Water-Related News

A new baby manatee! Help LCWA pick a name for him/her!

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On Valentine’s Day 2016, a manatee in distress was reported in the Venetian Gardens canals of the Harris Chain of Lakes system. Several agencies responded and rescued the manatee before noon. The manatee was confirmed a female, in very poor condition. She was transported to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to rehabilitate from her cold stress condition and received extensive care for almost three months. While there she received the name “Leesburg”, reflecting the closest location to where she was rescued. In May 2016, “Leesburg” was released into the St. Johns River at Welaka, Putnam County.

Leesburg was tracked electronically for about six months, at which time the tracking equipment failed. In spring 2016, researchers visually confirmed Leesburg to be pregnant. Manatee gestation period is 12-13 months. Adding a year to her release date and another month before she was observed in close proximity to more than one male manatee, her birthing date was estimated to be from mid-June to mid-July 2017. In late July 2017, sightings confirmed that "Leesburg" had become a mother for the first time. The Lake County Water Authority is hosting a "name the baby" manatee contest on its website. You can enter by clicking the link below.

Visit the LCWA's Manatee Page to see manatee photos and learn about the manatees living in the Harris Chain of Lakes.

The sea level did, in fact, rise faster in Florida and the southeast U.S.

For people in the southeastern United States, and especially in Florida, who feel that annoying tidal flooding has sneaked up on them in recent years, it turns out to be true. And scientists have a new explanation.

In a paper published online Wednesday, University of Florida researchers calculated that from 2011 to 2015, the sea level along the American coastline south of Cape Hatteras, N.C., rose six times faster than the long-term rate of global increase.

"I said, 'That's crazy!' " Andrea Dutton, one of the researchers, recalled saying when a colleague first showed her the figures. " 'You must have done something wrong!' "

But it was correct. During that period of rapid increase, many people in Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale and other coastal communities started to notice unusual "sunny-day flooding," a foot or two of salt water inundating their streets at high tide for no apparent reason.

In the paper, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the scientists proposed a mechanism to explain the rapid increase: Two large-scale atmospheric patterns had intersected to push up the water off the Southeast coast, causing a "hot spot" of sea-level rise.

This new mechanism, if it holds up to scientific scrutiny, might ultimately give researchers the ability to predict tidal flooding more accurately and warn communities what to expect months in advance.

Be mindful of summertime algal blooms, report them to FDEP

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Health are encouraging residents and visitors to be mindful during summertime recreational activities as the season’s high temperatures, abundant sunlight and frequent rainstorms annually increase the presence of algal blooms in certain Florida waterbodies. Individuals should avoid contact with algae and can report algal blooms using DEP’s toll-free hotline (855-305-3903) and online at (www.reportalgalbloom.com). Currently there are no health advisories or any reason to believe the health of residents has been impacted.

State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. Celeste Philip said “The health and safety of Florida families is DOH’s number one priority. It is important to avoid coming into contact with any algae and we do not recommend swimming or fishing in areas where algae is seen. We will continue to work with DEP to keep residents, visitors and local officials updated.”

DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said “DEP encourages residents and visitors to immediately report algal blooms to help us respond as quickly and efficiently as possible. Florida is a national leader in responding to and managing algal blooms. We are committed to working with state and local agencies to ensure the health of Floridians, visitors and our natural resources."

DEP and Florida’s water management districts frequently monitor Florida’s water quality and routinely collect algal bloom samples as soon as they are observed to identify algal type and test for toxicity. In addition, staff are deployed to take additional samples in response to reported blooms – whether from a citizen, other response team agencies or other sources. To keep residents and visitors informed of the latest algal bloom monitoring results and activities, DEP has a website where it posts the dates and locations of samples collected. Test results are added as they become available. Persistent blooms are routinely monitored and retested.

Businesses bucked Gov. Rick Scott's rule to notify public about pollution

In April, workers cleaned up 341,000 gallons of raw sewage released because of a pipe break near neighborhoods south of Clermont.

Another 2,000 gallons containing water-purifying chemicals were spilled in June on county property near SeaWorld’s new Aquatica water park.

The two events were among more than two dozen pollution incidents in Central Florida in the first half of the year. None were reported to local media after complaints from industry associations led to a new 24-hour public notice requirement for pollution spills — sparked by a Polk County spill — to be overturned.

But the judge’s decision led to a new law that open-government advocate Barbara Petersen said is an improvement over the situation that existed before the short-lived requirement on polluters. The law allows the media and anyone else to sign up for alerts about pollution incidents, a process that didn’t previously exist.

Lake County collects household hazardous waste in Eustis and Lady Lake

Lake County Solid Waste is encouraging Lake County residents to dispose of unwanted household hazardous materials in a safe and environmentally conscious way at the following two collection events:

Thursday, Aug. 10 from 9 a.m. – noon at the Lady Lake Convenience Center, located at 1200 Jackson St., in Lady Lake.

