Water-Related News

Timetable to replace lead water pipes could be accelerated

The Environmental Protection Agency said Florida has the most lead water lines in the nation.

TAMPA — Lead exposure in children is still a problem.

Experts said it can come from paint in older homes or aging water pipes.

Pediatrician Dr. Rachel Dawkins is with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

She said there is added danger for children, whose brains and nervous systems are growing and developing, so any exposure to lead can be concerning.

“We think about lead exposure in kids causing neurodevelopment disabilities, so it might cause some problems with learning. Some problems with behavior. It can cause lower IQs,” said Dawkins.

Many cities have older water pipes made from lead.

Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new rule that would require them to be replaced within ten years.

That’s speeding progress toward a goal from the Biden Administration to remove all lead pipes.

Gulf Stream weakening now 99% certain, and ramifications will be global

A new analysis has concluded that the Gulf Stream is definitely slowing, but whether it's due to climate change is hard to tell.

The Gulf Stream is almost certainly weakening, a new study has confirmed.

The flow of warm water through the Florida Straits has slowed by 4% over the past four decades, with grave implications for the world's climate.

The ocean current starts near Florida and threads a belt of warm water along the U.S. East Coast and Canada before crossing the Atlantic to Europe. The heat it transports is essential for maintaining temperate conditions and regulating sea levels.

But this stream is slowing down, researchers wrote in a study published Sept. 25 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"This is the strongest, most definitive evidence we have of the weakening of this climatically-relevant ocean current," lead-author Christopher Piecuch, a physical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, said in a statement.

The Gulf Stream is just a small component of the thermohaline circulation — a global conveyor belt of ocean currents that moves oxygen, nutrients, carbon and heat around the planet, while also helping to control sea levels and hurricane activity.

USF survey finds that many homeowners don't realize they're unprotected from flooding risks

The USF St. Petersburg study showed that 73% of the 1,667 residents polled mistakenly believe that they have flood insurance, while less than 5% actually have coverage.

A new survey by researchers from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Customer Experience Lab found that most U.S. homeowners remain unprotected from floods.

In addition, it found that there are varying risk perceptions among different age groups.

The annual report, made in collaboration with Neptune Flood Insurance, showed that 73% of the 1,667 residents polled mistakenly believed that they had flood insurance.

The St. Petersburg-based Neptune is the country's largest private flood insurance provider.

Despite flooding being among the most common natural disasters in the United States — causing an average of $5 billion in damage each year — less than 5% of the homeowners polled actually have flood insurance.

52.6% of respondents said that flood risk was a minor factor in their home purchase decision, while 23.6% said it was a major factor.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nearly one in five homes in the United States will experience a flood during a 30-year mortgage.

The study suggests that many homeowners perceive purchasing flood insurance to be confusing, which could relate to the fact that, until recently, theNational Flood Insurance Program was the only provider and educational source for homeowners for over five decades.

Lake County environmentalist advocates for environmental education to be required in Florida schools

EUSTIS – More than 30 years ago, Congress passed the Environmental Education Act of 1990, which required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help with environmental literacy in schools.

In Florida, while some schools offer environmental education as an elective, rarely is it required. One lifelong Floridian is hoping to change that.

Feeding the future through environmental education is something Eileen Tramontana, executive director of Trout Lake Nature Center, has a passion for.

“I grew up playing in the woods as a kid, liking the outdoors, loving what’s here, and started working for a soil and water conservation district many, many years ago," she said. "I worked for a private industry and realized it was a nice job, but I was putting money in someone’s pocket and I wanted to make a difference."

For her, it’s teaching the community about the environment, like feeding their gopher tortoise, that gets people engaged with what’s around them.

“This resource is really important because a lot of the times you wouldn’t get to see the animals or the plants that come here in Central Florida," she said. "They’re often times nocturnal or you just can’t get that close to them."

But Tramontana hopes to make a statewide difference. While she teaches groups and individuals visiting the center, and she brings her lessons outside the classroom in an engaging way.

In an aging Central Florida Superfund site, huge machines aim to knock out a toxic mess

Soon, the dangers of the Tower Chemical site will be confined in an underground tomb

Enormous cranes are building a structure near Clermont that may seem astounishing not only for its weight, about 250 million pounds, and size, a mass larger than a football field, but also for its place and purpose.

The behemoth is taking shape entirely underground — a monolithic, rock-like tomb to solve one of the nation’s earliest Superfund challenges, the storied brew of dangerous pesticide ingredients called the Tower Chemical site 20 miles west of Orlando city hall.

“It looks like a mess,” said Bill Neimes, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project engineer, of slop suggesting congealing turkey gravy smothering a portion of the work area, “but if you scrape it away, it would be a solid slab.”

Once tucked amid rural citrus groves of what is now a fast-developing corridor of Lake County, the Tower Chemical project north of State Road 50 punctuates the takeaway from so many hazardous pollution sites: It takes so little effort to create one compared to the prolonged, costly and muscular toil needed to clean it up.

Butler Street Boat Ramp to close for repairs

Lake County logo

LAKE COUNTY – The left side of the Butler Street Boat ramp, located at 55400 Butler St, Astor, FL 32102, will be closed off for repairs starting Monday, Nov. 27. The repairs will be completed before Saturday, Dec. 2, and will not affect the right side of ramp usage.

For more information, please call the Office of Parks and Trails at 352-253-4950.

2024 Adopt-A-Lake calendar celebrating local photographers, natural waterways available Nov. 21

Lake County logo

LAKE COUNTY – The 2024 Adopt-a-Lake Calendar, which showcases beautiful lakes in Lake County, will be available starting Tuesday, Nov. 21.

