Water-Related News

SWFWMD public meeting on MFL priority list Sept. 1st

District to Hold Public Meeting on Priority List and Schedule for the Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is soliciting stakeholder input on the annual update of the Priority List and Schedule for the Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels. A public meeting will be held at the District’s Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301 North on Thursday, Sept. 1 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Minimum flows and levels (MFLs) are limits set by the District Governing Board for surface waters and groundwater. MFLs are intended to prevent significant harm to the water resources or ecology of an area that may be impacted by water withdrawals. Reservations set aside water from withdrawals for the protection of fish and wildlife or public health and safety. The Priority List identifies water bodies for which the District plans to establish minimum flows and levels and reservations.

Written comments on the draft Priority List and Schedule may be submitted to Doug Leeper, MFLs Program Lead with the District’s Natural Systems and Restoration Bureau via email at doug.leeper@watermatters.org or by U.S. mail at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, Florida, 34604-6899 no later than Oct. 7, 2016.

The current Priority List and Schedule is posted on the District’s Minimum Flows and Levels (Environmental Flows) Documents and Reports web page (link below). The draft FY2016 Priority List and Schedule will be made available at the same web page on Aug. 31, 2016.

Source: SWFWMD News Release

Lake Hollingsworth seawall construction to start Sept. 12th

LAKELAND – The City of Lakeland will be starting a shoreline stabilization and restoration project with construction beginning September 12th on the south side of Lake Hollingsworth in the vicinity of the public access boat ramp. The project is expected to be completed by January 31, 2017. The public access boat ramp and parking lot will remain open during the project.

The shoreline in this location has experienced significant erosion and destabilization over recent years contributing to the measurable loss of shoreline area, exposure of tree root systems and subsequent loss of several trees.

Laurie Smith, Manager of Lakes & Stormwater said, “If left unabated, additional erosion and loss of shoreline would continue. We will be installing a low profile sea wall constructed of Truline brand hybrid recycled materials specially designed to stabilize the shoreline and prevent additional erosion.”

Three sets of concrete steps will be set into the seawall for access to the lake. The City of Lakeland Lakes & Stormwater Division met with several user groups in researching shoreline stabilization solutions. Custom Built Marine of Port St. Lucie, FL was awarded the contract for the seawall installation project at a cost of $192,000.

Mangroves in Punta Gorda canals to be trimmed Aug.29-Sep. 22

Beginning the week of August 29, 2016 through September 22, 2016 (weather and equipment operation permitting), mangrove trimming is scheduled for the Punta Gorda Isles perimeter canal, Ponce de Leon Inlet, Sancho Panza Point and Bird Navigation; and for Burnt Store Isles perimeter canal and boat lock areas.

For additional information on this project, please contact Canal Maintenance Supervisor, Cathy Miller, Punta Gorda Public Works Department at (941) 575-5071 between the business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday thru Friday.

Legal Challenges Mount Over New Water Standards

After the Seminole Tribe of Florida launched a legal challenge earlier in the month, the city of Miami and a paper-mill industry group also are taking aim at controversial new state water-quality standards.

The city and the group Florida Pulp and Paper Association Environmental Affairs, Inc., filed separate challenges during the past week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings, records show. The challenges raise substantially different arguments in fighting the standards, which were developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and approved in July by the state Environmental Regulation Commission.

The standards, which are technically considered a proposed rule, involve new and revised limits on chemicals in waterways. The Department of Environmental Protection said the plan would allow it to regulate more chemicals while updating standards for others.

The Miami challenge, filed Friday, alleged that the “proposed rule is arbitrary and capricious — particularly because the rule loosens restrictions on permissible levels of carcinogens in Florida surface waters with absolutely no justification for the need for the increased levels of the toxins nor the increased health risks to Florida citizens.”

Meanwhile, the industry group, which includes Georgia-Pacific, International Paper Co., WestRock and Packaging Corporation of America, takes issue with scientific calculations and assumptions used in developing the standards.

