Water-Related News

Tom Palmer: Problem of water use is not a new issue

To hear some political leaders discuss the increasing challenges of addressing water supply issues lately, you might think this is a relatively recent issue.

It isn’t.

Parker notes that Florida has had worse floods and droughts than some of the events that triggered the formation of Florida’s water management districts.

He added, however, that in the days when Florida’s population was smaller, people could manage to get water somehow and generally had enough sense not to build in flood-prone areas.

Parker made some other points that are relevant to water planning today.

Ground water and surface water are only different sides of the same hydrologic coin and must be managed as a single resource.

Lake County warns against complacency as mosquito season nears

TAVARES — Outdoor activities such as swimming and grilling often come with the faint buzzing of one of the most annoying insects on the planet: the disease-carrying mosquito. National Mosquito Control Awareness Week is June 25 - July 1, and Lake County Mosquito & Aquatic Plant Management, along with the American Mosquito Control Association, are reminding residents of the health risks associated with mosquitoes as they become active during the summer.

Mosquito populations appear to be relatively small this year due lower rainfall during the winter and spring months, but Craig Scott, Lake County Mosquito & Aquatic Plant Management Program Manager, is not taking any chances. The county has acquired and modified a new grove blower, which is similar to an industrial sized leaf blower, emitting a spray of larvicide up to 100 feet targeting young mosquitoes.

“This process is geared toward Zika specifically and can be used in residential neighborhoods,” said Scott. “Previously, immature mosquitoes were treated with a backpack and truck-mounted sprayers, a time-consuming process making it difficult to treat large areas with little access. Now we can simply drive down the roads and blow a safe mist into the air, just as we do with the adulticide (which targets adult mosquitos).”

The chemicals being used have the same active ingredient as in previous years, but the county has upgraded to a time-released liquid form that can last between 30 and 60 days as opposed to just one week.

“It’s important to note, Lake County Mosquito Management takes special care in protecting the environment and takes all precautions to avoid affecting non-target insects such as bees and butterflies,” said Scott.

While Central Florida might have gotten off to a dry start, recent rains prove that it doesn’t take long to create perfect breeding grounds for Zika-carrying mosquitos. Mosquitoes require water to complete their life cycle, therefore if their water source is eliminated, so are their offspring.

Follow the “3 D’s” to adopt safe mosquito control in and around your property:
• Drain: Empty out water containers at least once per week
• Dress: Wear long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
• Defend: Properly apply an approved repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon-eucalyptus

Rain gutters, tree holes, buckets, and tires all make excellent spots for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. It is important to drain and cover these items on your own property and encourage neighbors to do so as well as part of a community-wide effort.

Register now for Water School, Water Wise Landscapes workshops

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TAVARES — The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension in Lake County is offering the following educational classes this month:

Saturday in the Gardens: Water Wise Landscapes from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday, June 17 at the Lake County Extension Center, 1951 Woodlea Road, Tavares. Have you been rethinking your lawn and landscape? Attend this class to learn about drought-tolerant plants, easy irrigation practices and landscape design. The $5 registration fee is required by 3 p.m. on Friday, June 16 at waterwiselandscapes.eventbrite.com or by calling 352-343-4101 ext. 2721.

Water School from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27 at the Lake County Extension Center. This informative program is offered to residents of Lake and Sumter counties to promote awareness of local water issues. Expert guests will speak about the cost of water, lake levels, and more. Lunch will be provided. A full agenda and $5 registration is available online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lakesumter-water-school-tickets-34696889330.

For additional details about either of these events, contact the UF/IFAS Extension in Lake County at 352-343-4101 or visit lake.ifas.ufl.edu.

PLT Climate Change and Project WET Workshop

For Formal and Non-formal Educators
It's an educational twofer day. By attending this workshop you will obtain materials for two award-winning national environmental education programs---Project Learning Tree's Southeastern Forests and Climate Change and Project WET.

Climate change is an important natural process that can be accelerated by human activities. Learn how to teach about this important process and integrate it into your curriculum, lessons and activities.

Project WET 2.0 is chock full of activities that assist you in making connections to science, language arts, reading, technology and more. Water is a finite resource that must be managed and protected as evidenced by weather conditions in Florida with its periods of drought, hurricanes and rain events.

