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

Water-Related News

Florida, Georgia water war reaches SCOTUS

A decades-long “water war” is now before the nation’s highest court – pitting Georgia’s use of water to supply its multi-billion-dollar agriculture industry and the booming Atlanta area, against the Sunshine State’s need for fresh water to revive its oyster business.

The case, still sitting with the Supreme Court, is centered around the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers. These freshwater sources start in Georgia, then join together and form the Apalachicola River near the Florida border, which flows into Apalachicola Bay.

There lies what once was a thriving oyster market. A decade ago farmers could harvest nearly 20, 60-pound bags of oysters on any given day in the bay of brackish water, according to Riverkeeper Dan Tonsmeire. Today, he says farmers struggle to bring home one to three bags because the salinity is too high.

Research: Oxygen levels continue dropping In world's waters

Scientists say that climate change is having an effect on the levels of the world’s oceans.

But it’s also apparently affecting the oxygen levels throughout the oceans, as well as our coastal waters including the Gulf of Mexico.

That’s according to a study published in the Jan. 4 issue of Science by a team of scientists from the Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE), a working group created by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

One of the group’s members is Brad Seibel, a professor of biological oceanography at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science. He talked to University Beat about what they’ve discovered so far:

There’s two processes at work here – and mankind may be to blame for both.

Florida Forever bill heads to state Senate floor with amendment banning overhead costs

A bill seeking $100 million for Florida Forever is headed to the Senate floor with an amendment that prohibits the state from spending the money on general operations.

The state Senate budget committee passed Senate Bill 370 Thursday, the same day its chairman filed the amendment to protect the funding he seeks in the bill he filed in September.

State Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, said he wants to make sure the state doesn't continue to spend money reserved for environmental land preservation on certain overhead costs. The amendment specifically prohibits providing the appropriation to:

  • Executive direction and support services, and technology and information services within the Department of Environmental Protection
  • Executive direction and support services, and technology services within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  • Executive direction and administrative support services within the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Executive direction and support services within the Department of State
  • Impacts of hurricane season rainfall are balanced by drier conditions

    While 12-month rainfall totals are still above average throughout the St. Johns River Water Management District’s 18-county service area, December rainfall was below average, especially through the southeastern corridor from southern Lake County through Orlando to Daytona. A full report outlining hydrological conditions was presented at the district’s January Governing Board meeting Tuesday.

    “Florida is known for this type of volatility when it comes to rainfall, which makes water conservation that much more important,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We’d like to encourage homeowners to skip every other week of irrigation during this season when lawns go dormant and need less water. Collectively, homeowners in north and east-central Florida could help save more than 1 billion gallons of water.”

  • The counties with the highest rainfall for the month included Nassau with 2.74 inches, Duval with 2.64 inches and Alachua with 2.07.
  • When looking at annual rainfall totals, 12-month rainfall totals are nearly 7 inches above average across the district.
  • Upper Floridan aquifer conditions at the end of December were in the high range except in the north, and portions of central Florida, which were in the normal range.

  • More information about the district’s hydrological conditions can be found online at To learn more about landscape irrigation and skipping a week of watering during winter, visit

    Rick Scott and Trump administration strike deal: No drilling off Florida coast

    A hastily arranged airport rendezvous Tuesday ended with an announcement from President Donald Trump’s administration that the state of Florida is “off the table” for new offshore oil drilling, a declaration that brought both relief and protests of election-year politics.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott met with U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at the airport in Tallahassee Tuesday afternoon. Both men emerged 20 minutes later to face waiting reporters, who had an hour’s notice of the meeting.

    “As a result of our interest in making sure that there’s no drilling here, Florida will be taken off the table,” Scott said.

    Zinke said the decision was a culmination of multiple meetings between Scott and Trump administration officials.

    “Florida is obviously unique,” Zinke said. “For Floridians, we are not drilling off the coast of Florida, and clearly the governor has expressed that it’s important.”

    High-risk underground fuel tanks in Florida await cleanup as state spends millions on easy fixes

    Scattered across Florida are 19,000 underground petroleum storage tanks that are no longer in use and may be leaking into the aquifer, the state’s drinking water supply.

    State records show that 738 of them are in Pinellas County, 792 in Hillsborough, 101 in Pasco and 61 in Hernando.

    Most people who live near them don’t even know they are there, or that they might be polluting their water. State law doesn’t require anyone to warn them.

    The state Department of Environmental Protection, in charge of cleaning up the mess, was originally supposed to work on the highest-priority sites first, those posing the greatest threat to human health.

    But at the direction of lawmakers and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, that’s no longer the case.

    UF/IFAS researchers hope plant project would help restore Lake Apopka

    Every so often, Carrie Adams and Laura Reynolds take a boat onto Lake Apopka to toss plants into the water. They hope the plants take root in the lake and help stimulate the process that may eventually rid the water of pollutants and help boost the fish population.

    Other lakes in Florida and around the country can also benefit from their technique, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) researchers say.

