Water-Related News

Florida senators want federal help on their red tide problem

Algal blooms driven by chemical runoff and a warming climate killed aquatic life, slammed the state's tourism industry

As Florida grapples with so-called red tides of algal blooms along its coasts and waterways, the state’s senators are pushing the federal government to come up with a plan to help control them.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will on Wednesday mark up a bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott aiming to find a solution to the toxic algae that cost the state’s tourism industry millions of dollars each year.

The House in September passed a companion bill that was introduced by Rep. Brian Mast, R- Fla.

“I am encouraged by its continued progress in the Senate,” Rubio said in an emailed statement.

A spokeswoman said Scott is “proud to build on” his efforts to mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms and red tide during his time as governor, and “will continue to work with his colleagues to protect Florida’s environment for generations to come.”

As the governor of Florida before he came to the Senate, Scott received partial blame from critics for the widespread algal blooms that inundated his state’s shores last year, noting his administration cut the state’s water management budget by $700 million.

The bill would direct a federal interagency panel to “develop a plan for reducing, mitigating, and controlling” harmful algal blooms and hypoxia (dangerously low aquatic oxygen levels) in South Florida. It’s similar to one Rubio introduced last year with former Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Clean Water Act: Economic analysis could undermine Trump rule repeal

When the Trump administration finalized its repeal of the Obama-era Clean Water Rule last month, it also quietly updated an economic analysis of the repeal's costs and benefits.

The 195-page final analysis is nearly 10 times longer than the one that accompanied the Trump administration's initial proposal in 2017 to repeal the rule and estimates different costs and benefits of repealing the regulation, which clarified which wetlands and waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act.

The updated analysis — which the public did not have the chance to comment on — could leave the repeal vulnerable to legal challenges, experts say.

"The agencies aren't required to do an economic analysis, but once they decide to do it, courts typically want them to do it right," Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau said. "If there are flaws in the analysis, and if the public hasn't had a chance to see it, that could fit into the box of arbitrary and capricious."

Already, a coalition of environmental groups have cited the new analysis in their legal challenge to the repeal filed last week.

Online voting now open for Adopt-A-Lake Program calendar contest

TAVARES – The public is invited to vote for their favorite photos of Lake County’s waterbodies, which will be included in the 2020 Adopt-a-Lake Program calendar. Online voting is now open at www.lakecountyfl.gov/adoptlake and will close at midnight on Thursday, Nov. 21.

A panel including County Commissioner Wendy Breeden, county staff and volunteers independently rated more than 520 entries; paring them down to a semi-finalist list of 39 photographs. The top 14 pictures will be featured in the calendar and the one that receives the most votes will grace the calendar’s cover. Voting is limited to one vote per day.

The calendar will be available beginning Nov. 26 for a suggested donation of $5, with proceeds benefiting the Adopt-a-Lake Program. It will be available for purchase at several locations, to be announced at a later date. Orders can also be mailed to: Adopt-a-Lake Program, P.O. Box 7800, Tavares, FL 32778. Checks should be made payable to Lake County BCC. If placing a mail order, include $1 additional for postage.

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 Lake County’s Adopt-a-Lake Program, the calendar, or to become a volunteer, contact Cathie Catasus at 352-253-1659 or ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov.

Do your part: Reset your sprinkler system timer Saturday to fall back to once-a-week watering

Starting Sunday, Nov. 3, homeowners and businesses will fall back to once-a-week landscape irrigation across the 18 counties of the St. Johns River Water Management District. Nov. 3 is the day that Eastern Standard Time begins.

“Healthy lawns in our area require no more than one day a week of irrigation during cooler weather, based on scientific analysis from the University of Florida,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “So, when you change your clocks Saturday night, be sure to also reset your sprinkler timers to water only on the designated day for your address. And thanks for doing your part to protect Florida’s water resources!”

The district’s new Water Less campaign features four seasonal themes, starting with “Fall Back” in November to encourage once-a-week watering as temperatures begin cooling.

UPDATE: Lake Minnehaha, Cherry Lake/Villa City water levels (Nov. 15)

Water levels are continuing to drop (Minnehaha is at 97.13) and we are close to having to close the dams.

Staff is going to decrease discharges to about 40 cubic feet per second to slow the rate the lake drops.

Rainfall for the next 7 days after today is estimated to be below 0.10.

Keep Lake Beautiful urges residents to maintain a “Lake-Friendly Lawn”

TAVARES – Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB) is urging Lake County residents to take the Keep Lake Beautiful Pledge this fall. The year-long campaign funded by a $24,000 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection aims to protect Lake County’s water bodies from nutrient pollution by raising awareness.

To take the pledge residents can visit www.KeepLakeBeautiful.com/ , and fill out their name and location. By making the pledge, they promise to maintain a “lake friendly lawn,” by following the County’s Fertilizer Ordinance.

Residents applying fertilizer must use a 50 % slow release nitrogen fertilizer, and keep the application at least 15 feet back from any waterbodies. Excess fertilizer must also be cleaned up from any sidewalks, roads or driveways.

When taking the pledge, residents also promise to educate themselves on nutrient pollution and Lake County’s Fertilizer Ordinance, share the initiative with others and engage the community to help beautify Lake County. Once they take the pledge, residents will immediately receive a pledge certificate from Keep Lake Beautiful via email.

Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB) seeks to lead the way to a cleaner and more beautiful Lake County by engaging citizens and encouraging community participation. KLB is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit agency that focuses on building and maintaining vibrant communities.

Individuals and community organizations with an interest in beautifying public spaces in Lake County that would like to know more about participating in events organized by Keep Lake Beautiful, may contact the Keep Lake Beautiful program office at klb@lakecountyfl.gov or call us at 352-253-1660.