Water-Related News

CFWI calls for projects to help meet Florida’s water demands

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Source: Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI)

A colorful collection of pipes and pumps sits behind a fence in Seminole County. Segments of blue, green and red are riveted together like a sophisticated LEGO set, but this structure is capable of something far more impressive than any toy.

It’s part of an integrated stormwater, reuse, and reclaimed water system that will deliver excess stormwater and reclaimed water from Altamonte Springs to the city of Apopka.

This alternative water supply project is an example of the kinds of projects that the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) is soliciting to meet the area’s future water demands.

Because of the projected limitations on existing sources of water, water suppliers and other stakeholders within the CFWI planning area were recently asked to identify potential water supply and conservation projects to help meet water demands through 2040.

These projects will help manage the region’s water supply needs by providing water to meet a variety of needs, like public supply, agricultural, commercial and recreational, all while sustaining Florida’s water resources and related natural systems.

“Collaboration is a central and vital element to the CFWI. We’ve put out this call for projects because we want to involve our stakeholders in developing solutions to our regional water supply challenges,” said Thomas Kiger, who leads the CFWI Water Projects Options sub-team.

“Our goal is to create a broad suite of water supply and conservation options that will enable us to meet our water supply needs now and into the future.”

Kiger said in addition to water conservation, he anticipates other water supply options will help meet CFWI needs, including surface water, brackish groundwater, an increased use of reclaimed water and aquifer recharge.

The call for projects runs through October 2018. Project options that meet the goals of the

CFWI regional water supply plan will be included in the list.

Stakeholders are encouraged to submit potential projects, even if they are in early planning stages. While submitting a potential project does not commit a stakeholder to build a project, it will provide a central place where water users can collaborate to evaluate future water supply options. These projects will serve as a list of options in the upcoming Regional Water Supply Plan from which local governments, utilities and others can choose to help meet their water demands over time.

Advocates say springs need more help as State adopts clean-up plans

Advocates are raising concerns about state plans for cleaning up Florida’s ailing springs.

Environmental advocates say the plans for addressing nutrient pollution in 24 Florida springs are incomplete, overly optimistic and ignore the 2016 legislation calling for the action.

Bob Knight of the Florida Springs Institute says the plans are based on one underway in the Sante Fe River, which has not been successful.

“They’re not going to make any difference. They’re not going to put a dent in the problem even in 20 years. the money is not there. The will power is not there to do what actually needs to be done.”

Among the springs targeted are the Blue, DeLeon, Gemini, Rock and Wekiwa in central Florida. Drew Bartlett of the state Department of Environmental Protection describes the plans as pivotal in the springs’ clean-up.

“This is implementing the Springs and Aquifer Protection Act that was passed two years ago, and it has more tools for remediation of septic systems, for wastewater treatment plants.”

The fate of Florida's wetlands could be decided behind closed doors, groups say

Environmental and activist groups are criticizing the state for drafting in secrecy the details of a new permitting process to build in Florida’s wetlands.

In a letter Monday addressed to Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, environmental groups Audubon Florida and 1000 Friends of Florida alongside the League of Women Voters called for a more transparent process in DEP’s workshopping of an application that would give the state almost exclusive discretion in doling out permits to build in wetlands.

Currently, there are two systems in place to authorize building in Florida’s wetlands. Developers can request a permit through the state, or they can go through the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Over the years, the state’s permitting process has been streamlined, whereas the EPA’s system has remained slow. Some have described it as redundant.

HB 7043, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March, gives DEP permission to draft an application to the EPA to allow the state to authorize federal permits, so long as they don’t breach Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act, which approves on a case-by-case basis development — known as “dredge and fill” activities — in wetlands.

DEP is rapidly drafting the application and taking public comment as is standard during accompanying rule-making workshops. It’s held three workshops around the state already, along with an online webinar. An estimated 300 Floridians have weighed in on rule-making, according to DEP, and the agency recently extended its public comment period by two weeks.

But the signatories of the Monday letter fear that a great bulk of the details of the application are being drafted outside of the sunshine.