, 210 President’s Drive in Lake Wales.

The county will present an overview of the proposed improvements and preliminary construction schedule for the wastewater facility.

In March 2021, the State of Florida appointed Polk County Utilities to be the custodian of the system when the original owner could no longer manage the infrastructure. Since that time, PCU has been working diligently to perform immediate repairs to improve the condition of the existing system to protect the area’s property and the environment.

Polk County Utilities has been working with the City of Lake Wales on the final project to ultimately resolve the issues with the wastewater system. Construction on the project should begin in mid-2023 and continue through early 2024. The public is invited to see the plans and give residents the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns.

The next meeting of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force will be on Feb 1st

FDEP logo

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is hosting a meeting of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.

Members of the public are invited to participate in-person or online.

  • WHAT: Blue-Green Algae Task Force Meeting
  • WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • WHERE: Florida International University's Biscayne Bay Campus
    Wolfe University Center, Room 155
    3000 N.E. 151st St.
    North Miami Beach, FL 33181

If joining virtually, please register for the GoTo Webinar or view the livestream on The Florida Channel.

The registration link and meeting agenda are available at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov.

Public comment will be accepted during the meeting and can also be submitted via email to BlueGreenAlgaeTaskForce@FloridaDEP.gov

Alternative water supply projects within the CFWI receive state funding

CFWI logo

The State, in coordination with the water management districts, has provided more than $9.9 million in cost-share funding for nine alternative water supply projects within the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) area.

These projects are anticipated to leverage more than $297.1 million in cooperating entity matching funds and create more than 23.4 million gallons per day and 13 million gallons in transmission/distribution capacity when they are fully online.

The projects include:

  • Oak Hill 200 LLC Rosala West Water Conservation (Orange)
  • Orange County Utilities Year 2 Water Conservation Through WWNP with Advanced Targeting (Orange)
  • Seminole County Toilet Rebate Program Phase 2 (Seminole)
  • City of Minneola AWS Reclaimed Water Project (Lake)
  • Sunshine Water Services Oranges Lower Floridan Well (Lake)
  • Polk Regional Water Cooperative (PRWC) Southeast Wellfield Implementation (Polk)
  • PRWC Southeast Regional Transmission System (Polk)
  • PRWC West Polk Wellfield Implementation (Polk)
  • PRWC West Polk Wellfield Test Production Well #2 (Polk)

Polk County Dept. of Health issues blue-green algae bloom caution for Tiger Lake

Florida DOH logo

BARTOW (Jan. 18, 2023) – The Florida Department of Health in Polk County is cautioning the public of the presence of a blue-green algae bloom in Tiger Lake – East Shore. Blooms have the potential to produce toxins, and what triggers them to do so remains poorly understood. Since bloom conditions can change at any time, it is important to exercise caution as if the bloom were toxic, even if toxin presence has not yet been confirmed.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • You should not drink, swim, wade, water ski or engage in activities that may cause you to come in direct contact with waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Exercise caution when using personal watercraft or boating in order to avoid stirring up or contacting the algae or the affected water.
  • Avoid getting affected water in your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • You should keep pets and livestock away from the waters in this location.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water; throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • You should not eat shellfish from this location.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and partners collect algae samples from reported bloom locations for toxin analysis. Once completed, the results will be posted on the DEP Algal Bloom Dashboard (link opens in new window), and can also be viewed on the Protecting Florida Together website (link opens in new window) website, where you can sign up to be notified of the latest conditions.

No debate anymore: Climate change makes extreme weather worse, federal scientists say

Scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) delivered a clear message: Climate change is — unequivocally — making extreme weather events worse.

South Florida has always been hot, rainy and vulnerable to hurricanes. So it’s understandable that some longtime residents remain skeptical that climate change is doing anything to make the region’s age-old problems any worse.

But scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) delivered a clear message Monday at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting in Denver, Colorado: Climate change is — unequivocally — making extreme weather events worse.

In fact, scientists can now go a step further and show that specific weather disasters were more likely or more damaging because we live in a hotter climate. At the meeting, scientists presented case studies of heat waves, droughts, and extreme rainfall events that were influenced by climate change over the past two years in the U.S., South Korea, China and other countries. A collection of these studies was also published Monday in a special report from the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Lake Wales joins Florida Water Star program

Lake Wales looks to the future by conserving water through new building requirements.