Water Stewards Wanted for Sarasota County

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SARASOTA COUNTY — Help protect and preserve water resources by becoming a water steward in Sarasota County, with a new program offered by Sarasota County and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The Florida Waters Stewardship Program, launching Sept. 13, uses expert presentations, hands-on learning, field training, and communications exercises to give participants the tools needed to act as stewards of the area’s water resources.

Water is a key driver of our health, environment, and economy, and protecting our water resources is critical now and for the future. Water connects us all. We are connected to our streams and bays by our faucets and laundries, to our neighborhood ponds and lakes by our yards and streets, and to our regional and statewide neighbors by our surface and groundwater supplies.

This $89 course will explore those connections as we travel across the county to learn about local water quality and quantity issues. Seven sessions comprise this course:

  • September 13: Watershed Basics and Stewardship. Florida House Learning Center.
  • September 27: Water, Then and Now. Nokomis Park Community Center.
  • October 8: Water Supply and Demand. Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority.
  • October 18: Stormwater in Sarasota County. Audubon Nature Center / Celery Fields.
  • November 5: Field training. Twin Lakes Park.
  • November 15: Communicating Water Stewardship. Oscar Scherer State Park.
  • December 3: Graduation and Guided Kayak Tour. Historic Spanish Point.

Seating is limited for this public course, with a limited number of scholarships available. Learn more and register early at http://bit.ly/FlaWaterSteward to reserve your spot.

For more information about this course or available scholarships, please contact Water Agent Abbey Tyrna at atyrna@ulf.edu or 941-861-9818.

Cape Coral volunteers look to keep water quality safe

CAPE CORAL – It's been a wet year in Southwest Florida. The excess rain mixed with the Lake Okeechobee water releases has many concerned about water quality.

Cape Coral has more than 400 miles of waterfront property with most of it on canals. It's a lot of water for the city to monitor, which is why they started Canalwatch.

"I think everybody needs to almost take ownership of where they live," said Canalwatch volunteer Olympia Lynch. "Look at their canals and how they are doing."

Lynch is one of 60 volunteers for the program.

"The volunteers for Canalwatch are definitely our eyes and ears for water quality concerns," said Environmental Biologist Harry Phillips for the city of Cape Coral Environmental Resources.

Phillips says Canalwatch is a great resource for the city and tracking water quality especially this year.

"We do have influences from Lake Okeechobee and upstream, but a lot of this year has been our own rainfall," Phillips said.

Canalwatch volunteers turn in samples monthly.

"We just ask them to fill up the bottle," he said. "Part of that is rinsing it three times to get a good sample."

The volunteers also use a simple disk to check water depth and how far the sun can reach for plant growth.

The excess water this year hasn't brought too many concerns, but it's a different story for those connected to the Caloosahatchee.

"Some of the ones connected to the river have had blue-green algae," Phillips said.

Volunteers also turn in observations. Some of the biggest concerns are trash and lawn clippings, which can cause major damage down the line.

If you'd like to volunteer for Canalwatch, visit the city's website.

Brain-eating amoeba common in Florida; researchers race for cure

The deadly brain-eating amoeba that infected a swimmer in Broward County this month typically appears in the press as a rare, freakish germ.

"Brit families BEWARE," warns a headline in The Daily Express. "Fatal amoeba lurking in Florida holiday hotspot."

But while infections are infrequent, the Naegleria fowleri amoeba is common in southern states. If you cup your hands and scoop up water in any lake or stream in Florida during the summer, there's a good chance you've scooped up some of them.

"It's everywhere," said Dennis Kyle, a scientist at the University of South Florida in Tampa, whose laboratory is working on a cure for an illness that had almost invariably been a death sentence.

As a graduate student, Kyle found 20 to 50 of the microscopic creatures in every liter of water taken from South Carolina lakes. He said there was no reason to think Florida would be different since the amoebas live in warm, fresh water.

"Especially at this time of year, when it's warm, you'll find it all over the place," he said.

What makes infections rare is the amoeba's method of piercing the brain's defenses. It travels up the nose and through the openings for the olfactory nerves into the brain, where, true to its name, it starts to consume tissue. Death comes less from the amoeba itself than from the body's defenses, which cause a fatal swelling of the brain.

