Water-Related News

Lake County receives $500K grant to study flood protection

ASTOR – Lake County has been awarded a half a million dollar grant to see how the county can better protect itself from flooding.

Megan Milanese, emergency management director for Lake County, knows how hard Astor was hit.

"Our crest was at 4.7 feet which is a historic amount," She said. "Then we were monitoring that situation. I want to say Astor was underwater for over sixty days."

But during storms, Milanese is keeping an eye on all of Lake County. And now, they've received a half a million dollar grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to look for ways to try and make the county more resilient and less likely to flood.

The county says actual implementation of projects to protect from flooding could be anywhere from one to three years away.

City of Umatilla to receive $482K grant to increase water and sewer service capacity

The City of Umatilla will receive $482,500 to provide increased water and sewer service capacity to the Umatilla Industrial Park to create 10 new jobs and provide $12 million in capital investment.

The money will be provided through the Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF). The State of Florida announced more than $15 million in awards to five rural communities through the RIF program to support community economic development projects that will strengthen public infrastructure and expand job opportunities for residents.

The purpose of the RIF Grant is to facilitate the planning, preparing and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities which will encourage job creation, capital investment and the strengthening and diversification of rural economies. The RIF program is intended to facilitate access of rural communities to infrastructure funding programs, such as those offered by the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant, United States Department of Agriculture - Rural Development, and the United States Department of Commerce - Economic Development Administration.

SCOTUS wetlands decision could spell more construction, major impact on Florida

TAMPA — Nearly a third of Florida — millions of acres — is designated as wetlands, and the recent Supreme Court decision over the type of land could have a major impact in the state, potentially inviting more construction and development. The ruling weakened environmental protections on wetlands by changing what land is and is not protected by the Environmental Protection Agency and the decades-old Clean Water Act.

“This is what drives people to Florida,” said Rocky Milburn, gesturing out to Lake Conservation Park, where he spoke with 8 On Your Side. “This beautiful, beautiful place. But it’s going to disappear.”

Unless wetlands are connected to a larger body of water, they are under less protection, which has environmentalists, like Rocky Milburn of the Tampa Bay Sierra Club, frustrated.

“That’s our drinking water, from these wetlands,” Milburn said. “They hold the water and they filter down to the limestone through the aquifer. It’s very, very important.”

The Sierra Club said more than half the country’s wetlands will be affected, including many in Florida.

“How many people a day are moving to Florida?” Milburn questioned. “How many houses are they building? Just drive anywhere — North County, South County, Lakeland — and there’s wetlands all around us.”

SJRWMD to temporarily close portion of Lake Apopka North Shore Loop Trail


District will close a portion of Loop Trail at Lake Apopka North Shore beginning June 5

A portion of Lake Apopka North Shore Loop Trail will be closed until further notice.

PALATKA, Fla., June 2, 2023 — The St. Johns River Water Management District will close the Lake Apopka North Shore Loop Trail from Magnolia Park to Conrad Road beginning June 5 until further notice due to construction in the area. Visitors are encouraged to use the entrance located at Lust Road.

The Lake Apopka Loop Trail follows the lake’s edge through the property, covering more than 20 miles and providing hiking and biking opportunities. There are four trailheads for the Loop Trail with restrooms at the Green Mountain, North Shore/McDonald Canal boat ramp and Magnolia Park trailheads and port-a-lets at the historic pump house. No drinking water is provided along the trail.

Construction will not impact the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, which will be open during regular business hours from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays.

How the Supreme Court’s wetlands ruling could impact pollution, flooding

The Supreme Court’s decision to curb federal regulations for wetlands could have far-reaching implications for America’s water.

The ruling is expected to open the nation up to more water pollution, experts say. And not only that: They say it could also make the country more vulnerable to floods.

The court Thursday narrowed the federal government’s authority to regulate wetlands, saying it only has jurisdiction over those that have a “continuous surface connection” with other regulated waters such as lakes or rivers.

In practice, this will mean that wetlands that don’t meet this definition will be open to development, unless they are in a state that has its own requirements.