How is this relevant to my curriculum?
The activities explore real world STEM topics including the carbon cycle, computer models and databases, engineering, and life cycle assessments of products. The activities are correlated to the Next Generation Science Standards. And, in support of Florida Standards, these activities also enable students to practice critical thinking and writing skills.

When: Monday July 31, 9 AM to 4 PM
Where: Trout Lake Nature Center 520 East CR 44 Eustis, FL
Cost — $20 (Includes lunch)
To register, go to www.universe.com/wetclimate
Registration deadline: July 24, 2017
For further information: Contact Eileen Tramontana at 352-357-7536

Two Lake County water projects receive cost-share funding from SJRWMD

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PALATKA – Forty-three projects will share in approximately $21.3 million from the St. Johns River Water Management District for construction of water supply and water conservation, water quality improvement, flood protection and natural systems restoration projects. The district's governing board approved the project ranking for the fiscal year 2017-2018 Districtwide Annual Cost-share Program.

Two projects in Lake County will receive funding:

  • Mount Dora RCW Interconnect with Apopka – The project involves the Installation of a reclaimed water (RCW) interconnect between the Cities of Mt Dora and Apopka; and provides additional reclaimed water for both cities and connects Mt Dora to the other interconnecting utilities. The project will result in the addition of approximately 3 MGD of reclaimed water; and provides approximately 36,500 lbs/yr of TN reduction. Funding amount: $11,762,029
  • Minneola Septic to Sewer – The project is a septic to sewer project in downtown Minneola along US 27 & east of Lake Minneola. Phase 1 of 3 phases to install infrastructure w/ transmission, force mains & lift station.; and connect 7 business + 15 residential-units. The Project will result in an approximate load reduction of 500 lbs/yr TN to the Ocklawaha River and provide 0.4 MGD of reclaimed water. Funding amount: $12,644,379

Register now for Wekiva Basin Field Ecology Course

The Friends of the Wekiva River (FOWR) Wekiva Field Ecology course will consist of six lessons. The course is designed to encompass various aspects of the unique ecology of the Wekiva system including a focus on springs, the river and its tributaries, unique wildlife and unique habitats. These classes will all be field classes and will consist of an approximately three-hour trip during all four seasons of the year.

The instructor for this course is Dr. Jay Exum. Dr. Exum received his Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from Auburn University. He has provided ecological expertise on projects related to threatened and endangered species, wetlands ecology and large-scale conservation planning. He has represented private businesses, counties, public agencies, NGO’s and nonprofits towards creating comprehensive conservation strategies, land acquisition programs, and comprehensive plans that assure protection of landscape linkages, and large tracts of natural lands. Jay led two comprehensive BioBlitzes on public lands across the Wekiva basin in 2014 and 2015 and has been the compiler for the Wekiva River portion of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for more than 10 years.

You don’t want to miss this unique opportunity to learn about and experience the Wekiva Basin with this engaging teacher!

Cost: $100.00 full course, $25.00 individual trips

How to register:
-Mail check with your name, email and phone number
-Pay with credit card via www.FriendsOfWekiva.org

Local governments, more or less, tackling effects of climate change

In the future, Holmes Beach City Hall may be reachable only by boat.

Predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show seaside cities gradually taking on water like a weather-worn ship. Granted, these aren’t immediate changes — the median prediction of sea level rise will reach up to 6 feet of water by the year 2100.

While doubts about climate change’s effects persist throughout the United States, rising seas, acidic oceans and stronger storms are already being felt on the Gulf Coast.

On the front lines, Gulf Coast leaders know it’s there. But what’s being done to address it?

Water efficiency in rural areas getting worse, despite improvements in urban centers

A nationwide analysis of water use over the past 30 years finds that there is a disconnect between rural and urban areas, with most urban areas becoming more water efficient and most rural areas becoming less and less efficient over time.

“Understanding water use is becoming increasingly important, given that climate change is likely to have a profound impact on the availability of water supplies,” said Sankar Arumugam, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and lead author of a new study on the work. “This research helps us identify those areas that need the most help, and highlights the types of action that may be best suited to helping those areas.”

The new paper in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, stems from a National Science Foundation-funded, interuniversity research project which focuses on understanding how water sustainability in the United States has changed over the past 30 years because of climate change and population growth.

For this paper, researchers evaluated water use data at the state and county level for the 48 contiguous states. Specifically, the researchers looked at water-use efficiency, measured as per capita consumption, in 5-year increments, from 1985 to 2010.