Registration now open for 2016 Cela Tega Conference on climate change

WHAT: 2016 Cela Tega Conference:Resiliency and Adaptations in the Estero Bay Region
WHEN: December 12–13, 2016
WHERE:Cohen Center Ballroom, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, FL 33965
PURPOSE: To identify and discuss resiliency and adaptation planning for climate change and sea level rise in the Estero Bay Region

The program is one which should be of interest to all residents of Southwest Florida, especially to our county and municipal officials and local businesses. We have long been concerned about climate change. There can be no doubt that the ocean is already rising. There are previously-dry places on Miami Beach and other seaside locations that are now reflecting the sunshine. The east coast is already dealing with the problem, because they must, but only two Gulf Coast communities have yet acted. Punta Gorda has a climate change adaptation plan and at present the community is successfully implementing it. Lee County has a Climate Change resiliency strategy, which they were implementing, until, unfortunately, the strategy was eliminated when the county’s reorganization plan included the closing of their Sustainability Program. Participants at the conference will get to hear speakers about vulnerability assessment, adaptation and resiliency plans and strategies, including those being implemented in Punta Gorda, and other national and international locations. The final session will be an examination of plan implementation and lessons learned.

There will be a half-day workshop modeled on how Punta Gorda was able to create their adaptation plan.

Contact Information

Nora Demers

(239) 590-7211
ndemers@fgcu.edu

Public invited to review land management plan update for Lee County’s Hickory Swamp Preserve

FORT MYERS – The land management plan for Hickory Swamp Preserve, a Lee County Conservation 20/20 Preserve in Buckingham, has been updated to show the work that has been completed on the site during the past 10 years. This updated plan will be discussed at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, at the Buckingham Community Center, 4940 Buckingham Road, Fort Myers.

The plan describes completed restoration work and the preserve itself, which is located at 13320 Peace Road. No changes to management, public use or the cattle lease are planned. After public review, the plan will be presented to county commissioners for approval.

People can review the plan through Thursday at the Riverdale Branch Library, 2421 Buckingham Road, Fort Myers, and the East County Regional Library, 881 Gunnery Road, Lehigh Acres. Find it online at this link.

Written comments are encouraged and can be given at the meeting, by emailing hjoergens@leegov.com, or through the postal mail to Conservation 20/20, 3410 Palm Beach Blvd, Fort Myers.

Fort Myers Beach Town Council approves stormwater facilities plan

A disorderly meeting ended with a call to remove Robert's Rules of Order from the Fort Myers Beach Town Council's policy.

Throughout the meeting, tensions ran high as council members tugged a metaphorical rope over multiple issues on the agenda, with interruptions and quips striking nerves among the board.

"We all need to work on being nicer to each other," said Vice Mayor Summer Stockton.

One of the more contentious items was the passing of the Stormwater Facilities Plan, which was ultimately approved in a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Dennis Boback and Council Member Tracey Gore dissenting.

The plan is a comprehensive conceptual plan that addresses storm water mitigation for issues island-wide, both current problems and futures ones, and will determine the most cost effective and environmentally friendly methods to address each issue. When the town incorporated, it inherited Lee County's infrastructure, which is not adequate to handle drainage or flooding.

The plan will identify, street by street, the highest priority projects that can be done ahead of the construction within Lee County's Estero Boulevard storm water project.

Volunteers needed in Lee County for National Public Lands Day

FORT MYERS – Conservation 20/20 is looking for volunteers to participate in workday activities at Buckingham Trails Preserve to celebrate National Public Lands Day on Saturday, Sept. 24. National Public Lands Day is held annually with events planned across the country for people to connect with and learn more about their public lands.

Workday assignments will include trail trimming and maintenance, and trash collection and removal, including around some of the remnant structures from the airfield to maintain their preservation.

INFORMATION FOR VOLUNTEERS

What: National Public Lands Day When: 8 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 24

Where: Buckingham Trails Preserve, 8790 Buckingham Road, Fort Myers, FL 33905

What to expect: Volunteers will be placed in small groups and will receive instruction and direction from Conservation 20/20 staff. Tools, equipment and protective gloves will be provided.

