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

Water-Related News

Health Alert for Lake Jesup Extended until Sept. 9th

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UPDATE: The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County has extended the Health Alert previously issued for Lake Jesup. The alert is in response to a water sample taken on August 10, 2022 and will be extended until September 9, 2022. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Jesup where algal blooms are present.


Sanford – The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Jesup. This is in response to a water sample taken on July 27, 2022. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Jesup where algal blooms are present. Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • 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.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

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Seminole DOH issues Health Alert for Lake Dot, extends Health Alert for Lake Griffin

Florida DOH logo

SANFORD – The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Dot (Sanford) and extended the Health Alert for Lake Griffin (Casselberry). This is in response to a water sample taken on August 4, 2022. Both alerts expire September 3, 2022.

The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Dot and Lake Griffin where algal blooms are present.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • 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.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.
For more information about harmful algal blooms, visit the Florida Dept. of Health's website.

NOAA and Saildrone launch seven hurricane-tracking surface drones

Part of an array of marine and air uncrewed tools NOAA is using to improve forecast models

In partnership with NOAA, Saildrone Inc. is deploying seven ocean drones to collect data from hurricanes during the 2022 hurricane season with the goal of improving hurricane forecasting. For the first year, two saildrones will track hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

This week, Saildrone launched two saildrones into the Gulf of Mexico, one from St. Petersburg, Florida, and another from Port Aransas, Texas. Five other saildrones were successfully launched this summer from the coast of Jacksonville, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands to survey the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

NOAA will use several autonomous instruments this hurricane season to collect ocean and atmospheric data during during hurricanes. Credit: NOAA PMEL

One of the biggest challenges to hurricane forecasting is predicting rapid intensification, when hurricane wind speeds increase at least 35 mph over a 24 hour period. To fully understand how storms intensify, scientists collect data on the exchange of energy between the ocean and atmosphere in the forms of heat and momentum. However, gathering data in this dangerous environment is best accomplished by uncrewed systems.

Florida’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force meets after half-year hiatus

It was a day of sharp questions and soul-searching as Florida’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force met Thursday [Aug. 4] for the first time since February.

The official theme was a mouthful (stay with us): “Prioritization of restoration projects within Basin Management Action Plans, Reasonable Assurance Plans, or alternative restoration plans (and) policy and funding program framework for the prioritization of restoration projects.”

Unofficially, it was broader: Why, after three years of task force effort, is Florida’s water still so troubled?

The question was top-of-mind because the day before, a coalition of 12 environmental groups released a stinging progress report. Since the five-member task force issued a set of recommendations in 2019, “Ecological conditions in Florida have not improved and, in many cases, they have worsened. Lack of meaningful water quality protections have resulted in persistent harmful algal blooms, a record number of manatee deaths, and an overall decline in water quality statewide.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Friends of the Everglades executive director Eve Samples noted “Among the 32 metrics we tracked, only four have been implemented.” She heads one of the dozen nonprofits that compiled the report. ”So there’s a lot of progress to be made.”

Samples went through a list of the task force’s priorities, each followed by “not implemented.”

Neither Samples nor others commenting blamed the group members; rather their frustration was with government, the Legislature and the agencies charged with carrying out the mandates of each.

Florida’s algae bloom response called too limited, too slow

'I don’t think legislators are going to really endorse bigger sticks in this situation.'

When it comes to environmental protection and conservation, Florida government can end up on the side that posits it’s better to allow pollution, and try to do something about it on the back end, than prevent that pollution in the first place.

And that’s causing a serious problem getting a handle on the state’s algae bloom affliction.

“I don’t think legislators are going to really endorse bigger sticks in this situation,” said Mike Parsons, a Florida Gulf Coast University professor and state Blue-Green Algae Task Force member, during the Task Force’s latest meeting.

Without political will to hold polluters accountable, people and organizations collaborating on dealing with blue-green algae proliferation — especially and including the state government — have to run through a series of next-best-thing ideas to put into effect.

Task Force members met with experts and the larger public to reframe the conversation on their challenges, and discuss project prioritization policies, at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

Video of August 4th Blue-Green Task Force Meeting »

Deadline Sept. 15 to apply for SJRWMD Blue School grants to teachers

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District offers teachers funding opportunity to educate students on water conservation

PALATKA — Now entering the seventh year of its Blue School Grant Program, the St. Johns River Water Management District with full support of its Governing Board is offering up to $20,000 in grants for education projects that enrich student knowledge of Florida’s water resources through hands-on learning.

The application period runs August 1–Sept. 15 and is available to middle and high school teachers within the 18-county area.

“The District’s Blue School Grant program is a unique and meaningful way for us to help our local schools educate students on the importance of water conservation and how to be good stewards of the environment now and in the future,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Education Coordinator, Laura La Beur.

To date, the District has funded 75 water resource education projects with a total of nearly $105,000 awarded to local schools.