“People will no longer need a permit to fill the wetlands,” Mark Ryan, a former Clean Water Act litigation specialist at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told The Hill on Thursday.

“If you’re a developer and you buy a piece of farmland that had a bunch of wetlands on it that weren’t right next to the river … you could just go out and start filling those wetlands now. You don’t need a permit unless the state requires it,” Ryan said.

A significant number of wetlands are expected to be impacted by the ruling.

SCOTUS sinks Clean Water Act protection for 51% of U.S. waters

'Wetlands that are separate from traditional navigable waters cannot be considered part of those waters.'

A Supreme Court ruling that on its face just allows an Idaho couple to build a home near a lake goes in fact much further than that, eliminating Clean Water Act (CWA) coverage to 51% of previously protected U.S. wetlands.

“Wetlands that are separate from traditional navigable waters cannot be considered part of those waters, even if they are located nearby,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion.

“In addition, it would be odd indeed if Congress had tucked an important expansion to the reach of the CWA into convoluted language in a relatively obscure provision concerning state permitting programs.”

In this case, a road bisects the wetlands in question, and the house was going in on the part of the wetlands cut off from the rest. The Court ruled that the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction ended at the road. The water has to be visible and contiguous to be covered by the law.

Water management districts want visitors to enjoy Florida’s springs and rivers responsibly

Here are some reminders to take special care if you're planning to enjoy Florida's nature this weekend.

Before Memorial Day Weekend and the unofficial start of summer, Florida’s water management districts want to remind visitors to springs and rivers to leave no litter and protect nature.

Troy Roberts with the Suwannee River Water Management District said trash takes away from an area’s natural beauty. It is also harmful to plants, animals, and water quality.

“Make sure you’re taking your trash back with you,” Roberts said. “Take care of these natural wonders that we have like you would your own house.”

Roberts added it is also important to protect submerged aquatic vegetation or seagrass, which provides food and habitat, and can serve as an indicator of the health of a system.

“When people are out swimming or floating, they need to stay close to the surface of the water and they’re not trampling the vegetation,” he said. “Walking on it can uproot it, can damage it. Even walking in the sandy areas can prevent new growth in those areas.”

Vivianna Bendixson with the Southwest Florida Water Management District echoed that advice.

“We want boaters and kayakers to enjoy their time on the river, but we want them to do it while reducing their impact to the river,” she said.

Bendixson added that boaters should not moor along the river’s shore, because that contributes to shoreline erosion and the degradation of the system’s overall health.

Water management districts will promote being good stewards of the environment on social media and at their sites throughout the summer when springs see more visitors.

Live on a lake? Come to the June 10th Lakefront Homeowners Shoreline Forum

LCWA logo

What: Lakefront Homeowners Shoreline Forum
When: Saturday June 10th, 9 a.m. to noon

Where: Eustis Elks Lodge (2540 Lake Dora Ave Tavares, FL 32778
Download flyer to print and share »

Come join the Lake County Water Authority (LCWA) in learning everything you ever wanted to know about Living on a Lakefront. LCWA will have some amazing presenters and the LCWA staff will be there. We will have answers to your questions!

  • Lake County will cover Keep Lake Beautiful, Adopt a Lake, Water Quality, and Fertilizing.
  • Learn about pollinator plants and who/what they attract as well as shoreline birds from a local Naturalist.
  • FWC will be there to talk about aquatic Plant Management and Permitting.
  • Find out about all the appropriate aquatic and wetland plants that are available for your shoreline.
  • Learn about LCWA’s new Living Shoreline Grant Program.

LCWA will have DOOR PRIZES!! Coffee, Tea, and water will be available and fruit and croissants. Come join us for a fun learning session.

Any questions call LCWA at 352-324-6141 ex. 0

Florida environment groups, businesses urge DeSantis to veto ‘attack’ on fertilizer bans

A DeSantis veto would save important measures to curb urban pollution, the groups urged.

