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

Water-Related News

EPA proposes revising certain water quality standards for Florida’s waters

ATLANTA – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule to establish new and revised federal water quality standards (WQS) for the state of Florida based on the latest scientific knowledge about protecting human health.

“EPA continues to take strong action to ensure that our nation’s waters are safe for all,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This proposed rule, if finalized, would update water quality standards for Florida’s water bodies to reflect the current science and continue to protect the health of Floridians.”

Under the Clean Water Act, state governments, or EPA, when necessary, set limits (called “human health criteria”) for pollutants in water bodies that pose risks to human health through the consumption of drinking water or locally caught fish and shellfish. EPA is proposing new or revised criteria for a total of 73 priority toxic pollutants.

On December 1, 2022, EPA issued an Administrator’s Determination that Florida’s current standards – last updated in 1992 – do not reflect the latest science or the current habits of Floridians. Since 1992, national and regional data have become available that indicate greater levels of fish consumption, particularly among residents of coastal states like Florida. In addition, Florida does not have human health criteria for 37 pollutants that are likely to be in its waters. New data have become available since 1992 on the specific toxic pollutants that are likely to be present in Florida’s waters, and how those pollutants may impact Florida’s designated uses. EPA’s proposed rule accounts for more recent evidence on fish consumption rates and, as a result, proposes criteria that are more protective of Floridians that consume fish caught in the state.

In addition, EPA’s rule proposes criteria to protect subsistence fishers in and around Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve where Tribes hold reserved rights to fish for subsistence.

The Agency will accept comments on this proposal for 60 days upon publication in the Federal Register. EPA will also hold two online public hearings on this proposal. Learn more about the proposed rule and public hearings.

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.

Controlled burn being conducted Nov. 30th at Pine Lily Preserve

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Environmental Advisory – Controlled Burn being conducted (11-30-2023) in East Orange County – Commission District 5

Orange County is conducting a controlled burn on (11-30-2023) at its Pine Lily Preserve (PLP) property located off of Hwy 50 on South County Road 13 and smoke will be visible from several miles away.

The Pine Lily Preserve address is 1401 South County Rd 13, Orlando Fl, 32833.

PLP will be temporarily closed during the operation of the controlled burn.

Any specific questions should be directed to the Orange County Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

Orange County residents impacted by Hurricane Ian express concerns about continued flooding

ORANGE COUNTY – Residents in one Orange County community hard hit by Hurricane Ian are fed up with flooding that’s a problem during even regular rainstorms.

County leaders met with Pinar Drive residents this week to discuss possible solutions, but some weren’t happy with what they heard.

Flooding in the area is well documented.

Orange County is now studying drainage infrastructure in the area to figure out what’s going wrong.

The study will be completed in 2025 and will determine the level of service provided by the existing drainage infrastructure.

As that study continues, a county spokesperson says crews are currently working to put in new double box culverts on Lake Underhill Drive that will improve the capacity of the entire Pinar System.

They are also evaluating whether 18 acres of conservation land nearby can be used as an overflow area for the canal. While this would not impact the area during a major storm, the county believes it could alleviate flooding during lesser rainfall events.

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.

Full Lake Herbicide Application on Lake McCoy, 11/30

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Starting on 11/30/2023, the Environmental Protection Division will be performing a full lake aquatic plant herbicide treatment using Tradewind (bispyribac). This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage hydrilla in the lake. This treatment will be carried out over the next few months with two subsequent applications or "bumps" to maintain the herbicide at the target concentration.


  • Do not use treated water to irrigate ornamental plants, hydroponic crops, greenhouse/nursery plants or any food crops for 120 days or until the concentration of Tradewind is less than 1ppb. This concentration will be determined by routine water sampling and quantitative testing by the University of Florida.
  • Water treated with Tradewind herbicide may be used to irrigate Bermudagrass or St. Augustinegrass. However, repeated irrigation to turfgrass may cause some chlorosis and growth regulation. Also, heavy repeated irrigation to established landscape ornamentals should be avoided for 3-4 months after the application.
  • There are no restrictions on consumption of treated water for potable use by pets or other animals.
  • There are no restrictions on the use of treated water for recreational purposes, including swimming and fishing.

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

If you have technical questions regarding Tradewind, please contact Dan Beran of Nufarm at

Town of Windermere presents draft stormwater master plan

The plan’s goal is to provide a framework for flood mitigation and water quality-improvement projects.

The town of Windermere hosted a virtual public information workshop to discuss the draft stormwater master plan Monday, Nov. 6.

“Our stormwater master plan is a guidance document utilized in the long-range planning of stormwater conveyance, attenuation and treatment projects throughout town,” Public Works Director Tonya Elliott-Moore said. “The goal and objective of this stormwater master plan is to provide a framework for flood mitigation and water quality-improvement projects. The plan assists with gaining a full understanding of how stormwater affects the town and develops a five-year and 20-year plan to address these impacts.”

Elliott-Moore said the town has tasked Michael Galura with updating the stormwater master plan. He has worked with the town for many years on stormwater issues and has an in-depth knowledge of the town’s systems and infrastructure, as well as historical background.

The project is a joint collaboration with the Butler Chain of Lakes Advisory Committee.

Other notable attendees included David Hansen, Orange County Environmental Protection Division; David Hamstra, stormwater engineering consultant with the Butler Chain of Lakes Advisory Committee; and John Fitzgibbon, the town’s civil engineering consultant.

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.”