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District Approves Proposed Millage Rate

The Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) adopted a proposed FY2015-16 millage rate of 0.3488 mill, 4.6 percent lower than the current fiscal year. For the owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption, the District tax would be $34.88 a year, or about $2.91 per month. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016. The total FY2015-16 proposed budget for the District is $183.4 million.

The budget reflects the District’s commitment to protect Florida’s water resources and to improve Florida’s economic vitality. All programs and projects advance the core mission of the District and are designed to provide the highest quality service to residents within the District.

The proposed budget includes more than $109 million for Cooperative Funding Initiatives and District projects. The District funds are leveraged with its partners’ resulting in a total investment of more than $150 million for water resource management projects.

The District will hold a tentative budget hearing on Sept.15 at 5:01 p.m. at the Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301.The Governing Board will vote on the final budget on Sept. 29 at 5:01 p.m., at the Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301.

Click here to view original source


Florida leads nation in property at risk from climate change

Florida has more private property at risk from flooding linked to climate change than any other state, an amount that could double in the next four decades, according to a new report by the Risky Business Project.

By 2030, $69 billion in coastal property in Florida could flood at high tide that is not at risk today, the report found. That amount is projected to climb to $152 billion by 2050.

While projections for rising seas are not new, for the first time researchers tried to quantify the economic damage wrought by climate change by better understanding the risks to business and a rebounding economy. Growth in manufacturing and energy production have created a mini boom in the Southeast and Texas, the report said. But climate change threatens to undo that progress and cause widespread damage to the region’s economic pillars: manufacturing, agriculture and energy.

For Florida, the blows are significant and not only for property. Higher temperatures and rising seas could slow labor productivity, stress the energy industry and dry up cash pumped into the state by tourists.

“The sea-rise numbers are out there. The heat numbers are out there. What this study has done for the first time is really look at this from a business perspective,” former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who co-chaired the project, said in an interview with the Miami Herald.

Continued in The Miami Herald »


USF Researchers find reasons behind increases in urban flooding

Scientists at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science investigating the increasing risk of ‘compound flooding’ for major U.S. cities have found that flooding risk is greatest for cities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts when strong storm surge and high rainfall amounts occur together. While rising sea levels are the main driver for increasing flood risk, storm surges caused by weather patterns that favor high precipitation exacerbates flood potential.

The paper describing their research on the causes of compound flooding in urban areas of the U.S will appear in Nature Climate Change (Vol. 5, August, 2015) and is now available online.

“Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population resides in coastal counties,” said study lead author Thomas Wahl of the University of South Florida College of Marine Science and the University of Siegen in Germany. “Flooding can have devastating impacts for these low-lying, densely populated and heavily developed regions and have wide-ranging social, economic and environmental consequences.”

Their analysis focused on the joint occurrence of the two distinct flooding sources in coastal regions – storm surge and high precipitation – that can result in direct run-off (pluvial) and increased river discharge (fluvial).

The research team also identified three key compound flooding mechanisms: elevated water levels in estuarine regions; storm surge flooding that worsens with heavy rainfall and; moderate storm surge that blocks or slows down drainage.

They concluded that “the complex interplay between storm surge and precipitation can lead to, or exacerbate, the impacts of flooding in coastal zones through multiple mechanisms.”

Continued on Florida Water Daily

Click here to read the original study


August-September SCCF Member Update

Click here for a PDF of the August-September Member Update

  • Sea turtle nesting as of mid-July was record breaking!
  • Recap of the Florida legislative session
  • Bay scallops are returning to Tarpon Bay
  • Dee Serage-Century has been learning more about bees
  • Marine Lab seagrass restoration in the Caloosahatchee River

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road
Sanibel, FL 33957


Water Supply Co-op OK'd on Busy Day for Lakeland Commission

Joining other Polk County municipalities in designing a water supply cooperative was just one of the significant decisions the City Commission made Monday, Commissioner Jim Malless said.

Not a single "nay" vote was recorded despite a heavy agenda during which the commission gave nods to two new types of residences, approved major construction at Lakeland Linder, and hired a consultant to index and analyze downtown parking.

"This is a very important agenda for us as a city today," he said to the four other members present. Commissioners Justin Troller and Phillip Walker were not at the meeting.