What to wear: Participants must wear long pants, comfortable lightweight jeans or khakis, and closed-toed shoes that can get dirty. No sandals or flip-flops. What to bring: Recommended items include a water bottle, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. A cooler with ice water will be available.

Registration: To sign up, contact Jason Boeckman, Conservation 20/20 coordinator, at 239-204-1125 or e-mail jboeckman@leegov.com. Volunteers will receive a one-day pool pass for admission to any of Lee County’s four public pools.

Buckingham Trails Preserve is managed as part of Lee County’s Conservation 20/20 program, a willing seller program for the acquisition of environmentally sensitive land in Lee County for the purpose of conservation. Located in east Lee County, this 572-acre preserve consists of mostly pine flatwoods and open scrub habitat. The preserve includes more than seven miles of hiking and equestrian trails. The land within the preserve was formerly used as part of the Buckingham Army Air Field, a U.S. military training base in Lee County between 1943 and 1945 during World War II. Several trap shooting bunkers remain onsite, along with two jeep tracks that were used for target practice. Visit www.Conservation2020.org for more information about the Conservation 20/20 program.

SWFWMD schedules prescribed fires for Polk County

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of September on the Upper Hillsborough property in Polk County. The Upper Hillsborough property is located in the area of Chancy Rd. and S.R. 54 near Zephyrhills. Approximately 200 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.

SWFWMD to hold Aug. 23rd MFL workshop for Lake Eva in Haines City

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Tuesday, August 23, at 5:30 p.m. at the Lake Eva Community Center located at 555 Ledwith Ave. in Haines City. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum and guidance levels for Lake Eva in Haines City.

The Florida Legislature requires the District to set minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for priority water bodies within the District. A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment. Minimum flows are established to protect streams and rivers from impacts associated with ground water and surface water withdrawals. Minimum flows serve as guidelines for the District’s permitting programs and for development of water resource projects.

During the workshop, District staff will present the technical basis for the proposed minimum levels for Lake Eva.

The workshop will also provide an opportunity for local government, citizens, and others to be part of the development of the proposed minimum levels for Lake Eva. Information obtained at the workshop will be summarized and made available to the District’s Governing Board. District staff anticipates presenting the proposed minimum levels for Lake Eva at the September Governing Board meeting, where the Governing Board may choose to recommend adoption of the minimum levels into District rules. Governing Board meetings are open to the public, and brief oral comments are permitted on meeting agenda items.

Draft reports summarizing the proposed minimum levels are available for review and are posted on the District’s Internet site at WaterMatters.org under the Proposed Minimum and Guidance Lake Levels tab in the Documents and Reports section. In addition, digital copies of the draft report will be made available at the workshop. For more information regarding the proposed minimum levels, please contact Mark Hurst at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4721.

Written comments regarding the minimum levels are also welcome. They can be submitted via mail or email to Mark Hurst, Senior Environmental Scientist, Water Resources Bureau, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 or mark.hurst@watermatters.org.

Lehigh Acres MSID projects provide water quality, storage aid

During the few months that makeup Florida's rainy season, awareness of the area's water quality, stormwater storage and hurricane preparedness is a priority.

However, agencies like the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District work diligently year-round to plan, prepare and implement projects to alleviate stormwater issues and educate the communities they serve.

"It is important for residents to realize that our waterways, canals, lakes, et cetra, are connected to larger bodies of water such as the Orange and Caloosahatchee Rivers, as well as Hickey and Bedman Creek,'' said David Lindsay, LA-MSID's district manager.

The fresh-water discharges from Lake Okeechobee can cause a variety of issues on the Caloosahatchee such as increasing the potential for algae blooms and can negatively impact both plant and animal life, noted LA-MSID Chairman Ken Thompson.

The LA-MSID provides flood control, conservation and mitigation, irrigation, navigation, roads/bridges and limited parks services to Lehigh Acres and western Hendry County — about a 110-square mile area.

