An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Orange County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Trump administration moves to withdraw clean-water rule

The Trump administration moved Tuesday to roll back an Obama administration policy that protected more than half the nation's streams from pollution but drew attacks from farmers, fossil fuel companies and property-rights groups as federal overreach.

The 2015 regulation sought to settle a debate over which waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act, which has dragged on for years and remained murky despite two Supreme Court rulings. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in February instructing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rescind or revise the Obama rule, which environmentalists say is essential to protecting water for human consumption and wildlife.

In a statement, the agencies announced plans to begin the withdrawal process, describing it as an interim step. When it is completed, the agencies said, they will undergo a broader review of which waters should fall under federal jurisdiction.

Herbicide Application on Lake Lovely, 6/27

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 6/27/2017. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage emergent vegetation throughout the lake. WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

Water Atlas program, faculty, Atlas sponsors receive FLMS Awards

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The USF Water Institute was one of five recipients of FLMS Awards of Excellence at the 2017 Florida Lake Management Society symposium in Captiva Island. Former USF Water Institute faculty member Jim Griffin was honored by the Society with its highest award, the Marjorie Carr Award, for lifetime achievement.

The USF Water Institute received the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award, given to individuals or organizations who report on aquatic resource issues, for its use of informatics to publicly disseminate data and supporting, explanatory information related to water resource management.

Dr. Jim Griffin, principal investigator for the Water Atlas program from 2005 until he retired in 2014, received the Marjorie Carr Award, the Florida Lake Management Society’s highest award. It is given for lifetime work on behalf of Florida’s aquatic resources. The award is named in honor of Marjorie Carr who, among other things, organized citizens and brought to an end the proposed Cross Florida Barge Canal.

Other 2017 FLMS award recipients:

Judy Ott received the Edward Deevey, Jr. Award, given to an individual for contributing to our scientific understanding of Florida’s water bodies. Edward Devey was an internationally recognized limnologist and was affiliated with the State Museum of Florida at the time of his death. Judy retired in March after nine years as program scientist for the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.

The Seminole County SERV Program received the Dr. Daniel E. Canfield Jr. Volunteerism Award, given to a volunteer organization or outstanding volunteer for significant contributions to the research, restoration, and/or preservation of our water resources. The award is named after Dr. Daniel Canfield, founder of Florida LAKEWATCH, the pioneering citizen-volunteer water quality monitoring program involving over 1,200 lakes statewide, and now being emulated across the United States. The Seminole Education, Restoration and Volunteer (SERV) Program works to actively restore and educate people on how to protect the waterways and natural areas of Seminole County.

Nia Wellendorf, Environmental Administrator for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, received the FLMS Young Professional Award, presented to a young lake management professional who exhibits exemplary professional accomplishments and a commitment to water resource protection and management of our lakes and watersheds.

Orange County keeps landscapers out of nitrogen fertilizer ban

Orange County’s landscaping companies with certified trained technicians will still be able to apply nitrogen fertilizers during the rainy season – now – but with some stricter rules and tougher penalties.

The Orange County Commission updated its fertilizer laws Tuesday evening after a long public hearing that pitted environmental activists who wanted a full rainy season ban and the lawn care industry that wanted to keep their freedom to use their professional expertise.

The result is an ordinance that meets state requirements set last year under the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act of 2016 without being as tough as Seminole County but with being tougher than many.

Seminole County, Orange County’s neighbor to the north, won over environmental activists with some of the toughest rules in the state with its new ordinance and much of the conversation Tuesday in Orange was whether they should apply in Orange as well.

They won’t. Orange County has had a ban on non-commercial application of nitrogen fertilizers from June 1 to Sept. 30 since 2009. The end result of that battle Tuesday keeps that ban in place, but also keeps in place an exemption that may unique to Florida, anyone who’s taken and passed a county course on fertilizer application to minimize runoff.

Tom Palmer: Problem of water use is not a new issue

To hear some political leaders discuss the increasing challenges of addressing water supply issues lately, you might think this is a relatively recent issue.

It isn’t.

Parker notes that Florida has had worse floods and droughts than some of the events that triggered the formation of Florida’s water management districts.