During the calm between the failure of the fire fee earlier this month and the weighing of whether to set a higher maximum possible property tax rate at the end of the month, the commission made what Malless called "multigenerational" decisions. The city's current tax rate is $4.6644 per $1,000 of taxable value.

Among them, the commission approved:
Building of 48 "micro-cottages" for residents age 55 and older at 1450 Kennedy Blvd. These 24 duplexes with units of less than 550 square feet each are the first local take on the back-to-basics "tiny house" movement.

Allowing for the transferability of tax incentive benefits for the NOBAY Village developer, Lakeland-based Broadway Real Estate Services. The limited transferability of these benefits will aid the developer in securing secondary financing after the downtown mixed-use project is complete and tenancy stabilized, developer Ron Clark said.

Continued in The Ledger »


Save the Date: 5th Annual Scallopallooza will be Oct. 3, 2015

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Scallopalooza is an annual fundraiser for scallop restoration in Sarasota Bay. This fun-filled event is sold out every year and hosted by the Sarasota Yacht Club. Each year the funds raised at the event pay for multiple scallop releases throughout the subsequent year, thereby sustaining our scallop restoration initiative and increases our chances for success.

Scallop restoration is a core program of Sarasota Bay Watch. The scallop population in Sarasota Bay has been drastically reduced over the years. Florida Fish and Wildlife experts believe that by raising scallops in shellfish hatcheries and releasing the larvae into our local seagrass beds that a multi-year release program could result in a self-perpetuating local population.

This year the event falls on October 3rd, 2015 at the Sarasota Yacht Club.

Click here for more information »


CHNEP Conservation Lands Workshop (Sept. 10): Register now!

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The CHNEP Conservation Lands Workshop is an opportunity for those who work with and are concerned about conservation lands to network, collaborate and learn about solutions to issues facing these lands in southwest Florida. The next workshop will be Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center in Punta Gorda. (Confirmed presentations are provided below.)

Conservation lands increase the quality of life and enhance the tax base of the adjacent private lands. They provide essential habitat for native species, allow water to flow naturally on the surface and to aquifers -- cleansing and storing water as it moves -- and they protect human development as the mangroves did during Hurricane Charley. Land can be conserved through purchase and by conservation easements by citizens, jurisdictions, agencies, land trusts and others.

The keynote presentation will be given by Dr. William J. Mitsch, Director of the Everglades Wetland Research Park at Florida Gulf Coast University, on using wetlands to prevent phosphorus and nitrogen pollution in downstream wetlands, lakes, rivers and coastal waters.

To learn more and to register for this workshop, go to www.EventBrite.com, search for CHNEP but change the location to Florida. There is no fee to participate but it is asked that you register by 5 p.m. on Sept. 3. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. You may register after Sept. 3 but lunch may not be provided. Donations are accepted to help defray expenses. Any donation of $100 or more will be acknowledged as a sponsor. Please invite others to attend.

After the workshop, PDF files of the presentations and videos (PDF of presentation and audio) will be posted at www.CHNEP.org/ConservationLands.html. Presentations from the 2012, 2013 and 2014 workshops are available from this site.


FWC Enlists Gulf Reef Fish Anglers to Provide Data

As part of its goal of working with anglers to improve data collection and management of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking for anglers’ assistance through participation in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey. This new data collection program will improve how recreational catch is monitored and provide information needed to ensure sustainable fisheries in Florida.

As of April 1, 2015, saltwater recreational anglers fishing from private boats off Florida’s Gulf coast (excluding Monroe County) are required to sign up for the survey if they intend to harvest, attempt to harvest or possess any of the following reef fish species: red snapper, vermilion snapper, black and red grouper, gag, gray triggerfish, banded rudderfish, almaco jack, lesser amberjack, and greater amberjack. Anglers enrolled in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey may be selected to receive a questionnaire in the mail to report information about their recent recreational fishing trips. Additionally, FWC biologists will meet anglers at marinas and boat ramps to collect information about their catch that day.

