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

Water-Related News

Blue-Green Algae Task Force approves 1st recommendations

Task Force comes to consensus on first set of water quality improvement recommendations

TALLAHASSEE – This week, the Blue-Green Algae Task Force met and approved its first set of recommendations to address water quality and harmful algal blooms.

The Blue-Green Algae Task Force is an advisory body, appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis, to aid the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in fulfilling its mission to protect, conserve and manage the state’s natural resources and enforce its environmental laws. The task force, through its discussion and deliberations, provides guidance and specific, science-based recommendations with the goal of expediting improvements and restoration of Florida’s water bodies that have been adversely affected by blue-green algae blooms.

“I appreciate the time the task force members and the public have invested in these important discussions. This commitment is a testament to the passion these leading scientists and residents of our state have for the protection of our natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. ”I look forward to utilizing these recommendations to identify regulatory and management strategies to expedite water quality improvements.”

“The recommendations released by the task force are the result of a deliberative and transparent process and reflect DEP’s commitment as a state agency to science-based decision making. These recommendations will undoubtedly be used to inform viable and effective policy,” said Chief Science Officer Dr. Thomas Frazer. “The task force will continue to meet and will delve even more deeply into a broader suite of issues related to water quality and algal blooms moving forward.”

A copy of the consensus document can be found on the Blue-Green Algae Task Force website.

1.2 million gallons of wastewater spills into Seminole County creek

More than 1 million gallons of raw wastewater were spilled into a Seminole County creek.

According to Utilities Incorporated of Florida, the spill happened overnight from 10 p.m. Tuesday [Oct. 8] until 5 a.m. Wednesday [Oct. 9].

The company has contacted Florida's Department of Environmental Protection.

According to the company, approximately 1.2 million gallons of raw wastewater overflowed into Sweetwater Creek because of an equipment malfunction.

Cleanup of the creek is currently underway.

The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County has issued a health advisory because of the spill.

The Florida Department of Health is asking anyone who comes in contact with the river water to wash thoroughly, especially before eating or drinking, out of an abundance of caution.

People are also being asked to not swim or fish in the water at this time.

Oct. 1st marks end of fertilizer-restricted period in Seminole County

Learn to "Fertilize Effectively in Sandy Florida Soils" ALL year!

October 1st is the end of the fertilizer restricted period in Seminole County, the summer months when no fertilizing with nitrogen or phosphorous was allowed. Residents are now able to fertilize using 50% or more slow-release nitrogen products, however proper application is not easy! Join UF/IFAS Extension in Seminole County for “Fertilizing Effectively in Sandy Florida Soils” workshops offered twice a month.

Experts will teach participants about the best management practices for turf, how to have the best looking yard on the block while saving money. Workshops will cover environmentally friendly ways to achieve attractive landscapes and gardens in Florida's unique soils.

Licensed Commercial Fertilizer Applicators and Professional landscapers will receive 2 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for this free training! Pre-registration through Eventbrite is highly recommended to process the CEUs. Register as a Professional Landscaper with CEUs.

“We are inviting all homeowners, Home Owner Association (HOA) professionals and professional landscapers to learn the best way to maintain their property while saving money and protecting our precious natural resources,” McIntyre said. “We will offer participants turf tips and tricks, and tell them how they can comply with county regulations.”

Each registered participant will receive a FREE bag of Florida-Friendly fertilizer!

CLASS DATES:

  • Thursday, October 17th, 10 am - Noon
  • Thursday, October 31st, 1 pm - 3 pm
  • Tuesday, November 12th, 10 am - Noon
  • Friday, November 22nd, 1 pm - 3 pm
  • Wednesday, December 4th, 10 am - Noon
  • Monday, December 16th, 1 pm - 3 pm

LOCATION:
UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County Auditorium
250 County Home Rd | Sanford, FL 32773

HOW TO SIGN-UP:
Register at www.seminolecountyfl.gov/fertworkshop

For more information contact Terrence Fullerton at 407-665-5517

Report: Florida’s water supplies under extreme pressure

State, water management districts and local utilities promote conservation, reclaimed water and new sources in response and preparation of the state’s expanding population.

Given its birth and death rates and constant influx of newcomers, Florida’s population is increasing by more than 900 people daily.

That expanding population requires water — water to drink, cook, bathe, grow food, even operate power plants.

The Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research says the statewide daily demand for water, 6.4 billion gallons as of 2015, is projected to increase by 17% in the next 20 years to more than 7.5 billion gallons as the population climbs to 25.2 million. That demand could be higher and the availability of that water lessened if climate change increases the frequency of droughts.

Not one of Florida’s five water management districts, which oversee permits for water supplies, “can meet its future demand solely with existing source capacity,” the agency stated in a recent report.

Congressional committee presses EPA over WOTUS rollback

A congressional subcommittee questioned the Trump administration on Wednesday over its rollback of Obama-era Clean Water Act protections.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency repealed a 2015 rule that expanded the definition of "waters of the United States," or WOTUS, a definition intended to clarify which waterways and wetlands are federally regulated.

In prepared testimony delivered Wednesday, David Ross, an administrator in the EPA's water office, said the Obama-era rules "failed to adequately recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of states to manage their own land and water resources."

Congressional Democrats criticized the repeal, contending it will lead to more pollution and threaten drinking water. Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio said industry "can dump whatever they want in [the water] because it's an economic value to them. And then it just flows over the border to another state. If their people want to drink it, that's their problem."

Septic tanks eyed in efforts to combat algae

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection should be teamed with health officials who permit septic tanks as the state tries to ensure cleaner waterways, members of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force agreed Wednesday.

Expanding oversight of the state’s millions of septic tanks was among a list of general recommendations that received some support Wednesday from the five-member task force as part of a draft report.

The report, based on topics reviewed so far, is expected to provide guidance for lawmakers as they approach the 2020 legislative session.

But task force members, who met this week in Naples, made clear they still intend to tackle issues about wastewater reuse or recycled water and agriculture and urban uses of herbicides and fertilizers, topics they have not fully addressed.

Water Management District board vacancies concern some conservationists

The Southwest Florida Water Management Board met this week. At last.

The board had to cancel a meeting recently because it lacked enough members present to have a quorum. Only seven of its 13 seats were filled at the time, and one member did not attend. The other vacant seats were awaiting appointments from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

And while the water management district has now approved its $202 million budget and its tax rate for homeowners in the 16 counties it covers, some conservationists are looking at water district board vacancies with concern. Is DeSantis living up to his environmental agenda announced in January, or is he dragging his feet?

“He has made some bold promises to improving water quality, and we're going to continue to advocate for that and hold them accountable for those promises,” said Jaclyn Lopez, the Florida director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

“And we know that there are a lot of things going on that should be concluding, you know, right around now at the end of summer, beginning of fall,” Lopez said. “So we'll start to see if the administration is able to put his money where his mouth is and really deliver on some of the promises of improving Florida's water quality.”

Lopez added it is crucial that the water districts address red tide and blue-green algae blooms statewide. A task force on blue-green algae held its last meeting Wednesday, but its recommendations have not yet been sent to the water districts to be implemented.

Other water districts have received speedier attention. In South Florida, where the sugar industry and Everglades restoration are high-profile issues, DeSantis quickly moved to replace the entire South Florida Water Management District Board in January after it refused to put off a November 2018 vote on a new sugar farming lease that he wanted to review.