Proceedings of 2014 CHNEP Watershed Summit now available online

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The Spring/Summer 2016 edition of The Florida Scientist, the quarterly journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences, has just published the full proceedings of the 2014 CHNEP Watershed Summit. The proceedings include abstracts, detailed descriptions, and bibliographic references for each the nine presentations given during the Summit. Dedicated to the late Ralph Montgomery, the summit featured presentations from researchers, resource managers, elected officials and citizens from throughout the Charlotte Harbor region.

Mosaic wants more mining in East Manatee County

The Manatee County Planning Commission will meet Thursday to consider the proposed rezoning of 3,595.99 acres of Mosaic’s Wingate East property to allow more phosphate mining near the company’s 11,000-acre Wingate Creek Mine.

The Manatee County Building and Development Services Department and Parks and Natural Resources will make their recommendations for the county commissioners during the meeting.

The request from Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC asks to change the general agriculture zoning to extraction zoning and to approve its Master Mining Plan. The proposal would also add on to the east side of the 645.9-acre Wingate Extension mining property and allow mining until Sept. 15, 2037.

The property borders the Winding Creek subdivision to the south and Duette Preserve to the north.

About 1,041 acres of wetlands are on the property. Under the Master Mining Plan, which reviewed environmental impacts, 12 percent of the wetlands are deemed high quality. Mosaic is proposing to offset the impact by enhancing 193 acres in the Myakka River watershed and donating $2.5 million to the Manatee Community Foundation to buy more land in the upper Myakka River watershed and grant it to Manatee County as a conservation easement.

Another negative aspect listed on the proposal is the noise and odor pollution from mining activities, but it is within compliance with noise regulations on all levels, according to the Master Mining Plan.

Lee County eyes 600 acres for conservation

Lee County's 20/20 Conservation program may be back in the land-buying business, as county commissioners eye the possible purchase of more than 600 acres on sites in Sanibel, near Corkscrew Road in Estero and along the Caloosahatchee in the Olga/Alva area.

County commissioners have authorized staff members to get appraisals to begin work to acquire three sites, including having a professional appraiser set a value from which the county can begin negotiating for the property or by negotiated purchase.

The parcels under consideration include:

  • 579 acres between Corkscrew Road and the Corkscrew Swamp, within the Estero census-designated area, but not part of the incorporated village.
  • 96 acres in Olga including more than 500 feet of Caloosahatchee riverfront
  • 8.3 acres on Sanibel, in the midst of other conservation and public lands on Wulfert Road north of Sanibel-Captiva Road.

The acquisition of the 96-acre site on the Caloosahatchee drew the most public support at the Board of County Commissioners meeting Tuesday. Neighbors from Olga and Alva urged commissioners to authorize the hiring of an appraiser to get the work started toward buying the site.

SFWMD considers $46 million water storage proposals

Emergency measures to keep polluted water out of coastal estuaries this rainy season could be followed by much larger and much more expensive projects next year.

The South Florida Water Management District is reviewing proposals from six large-tract landowners to pull water out of canals that otherwise would flow into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, which would cost $45.5 million of the $47.8 million the 2016 Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott approved for more water storage projects.

Too much nutrient-laden freshwater in those two estuaries can feed algae blooms like the ones both rivers experienced this summer.

Approved projects could start holding back water during the 2017 summer rainy season, district spokesman Randy Smith said.v

The district would cover construction costs and pay landowners annual "rent," which would have to be negotiated and approved by the Legislature each year.

Audio Tour Spotlights Local Watersheds

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The Science and Environment Council’s Watershed Audio Tour is the first of its kind in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. By dialing (941) 926-6813 and entering a stop number, you can hear 32 different informative messages about Southwest Florida’s spectacular environment. From land conservation to living shorelines, from seagrass to salterns, the tour stops explain the importance of our watersheds and how to protect them.

While you can dial and listen to the messages free from anywhere, visiting the sites listed on the menu provides an up-close and personal experience. For example, discover why mangroves are so important to our ecosystem while strolling along the mangrove-lined boardwalk at Historic Spanish Point. By listening to these informative messages, you’ll discover diverse aspects of the watershed, learn interesting facts, and easy ways you can help protect the watershed. For instance, learn how litter and pollution affect sealife, understand the role of wetlands in preventing downstream flooding and pollution, and find out about green roofs, or learn to make your own rain barrel.