Anglers’ participation in this focused survey will help improve estimates of recreational fishing efforts and catch for use in management decisions specifically for reef fish. The information gained from this monitoring program will assist state and regional fisheries management agencies in their mission to ensure a healthy and sustainable resource and to maximize recreational fishing opportunities in Florida. Participants who are contacted by FWC and agree to provide information will be entered into a drawing to win an annual, 5-year or lifetime recreational saltwater fishing license.

“The success of this new data collection program not only depends on anglers signing up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey, but also, if selected, responding to questionnaires and dockside interviews,” said Beverly Sauls, research scientist with FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “Without reliable information on all fishing activities, managers are often forced to take conservative measures to ensure overfishing does not occur. Information collected from the Gulf Reef Fish Survey will help managers provide optimum recreational fishing opportunities in Florida”.

For more information about the Gulf Reef Fish Survey and specific species covered, visit MyFWC.com/research, click on “Saltwater” and select “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” under “Commercial and Recreational Fisheries.”

For more information about who is required to sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey and how to get started, visit MyFWC.com/fishing, and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” then “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey.”


Entries sought for CHNEP song contest

Have you written an original composition that captures the beauty or issues of the natural environment of southwest Florida (as defined by the CHNEP)? The CHNEP would like you to submit your songs for use on the CHNEP Citizens Academy and elsewhere. Prizes up to $600 will be awarded.

The rules are simple. Each person may submit up to three entries by Aug. 1, 2015. Complete an online entry form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/songcontest and submit the digitized audio performance and lyric or sheet music either electronically to maran@chnep.org or by mail to CHNEP Songs, 326 W. Marion Ave, Punta Gorda FL 33950.

There is no fee to enter. This contest is open to amateur and professional songwriters of any age. You retain ownership of the songs submitted. By entering this contest, you are allowing the CHNEP to use the songs in its materials and at events and allow others to perform your song for CHNEP purposes. You will be asked to perform at select events.

The songs must be original but can be of any genre and must be no more than three minutes long. An entry consists of an
1) Anonymous digitized audio performance
2) A lyric sheet or sheet music and
3) An entry form available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/songcontest

A music video may be submitted but is not required to participate. The song writer can have others perform the song. There is no requirement as to when the song was written or recorded.

The winning entries will be selected by the CHNEP Citizens Advisory Committee in August. Submissions will be judged on lyrics, likeability, creativity, originality, melody and arrangement. Production/recording quality and vocal ability may also considered.

The CHNEP will email all entrants to confirm their entry was received and to announce the entries selected for recognition.


Fort Myers company honored by EPA in Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn climate risk and other environmental problems into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.

“From academia to business, we congratulate those who bring innovative solutions that will help solve some of the most critical environmental problems,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These innovations reduce the use of energy, hazardous chemicals and water, while cutting manufacturing costs and sparking investments. In some cases they turn pollution into useful products. Ultimately, these manufacturing processes and products are safer for people’s health and the environment. We will continue to work with the 2015 winners as their technologies are adopted in the marketplace.”

The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The winners and their innovative technologies are:

Algenol in Fort Myers, Florida, is being recognized for developing a blue-green algae to produce ethanol and other fuels. The algae uses CO2 from air or industrial emitters with sunlight and saltwater to create fuel while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint, costs and water usage, with no reliance on food crops as feedstocks. This is a win-win for the company, the public, and the environment. It has the potential to revolutionize this industry and reduce the carbon footprint of fuel production.

Algenol was awarded the PLATTS Global Energy Award for Leadership in the Biofuels Industry and recognized as the #1 American and #3 Global “Hottest” Company in Bioenergy by Biofuels Digest. The EPA approved their Direct to Ethanol® Pathway for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and their Microbial Commercial Activity Notice or MCAN. Both approvals were critical steps needed for our commercial advancement.

Algenol’s patented technology enables the production of the four most important fuels (ethanol, gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel) for around $1.30 per gallon each using proprietary algae, sunlight, carbon dioxide and saltwater at production levels of 8,000 total gallons of liquid fuel per acre per year. Algenol's technology produces high yields and relies on Algenol’s patented photobioreactors and proprietary downstream separation techniques for low-cost fuel production. These novel, low-cost techniques have the added benefit of consuming carbon dioxide from industrial sources, not using farmland or food crops and being able to provide freshwater.