He added, however, that in the days when Florida’s population was smaller, people could manage to get water somehow and generally had enough sense not to build in flood-prone areas.

Parker made some other points that are relevant to water planning today.

Ground water and surface water are only different sides of the same hydrologic coin and must be managed as a single resource.

Fertilizer ordinance passes in Orange County, limits nitrogen

Orange County commissioners approved new rules limiting when and how you can fertilize your grass.

  • Ordinance bans nitrogen-based fertilizers through Sept. 30, with exceptions
  • Landscapers, homeowners who complete education seminar can use fertilizers


The updated ordinance is aiming to protect our waterways.

That's because if the nitrogen found in certain fertilizers seeps into springs, rivers and lakes, advocates say the chemical can promote algae growth and cause a decline in water quality.

"It's not a complete ban," said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

Orange County leaders unanimously voted to update their own fertilizer ordinance Tuesday night.

The goal is to limit the use of fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus near priority springs areas, like Wekiva Springs.

"The reality is I think most homeowners do just err on the side of more is better, and maybe that's changing, but I just think that's kind of human nature," Mayor Jacobs said.

Commissioners approved a blackout period, which states no nitrogen-based fertilizers can be used from June 1 through Sept. 30.

PLT Climate Change and Project WET Workshop

For Formal and Non-formal Educators
It's an educational twofer day. By attending this workshop you will obtain materials for two award-winning national environmental education programs---Project Learning Tree's Southeastern Forests and Climate Change and Project WET.

Climate change is an important natural process that can be accelerated by human activities. Learn how to teach about this important process and integrate it into your curriculum, lessons and activities.

Project WET 2.0 is chock full of activities that assist you in making connections to science, language arts, reading, technology and more. Water is a finite resource that must be managed and protected as evidenced by weather conditions in Florida with its periods of drought, hurricanes and rain events.

How is this relevant to my curriculum?
The activities explore real world STEM topics including the carbon cycle, computer models and databases, engineering, and life cycle assessments of products. The activities are correlated to the Next Generation Science Standards. And, in support of Florida Standards, these activities also enable students to practice critical thinking and writing skills.

When: Monday July 31, 9 AM to 4 PM
Where: Trout Lake Nature Center 520 East CR 44 Eustis, FL
Cost — $20 (Includes lunch)
To register, go to www.universe.com/wetclimate
Registration deadline: July 24, 2017
For further information: Contact Eileen Tramontana at 352-357-7536

SJRWMD cost-share program funds Orange County projects

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PALATKA – Forty-three projects will share in approximately $21.3 million from the St. Johns River Water Management District for construction of water supply and water conservation, water quality improvement, flood protection and natural systems restoration projects. The district's governing board approved the project ranking for the fiscal year 2017-2018 Districtwide Annual Cost-share Program.

Projects within Orange County that received funding from the program include:

  • Orange County EPD Lake Lawne SW Irrigation Facility at Barnett Park – The project is a stormwater retrofit project to include impoundment in existing Lk Marylin Outfall Canal to capture stormwater from a 300-acre subbasin. The stormwater will be used to irrigate area within Barnett Park, an Orange County Park along Lake Lawne: an urban lake and the upstream-most lake in the Little Wekiva system that flows to the Wekiva River. The project is expected to result in a reduction of approximately 650 lbs/yr TN and 110 lbs/yr TP.
  • Lost Lake RV Park WWTP Upgrades – Wastewater Package Plant Upgrade (RV Park) for nutrient (TN) reduction - hookup to municipal system not cost effective for the applicant. Includes a 9,000 gpd ADF modular precast concrete class 3 WWTP. The project will result in the removal of approximately 770 lbs/yr TN from the Wekiva Basin.
  • City of Winter Garden Water Conservation Program Expansion (Ph II) – The project involves the expansion to the city ’s current system that manages and communicates water use at the accountlevel, that can provide immediate information to customers to initiate actions with water conservation results. The project is located within the CFWI, will benefit the Springshed and the MFLs of the Wekiva springs, and conserve 0.3 MGD.
  • OCU Waterwise Program (New) Phase 2 – The project involves the continuation of the County's water conservation program for new homes. This phase will include up to 300 new homes. The program is voluntary, whereby builders agree to meet certain benchmarks to become as water efficient as possible. The County provides advanced irrigation equipment to the builder. The builder must meet 80% of the Florida Water Star silver level requirements. The project is estimated to result in 0.05 MGD of water conserved.
  • Orange County EPD Lake Jennie Jewel Alum Treatment – The project involves in-lake alum treatment (3 separate treatments) of Lake Jennie Jewel, an urban lake in south Orange County. Also, this project includes the installation of a nutrient-separating baffle box (NSBB) on the east lobe of Lake Jennie Jewel. The project will result in the reduction of 45 lbs/yr TN and 1,239 lbs/yr TP.
  • OCU Waterwise Program (Retrofit) Phase 2 – The project involves the continuation of the County's water conservation program for existing homes. This phase will include up to 300 existing homes. The program is voluntary, whereby residents agree to meet certain benchmarks to become as water efficient as possible. The County provides advanced irrigation equipment to the resident. The resident must meet 80% of the Florida Water Star silver level requirements. The project is estimated to result in water conservation of 0.03 MGD.
  • Winter Garden Reuse Distribution Retrofit – The project includes expansion of the City of Winter Gardens reuse water service to retrofit four subdivisions in the Stoneybrook West community (Reserve at Black Lake, Harbor Crest, Lexington, and Rock Creek subdivisions). 221 properties will be converted from potable water for irrigation to reuse water. The project will result in 0.06 MGD reclaimed water.
  • Apopka Cost Share Golden Gem Rd RCW Ext – The project involves the construction of a reclaimed water main the length of Golden Gem Road between Ponkan Road and Kelly Park Road, approx. 10,500 linear feet (LF), a pump station, and reservoir. The project provides an additional capacity of approx. 300 MG and an overall benefit of 5 MGD of reclaimed water.
  • OCU Irrigation Conservation Phase 2 – The project involves the continuation of OUC's irrigation conservation program. The project targets high use residential and commercial irrigation customers. Postcards are mailed and free irrigation evaluations are conducted. This project is now also including a toilet rebate program for residential and commercial customers. The project is estimated to result in a water savings of 0.06 MGD.
  • Maitland Enhancement System for Water Conservation – The project involves the city-wide upgrade of water meters to AMI, and updating the City software to assist the City in implementing their water conservation program. The project is estimated to result in 0.88 MGD water conserved.

Register now for Wekiva Basin Field Ecology Course

The Friends of the Wekiva River (FOWR) Wekiva Field Ecology course will consist of six lessons. The course is designed to encompass various aspects of the unique ecology of the Wekiva system including a focus on springs, the river and its tributaries, unique wildlife and unique habitats. These classes will all be field classes and will consist of an approximately three-hour trip during all four seasons of the year.

The instructor for this course is Dr. Jay Exum. Dr. Exum received his Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from Auburn University. He has provided ecological expertise on projects related to threatened and endangered species, wetlands ecology and large-scale conservation planning. He has represented private businesses, counties, public agencies, NGO’s and nonprofits towards creating comprehensive conservation strategies, land acquisition programs, and comprehensive plans that assure protection of landscape linkages, and large tracts of natural lands. Jay led two comprehensive BioBlitzes on public lands across the Wekiva basin in 2014 and 2015 and has been the compiler for the Wekiva River portion of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for more than 10 years.

You don’t want to miss this unique opportunity to learn about and experience the Wekiva Basin with this engaging teacher!

Cost: $100.00 full course, $25.00 individual trips

How to register:
-Mail check with your name, email and phone number
-Pay with credit card via www.FriendsOfWekiva.org

Local governments, more or less, tackling effects of climate change

In the future, Holmes Beach City Hall may be reachable only by boat.

Predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show seaside cities gradually taking on water like a weather-worn ship. Granted, these aren’t immediate changes — the median prediction of sea level rise will reach up to 6 feet of water by the year 2100.

While doubts about climate change’s effects persist throughout the United States, rising seas, acidic oceans and stronger storms are already being felt on the Gulf Coast.