Scott vetoes spending for citrus canker claims, water projects

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday vetoed $37.4 million to pay for citrus canker judgments along with $15.4 million for local water projects.

Canker is a bacterial disease that blemishes a tree's fruit and can cause it to drop prematurely. To protect Florida's $9 billion dollar citrus industry, more than 16 million trees, including 865,000 residential trees, were destroyed statewide, beginning in 2000.

In his veto letter, Scott said only that he was striking the spending for citrus judgments for Broward and Lee counties because of "ongoing litigation."

Overall, Scott vetoed $410 million from the $82 billion budget. A special session is scheduled for next week to provide funding from the vetoes for education, economic development and the Visit Florida tourism marketing agency.

USGS study Finds 28 types of cyanobacteria in Florida algal bloom

A new U.S. Geological Survey study that looked at the extensive harmful algal bloom that plagued Florida last year found far more types of cyanobacteria present than previously known.

Twenty-eight species of cyanobacteria were identified in the extensive bloom, which occurred in the summer of 2016 in southern Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie Canal and River, and the Caloosahatchee River. As the guacamole like sludge created by the bloom began to stick together, it formed a thick, floating mat that coated river and coastal waters and shorelines – affecting tourism, killing fish, and in some cases, making people sick.

The culprit causing the bloom was a well-known species of cyanobacteria called Microcystis aeruginosa. However, water samples collected by state and federal agencies before and during the disruptive bloom on Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee waterway were analyzed by the USGS and found to contain 27 other species of cyanobacteria.

New research vessel to impact marine research across Florida

With the crack of two bottles of champagne and the blessing from a local priest, Florida’s newest research vessel, the R/V W.T. Hogarth, was christened and launched for the first-time Tuesday May 23, 2017.

The 78-foot vessel, named after William T. Hogarth, Ph.D, the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s former director and the former dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, will be used to support research efforts by USF, as well as more than two dozen institutions and agencies across Florida.

Legislators worked hard to keep the contract local, and challenged Duckworth Steel Boats of Tarpon Springs with designing and building the ship.

“It was a little different than anything else we’ve worked on, but it means a lot to me because I like to see that the oceans are being taking care of,” said Junior Duckworth, owner of Duckworth Steel Boats.

This fall, the W.T. Hogarth will replace the nearly 50-year old R/V Bellows, by joining the FIO’s academic fleet with an inaugural voyage, undertaking a circumnavigation of Florida’s coast.

Modified Phase III water shortage restrictions

On Tuesday, May 23, 2017 The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board voted to increase water restrictions throughout the region. The Modified Phase III water shortage affects counties throughout the District’s boundaries including Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter.

Effective Date and Areas

  • The District’s Modified Phase III water shortage restrictions are in effect June 5, 2017 through August 1, 2017, except where stricter measures have been imposed by local governments.
  • These measures currently apply to all of Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties; the portions of Charlotte, Highlands, Lake, Levy, Marion, Polk, and Sumter, within the District’s jurisdiction; and Gasparilla Island (including the portion in Lee County) except as noted below.
  • Some local governments, such as St. Petersburg, have local ordinances with special watering times.
  • Some local governments, such as Sarasota County and Dunedin, have local ordinances with special one-day-per-week schedules.
  • Ocala and most of unincorporated Marion County follows the St. Johns River Water Management District’s water restrictions; however, the City of Dunnellon and The Villages remain under the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s water restrictions.
  • Unincorporated Levy County follows the Suwannee River Water Management District.
  • These restrictions apply to the use of wells and surface sources such as ponds, rivers and canals, in addition to utility-supplied water.

Shore erosion, years of litter impacting Clermont’s waterfront

Bikes & Boards is officially gone from Clermont’s Waterfront Park, but the issue of glass in the sand that Bikes & Boards’ Tim Engle brought to public attention remains.

During the protracted and ultimately unsuccessful negotiations for a new lease agreement with the popular waterfront rental business, the city did obtain an estimate of the cost of remediating the glass problem. Titled “Rough Order of Magnitude Cost Estimate Dredging Bikes and Boards,” the figure was $18,192.

City manager Darren Gray figures “if we did it ourself we could probably do it for half, though we’d still need to do the permitting.”

“I plan to bring it up in the budget workshops,” he adds.