Since its founding in 2006, Algenol’s scientists and engineers have invented and patented a broad array of new technologies for producing advanced renewable transportation fuels. The Company’s technology is a unique two-step process that first produces ethanol directly from the algae and then converts the spent algae biomass to biodiesel, gasoline and jet fuel. It is the only renewable fuel production process that can convert more than 85% of its CO2 feedstock into the four most important fuels.

Click here to check out Algenol’s website


Public Invited to Workshop on Regional Water Supply Plan

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will hold a public workshop in Sarasota about the draft 2015 Regional Water Supply Plan (RWSP.) The plan presents the projected water demands across the District and all water use sectors for a 20-year planning period as well as identifies water supply sources and potential water supply project options. The workshop will be accessible via interactive webcast accessed remotely via conference call and online through Cisco WebEx meetings.

Public Information Workshop – Sarasota County July 21, from 2:30–5:30 p.m. Sarasota Service Office, 6750 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota To join the workshop online at 3:30 p.m., use this webcast link. For audio, dial toll free 1-888-670-3525, and enter participant code 9502752119#.

The draft RWSP is available for public review and comment at WaterMatters.org/RWSP through July 31, 2015. Please note that the same information will be presented at each of the Public Information Workshops.

For more details about the public workshops, please call George Schlutermann, P.G. at the District Headquarters at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4212.


CHNEP Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting: August 12, 2015

The CHNEP CitizensAdvisory Committee agenda packet for the next meeting is now available. The meeting will be held Wednesday, August 12, 2015, at the Charlotte Community Foundation Education Center (227 Sullivan St, Punta Gorda).

Please arrive for the meeting by 9:30 to allow time for networking. The meeting will begin at 10:00. If you are unable to review the entire packet prior to the meeting, please read the summary pages. Immediately following the meeting, lunch will be provided (contributions will be requested). We'll review entries for the song contest during lunch then the meeting to further the development of the 2016 calendar will begin once everyone is settled. In the past the committee has met for up to 4 hours to discuss the calendar and review images so the meeting hasn't ended until 4 p.m. More details about the song contest and calendar will be provided at the meeting.

Among other things, the meeting agenda includes:

  • CHNEP Visioning Retreat
  • 2015 Research Needs Inventory
  • Water Quality Functional Assessment Method Project
  • CHNEP Oyster Restoration Priority Sites
  • CHNEP Program updates
  • Review of entries to CHNEP song contest
  • Review images submitted for the CHNEP 2016 calendar

The WQFAM for Filter Marshes Plant Identification Guide, produced as part of the Water Quality Functional Assessment Methods project (agenda item 4), is a useful, beautiful photographic guide to plants. Because of its size, the guide is provided as a separate PDF file. The project report is not yet available.


Blue crab trap closure in South-S.W. Florida starts Friday

Recreational and commercial blue crab traps in state waters from the Palm Beach-Broward county line to the Pasco-Hernando county line must be removed from the water before Friday, July 10, the first day of a 10-day trap closure.

These closures will give groups authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the opportunity to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water.

Closures may be reduced in duration if it is determined that the number of lost and abandoned traps in the region will take less time to remove.

Until trap season reopens, blue crabs may be harvested with other gear, such as dip nets and fold-up traps. Blue crab harvesters may also use standard blue crab traps during the closure if the traps are attached to a dock or other private property.

Lost and abandoned blue crab traps are a problem in the blue crab fishery, because they can continue to trap crabs and fish when left in the water. They can also be unsightly in the marine environment, damage sensitive habitats and pose navigational hazards to boaters on the water.

The closure is one of three regional, 10-day blue crab trap closures that will occur in 2015. Coastal waters from Hernando through Wakulla counties, including all waters of the Ochlockonee River and Bay, will close to traps July 20-29 (see map below). There are six regional closures total: three in even-numbered years on the east coast and three in odd-numbered years on the west coast.

Click here for more information »


Rookery Bay, Estero Bay Preserves seeking volunteers

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NAPLES – Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples and Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve in Fort Myers Beach are seeking volunteers for outdoor positions. Volunteers with some boating or captaining experience in local waters is preferred.

The Team OCEAN program at Rookery Bay Reserve is seeking volunteers to operate vessels and provide other types of program support. The Rookery Bay Reserve protects 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters that serve as habitat for many of the state’s imperiled species.