Through the District’s Blue School Grant Program, up to $2,000 per school may be awarded to middle and high schoolteachers to enhance student knowledge of Florida’s water resources. Public and charter teachers within the District’s boundaries are eligible to apply.

  • Examples of previous successful grant applications include:
  • Service-learning projects where middle and high school students partnered to study water quality
  • Water quality comparison of stormwater ponds on campus
  • Conversion of traditional irrigation to micro-irrigation in school landscape
  • Water conservation awareness posters and video
  • Teachers receiving grants will be notified in late October.

Information about criteria and deadlines and the online application can be found at www.sjrwmd.com/education/blueschool or contact Laura La Beur at LLaBeur@sjrwmd.com or 321-473-1339.

Study: Most rainwater on Earth contains PFAS exceeding safe levels

New research from Stockholm University shows that PFAS in rainwater around the world are exceeding safe levels. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemical pollutants, often called “forever chemicals” present in many everyday items, like food packaging and clothing. The chemicals leach into the environment, affecting everything from the air we breathe to even rainfall.

The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, tested four selected perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs): perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) in rainwater, soil, and surface waters in different locations globally.

The researchers concluded that PFOA and PFOS levels in rainwater “greatly exceed” the Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisory levels from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The study also noted that all four of the tested PFAAs in rainwater were often above the Danish drinking water limits, and PFOS levels were usually higher than the Environmental Quality Standard for Inland European Union Surface Water.

Rainwater wasn’t the only problem, either. “Atmospheric deposition also leads to global soils being ubiquitously contaminated and to be often above proposed Dutch guideline values,” the study said.

As such, the authors said there is really no way to avoid these chemicals on Earth anymore.

Deadline to apply for SJRWMD ag cost-share program is August 26

SJRWMD logo

District offers up to $250,000 to local growers who participate in water conservation efforts

PALATKA – The St. Johns River Water Management District is accepting applications through August 26 from farmers, growers and ranchers interested in participating in the Districtwide Agricultural Cost-share Program for agricultural projects that promote water conservation and reduce nutrient runoff within the region.

The cost-share program provides up to 75 percent of cooperative funding, not to exceed $250,000 per applicant annually, toward the design, construction and implementation of technologies and strategies to improve water efficiencies and protect natural systems.

Successful projects from previous years’ funding include several pump automation projects.?With these projects, soil moisture sensors are used to communicate with controllers on the irrigation pumps.?When the correct soil moisture is achieved during an irrigation event, the pumps are automatically turned off.?Growers are also able to control their irrigation systems with their smartphones giving them control even when they are not in the grove.

Additionally, the District’s cost-share program has funded many precision fertilizer projects that have resulted in less fertilizer being applied to crops through more accurate placement as well as variable rate application.?With GPS controllers, growers can avoid overlapping fertilizer patterns and apply fertilizer in various portions of their fields based on varying soil types within the field.

The list of eligible projects includes irrigation system retrofits, soil moisture and climate sensor technology, micro-irrigation, sub-irrigation drain tile, tailwater recovery and reuse, expanded waste storage, and precision agriculture equipment.

The application and program overview for the fiscal year 2022-2023 cost-share program can be found online at www.sjrwmd.com/localgovernments/funding/agricultural-cost-share.

District staff will evaluate each project based on criteria approved by the District’s Governing Board and present projects recommended for funding to the Board for approval.

For more information, visit the District’s website or contact Technical Program Manager Suzanne Archer at sarcher@sjrwmd.com.

Seminole County Dept. of Health issues blue-green algae alert for Lake Jesup 

Florida DOH logo

Sanford, FL - The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Jesup. This is in response to a water sample taken on July 27, 2022. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Jesup where algal blooms are present. Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • 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.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins.

New law requires the state to hit certain cleanup levels of toxic ‘forever chemicals’

Lawmakers warn that “these are forever chemicals that are within our environment now, and are going to create a major environmental disaster."

The use of PFAS, short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances that are a possible carcinogen, has spread to a variety of products that touch daily life: non-stick coatings, food products, air particles and foams.

Researchers continue to discover new ways that PFAS enter our environment and bodies.

HB 1475 and companion bill SB 7012 now legally require the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to set state rules for target cleanup levels of PFAS. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law on June 20. It took effect immediately.

There are currently over 12,000 known variants, with PFOA and PHOS being the two most commonly tested chemicals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Rep. Toby Overdorf, R-Stuart, cosponsored this bill alongside Rep. Lawrence McClure, R-Plant City, and said that a set of mandated rules from the state’s DEP would ensure municipalities cooperated with, at least, state regulations in managing levels of PFAS.

“These are forever chemicals that are within our environment now, and are going to create a major environmental disaster … If we do not deal with those things now, then we really face some big issues in the future,” Overdorf said.

He stated that while the bill was waiting for the governor’s signature, the federal government came out with temporary, updated advisories of PFAS in drinking water, which he said came in great timing for HB 1475.