On the front lines, Gulf Coast leaders know it’s there. But what’s being done to address it?

Water efficiency in rural areas getting worse, despite improvements in urban centers

A nationwide analysis of water use over the past 30 years finds that there is a disconnect between rural and urban areas, with most urban areas becoming more water efficient and most rural areas becoming less and less efficient over time.

“Understanding water use is becoming increasingly important, given that climate change is likely to have a profound impact on the availability of water supplies,” said Sankar Arumugam, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and lead author of a new study on the work. “This research helps us identify those areas that need the most help, and highlights the types of action that may be best suited to helping those areas.”

The new paper in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, stems from a National Science Foundation-funded, interuniversity research project which focuses on understanding how water sustainability in the United States has changed over the past 30 years because of climate change and population growth.

For this paper, researchers evaluated water use data at the state and county level for the 48 contiguous states. Specifically, the researchers looked at water-use efficiency, measured as per capita consumption, in 5-year increments, from 1985 to 2010.

Scott vetoes spending for citrus canker claims, water projects

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday vetoed $37.4 million to pay for citrus canker judgments along with $15.4 million for local water projects.

Canker is a bacterial disease that blemishes a tree's fruit and can cause it to drop prematurely. To protect Florida's $9 billion dollar citrus industry, more than 16 million trees, including 865,000 residential trees, were destroyed statewide, beginning in 2000.

In his veto letter, Scott said only that he was striking the spending for citrus judgments for Broward and Lee counties because of "ongoing litigation."

Overall, Scott vetoed $410 million from the $82 billion budget. A special session is scheduled for next week to provide funding from the vetoes for education, economic development and the Visit Florida tourism marketing agency.

USGS study Finds 28 types of cyanobacteria in Florida algal bloom

A new U.S. Geological Survey study that looked at the extensive harmful algal bloom that plagued Florida last year found far more types of cyanobacteria present than previously known.

Twenty-eight species of cyanobacteria were identified in the extensive bloom, which occurred in the summer of 2016 in southern Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie Canal and River, and the Caloosahatchee River. As the guacamole like sludge created by the bloom began to stick together, it formed a thick, floating mat that coated river and coastal waters and shorelines – affecting tourism, killing fish, and in some cases, making people sick.

The culprit causing the bloom was a well-known species of cyanobacteria called Microcystis aeruginosa. However, water samples collected by state and federal agencies before and during the disruptive bloom on Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee waterway were analyzed by the USGS and found to contain 27 other species of cyanobacteria.

New research vessel to impact marine research across Florida

With the crack of two bottles of champagne and the blessing from a local priest, Florida’s newest research vessel, the R/V W.T. Hogarth, was christened and launched for the first-time Tuesday May 23, 2017.

The 78-foot vessel, named after William T. Hogarth, Ph.D, the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s former director and the former dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, will be used to support research efforts by USF, as well as more than two dozen institutions and agencies across Florida.

Legislators worked hard to keep the contract local, and challenged Duckworth Steel Boats of Tarpon Springs with designing and building the ship.

“It was a little different than anything else we’ve worked on, but it means a lot to me because I like to see that the oceans are being taking care of,” said Junior Duckworth, owner of Duckworth Steel Boats.

This fall, the W.T. Hogarth will replace the nearly 50-year old R/V Bellows, by joining the FIO’s academic fleet with an inaugural voyage, undertaking a circumnavigation of Florida’s coast.

Central Florida Water Initiative focuses on collaboration with utilities to extend water supply

Built on the concept of collaboration, the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) works with the area’s 83 utilities to scale water conservation efforts and promote alternative water supplies for a growing population.

“The CFWI is focused on regional, multijurisdictional solutions that serve more than one utility, and by extension more residents, businesses, the agricultural community and other water users in the region,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We remain focused on ensuring sustainable use of Florida’s water, knowing that coordination is key to successfully implement a water supply plan of this size and scale.”

“This unique partnership can be a model for other communities across the country,’” said Southwest Florida Water Management District Executive Director Brian Armstrong. “We are proud to work together to develop strategies to meet our region’s growing water demands.”