But just what is a watershed anyway? In a nutshell, it is the land area on which rain falls then drains into a network of creeks, rivers, lakes, and bays. Why should you care? Because it’s all connected, what we do on the land determines the quality of our water bodies, large and small. This in turn, affects the quality of life for residents and visitors. Everyone who lives, works, and plays in Southwest Florida can take simple steps to make a difference when it comes to protecting our watersheds.

To help create public awareness about the watershed and the importance of this natural system, the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida (SEC), with partial funding from the Florida Beverage Association and Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, developed the free audio tour. Thirty-two unique watershed-related topics are highlighted on the tour and narrated by staff scientists at some of SEC’s twenty-nine member organizations.

For a map of tour stop locations and to listen on the web, visit the link below. Or dial (941) 926-6813 and choose from one of the following tour stops:

Press Hear Press Hear Press Hear Press Hear
1 Wetlands at Sarasota County’s Celery Fields 9 Prescribed Burns at Oscar Scherer State Park 17 Water Preservation at Crowley Museum and Nature Center 25 Prehistoric Life on the River at Manatee County’s Emerson Point Preserve
2 Ecosystems at Crowley Museum and Nature Center 10 Exotic Plant Removal at Sarasota County’s Phillippi Estate Park 18 Florida Pines at Myakka State Forest 26 Footsteps of the Past at Manatee County’s Neal Preserve
3 Water Quality at GWIZ The Science Museum 11 Estuaries and Sarasota Bay Estuary Program 19 Stormwater Retention at Sarasota County’s Celery Fields 27 Living Shorelines and Sarasota Bay Estuary Program,
4 Mangroves at Historic Spanish Point 12 Land Conservation and Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast 20 Tidal Lagoons at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens 28 Land Conservation at the Lemur Conservation Foundation
5 Sea Grasses at Sarasota County’s Indian Mound Park at Lemon Bay 13 Green Roofs at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens 21 Rookeries at Venice Audubon Society 29 Red Bug Slough Preserve and Sarasota Environmental Lands
6 Marine Life at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium 14 Rain Barrels & Cisterns at Florida House Learning Institute 22 Manatee River Manatees at South Florida Museum 30 Life Between the Tides at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
7 Bay Neighbor Landscaping and New College of Florida 15 Water Quantity and Aquarian Quest 23 Sister Keys Restoration and Sarasota Bay Watch 31 Tidal Creeks at Alligator Creek at Woodmere Park
8 Tree Canopies at New College of Florida 16 Wild and Scenic River at Myakka River State Park 24 Salterns at Manatee County’s Robinson Preserve 32 Pet Waste at Brohard Paw Park

SEC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote science-based environmental education, conservation and policy. Meet our Members and learn about our work at www.ScienceAndEnvironment.org.

CHNEP Micro-Grant applications due Sept. 7th

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The CHNEP offers Public Outreach Grants once a year, with applications due September 7. The maximum grant request is $5,000 but most applications are funded in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. Review the guidance document to learn more and to obtain the two one-page forms that must be part of each application.

The CHNEP offers Micro-Grants throughout the year for projects that can begin after October 1 and conclude by August 31. Most grant requests are up to $250 but a few requests for more support have been approved. Applications are considered when they are received. (As of Aug. 12, 2016, the CHNEP is able to support a few more projects that can be completed quickly.) Awards are made until all funds for the year have been obligated. Applicants are reimbursed funds once a final report and an invoice for work accomplished are accepted. Most projects must be completed so that a final report and invoice are received by CHNEP by August 31.

Apply for a micro-grant by completing a micro-grant application (also provided below) and sending it either in the body of an email message or attached as a Word document to Maran@CHNEP.org. Please include "micro-grant request" in the subject line. You will receive the funding decision by email. That email will contain critical information about how to accept the terms of the micro-grant and how to proceed in order to receive reimbursement for your micro-grant. If the request is approved, you must be recognized by the City of Punta Gorda, CHNEP's fiscal host, as a vendor. If you are not currently in their system, a W-9 form will be required. Additional guidance on this will be included with the funding decision notice.