    “Restoring Lake Apopka is critical because it is a source that eventually feeds into the St. Johns River,” said Dean Dobberfuhl, bureau chief for water resources for the St. Johns River Water Management District. The district manages Lake Apopka and other water resources in northern and central Florida and funds this project. “As a source feeding into the St. Johns River, we want to see improving water quality,” Dobberfuhl said.

    Cost-share funding available for water resource protection projects

    The St. Johns River Water Management District is accepting applications through Feb. 15 to share in cost-share funding for water supply, water quality, natural systems and flood protection construction projects. An informational workshop is being held Jan. 16 at 10 a.m. at district headquarters, 4049 Reid St., Palatka, or via webinar.

    “The district is excited to continue our cost-share funding partnerships that are helping local communities stretch their construction dollars to further protect our water resources,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Cost-share projects help to ensure taxpayers are getting the best return on their tax dollars for water resource protection.”

    Projects will focus on benefits to one or more of the district’s four core missions:

  • Water supply (including alternative supplies and conservation)
  • Water quality
  • Enhancing natural systems
  • Providing flood protection

  • Projects may include, but are not limited to, alternative water supply development, springs protection and restoration, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, and water conservation. Other eligible projects may improve water quality, reduce nutrient loading, restore or enhance natural systems, or protect against flooding.

    Projects are eligible for a maximum district cost-share up to $1.5 million per project and per applicant. Projects may span a maximum of two years and must start by June 30, 2019. Those that are permitted and ready to begin construction will receive a higher score during the review process.

    The district will fund up to 33 percent of the construction costs for projects and up to 50 percent for water conservation projects. Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) communities may submit a waiver of matching funds letter.

    Complete applications should be emailed to by 5 p.m. Feb. 15.

    Visit the district’s cost-share funding program webpage at for more information or to access the webinar information.

    District and UF complete collaborative three-year investigation into Florida springs' health

    Scientists and engineers with the St. Johns River Water Management District and University of Florida have completed a collaborative multi-year science investigation into the health of priority spring systems. The partnership was launched in 2014 to develop an enhanced scientific foundation to help identify the most effective projects and strategies to protect or restore the district’s Outstanding Florida Springs.

    “The state of Florida and the St. Johns River Water Management District have made protection of Florida’s Outstanding Florida Springs one of our highest priorities,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann B. Shortelle. “The challenge for water managers is finding a balance that provides environmental protection while also meeting people’s water needs and allowing for continued enjoyment of these unique natural resources. As a result of this cutting-edge effort, our path forward on springs protection and restoration will continue to be informed by the very latest science.”

    In 2014, the district launched the three‑year investigation and engaged the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the UF Water Institute to assist with research, experimentation, data collection and analysis. The partnership is called the Collaborative Research Initiative on Sustainability and Protection of Springs, or CRISPS.

    Mount Dora scraps service-line warranty partnership after complaints it was a scam

    The letter, signed “sincerely City of Mount Dora” on stationery bearing the city’s logo, looked funny to Aaron Miller.

    For a monthly fee, it offered the truck driver financial protection if “you were unfortunate enough to suffer a break or burst” in a water or sewer line in the Hibiscus Mobile Home Community where he lives.

    “It upset me from the jump,” said Miller, 63, who called City Hall for an explanation about the direct-mail solicitation sent by a Pennsylvania-based water- and sewer-line warranty company. “Were they legit or just trying to bogart my money using Mount Dora’s name?”

    Amid criticism from Miller and other residents, Mount Dora City Council members decided unanimously Tuesday night to give 30 days notice to end its arrangement with Service Line Warranties of America. The heads up is required by the contract, which allowed the warranty company to use Mount Dora’s seal and endorsement in its marketing campaign.

    Get your FREE 2018 Orange County Nature Photo Calendar

    News Image

    Orange County's beautiful nature photo calendar highlighting images of amazing wildlife found throughout local parks, natural lands and backyards is now available. In addition to wildlife information, you'll be introduced to both outdoor recreation and volunteer opportunities. The majority of the featured photographs were entries in the 2017 Kit and Sidney Chertok Florida Native Nature Photography Contest hosted by the Orange Audubon Society (OAS). Visit to learn about OAS, its mission, meetings and monthly field trips, and how to enter the annual photo contest. Email for more information on where to pick up your calendar or how to have one mailed to you.

    Red tide, boat strikes cause of most manatee deaths in 2017

    A prolonged red tide season that bled over from 2016 played a large role in deaths of the Florida manatee this year.

    Red tide’s presence was visible — visually and nasally — from September 2016 through February in Manatee County, with other areas along Southwest Florida also being exposed.

    Also known as the accumulation of the phytoplankton Karenia brevis, red tide used to be a one-off reason for manatee mortality, said Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee’s director of science and conservation.

    In 2016, a total of 520 manatees were reported dead statewide, with various causes such as boat strikes, cold stress syndrome or natural. This year, preliminary counts through Dec. 15 put the count at 513. Many of them occurred in Brevard or Lee counties, as a lot of manatees congregate in those waters. More often than not, the cause of death goes undetermined.