“As a longtime Central Florida resident, I can personally attest to the crucial importance of water supply,” said South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “Our Governing Board is enthusiastic to play a part in this major collaborative effort to find every available way to ensure water supply for future generations.” Through partnerships with utilities, the CFWI has developed a methodical approach to implementing large-scale water conservation and alternative water supply sources.

• Throughout the CFWI, the use of reclaimed water has grown along with population increases. By building the infrastructure and using reclaimed water, utilities and the communities they serve conserve traditional freshwater supplies and provide an environmentally responsible alternative to disposal of wastewater.
• Water savings incentive programs, like Florida Water Star, help utilities promote water conservation by offering customers rebates and incentives to install water-efficient appliances, landscapes and irrigation systems.
• Water management districts provide a variety of opportunities for utilities within the CFWI to share construction costs for projects that assist in meeting a variety of goals, including creating alternative water supplies and enhancing conservation efforts.
• Utilities and water management districts participate in leak detection programs, which conserve water and increase a utility’s operational efficiency by inspecting and detecting leaks in public water system pipelines.
• Development of a list of water supply project options for the CFWI Planning Area in coordination with utilities and other stakeholder groups.
• Utilities encourage water conservation on a local level by implementing ordinances that promote irrigation restrictions, as well as using tier-rate billing to urge water savings indoors and outdoors.

The goal of CFWI is to develop strategies to meet water demands while ensuring water resources are protected, conserved and restored in the 5,300-square-mile area. Public supply is currently the largest use category in the CFWI Planning Area, with use expected to increase by approximately 40 percent by 2035. To address this increase, water management districts work with utilities as well as other stakeholder groups to address these water supply needs.

The CFWI is a joint effort by the water management districts (Southwest, St. Johns and South Florida), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and water utilities, environmental groups, business organizations, agricultural communities, and other stakeholders to recognize and address the water needs of the future.

$1.5 million available to farmers to support water-saving technologies

PALATKA, Fla., May 26, 2017 -- The St. Johns River Water Management District is accepting applications through July 28 from farmers interested in participating in cost-share funding for agricultural projects that promote water conservation and improve water quality in area waterways. Up to $1.5 million is available to support the efforts.

"The districtwide Agricultural Cost-share Program engages the agricultural community in the shared goals of water conservation and reduction of nutrient runoff," said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. "By working together, we are aiding in the sustainability of agriculture within the district and protecting our water resources at the same time. This collaborative effort benefits us all."

The district's Agricultural Cost-Share Program assists farmers, ranchers and growers by providing up to 75 percent of cooperative funding toward implementing water-saving technologies to improve efficiencies and protect natural systems.

Eligible projects may include irrigation system retrofits, soil moisture and climate sensor telemetry, rainwater harvesting, sub-irrigation drain tile, tailwater recovery and reuse, soil mapping with variable rate fertilizer application, and expanded waste storage. A list of eligible projects and equipment can be found online at www.sjrwmd.com/agriculture/costshare.html, along with details about the application, review and selection process.

Applications will be evaluated based on location, water conservation benefits, water quality benefits, cost/benefit effectiveness and timeline.

District staff will evaluate each project based on the evaluation criteria approved by the district's Governing Board and prepare a recommended list for board approval in October 2017.

Pace of sea-level rise has tripled since 1990, new study shows

Virtually all 2.5 million Miami-Dade residents live on land that's less than ten feet above sea level. In terms of real-estate assets vulnerable to flooding, Miami is the second most exposed city on Earth, behind only Guangzhou, China. And Miami is basically the poster child for the effects of climate change, because the city has already begun flooding on sunny days.

But now a new study shows the seas are actually rising three times faster as they were in the 1990s.

Using a new satellite technique, the study in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that before 1990, the ocean was rising at a rate of roughly 1.1 millimeter per year. From 1990 to 2012, however, that rate spiked to 3.1 millimeters per year. Though that rate might still seem small, even a rise of a few millimeters worldwide can lead to increased flooding events or more deadly storm surges at an alarming pace.

Importantly, the study's authors claim the new data — first reported by the Washington Post — shows that scientists had previously underestimated how fast the oceans were rising before 1990, before widespread satellite data was available.