The CHNEP also offers grant-writing and administration assistance for projects that help protect and restore our estuaries and watersheds. Contact Liz Donley to discuss possible assistance.

Thank you for your efforts to protect the natural environment of southwest Florida.

Maran Brainard Hilgendorf, Communications Manager
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program
maran@chnep.org • (941) 575-3374
www.CHNEP.org • Toll-Free (866) 835-5785
As of October 1, 2014: 326 West Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda FL 33950

Cape Coral residents, register now for Sept. 29 “Sustainability of the Estuary” workshop

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The Northwest Neighborhood Association and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) invite you to a day-long workshop on Thursday, September 29 from 9:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Northwest Regional Library to explore current and future challenges, and identify strategies for balancing current and future growth with restoring and sustaining estuary health in Northwest Cape Coral.

The workshop will include subject matter expert presentations and brainstorming sessions to accomplish four objectives:

  • Identify hydrology, water quality, and fish and wildlife habitat issues facing the watershed and estuary.
  • Discuss build out projections and future estuary health concerns related to historic alteration of the system, current and future development, and sea level rise.
  • Show the potential for tidal creek restoration west of the North Spreader Canal and discuss the value of such restoration.
  • Provide an opportunity for local residents, regulatory entities, and environmental organizations to consider the varied issues and to begin exploring strategies for ensuring ecosystem preservation and sustainment of area wetlands and estuaries while also achieving economic and quality of life goals of the Northwest Cape Coral community.

This workshop will help residents in Northwest Cape Coral decide priority environmental issues and take actions to address those issues.

This workshop is made possible because of the generosity of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, the Northwest Cape Coral Foundation, the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

  • The Northwest Neighborhood Association is an advocate for sensible public policies and development activities that will serve to preserve property values and enhance the quality of life throughout Northwest Cape Coral. (Lunch is provided by the NWNA.)
  • The Northwest Cape Coral Foundation functions to protect and enhance the quality of life in Northwest Cape Coral including the sustainability of estuaries, wetlands, and aquatic preserves through research, education, and demonstration projects.
  • The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program is a partnership to protect the natural environment of southwest Florida from Venice to Bonita Springs to Winter Haven.
  • NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts; to share that knowledge and information with others; and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

Registration: Please register using EventBrite.com. You may use this link if you wish to reserve a set and attend the event in person, OR if you wish to register to receive updates only.

In mid-September you will receive an email message from Maran Hilgendorf that includes additional resources for participants to consider. After the workshop, you may receive updates from either the Northwest Neighborhood Association or the Northwest Cape Coral Foundation.

Venice well to be drilled along Intracostal Waterway

VENICE — Construction should start later this month on a drinking water well along the Intracoastal Waterway to replace one that has been out of service for more than a year.

The new well will be on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway, across from Venice High School. The 200-square-foot plot of land is near the east spur of the Venetian Waterway Trail, though the construction area should be clearly marked.

Drilling should start Aug. 22 and is scheduled to be completed March 7, 2017.

The well being replaced is about 25 feet north of the new one. It used to draw about 19,000 gallons a day. It’s one of 13 wells across the city that feed into Venice’s reverse-osmosis treatment plant to provide drinking water.

It became unusable more than a year ago, when the well pump casing was damaged while workers were attempting to rehabilitate it.

DEP Report: Half of Florida lakes’ surface have “elevated” algae levels

Florida waters are growing greener, saltier and more toxic in some parts, according to a new report on the state’s waters.

The report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection shows a mixed bag for the state’s waters, with many trending toward more-frequent toxic algae blooms, fueled by rising nitrates from farm and residential fertilizers, sewage, pet waste and other human-related sources.

DEP’s new report, called the 2016 Integrated Water Quality Assessment for Florida, spells out why these kinds of toxic algae blooms keep happening, and why some Florida well water is turning saltier and less healthy to drink. The report outlines the overall condition of Florida’s surface and ground water from 2012 to 2014. The Clean Water Act requires states submit the reports to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency every two years, including which waters don’t meet pollution limits.

