Water-Related News

Trump proposes to roll back decades of water protections

The rollback would go much further than just erasing rules initiated by the Obama administration.

The Trump administration on Tuesday initiated the biggest rollback of Clean Water Act protections since shortly after the statute became law in 1972, proposing to remove federal pollution safeguards for tens of thousands of miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands.

The EPA’s proposed rule would overwrite a stricter Obama-era regulation, in yet another attack on the legacy of President Donald Trump’s predecessor. But the rollback would go much further than just erasing Barack Obama's work.

The Trump proposal represents the latest front in a decades-long battle over the scope of the landmark environmental law, whose requirements can impose major costs on energy companies, farmers, ranchers and real estate developers. Reversing Obama’s water regulation was one of Trump’s top environmental priorities — he signed an executive order directing the new rule barely a month after taking office, even as he repeatedly said he wanted "crystal clear water."

Geoff Gisler, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, called the proposal a “sledgehammer to the Clean Water Act.”

“Out of all the anti-environmental attacks we have seen from this administration, this may be the most far-reaching and destructive,” he said in a statement.

The new proposal embraces a view that industry groups have pushed for years: that the law should cover only major rivers, their primary tributaries and wetlands along their banks. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said this will save regulatory costs for industries such as mining and homebuilding, while arguing it will have little impact on the health of the country’s waters.

Deadline extended to submit Central Florida Water Initiative supply project options

New deadline is April 1st, 2019.

The Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) is working collaboratively with the region’s utilities, water users and local stakeholders to identify water supply project options to help meet our water supply needs, now and in the future. One piece of this effort is the creation a new list of potential projects to meet water users’ needs, which will be included in the upcoming 2020 CFWI Regional Water Supply Plan.

In March, the water management districts and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) formed a new CFWI work group dedicated to developing regional water supply project options. This group is made up of engineers, planners, and scientists from the water management districts, DEP, local governments and other area stakeholders. As part of this effort, the districts are currently reaching out to stakeholders in the Central Florida region to help develop ideas and concepts for new potential water supply, water resource development and water conservation project options.

Creating a list of potential water supply projects is a collaborative process and is based on voluntary input from area stakeholders. The districts are particularly focusing on identifying potential projects that achieve water conservation, provide reclaimed water to new water users, develop alternative water supplies, or benefit natural systems. Organizations or individuals which would like to submit a project option or concept for consideration in the Central Florida Regional Water Supply Plan are encouraged to contact their respective water management district representative listed below.

Potential project options can be submitted via mail or email. The Districts request that any responses be submitted by April 1, 2019, so that they can be considered for the 2020 Regional Water Supply Plan. A link to a project option form is provided below.

R. Thomas Kiger, P.E., Southwest Florida Water Management District
Thomas.kiger@swfwmd.state.fl.us
(352) 796-7211, ext. 4536

Lori Burklew, St. Johns River Water Management District
lburklew@sjrwmd.com
(407) 659-4813

Richard Nevulis, South Florida Water Management District
rnevul@sfwmd.gov
(561) 682-6242

New national report says climate change threatens U.S. water security

Water infrastructure was not designed for past climate extremes, let alone future changes, report authors say.

Putting human health, life, and jobs at risk, a reliable supply of clean water for cities, farms, industries, and ecosystems in the United States while also managing droughts and floods is “increasingly in jeopardy,” according to an expansive U.S. government report on the consequences of climate change in the country.

The National Climate Assessment, required by an act of Congress and written by more than 300 scientists, half from outside the federal government, is meant to inform U.S. leaders about changes to land, water, and air from a warming planet.

Released the day after Thanksgiving, the report focuses on how those physical changes will dramatically reshape human life and the systems that support it. The report also underscores troubling knowledge gaps about how the projected increase in extreme storms and heat will affect the nation’s water supply.

“We don’t have a very good grasp as a nation what our water-related risks are,” Casey Brown, a co-author on the report’s water chapter, told Circle of Blue. “We seem to keep learning this every time there’s a flood or drought.”

The authors of the water chapter emphasized three elements of the interaction between climate change and man-made systems: water quality and availability will shift; dams, levees, drainage systems, and other components of the nation’s water infrastructure are aging and poorly designed for a topsy-turvy climate; and water managers will need to prepare for a broader set of climate stresses.

“You could talk about a lot of impacts to water,” Upmanu Lall, lead author of the report’s water chapter, told Circle of Blue. “We chose to talk about infrastructure because no one is highlighting that.”

Physical alterations to the country’s water supplies, many of which are already happening, will be far-reaching, the report says. On the coasts and islands, rising seas will drive saltwater farther inland underground, which will worsen flooding and spoil groundwater used for irrigation and drinking water.

Photo of Lake Eustis to be featured as cover of 2019 Adopt-a-Lake calendar

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TAVARES — The public cast more than 3,000 votes in an online contest, choosing the top 14 photos to be featured in Lake County’s 2019 Adopt-a-Lake Calendar. The top-scoring picture – a boater on Lake Eustis submitted by Teresa Jenkins, is featured on the calendar’s front cover.

The runner-up photos are included in a special section on the back of the calendar. Participants submitted more than 250 photos of Lake County waterbodies in the increasingly popular Adopt-a-Lake photo contest. A committee narrowed those down to 30, and they were then placed in an online gallery for voting.

The Adopt-a-Lake calendars are available for a suggested donation of $5 at the Lake County Water Lab, 12923 County Landfill Road, the Solid Waste Administration Office, 13130 County Landfill Road, and the Office of Building Services, 315 W. Main St. Tavares, Suite 515. Calendars may also be ordered by mailing a check to: Adopt-a-Lake Program, P.O. Box 7800, Tavares, FL 32778. If requesting a calendar by mail, an additional $1 should be included for postage and handling.

The Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program encourages local civic organizations, individuals and fraternal and business groups to adopt a segment of a lake’s shoreline. The program is comprised of three separate components: Water-quality monitoring, public education and pollution prevention. Volunteers can select which aspects of the program best fit their level of interest.

For more information about the calendar or the Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program, contact Cathie Catasus at 352-253-1659 or ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov.

FWC conducts aquatic plant control on Little Lake Harris

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct aquatic plant control on 2,700 acres of Little Lake Harris this week, weather permitting.

Little Lake Harris is in Lake County. It is part of the Harris Chain of Lakes in central Florida.

While there will be no restrictions on fishing and swimming during this treatment for invasive hydrilla, there will be a 14-day restriction on irrigation to turf and landscape ornamentals.

Hydrilla is an exotic aquatic plant spread easily by boats throughout the state’s lakes and rivers. It clogs waterways, making recreational activities difficult or impossible, and it chokes out beneficial native plants. Managing and treating it are necessary for the health of Florida’s waters and to enable continued recreational boating and other aquatic activities.