“It’s not necessary to be a licensed boat captain,” said Rookery Bay Reserve’s Volunteer Coordinator Donna Young. “We’ll provide the training.”

Volunteers operating boats require some extra training, including an online course to ensure they will be safe on the water and meeting with the reserve’s dockmaster to learn about safe operation of Rookery Bay Reserve’s vessels.

Volunteer boat operators will transport other volunteers to areas in the reserve where they conduct visitor surveys, pick up trash and provide information about safe-boating practices and enjoying the beach responsibly. Team OCEAN volunteers are required to sign up for 4-hour shifts at least twice per month.

Also needed are vessel operators to transport research staff and volunteers to areas in the reserve where shorebirds and other wildlife are monitored. These volunteer shifts run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a twice per month commitment.

For businesses, groups or organizations looking for a way to get outdoors while volunteering, Rookery Bay Reserve offers other options such as trail maintenance, light construction and other outdoor assistance at the reserve’s Shell Island Road location.

The Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve located in Lee County is seeking volunteer assistance with rookery monitoring and protection. A rookery is a location traditionally used by birds for nesting and raising chicks. The birds that inhabit mangrove islands in the aquatic preserve include various species of herons, egrets and pelicans. Volunteers are needed to help conduct nest counts, record data and operate vessels.

Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve volunteers set out monthly on the preserve’s 17-foot Boston Whaler to do perimeter surveys of active nests. Training for this volunteer opportunity can be completed that day on the boat. The survey trips last about six hours and leave from either Lover’s Key or Estero Bay around 9 a.m.

For more information about Rookery Bay Reserve’s volunteering opportunities or to sign up, email Donna Young at or visit Rookery Bay's website.

For more information about Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve’s volunteering opportunities or to sign up, contact Cheryl Clark, preserve manager, or call (239) 463-3240.

About Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve Fact Sheet


Submit your artwork for the CHNEP 2016 calendar

We live in a beautiful place and many of you have captured this beauty in your artwork, as evidenced by the calendars produced by the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) since 2005. The CHNEP is a partnership program working to protect the natural environment of Florida from Venice to Estero Bay to Winter Haven.

We hope you will consider being a part of the CHNEP's 2016 calendar. We encourage you to share this information with others who may be interested in participating.

You can have your artwork published. You can have your photographs and paintings published in the 2016 calendar. The CHNEP encourages you to submit up to three images that capture the beauty of the native, natural environment found within the CHNEP study area. The images could have been captured today or 50 years ago, as a painting or photograph. The goal is that the 2016 calendar will depict the beauty and diversity of the native, natural environment found within this geographic area, which may include estuaries, rivers, streams, native plants, native wildlife and people enjoying these resources.

To enter your images, complete the release form and submit your images by 5 P.M., July 15, 2015. There is no fee to enter. Additional guidance is provided in the 2015 calendar. Costs of the calendar are offset by generous donations and sponsorships.

The calendar will be mailed to every person who receives the CHNEP magazine Harbor Happenings as of Sept. 15, 2015. Subscribe by completing an online request form at www.CHNEP.org. (If you submit images, you'll automatically be added to receive the magazine and calendar. No need to do anything more.) The calendar may also be available for pick up at locations such as libraries and nature centers.

Click here for more information »


Register now for CHNEP Behavior Change workshop

The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) invites you to a behavior change workshop on Monday, August 31, 2015 at the Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension. We are delighted Salter>Mitchell will lead this workshop. CHNEP is a partnership working to protect the natural environment from Venice to Bonita Springs to Winter Haven. Salter>Mitchell is a marketing and communication agency focused on change — behavior change, culture change and changing public opinion.

Participants will be introduced to the concept and application of behavior change outreach in a way that will shift how they think about and conduct educational outreach efforts going forward, and will leave them feeling more confident about putting this practice into action.

The workshop will cover key steps to creating a successful behavior change effort — from determining one's target behavior and audiences, to conducting research, to developing a plan with creative components purposefully designed to influence behavior. Each participants will be given their own behavior change toolkit.