Dozens of Florida businesses and environmental organizations are calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a budget item that could curtail local fertilizer ordinances and stymie future water quality efforts.

A coalition of 55 groups from across the Sunshine State, including Alachua County commissioners, wrote a letter to DeSantis late last week urging he use a line-item veto to slash a proposed $250,000 appropriation for University of Florida researchers to study the impact of preempting local fertilizer regulations for the next year.

A local fertilizer ordinance — like the one Pinellas County initiates from June through September — aims to prevent polluted, nutrient-heavy water from flowing off lawns and parks during Florida’s rainy season. That runoff can fuel toxic blue-green algae and red tide blooms that plague Florida’s cherished coastlines and cost the state millions in missed tourism dollars.

More than 100 municipalities across Florida, including more than 20 local governments in Pinellas, have used rainy season fertilizer bans as a tool to prevent souring the state’s waters.

Mount Dora gets warning letter over wastewater plant as foul smell persists throughout city

MOUNT DORA – Dozens of families still have questions as to what’s causing a foul smell throughout the city of Mount Dora.

For months, Channel 9 has reported on the problem that the mayor and Florida Department of Environmental Protection to fix.

Now, the city has gotten a warning letter.

Documents from the state’s website show the city’s wastewater plant may be in violation of state law.

Last October, the DEP noted two different facilities could be part of the problem: the wastewater treatment facility and the local landfill. The city took steps to deal with the smell that was found to be released to their water treatment facility.

The city has reassured residents and the state the issue is being dealt with.

St. Johns Riverkeeper launching expedition to investigate submerged aquatic vegetation loss

ST. JOHNS COUNTY – The St. Johns Riverkeeper is launching a multi-day expedition to investigate the lost grasses of the St. Johns River. The mission is to raise awareness about the fragile state of the river and demonstrate the need for urgent action.

Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAVs) are an essential indicator of river health and are vital to the continuation of a healthy river ecosystem.

SAVs are sources of refuge, oxygen, habitat and food for many aquatic species including the West Indian Manatee.

Yet, scientists have concluded that most SAVs have disappeared in the lower St. Johns River. Estimates put the loss as high as 99 percent.

SAVs do periodically decline as a result of droughts or hurricanes, but the grasses typically begin to bounce back within a few years. However, this time is different. The grasses in the St. Johns have not returned since Hurricane Irma. The question is why?

What is preventing the regrowth of the SAV?

Government environment agencies have offered several possible reasons, but consensus has not been reached and more needs to be done.

As a result, St. Johns Riverkeeper is launching a multi-day expedition to investigate the case of the lost grasses.

The team will spend several days on the water monitoring the most threatened habitat of the St. Johns River. They will patrol an 80-mile stretch of the river between Doctors lake and Lake George in search of remaining SAV beds.

The hope is to answer questions on the massive decline of SAVs and to find solutions to restore the vital habitat.

Lake County issues summer fertilizer ban

Lake County logo

In accordance with Lake County’s Fertilizer Ordinance, Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB) is issuing a ban on fertilizers during summer months when they have the most impact on wildlife and water ways. From June 1 through Sept. 30, the application of phosphorus and nitrogen on residential turf grass is prohibited.

This restriction is intended to help reduce nutrient loading from urban landscapes to our bodies of water. The ordinance was recommended by the Keep Lake Beautiful Committee and approved by the Lake County Board of County Commissioners in 2017.

Keep Lake Beautiful has an ongoing nutrient pollutant awareness campaign that gives residents the opportunity to pledge to keep a “Lake Friendly Lawn.” Residents who take the pledge promise to educate themselves on nutrient pollution and the fertilizer ordinance as well as to share the initiative with others and engage the community to help beautify Lake County. To view a video about steps to take for a Lake Friendly Lawn in the summer months, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1dnl9QIDEI.

Keep Lake Beautiful is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, a national nonprofit agency that focuses on building and maintaining vibrant communities. For more information on KLB, the fertilizer ordinance and to take the pledge, visit www.KeepLakeBeautiful.com