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

Water-Related News

Timetable to replace lead water pipes could be accelerated

The Environmental Protection Agency said Florida has the most lead water lines in the nation.

TAMPA — Lead exposure in children is still a problem.

Experts said it can come from paint in older homes or aging water pipes.

Pediatrician Dr. Rachel Dawkins is with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

She said there is added danger for children, whose brains and nervous systems are growing and developing, so any exposure to lead can be concerning.

“We think about lead exposure in kids causing neurodevelopment disabilities, so it might cause some problems with learning. Some problems with behavior. It can cause lower IQs,” said Dawkins.

Many cities have older water pipes made from lead.

Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new rule that would require them to be replaced within ten years.

That’s speeding progress toward a goal from the Biden Administration to remove all lead pipes.

Gulf Stream weakening now 99% certain, and ramifications will be global

A new analysis has concluded that the Gulf Stream is definitely slowing, but whether it's due to climate change is hard to tell.

The Gulf Stream is almost certainly weakening, a new study has confirmed.

The flow of warm water through the Florida Straits has slowed by 4% over the past four decades, with grave implications for the world's climate.

The ocean current starts near Florida and threads a belt of warm water along the U.S. East Coast and Canada before crossing the Atlantic to Europe. The heat it transports is essential for maintaining temperate conditions and regulating sea levels.

But this stream is slowing down, researchers wrote in a study published Sept. 25 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"This is the strongest, most definitive evidence we have of the weakening of this climatically-relevant ocean current," lead-author Christopher Piecuch, a physical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, said in a statement.

The Gulf Stream is just a small component of the thermohaline circulation — a global conveyor belt of ocean currents that moves oxygen, nutrients, carbon and heat around the planet, while also helping to control sea levels and hurricane activity.

With Geneva stormwater project complete, some hope more will be done to ease floods

GENEVA – A stormwater project to help with flooding in Seminole County is now complete.

County officials say the project in Geneva off of Retreat Road included the clearing of a property to dig a dry pond for water retention, upsizing the existing ditches and re-grading low spots in the existing road.

Homes in the area of Retreat Road from its intersection with Mullet Lake Park Road to a point approximately 3,520 feet to the east are expected to see relief impacts.

The project was a 75% – 25% split between FEMA and the county. FEMA put over $1.3 billion toward the project, while Seminole County used around $450,000 of its own funds. The county says the project was needed after major storms flooded that area.

What You Need To Know

  • Seminole County completes stormwater retrofit project which included clearing of property to dig a dry pond for water retention
  • This project was funded through a combination of the One-Cent Infrastructure Sales Tax and FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
  • The area affected by this project consists of homes in the following locations: Retreat Road from its intersection with Mullet Lake Park Road to a point approximately 3,520 feet to the east

USF survey finds that many homeowners don't realize they're unprotected from flooding risks

The USF St. Petersburg study showed that 73% of the 1,667 residents polled mistakenly believe that they have flood insurance, while less than 5% actually have coverage.

A new survey by researchers from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Customer Experience Lab found that most U.S. homeowners remain unprotected from floods.

In addition, it found that there are varying risk perceptions among different age groups.

The annual report, made in collaboration with Neptune Flood Insurance, showed that 73% of the 1,667 residents polled mistakenly believed that they had flood insurance.

The St. Petersburg-based Neptune is the country's largest private flood insurance provider.

Despite flooding being among the most common natural disasters in the United States — causing an average of $5 billion in damage each year — less than 5% of the homeowners polled actually have flood insurance.

52.6% of respondents said that flood risk was a minor factor in their home purchase decision, while 23.6% said it was a major factor.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nearly one in five homes in the United States will experience a flood during a 30-year mortgage.

The study suggests that many homeowners perceive purchasing flood insurance to be confusing, which could relate to the fact that, until recently, theNational Flood Insurance Program was the only provider and educational source for homeowners for over five decades.

Seminole’s new storm water pond to help ease flooding in Geneva

At a cost of nearly $2 million, Seminole County officials hope a new storm water drainage project completed this month in a rural spot near the St. Johns River will help alleviate flooding after most heavy rain events.