The area behind Bikes & Boards is not a part of the city’s official, licensed swim area, but people (and sometimes pets) do swim there.

According to Gray the estimate was prepared so that if council was receptive to Engle’s request for a 10-year lease, instead of the 3-year lease he had been offered, they would have a better understanding of the costs involved. Engle was on the agenda for the May 23 council meeting. He was a no-show, so council voted to no longer rent to him at that location. And according to Gray, the city won’t be renting to anyone else at the former Bikes & Boards location either, at least not until it can be determined what impact the city’s master redevelopment plan will have on Waterfront Park.

Central Florida Water Initiative focuses on collaboration with utilities to extend water supply

Built on the concept of collaboration, the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) works with the area’s 83 utilities to scale water conservation efforts and promote alternative water supplies for a growing population.

“The CFWI is focused on regional, multijurisdictional solutions that serve more than one utility, and by extension more residents, businesses, the agricultural community and other water users in the region,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We remain focused on ensuring sustainable use of Florida’s water, knowing that coordination is key to successfully implement a water supply plan of this size and scale.”

“This unique partnership can be a model for other communities across the country,’” said Southwest Florida Water Management District Executive Director Brian Armstrong. “We are proud to work together to develop strategies to meet our region’s growing water demands.”

“As a longtime Central Florida resident, I can personally attest to the crucial importance of water supply,” said South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “Our Governing Board is enthusiastic to play a part in this major collaborative effort to find every available way to ensure water supply for future generations.” Through partnerships with utilities, the CFWI has developed a methodical approach to implementing large-scale water conservation and alternative water supply sources.

• Throughout the CFWI, the use of reclaimed water has grown along with population increases. By building the infrastructure and using reclaimed water, utilities and the communities they serve conserve traditional freshwater supplies and provide an environmentally responsible alternative to disposal of wastewater.
• Water savings incentive programs, like Florida Water Star, help utilities promote water conservation by offering customers rebates and incentives to install water-efficient appliances, landscapes and irrigation systems.
• Water management districts provide a variety of opportunities for utilities within the CFWI to share construction costs for projects that assist in meeting a variety of goals, including creating alternative water supplies and enhancing conservation efforts.
• Utilities and water management districts participate in leak detection programs, which conserve water and increase a utility’s operational efficiency by inspecting and detecting leaks in public water system pipelines.
• Development of a list of water supply project options for the CFWI Planning Area in coordination with utilities and other stakeholder groups.
• Utilities encourage water conservation on a local level by implementing ordinances that promote irrigation restrictions, as well as using tier-rate billing to urge water savings indoors and outdoors.

The goal of CFWI is to develop strategies to meet water demands while ensuring water resources are protected, conserved and restored in the 5,300-square-mile area. Public supply is currently the largest use category in the CFWI Planning Area, with use expected to increase by approximately 40 percent by 2035. To address this increase, water management districts work with utilities as well as other stakeholder groups to address these water supply needs.

The CFWI is a joint effort by the water management districts (Southwest, St. Johns and South Florida), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and water utilities, environmental groups, business organizations, agricultural communities, and other stakeholders to recognize and address the water needs of the future.

Register now for Lake County Water School

This workshop is designed for members of the public who are interested in water issues. Learn about our water resources from a range of speakers on topics from Climate Change and Water, to Lake Levels, and Politics of Water. Cost: $5

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome

Part 1: The Situation

9:15 – 9:45   Climate Change and Water – *Dr. Chris Martinez, Ph.D., UF/IFAS
9:45 – 10:15   True Cost of Water – *Tatiana Borisova, Ph.D., UF/IFAS
10:15 – 10:30   Break
11:00 – 11:30   Keeping Nature Alive - *James Hollingshead, PG, St. Johns River Water Management District
11:30 – noon   Do We Have Enough? - *David Sumner, Ph. D., PG, US Geological Survey
noon – 12:30   Lunch
12:30 – 1:00   Lake Levels – How and Why? - *Mike Perry, LCWA
1:00 – 1:15   Central Florida Water Initiative – *Suzanne Archer, SJRWMD
1:15 – 1:45   Future for Florida’s Water – *Pierce Jones, UF/IFAS

Part 2: The Solution

1:45 – 2:00   What is the Lake Soil & Water Conservation District? - District Supervisor, LSWCD
2:00 – 3:00   Round Robin Hands-on Activities
Mobile Irrigation Lab Demo – Adam Boykin, LSWCD
Water Saving Gadgets, SWFWMD
Residential Irrigation demo - Steve Guch, UF/IFAS

*speaker pending confirmation<

Lake County Emergency Management urges residents to prepare for a busy hurricane season

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TAVARES — Officials predict an above average hurricane season this year, and Lake County Emergency Management officials are reminding residents to take steps now to help keep their families safe during severe weather.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts between 11 and 17 named Atlantic storms and five to nine hurricanes, with four being major, developing from June through November.