Thursday, Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. – noon at the Eustis Square Shopping Center parking lot, located at 218 W. Ardice Ave., Eustis.

Representatives will be on-hand to collect small quantities of waste products such as lawn and gardening materials, photo and swimming pool chemicals, paint and related products, cleaning solutions, motor oil and used gas, batteries, fluorescent lamps, light bulbs and small propane tanks.

Staff at the event will be offering convenient drive-thru disposal of items so residents won’t have to leave their vehicles. Materials such as infectious waste, solvents, chemical laboratory waste and radioactive waste are prohibited.

Excessive amounts of hazardous materials will not be accepted due to limited space in the mobile unit. If residents have large quantities of items to dispose of, a special drop-off day will be scheduled at the Central Solid Waste Facility, 13130 County Landfill Road, Tavares. To schedule a drop-off, call 352-343-3776.

The collection events are open to Lake County residents only.

For more information about this event, or to find out about future collection events, visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/hazardouswaste or call Lake County Solid Waste at 352-343-3776.

Clermont to host 2017 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championship

The 2017 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships will be held at Waterfront Park, Clermont, on August 2-5. Opening ceremonies will be hosted at the Highlander Building on Tuesday, August 1st at 4:30 pm with Native American dancers and opening remarks by Clermont Mayor, Gail Ash and City Manager, Darren Gray.

“We’re thrilled to share the best inland beach venue in Central Florida with all of the athletes, coaching staffs, families and fans, and we encourage our local community to fill Waterfront Park to cheer on these deserving teams”, said City Manager, Darren Gray.

“Hosting this event is huge for Lake County and Clermont”, exclaimed Commissioner Sean Parks. “I want to personally extend a warm welcome to all of the canoers and kayakers who will be visiting Lake County and Clermont.” He went on to congratulate Clermont, Lake County and the Central Florida Sports Commission in working together to fulfill the vision for the Clermont Boathouse.

The USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships is expected to attract over 1,500 visitors and athletes from Hawaii, Puerto Rico and USA.

Melinda Mack, Race Director described the spirit of athleticism saying, “At this year’s event, we will honor the past through the roots of our sport and focus on the future as we celebrate the spirit of athleticism at every level. Our dreams lie within each of our athletes and we hope to pay tribute to their hard work and dedication through hosting an event that celebrates them”.

Jason Siegel, Central Florida Sports Commission’s Interim President & CEO gave the event a thumbs up. “We are thrilled to welcome USA Canoe Kayak and their Sprint Nationals event to the City of Clermont and Lake County. We are very pleased for our partners and excited to host this wonderful group of athletes to participate at Lake Minneola. Thank you to the leadership team from the South Florida Canoe Kayak Club for all of their hard work. We’re looking forward to a tremendous event”, said Siegel.

Canoe Sprint has been a medal sport in the Olympics for men since 1936. Women will get their chance to compete for Olympic medals in canoe events beginning with the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

Several cities, in addition to Clermont, were vying to host the championships. Officials visited the potential host venues and evaluated each one. Clermont was chosen as the Choice of these Champions!

Clermont’s plan to move boat ramp to preserve draws fire

A controversial plan to add a new boat ramp in Clermont is expected to draw supporters and detractors to a City Council meeting Thursday.

No sooner had the city sent letters to residents most affected by the proposal than protest signs began appearing: “Save Hiawatha Preserve No Boat Ramp.”

The city’s current boat ramp is located on the south shore of Lake Minneola, between the Historic Village and the Clermont Boathouse. The Boathouse is the gathering place for the area’s scull and sweep set, as well as for school-aged sailors. The only motorized vessels there are safety boats.

The current boat ramp is on what is now known as Victory Pointe, right where the city plans to put its Triathlon Beach. Moving the triathlons west from Waterfront Park to Victory Pointe, where they will be closer to downtown Clermont, is one part of the city’s current downtown development plan. They can’t build Triathlon Beach without moving the boat ramp, and Hiawatha Preserve is where officials have made plans to put it.

The Preserve is Clermont’s big passive park on the west side of Lake Minneola. The proposed boat ramp site, just north of the roundabout at the Preserve, is the last bit of undeveloped Lake Minneola shoreline in the city, and the houses directly north of the site are in unincorporated Lake County.

State delegation asks Corps of Engineers to stay neutral in water wars

Florida's two senators and its entire congressional delegation are asking the president to ensure that a federal agency remains neutral in the ongoing court battle between Florida and Georgia over water use from the Apalachicola River system.

Gov. Rick Scott in 2013 filed a lawsuit in the U. S. Supreme Court against Georgia claiming that the upstream state's water use caused the collapse of Apalachicola Bay's oyster population. In February, special master Ralph Lancaster recommended that the court throw out the case because the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates reservoirs upstream from Florida on the Chattahoochee River, was not a party to lawsuit.