For years, homeowners along Retreat Road in Geneva have seen their properties become overwhelmed with water, even after heavy afternoon thunderstorms drop a few inches of rain during the summer months.

When hurricanes Ian in 2022 and Irma in 2017 brought more than 12 inches of rain to the area, many residents used canoes instead of cars for days afterwards.

This month, county officials celebrated the completion of a new storm water pond on roughly five acres near Mullet Lake Park, in addition to wider and deeper ditches along the mostly unpaved Retreat Road.

Those improved ditches will direct the storm water from the road via new pipes into the new pond that functions much like a bladder by storing the water temporarily.

Then, as the rain recedes, the water from the pond will flow back into the ditches and eventually into the surrounding wetlands and to the north-flowing St. Johns River.

Casselberry neighborhood deals with flooding after multiple days of rain

SEMINOLE COUNTY – One Casselberry neighborhood dealt with substantial flooding following multiple days of substantial rain last week.

What You Need To Know:

  • Days of rain last week caused flooding in Casselberry's Summerloch Green neighborhood
  • Standing water was starting to recede Monday [Nov. 20]
  • A resident said the weir was blocked by debris

Casselberry's city manager said a crew went out to ensure the weir is open As of Monday morning, the area was still flooded, but some of the water that was formerly overflowing from the lake appeared to have receded.

While most parts of Central Florida dried out, the water in the Summerloch Green neighborhood rose last week.

The area is no stranger to flooding. In August, residents said they were waiting on a seawall construction to protect their homes.

Many Floridians with private wells don’t know how to take care of them

Approximately 12% of Florida’s population rely on a private well for drinking water, according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

That’s about 2.5 million people. Bithlo resident Tara Turner, 50, is one of them.

After years of relying on wells for drinking water, Turner feels quite comfortable maintaining her own well today, which sets her apart from the estimated one-third of Florida well users who don’t know how to care for their wells properly, according to UF/IFAS research.

Dr. Yilin Zhuang, an environmental engineer at UF/IFAS focused on studying water resources, is working with her colleagues to expand Floridians' understanding of well safety, maintenance and testing. She leads public webinars, shares research findings, and is currently compiling resources for a website to help private well owners, which she expects to launch sometime next year.

Zhuang says ultimately, the burden falls on private well users — not a public utility — to ensure their water system is working safely and properly.

“When it comes to private well users, there are just not that many regulations,” Zhuang said. “So it all relies on private well users to manage their wells, and make sure their drinking water is safe to drink.”

Winter Springs commissioners propose water rate increase for infrastructure improvements

WINTER SPRINGS – Winter Springs City Commissioners are considering a proposal that would increase water rates not once, not twice, but six times.

The rate hike would impact thousands of Winter Springs residents.

If approved, the first rate increase would be at 18-percent beginning next year with future smaller increases until 2029.

The first of two public hearings on the proposal was scheduled for Thursday evening. Large crowds are expected to speak out about the proposal at each meeting, especially considering the city just recently increased its garbage collection rates.

City officials say they need the extra funds to fix some of their ailing water and sewer infrastructure.

“There’s a number of projects that we want to do, our wastewater treatment plants being the biggest of them,” Winter Springs Communications Officer Matt Reeser explained. “Meter replacement, line replacements...just maintenance altogether. We have to fund those.”

Seminole County leaders reveal plans to alleviate local flooding

SEMINOLE COUNTY – Seminole County leaders were not celebrating a new building or fancy road but rather a significant investment for the folks living along Retreat Road near Mullet Lake Park in Seminole County.

"Here we are today with a finished project that's going to result in many of these residents having easier access to their homes, taking the flooding away from the roads that you see out here," said Jay Zembower, Seminole County commissioner.

Zembower said the one point eight million dollar project won't handle another Hurricane Ian.

"This, of course, will not take care of a Hurricane Ian event, but it certainly will help these folks on smaller events, and in afternoon summer rain storms, we won't have the flooding that we've had here in the past," Zembower said.

Ian delayed the project three months because the work started a month before the hurricane caused that record flooding.

The pond is only part of the project. A significant part of it is improving the ditches along the road. They're broader and deeper, allowing the water to flow away from the pond and flow into the river.