City of Lake Wales commission adopted the Florida Water Star? certification program, initiated by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The program requires a builder to obtain an official certificate that validates a newly constructed house or commercial building includes water-efficient appliances, low-flow plumbing fixtures, micro-irrigation systems and water quality benefits from best management practices in landscapes.

Lake Wales is the first municipality in Polk County to require all new construction to achieve Florida Water Star certification through a formal third-party inspection.

“We plan to grow the city responsibly by conserving the water we source from the upper Floridan aquifer,” City Manager James Slaton said.

A homeowner with a Florida Water Star? certified house may save up to $530 on annual utility bills and up to 48,000 gallons of water each year. Owners of commercial buildings will save even more water.

“As we catch this at the point of new construction, we can stop a tremendous loss of water right at the time the home or commercial building comes out of the ground,” District Sr. Government Affairs Regional Manager Cindy Rodriguez said.

It costs a builder between $700 to $1,400 to equip a house to be Florida Water Star? certified. Upon inspection, builders may apply for a $1000 rebate, while rebates last.

The Florida Water Star? certified program is the City’s third water conservation program.

Residents may help reduce water usage through two complimentary City conservation programs, in partnership with the Polk Regional Water Cooperative, Water Conservation Kit Program and Wireless Rain Sensor Program. Select this link to request a water conservation kit and scroll to the Lake Wales option. https://prwcwater.org/water-conservation/rebates-incentives/#

To learn more about how you can help conserve water, follow this link: https://prwcwater.org/water-conservation/conservation-tips/

The water conservation kits are provided by the City of Lake Wales and Polk Regional Water Cooperative.

Florida’s emergency chief seeks changes in disaster response

Florida’s emergency-management director wants lawmakers to make changes to help with disaster preparation and response, pointing to issues that have arisen as the state recovers from Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole.

Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie this week asked lawmakers to reduce the amount of time people have to remove damaged boats from waterways and to provide uniform requirements for local governments about debris-removal contracts. He also wants to tweak a new relief fund and shield from public records the names of people harmed by disasters.

“What we’re talking about is media outlets. We’re talking about lawyers, attorneys, those that are seeking to try to start making money off of disaster survivors and victims,” Guthrie told members of the Senate Select Committee on Resiliency as he described the proposed public records exemption.

Central Florida to fight future flooding with $60 million federal investment

Central Florida recently received help in the fight to prevent future flooding when Orange and Polk counties received $60 million in federal funding for water infrastructure improvements and Osceola was granted initial approval for future projects.

On Dec. 23, President Biden signed into law the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which, among many other things, granted initial approval for ecosystem restoration projects in Lake Tohopekaliga/Kissimmee Lakefront, Lake Runnymede and Shingle Creek. The act also included $50 million in funding for Orange’s water projects and $10 million for Polk’s.

“As more human beings move in there will be a greater demand for water in our community and as a result, Orange County has to be creative on how it approaches those barriers,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said at a press conference last month. “We have a lot of needs here in our community and we are looking forward to working with our state partners.”

Altogether, the water projects throughout Central Florida should help mitigate flooding concerns that September’s Hurricane Ian further illuminated in the region. Orange County saw historic levels of flooding that left many with property damage or homeless.

Key Florida lawmaker focuses on shifting from septic tanks to sewer systems

The chair of the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee said a “big focus” will be getting homes and businesses off septic systems.

A Republican senator who oversees environmental spending said this week he wants to continue efforts to shift properties from septic tanks to sewer systems to try to help protect waterways.

Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican who chairs the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, said a “big focus” will be getting homes and businesses off septic systems.

“As we look at the nutrients that are continuing to leach into our waterways, particularly inland, we want to make sure that we're doing all we can to support those municipalities, to make sure that those (nutrients) are not continuing to move into our water bodies and jeopardizing either our wildlife or our recreational opportunities,” Brodeur said during a subcommittee meeting Thursday.

This year’s state budget includes $557 million for water quality improvements, with $125 million aimed at helping with such things as septic conversions and upgrades.