Click here for more information and to register for the event


Study: One-third of big groundwater basins in distress

About one third of Earth's largest groundwater basins are being rapidly depleted by human consumption, despite having little accurate data about how much water remains in them, according to two new studies led by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites.

This means that significant segments of Earth's population are consuming groundwater quickly without knowing when it might run out, the researchers conclude. The findings are published today in Water Resources Research.

"Available physical and chemical measurements are simply insufficient," said UCI professor and principal investigator Jay Famiglietti, who is also the senior water scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Given how quickly we are consuming the world's groundwater reserves, we need a coordinated global effort to determine how much is left."

The studies are the first to comprehensively characterize global groundwater losses with data from space, using readings generated by NASA's twin GRACE satellites. GRACE measures dips and bumps in Earth's gravity, which are affected by the mass of water. In the first paper, researchers found that 13 of the planet's 37 largest aquifers studied between 2003 and 2013 were being depleted while receiving little to no recharge.

Continued on NASA’s website here »


It’s all about keeping it clean: Progress made in effort to improve Lakeland lakes

LAKELAND - As rainfall makes its journey from high ground to low, it brings with it evidence of every dripping oil pan, the fertilizer captured in grass clippings left in the street, tar-stained cigarette butts, browning leaves, discarded bottles and civilization's other castoffs.

If it flows, it flows downhill, and it's not surprising that in a city named for its waters that the terminus of this hydraulic conveyor belt is often a lake.

It's on one of the 38 named lakes, Lake Bonny, that you'd have found Lakes Management Specialist Sandra George dipping a probe into the water and telling Environmental Technician Cody O'Gorman where the water ends and the muck begins.

"Two-point-three meters," George said as the sonde, an electronic sensor probe, began reporting water quality information onto a two-color screen. "Maybe try two-point-two to start."

O'Gorman lowered a clear cylinder into the lake using marks on the rope to level it right above the muck layer. He dropped a metal weight down the rope, snapping closed the spring-loaded doors at the ends of the cylinder.

A good sample. No muck, the stinking pollutant-filled organic sediment of past environmental sins. Lake Bonny, like Lake Hollingsworth before it was dredged at the turn of the century, is more muck than clean water.

Continued in The Ledger »


Bondi adds Florida to lawsuit against federal wetland protections

BRADENTON – This week, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has joined Florida with seven other states in a suit challenging new federal rules designed to better protect the wetlands.

The suit claims that the new federal rules from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are "an attempt by two agencies of the federal government to usurp the states' primary responsibility for the management, protection, and care of intrastate waters and lands."

The lawsuit was filed by Georgia, who has been joined by Florida, West Virginia, Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Utah and Wisconsin. The suit cites two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that ruled that the EPA and USACOE were protecting wetlands that did not meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act because they were only wet seasonally.

Florida is second to only Alaska in total square miles of wetlands. Bondi says that Florida is better suited to establish the regulatory rules necessary to protect the state's waterways than the federal government.

The new rules are opposed by both the development and agriculture industries. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has praised Bondi for joining the suit.

"The unconstitutional expansion of the EPA's jurisdiction over the waters of the United States not only infringes on states' authority, but also it threatens the sound environmental protection programs we have in place today," said Putnam in a statement.

Source: Bradenton Times


Scott vetoes money for controversial water-farming projects

Florida legislators, some of whom got helicopter rides and hefty donations to their political action committees, approved millions of taxpayer dollars for a water-farming project that critics compared to corporate welfare.

Now Gov. Rick Scott has wiped it out with the stroke of his pen.

Last week, Scott vetoed a $4.5 million water-farming appropriation in this year's budget. He did so, according to his veto letter, because "water storage projects are more appropriately supported" by the state's five water management districts — not by the taxpayers of the entire state.

When the South Florida Water Management District first launched its water-farming project in 2005, it used money from the taxpayers of its own 16-county area. The project paid ranchers to hold back excess rainwater from filling up Lake Okeechobee, which is surrounded by an unstable dike. When the lake gets too full, the excess is dumped into estuaries on each side of the state, causing algae blooms and fish kills that hurt the economy.

