Water-Related News

United Nations offers free online freshwater water quality courses

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched a range of new water quality monitoring and assessment courses on its eLearning platform, ahead of World Water Day on 22 March.

These free, online self-paced courses by the UNEP GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre (CDC) at the Environmental Research Institute at the University College Cork (UCC) are designed to complement the existing capacity development activities around water quality.

The courses provide a flexible learning approach for anyone interested in water quality or those who simply wish to know more about a particular aspect of managing and monitoring water quality without incurring the cost of a university-accredited course.

Current courses on offer include ‘An Introduction to Freshwater Quality Monitoring Programme Design’, ‘Quality Assurance for Freshwater Quality Monitoring’, ‘Water Quality Monitoring in Rivers and Lakes’ and ‘Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment of Groundwater,’ with further courses planned for release in 2022.

A range of other water quality monitoring and assessment offerings are available at the UNEP GEMS/Water CDC at UCC, including a university-accredited and certified online postgraduate diploma (PGDip), MSc, and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses.

See the UNEP GEMS/Water CDC webpage for further details.

SJRWMD cost-share program provides support to regional projects

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PALATKA — The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board approved $20.5 million in funding for cost-share projects for fiscal year 2022–2023 as part of the Districtwide and Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) and Innovative cost-share programs. These projects all support one or more of the District’s core missions: water supply, water quality, flood protection and natural systems.

Twenty-five projects were approved for funding, including 23 that directly support Gov. DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-12 “Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment” that focuses, in part, on reducing the flow of nutrients to waterways and developing alternative water supplies.

District cost-share funding for water resource protection and restoration projects helps local governments make progress in preserving, restoring and enhancing the Floridan aquifer system, which is where more than 90 percent of Florida’s drinking water comes from. Cost-share projects also benefit the St. Johns River, Indian River Lagoon and other waterways and Outstanding Florida Springs.

The Board also approved sending a list of five springs restoration projects benefitting Outstanding Florida Springs, including Silver and Volusia Blue, to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for funding consideration, along with 11 alternative water supply projects also to be evaluated for DEP funding.

Five of the funded projects are in Water Atlas-sponsored areas:

  1. Orange County Wekiwa Springs Septic Tank Retrofit Project - Phase 3
  2. Orange County Utilities Year 2 Water Conservation Through WWNP with Advanced Targeting
  3. Seminole County Toilet Rebate Program Phase 2
  4. Oak Hill 200 LLC Rosala West Water Conseravtion
  5. Mount Dora Wastewater Treatment Facility #1 Improvements

For information about District cost-share programs, visit www.sjrwmd.com/localgovernments/funding.

For a full list of projects, click here.

FDEP invites stakeholders to participate in public meeting on TMDL prioritization

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To: All TMDL Stakeholders
From: Ansel Bubel, Environmental Administrator

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announces a public meeting beginning at 11 a.m. EDT on May 24, 2022, to receive comments on a proposed framework for prioritizing waters and setting two-year work plans for TMDL development. The framework will align with the statewide biennial assessment and will guide TMDL development for the next decade. Only the proposed priority setting process will be discussed at the public meeting. Another meeting will be held in the summer of 2022 to present the proposed TMDL development work plan for the next two years.

The May 24 meeting is scheduled at the following location, and via webinar:

2600 Blair Stone Road
Bob Martinez Center, Room 609
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Registration is open for the webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar. The meeting agenda and framework document are available online.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this workshop is asked to advise the agency at least 48 hours before the workshop by contacting Johna Costantino at 850-245-7508. If you have a speech or hearing impairment, please contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service, 800-955-8771 (TDD) or 800-955-8770 (voice).

CFWI kicks off 2025 Regional Water Supply Planning effort

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The Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) Regional Water Supply Plan (RWSP) team held its first virtual meeting to kick off the 2025 planning effort, which was attended by nearly 70 CFWI team members and stakeholders.

The 2025 RWSP will identify existing and projected water needs as well as projects and funding sources to meet those needs over the next 20 years. The plan, which is a five-year update to the 2020 CFWI RWSP, is a collaborative effort between the St. Johns, Southwest and South Florida water management districts as well as various agencies, utilities and stakeholder groups. The CFWI Planning Area consists of all of Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Polk counties and southern Lake County, covering approximately 5,300 square miles.

“The RWSP is a collaborative effort, so it was great to see so many stakeholders participating in our first meeting,” said Claire Muirhead, Regional Water Supply Planning Coordinator for the St. Johns River Water Management District.

During the meeting RWSP team members reviewed a high-level schedule for developing the draft plan, which will be available for public review in early 2025. The final plan is scheduled to be approved by the governing boards of the three water management districts by the end of 2025.

RWSP team members also confirmed that the plan will incorporate the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) population projections. Draft projections are expected in Fall 2022 and final projections in 2023. Stakeholders will have opportunities to discuss the projections with the RWSP team once the projections are available.

The RWSP team will be holding meetings with stakeholders every two to three months and will begin meeting more frequently once the draft population projections are available. For more information on the RWSP effort, please contact the CFWI water management district contacts at cfwiwater.com/contacts.

FWC conducts aquatic plant control on Lake Apopka

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will conduct aquatic plant control on Lake Apopka in Lake and Orange counties the week of April 25, weather permitting. The FWC will treat invasive hydrilla in areas where it is encroaching on beneficial native submersed aquatic plants and could impact access to navigation.

To find out more about the herbicides being used and if there are any use restrictions associated with these treatments, visit MyFWC.com/Lake and click on the “Plant Mgmt Schedule of Operations” under the “Aquatic Plants” dropdown menu.

The FWC manages hydrilla on a lake-by-lake basis using a collaborative approach. The FWC makes management decisions after comparing the benefits that low to moderate levels of hydrilla can provide for fish and wildlife, and the desires of various stakeholder groups against the impact this invasive plant can have on native plant communities, access and navigation, flood control, and management costs.

For general waterbody information, fishing forecasts, virtual tours, plant control operation schedules and annual workplans, boat ramp information, and more, visit the “What’s Happening on My Lake” website at MyFWC.com/Lake.

For more information about the treatment on Lake Apopka, contact Nathalie Visscher, FWC invasive plant management biologist, at 321-228-3364.