An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Seminole County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Non-native fish are found throughout Florida’s freshwaters

Usually, when there’s news about escapees from medical research facilities, freshwater fish are not the obvious fugitives.

But that was the case with the pike killifish when researchers released about 50 of the fish into agricultural canals in the late 1950s.

Now, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has identified up to 22 non-native fish in Florida's fresh waters.

The agency in May added new rules that will "help proactively protect Florida from invasive species becoming established in the state," according to a news release.

While no freshwater fish made the list this year, the agency is "currently examining fish that are on the federal Lacey Act but not regulated by the state to see if they pose a risk to the state," a spokesperson wrote in an email.

The act, established in 1900, bans illegal wildlife trafficking in the U.S.

The state is a hotbed for the tropical freshwater fish trade. The subtropical climate is optimal for raising hundreds of varieties of nonnative fish, and sometimes those fish establish populations in state waterways.

Toilet-to-tap proposal sent back to Florida House for reconsideration

Florida is known for its freshwater springs, yet a House bill would bring water of a different type to taps.

HB 715, filed Tuesday [Nov. 19] by Zephyrhills Rep. Randy Maggard, creates statute for “water recycling for public water supply.”

The bill would compel the Department of Environmental Protection, with technical working groups, to adopt specified rules for using reclaimed water, contemplated as a statewide source for potable water.

“Developing water sources as an alternative to continued reliance on the Floridan Aquifer and surface waters will benefit existing and future water users and natural systems within the state,” the bill contends.

Given that half of “reclaimed water” is used efficiently, Maggard’s bill sees room for and necessity for improvement given Florida’s “current and future water needs.”

“Water recycling projects require significantly more planning and financial investment than nonpotable water supply projects and these projects need incentives to be implemented,” the bill asserts.

What incentives those are remain to be determined.

Clean Water Act: Economic analysis could undermine Trump rule repeal

When the Trump administration finalized its repeal of the Obama-era Clean Water Rule last month, it also quietly updated an economic analysis of the repeal's costs and benefits.

The 195-page final analysis is nearly 10 times longer than the one that accompanied the Trump administration's initial proposal in 2017 to repeal the rule and estimates different costs and benefits of repealing the regulation, which clarified which wetlands and waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act.

The updated analysis — which the public did not have the chance to comment on — could leave the repeal vulnerable to legal challenges, experts say.

"The agencies aren't required to do an economic analysis, but once they decide to do it, courts typically want them to do it right," Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau said. "If there are flaws in the analysis, and if the public hasn't had a chance to see it, that could fit into the box of arbitrary and capricious."

Already, a coalition of environmental groups have cited the new analysis in their legal challenge to the repeal filed last week.