The agency sees water farming — sometimes known as "dispersed water" — as a way to create a series of "reservoirs" without the expense of building anything permanent. Water farming is also considered a better alternative than buying U.S. Sugar land south of the lake to create a flow-way that mimics the way the Everglades' original River of Grass ran through South Florida, since the sugar giant doesn't want to sell.

However, an audit last year by the water district's inspector general found that paying the ranchers and farmers for water farming costs the taxpayers far more than holding that water on public land. As for helping with Lake Okeechobee's high water levels, scientists say water farming stores just a fraction of the water that's needed to be effective.

Continued in The Tampa Times »


Bonita Springs fracking ban clears hurdle

The proposed ban of a controversial oil drilling method initially endorsed by the Bonita Springs City Council is being hailed by environmentalists and condemned by large land owners holding oil and mineral rights who are threatening lawsuits.

The ban, approved at a first reading at Wednesday night's meeting in a 6-0 vote, with a second and final hearing scheduled for July 15, is targeted to prevent fracking.

Fracking is a shortened term for hydraulic fracturing, a method of oil extraction that injects a combination of water, sand and chemicals into deep wells to release oil and natural gas.

The ban is designed to ease the minds of residents that this method of drilling could not take place in Bonita Springs, Mayor Ben Nelson said.

He said residents don't want to take a chance that their water resources might become polluted.

Continued on News-Press.com »


DEP announces web-based map that identifies beach accesses and amenities

TALLAHASSEE – DEP's Florida Coastal Management Program introduces the “Florida Beach Access Guide”- an interactive web-based map that is also available on an app for mobile devices. This guide enables beachgoers to locate every public beach access point and accompanying amenities throughout Florida.

“More than 2,000 public beach access points along Florida’s coasts are pinpointed with this mobile app and interactive map,” said Rebecca Prado, program administrator of the Florida Coastal Management Program. “Features include location, amenities and driving directions, enabling users to explore more of Florida’s coastline by identifying beaches that meet their interests.”

The “Florida Beach Access Guide” is divided into three regions – Panhandle, Atlantic Coast and Southwest Florida Coast. Detailed information about each region’s coastal county access points such as parking, ADA accessibility, showers, picnic areas, boardwalks, trails, camping sites, fees and driving directions are provided. Fishing piers and coastal accesses found within state parks are also provided.

To use the web-based guide on a browser, use the link below. For mobile access, visit iTunes or Android Market to download the Explorer for ArcGIS app and then search for “Florida Beach Access Guide.”

Visit the Florida Beach Access Guide »


Hydrilla help needed from Florida LAKEWATCHers

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From the UF/IFAS Hydrilla IPM* Team & Florida LAKEWATCH

Florida LAKEWATCHERs, your help is needed!

Did you attend a Florida LAKEWATCH regional meeting last year (2014) and receive educational materials on hydrilla management? The UF/IFAS Hydrilla IPM Team in partnership with Florida LAKEWATCH would like your input on the materials so we can improve them and produce new materials that would be useful to you!

If you did not receive the educational materials but would still like to provide input you can review the material online while doing the survey.

Please use this link to complete the survey: https://ufl.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_2rynL0BNvJtZL4p

Please complete the survey if possible using the web link, if this is not possible you can call 352-273-3954 so that a person can record your survey answers. Please leave a message with your number and someone will call you back.

The survey will remain open for 6 weeks, closing on August 12th 2015.

* IPM=Integrated Pest Management

What is Florida LAKEWATCH? »

Contact Information
Dr. Emma N. I. Weeks, Asst. Research Scientist, Entomology & Nematology University of Florida, eniweeks@ufl.edu, Bldg. 970, Natural Area Dr., Gainesville, FL. 32611-0620
phone: (352) 273-3954.

Polk commissioners okay two SWFWMD agreements

By Tom Palmer

BARTOW – Polk County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve two agreements with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). One is to continue working toward forming a county-wide water supply agency and the other is to seek funding to develop future water supplies.

"This is an important step," said County Manager Jim Freeman, who explained this advances an effort underway for the past 10 years to come up with a way to develop alternative water supplies to avoid over pumping the Floridan aquifer.

According to projections outlined in the recently published Central Florida Water Initiative report, Polk will need an additional 47 million gallons per day within the next 20 years just to satisfy demand by municipal utilities.

Continued in The Ledger »

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