“This year’s hurricane activity is expected to be higher than usual, and we urge families and businesses to prepare as if a major hurricane were to make landfall locally,” said Tommy Carpenter, Lake County’s Emergency Management Division Manager. “It only takes one major storm in Central Florida to create a potentially dangerous situation and preparedness is key in protecting life and property.”

In Lake County, hurricane hazards may include heavy rainfall, high winds, inland flooding and tornadoes. Some hazards may come with little to no warning.

Residents are encouraged to develop a family communication plan, decide on a meeting location during an emergency, and prepare a disaster go-kit to include important personal, medical and legal documents.

To be notified quickly of weather emergencies, residents should purchase a battery-powered NOAA weather radio and sign up to receive local text alerts. Lake County’s AlertLake emergency alert system allows people to be notified about weather or other emergency incidents. Through AlertLake, the county may contact thousands of citizens within seconds so they can receive important life-safety information. Signing up is quick, easy and secure at alertlake.com.

For more information about Emergency Management, visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/emergency and follow Emergency Management on Facebook or Twitter.

Lake County rescinds countywide burn ban

TAVARES — Lake County has rescinded the countywide burn ban today that was enacted April 17 in accordance with Lake County Code 10.5-75.

Lake County’s www.twitter.com/lakefirePIO.

Pace of sea-level rise has tripled since 1990, new study shows

Virtually all 2.5 million Miami-Dade residents live on land that's less than ten feet above sea level. In terms of real-estate assets vulnerable to flooding, Miami is the second most exposed city on Earth, behind only Guangzhou, China. And Miami is basically the poster child for the effects of climate change, because the city has already begun flooding on sunny days.

But now a new study shows the seas are actually rising three times faster as they were in the 1990s.

Using a new satellite technique, the study in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that before 1990, the ocean was rising at a rate of roughly 1.1 millimeter per year. From 1990 to 2012, however, that rate spiked to 3.1 millimeters per year. Though that rate might still seem small, even a rise of a few millimeters worldwide can lead to increased flooding events or more deadly storm surges at an alarming pace.

Importantly, the study's authors claim the new data — first reported by the Washington Post — shows that scientists had previously underestimated how fast the oceans were rising before 1990, before widespread satellite data was available.

Noah Valenstein is new Florida DEP chief

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet Tuesday hired Noah Valenstein as the state's new Department of Environmental Protection secretary.

The 39-year-old Valenstein has spent the past 19 months as the executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, an iconic agricultural region of north Florida home to some of the country’s largest freshwater springs.

Environmentalists praised his appointment telling the Cabinet that Valenstein has demonstrated an ability to bring people together and develop a consensus in how to manage natural resources.

Florida's ailing springs subject of clash over how much water to divert for development

All over Florida, clashes are erupting over how much water can be diverted from the state's springs to keep development going. The latest battleground was Tuesday's meeting of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Despite opposition from more than 30 speakers, the water district's board voted 9-1 to allow the flow of Crystal River and the 70 springs that make up Kings Bay to be cut by up to 11 percent.

The agency's staff believes it can increase the pumping of groundwater to cut the flow by that much without causing "significant damage" to the environment. Of particular concern in Crystal River and Kings Bay: the ecosystem is home to hundreds of manatees that seek refuge in the bay.

A 2016 state law has pushed Swiftmud and the other water districts around the state to set "minimum flows" for Florida's iconic springs before July 1. But each time, springs advocates, environmental activists and neighbors of the springs have contended that the springs are already too impaired to allow any more water to be diverted to development.

During Tuesday's meeting, opponents of Swiftmud's 11 percent proposal talked about how Kings Bay and Crystal River have already seen a steep drop in their flow, and how that has fueled an increase in pollution and toxic algae blooms.