Water-Related News

Hazardous waste collection event Jan. 24th in Minneola

MINNEOLA — In 2018, the county collected 71,960 tons of hazardous waste, thus creating a safer environment for Lake County and its residents.

Lake County is encouraging county residents to dispose of unwanted household hazardous materials in a safe and environmentally conscious way at its first collection event of the new year.

Lake County Solid Waste’s Household Hazardous Waste Mobile Unit will be accepting items from 9 a.m. - noon on Thursday, Jan. 24 in the parking lot at Minneola City Hall, located at 800 N. U.S. Highway 27, Minneola.

Staff will offer convenient drive-through disposal so residents don’t have to leave their vehicles, and 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 gas, batteries, fluorescent lamps, light bulbs and small propane tanks. 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. 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. To drop off large quantities of items, visit the Central Solid Waste Facility at 13130 County Landfill Road, Tavares.

Tavares debuts new downtown eco-park

TAVARES — City officials on Friday debuted their new Ruby Street Storm Water Improvement and Beautification Plan, a $5.6 million project officials hope will spur economic development.

The 8-acre passive ecological park features man-made ponds designed to treat stormwater runoff. That runoff will be collected and discharged through pipes under Ruby Street into Lake Dora as clean water.

City Administrator John Drury said the stormwater treatment park is part of the city’s master plan for economic development in the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area, designed to lure more people to restaurants, shops and attractions along Ruby Street.

City officials also believe the treatment park will add to the beauty and serenity of Wooton Park and because Lake Dora will be cleaner, more water-related recreational activities could be held there.

But for the last 18 months, construction has taken its toll on surrounding businesses as crews relocated and replaced old underground stormwater pipes with larger ones that connect to the treatment park, replaced chiller lines for Lake County, installed ornamental lighting down the streets leading to the park and block by block, laid red brick pavers along Ruby Street, which can now be closed off as a pedestrian-only promenade for special events.

City officials threw a street party, dubbed Beats on the Brick, to mark the occasion Friday night.

Gov. DeSantis announces sweeping fixes meant to clean up Florida's water woes

Two days after he took office, Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled sweeping measures to clean up Florida’s troubled waters Thursday, including spending $2.5 billion and launching more aggressive policies to address algae choking Lake Okeechobee and polluting the state’s coasts.

The newly minted governor, who angered environmentalists on the campaign trail by dismissing climate change as a significant threat, also promised to establish a resiliency office to address looming dangers.

“The people of Florida wanted to see action and this was action that was requested regardless of your party,” DeSantis said in a morning briefing at a Florida Gulf Coast University field station in Bonita Springs, north of Naples. “This is something that can unite all Floridians.”

DeSantis also ordered construction sped up on a 17,000-acre Everglades reservoir in farm fields south of the lake and said he would work with federal officials to end polluted discharges.

“I’d like to see no discharges,” he said. “We’re working with the White House and as difficult as it is, working with the Army Corps [of Engineers] to mitigate that.”

The new governor also promised to appoint a chief science officer so “we’re doing sound science making sure we’re getting ahead of the curve on these issues.”

Hurricane preparedness casualty of federal government shutdown

Weather models are not being updated and training sessions might be canceled during the budget standoff

The U.S. government’s partial shutdown is in its third week, and the pinch of the protracted standoff over funding for a wall along the country’s border with Mexico is starting to be felt—not only by workers missing paychecks, but also in terms of important science that is not getting done.

About 800,000 workers have either been furloughed or, if their jobs are deemed essential to protecting lives and property, are working without pay across dozens of shuttered agencies and departments. These include several that do significant scientific work such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—the parent agency of the National Weather Service. Although day-to-day forecasting operations continue at the NWS, key improvements to weather models have been put on pause. Data needed for research projects may be inaccessible; and if the shutdown continues much longer, preparedness training will be canceled for emergency managers in coastal communities looking warily ahead to the coming hurricane season after the devastating storms of recent years.

Eric Blake, a forecaster with the NWS’s National Hurricane Center in Miami spoke with Scientific American about the shutdown’s impact on the NWS and its employees (in his capacity as the National Weather Service Employees Organization union steward at the center).

Federal government spending $100 million to study desalination

The Trump administration is hoping to reinvigorate a technology long dismissed as too expensive or energy-intensive to help solve a water crisis that has seen drought grip swaths of the American West, sparking deadly wildfires and legal battles over supply.

The Energy Department last month declared that it's spending $100 million over the next five years to create a research and development hub on desalination, a process that converts seawater and brackish inland water into freshwater.

Announced roughly five years after Congress appropriated the funds under the Obama administration, the planned hub comes as once-periodic water shortages have become perennial, if not ever-present, in American communities, forcing policymakers to rethink how residents get freshwater – and reconsider technologies they'd once shelved.

The investment is widely seen in the research field as a moonshot effort, the best attempt yet to jump-start the kind of advancements that would make the elusive process energy-efficient and cost-effective and make a resource out of vast unusable deposits like the saltwater that covers two-thirds of the earth's surface.

"The significance can't be understated. Something like this has been a long time coming," says Jonathan Brant, associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Wyoming.

"We're faced with a real water crisis, and the main solution to that is going to be able to tap – in an environmentally sustainable and economically sustainable way – saline water sources."

Desalination is costly and enormously energy intensive: Israel and Australia – two of the driest nations on Earth – are by far the world leaders in desalination, largely by necessity. While Israel draws more than half of its water from desalination plants – and more than 85 percent of its municipal water overall is reused – desalination plants in the U.S. provide less than 0.002 percent of the water consum

Senate panel briefed on septic tanks’ contribution to algae outbreak

Septic tanks are one of the primary triggers for toxic algae blooms throughout the state, the Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee was told Wednesday.

A presentation was given by Dr. Brian Lapointe, who has worked as a research professor at Florida Atlantic University and has studied water quality in the state for decades.

He has previously produced work, funded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, showing that septic tanks are a large contributor to the pollution that allows algae blooms to spawn in Florida’s waterways.

“I personally consider this the most important and urgent issue facing our state,” Lapointe said.

That runs counter, however, to many environmental groups who put the blame mostly on phosphorus from fertilizer runoff from sugar farms.