Nearly 300 photos of Lake County bodies of water were entered in the 2024 Adopt-a-Lake photo contest. A committee narrowed the photos down to 36 semi-finalists and the public voted on those semi-finalist photos on the Adopt-a-Lake webpage. Over 2,700 votes were submitted to select the top 14 finalist photographs that are featured in the 2024 calendar. The photos from the runners-up are included in a special section at the back of the calendar. The top-scoring photograph of Lake Eustis, submitted by Sue Amatangelo, is featured on the calendar’s front cover.

The Adopt-a-Lake Calendars, which include the selected pictures from bodies of water in Lake County, are available for a suggested donation of $6 each.

Calendars are available at the Parks and Water Resources office in Tavares (27351 SR 19), the Solid Waste Administration Office in Tavares (13130 County Landfill Road), and at the Trout Lake Nature Center in Eustis (520 CR 44, Tues. - Sat. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sun. from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). Calendars can also be ordered online at https://payments.lakecountyfl.gov or by mailing a check made out to Lake County BCC to Adopt-a-Lake Program, P.O. Box 7800, Tavares, FL 32778. If requesting a calendar by mail, please include an additional $1 per calendar for postage and the address to send it to.

The Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program is comprised of three separate components: Water-quality monitoring, public education, and pollution prevention. Volunteers can elect which components of the program best fit their desired level of participation. For more information about the Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program, contact Cathie Catasus at (352) 253-1659 or e-mail ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov.

John’s Lake boat ramp to close temporarily for repairs

Lake County logo

LAKE COUNTY – The John’s Lake Boat Ramp, located at 13620 Lake Blvd. in Winter Garden, will be closed from Tuesday, Nov. 28 through Thursday, Dec.7 while FWC performs repairs to the ramp. Boaters are encouraged to consider utilizing other ramps in the area during this time.

For more information, please call the Office of Parks and Trails at 352-253-4950.

Many Floridians with private wells don’t know how to take care of them

Approximately 12% of Florida’s population rely on a private well for drinking water, according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

That’s about 2.5 million people. Bithlo resident Tara Turner, 50, is one of them.

After years of relying on wells for drinking water, Turner feels quite comfortable maintaining her own well today, which sets her apart from the estimated one-third of Florida well users who don’t know how to care for their wells properly, according to UF/IFAS research.

Dr. Yilin Zhuang, an environmental engineer at UF/IFAS focused on studying water resources, is working with her colleagues to expand Floridians' understanding of well safety, maintenance and testing. She leads public webinars, shares research findings, and is currently compiling resources for a website to help private well owners, which she expects to launch sometime next year.

Zhuang says ultimately, the burden falls on private well users — not a public utility — to ensure their water system is working safely and properly.

“When it comes to private well users, there are just not that many regulations,” Zhuang said. “So it all relies on private well users to manage their wells, and make sure their drinking water is safe to drink.”

Mount Dora takes steps to stop smell near Sullivan Ranch after residents complain

Some Mount Dora residents say they've been dealing with an awful smell for years and Tuesday night, they hoped the city may have taken a step to help them breathe a little easier.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says there are several facilities that could be contributing to the smell, including a wastewater treatment facility, which was a topic of discussion at the meeting.

Several residents of the Sullivan Ranch neighborhood described the smell.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection found the city had a number of violations when it came to the James Snell wastewater treatment facility, including that they "failed to operate the collection system in the Sullivan Ranch subdivision in a manner to control objectionable odors."

They sent the city a consent order with multiple actions the city would have to comply with, including submitting an odor control plan prepared by an engineer.

But the city would have to sign the agreement.

The city attorney said the requirements in the consent order were the result of a back-and-forth between the agency and the city.

"Dear members of the council, I move to approve the consent order and authorize the mayor to sign on behalf of the city council," one of the council members said before many gathered broke out in applause.

The council unanimously approved.

It’s fall, ya’ll. Change those sprinklers to once a week!


Outdoor irrigation accounts for nearly half of most Floridians’ monthly water bill

PALATKA – Starting Sunday, Nov. 5, residents across the 18 counties of the St. Johns River Water Management District are urged to adjust their sprinkler systems and limit watering to no more than once a week.

As cooler weather sets in, your lawns and landscapes require far less water than during the summer months,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Mike Register. “By reducing irrigation, we not only protect our water resources, but homeowners also have the opportunity to see savings on their water bill.”

In the District’s region, public water supply claims the largest share of water usage, totaling approximately 569.5 million gallons daily. A significant portion of this is attributed to residential consumption. Implementing improved landscape irrigation practices conserves water, enhances the overall health of landscapes, and helps protect water quality at the same time.

Overwatering can lead to various issues, including the promotion of mold and fungus, weakened grass roots, and an increased presence of weeds and undesirable insects. Additionally, excess runoff from saturated yards often carries debris, nutrients and fertilizers into natural waterways, contributing to diminished water quality.

Given the decreased water requirements of lawns in Florida’s winter months, watering restrictions have been instituted to ensure that irrigation resources are utilized efficiently. During Eastern Standard Time (early November through mid-March), landscape irrigation is limited to one day per week, according to the following schedule:

  • Saturday for addresses ending in an odd number or those without an assigned address.
  • Sunday for addresses ending in an even number.
  • Tuesday for non-residential addresses.
  • No irrigation permitted between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Additional water-saving insights and resources can be found at www.WaterLessFlorida.com. For inspiring stories of water conservation efforts within the District, visit our Water Less Heroes series here.