Key findings of Florida’s 2016 integrated report include:

  • One hallmark of algae is elevated in 50 percent of the state’s lake area.
  • Nitrates remain the biggest issue in surface waters that get significant inputs of groundwater, especially springs.
  • Increasing trends in salt-water intrusion and nitrate and nitrite in groundwater.
  • Almost 70 percent of the 2.9 million acres Florida’s lakes and estuaries DEP assessed were “impaired.”

“As far as water quality, much of it looks the same as it has in previous years,” said Julie Espy, program administrator for DEP’s water quality assessment program.

But the rise in nitrogen and phosphorus continues to worsen in many Florida waters, DEP’s report found, especially some of the smaller lakes that get less attention than Lake Okeechobee and other larger waterbodies.

Median levels of nitrate in Florida’s groundwater have increased to more than 1 milligram per liter, 5 times the levels prior to the 1970s, causing many to clog up with plants. As late as the 1980s, median nitrate levels in the state’s groundwater were only .05 milligrams per liter.

Farm and residential fertilizers, sewage and population growth have fed those increases.

Prescribed burns planned for Deep Creek Preserve in Desoto County

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of August and September on the Deep Creek Preserve in Desoto County. The Deep Creek Preserve is located northeast of Port Charlotte, west of King’s Highway and north of Deep Creek Estates. Approximately 400 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management manager, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.

Prescribed burns planned for Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and Schewe Tract

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of August and September on Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and neighboring Schewe Tract.

Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, which is jointly owned and managed by the District and Sarasota County, is located between Interstate 75 and US Highway 41.

The Schewe Tract, which is located south and north of Interstate 75 just north of Deer Prairie Creek, is fully owned and managed by the District. Both of these parcels are located west of North Port. Approximately 1200 acres will be burned in small manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management manager, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.

Prescribed burns planned for Prairie/Shell Creek Preserve

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of August and September on the Prairie/Shell Creek Preserve in Charlotte County. The property is located to the west of US Highway 17, north of Shell Creek. Approximately 140 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management manager, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.

North Port, Sarasota County seeking vendors, sponsors for Myakkahatchee Creek Connector celebration

City, County seeking vendors, sponsors for the Myakkahatchee Creek Connector Celebration in September

The City of North Port and Sarasota County are seeking in-kind sponsors and vendors for a Myakkahatchee Creek Connector Celebration on Saturday, September 17, 2016.

The City of North Port and Sarasota County will be celebrating the completion of construction of a pedestrian and equestrian bridge that crosses the R36 canal (at the northern end of the City’s boundaries) and connects the City’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park to the County’s 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve. The celebration will start at 10 a.m. with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m.

In-kind sponsors are needed to provide food, games, activities, and fun during the event.

The City of North Port is the largest city in Sarasota County. Spanning 104.1-square-miles, the City is home to more than 62,000 residents. North Port’s unique natural environment is one of its attractions. Tucked beneath a thick oak and pine canopy, the City is home to Warm Mineral Springs and a lush landscape of Florida fauna and flora. Many of North Port’s residents already enjoy outdoor activities. Connecting North Port to the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve further provides North Port residents with opportunities for horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, bird watching and more. The Carlton Reserve offers 80 miles of nature trails. The community has been anticipating the completion of the pedestrian bridge for a number of years.

“We are hoping that there are community groups and businesses interested in getting involved in the Connector Celebration in September,” said Erin Bryce, Community Outreach Manager. “This bridge will enhance the quality of life for North Port residents. They no longer will have to drive out of the City limits to Jacaranda Boulevard to access the Carlton Reserve.”

The construction of the bridge is a joint venture between both the City of North Port and Sarasota County. Both government agencies came together and offered $285,000 toward the project, which paid for the design, construction, and contingency.

“We are looking for any organization or business interested in getting involved,” Bryce said. “I would encourage them to simply pick up the phone and call me and we can discuss some of the types of activities or in-kind sponsors that we are looking for. We are looking for sponsors for food, activities, information tables, and more. The door is wide open.”

For more information on how to get involved, contact Bryce, the City’s Community Outreach Manager, at (941) 429-7165 or at ebryce@cityofnorthport.com.