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

Water-Related News

Herbicide Application on Lake Irma, 10/23

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 10/23/20.

This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage hydrilla and emergent vegetation in the canal and lake.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE.

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

Florida wants to control wetlands permitting. Critics say it isn’t equipped to do the job

Florida’s bid to take over wetlands permitting across the state will undergo two virtual federal hearings beginning Wednesday.

The Clean Water Act requires federal permitting to preserve vanishing wetlands, which protect drinking water supplies, blunt damage from storms and hurricanes, and provide habitat for wildlife. Up until now, the permitting job has fallen on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

But in August, the state applied to take over, alarming environmentalists who fear Florida’s smaller Department of Environmental Protection won’t be equipped to do the work.

Only two other states oversee their own wetlands permitting, Michigan and New Jersey, said Earthjustice attorney Tania Galloni.

“Those states also spent millions and millions of dollars to create their programs,” she said. “Florida is saying it could do it without asking the legislature for a single penny.”

Environmentalists worry the move will increase the loss of wetlands to development at a moment when Florida, already threatened by sea rise, can least afford it. In addition to recharging the state's aquifers, wetlands suck up huge amounts of carbon — between $2 and $3.4 billion worth just in Everglades National Park mangroves.

“This whole thing is about shortcuts,” Galloni said. “It's about shortcutting the time for consideration and the level of review. We need checks and balances.”

In its application, Florida says it intends to have its existing staff of 229 employees, who now handle environmental permitting across the state, take over the duties. The state says the its own environmental permitting overlaps with wetland permitting, so the additional permitting duties should only generate about 15 percent more work.

Florida also intends to re-assign 18 employees who earn about $35,000 a year to do the permitting, according to an analysis submitted with the application.

Herbicide Application on Lake Lovely, 10/22

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 10/22/20.

This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage hydrilla and emergent vegetation in the lake.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE.

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

State finds money for sewer project to protect Wekiwa Springs

Help is on the way for the Wekiwa Springs, which was in danger of losing funding for a long-awaited sewer project.

“We’ve got our first neighborhood going to sewer,” Commissioner Christine Moore said Friday after learning the Florida Department of Environment Protection will provide $4.3 million which was previously promised but not included in a funding announcement.

Moore feared a loss of state money would force community organizers to flush away a multi-year plan to switch thousands of homes from septic tanks to sewers in the fragile Springs, a treasured watershed plagued by algae blooms blamed partly on residential septic discharge.

Some residents demonstrated Tuesday outside the County Commission meeting in Orlando, calling on the governor’s help.

DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said in an email Friday, “A final decision was made on that project review and funding has been identified.” She did not immediately provide more details. It also was unclear whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis interceded.

Herbicide Application on Lake Odell, 10/20

OCAlerts logo

The Environmental Protection Division is performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 10/20/2020.

This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage algae in the lake.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS:
•  DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY.
•  DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 2 DAYS.

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

SJRWMD adopts 2020 Minimum Flows and Levels priority list and schedule

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Annually updated list protects water bodies from harm

PALATKA — The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board Tuesday adopted the 2020 Minimum Flows and Levels (MFL) priority list, which lays out the agency’s plan for completing and re-evaluating MFLs through 2024.

Establishing minimum flows and levels (MFLs) is an important goal in the District’s work of planning for adequate water supplies for today and for future generations while also protecting the District’s water resources. The District sets MFLs for lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands and springs, updating the list annually.

MFLs define the limits at which further water withdrawals would be significantly harmful to the water resources or ecology of an area. Establishing MFLs is a requirement of the state Legislature and is required by the state Comprehensive Plan, the water resources implementation rule (formerly state water policy), and a 1996 governor’s executive order for priority water bodies.

The District has established MFLs on 131 water bodies (104 lakes, 14 springs, 6 rivers, and 7 wetlands). A total of 30 MFLs have been re-evaluated.

To view the 2020 Minimum Flows and Levels priority list and schedule, go to www.sjrwmd.com/static/mfls/2020-draft-MFLsPriorityList.pdf.

Read an in-depth article about the District’s MFL program in the SJRWMD online magazine, StreamLines.


Lakes on the 2020-2024 Priority List include:

  • New
    • Little Wekiva River and associated springs – Seminole/Orange Counties
    • Johns/Avalon/Apopka – Orange/Lake Counties
    • Red Bug – Seminole County
    • Griffin – Seminole County
    • Beauclair, Dora, Eustis, Harris – Lake County
    • East Crystal – Seminole County
  • Re-evaluation
    • Sylvan – Seminole County
    • Apshawa South  – Lake County
    • Wekiva River at SR 46 Bridge  – Seminole/Lake Counties
    • Wekiwa Springs – Seminole/Orange Counties
    • Rock Springs – Orange County
    • Prevatt – Orange County

Loss of state funding endangers septic-to-sewer switch for homes near Wekiwa Springs

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has reneged on a promise to give $2.2 million to help home-owners switch from septic tanks to sewers in the fragile Wekiwa Springs area of Orange County, a project intended to improve the health of the waters.

Orange County Commissioner Christine Moore said the loss of state money could kill the project.

“We understand the situation. We know the issue is COVID,” Moore said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic, which has hurt the state’s economy and depressed tax revenues. “But Wekiwa Springs is our most important watershed. We need it in good health.”

Moore said she hopes to persuade Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to find money for the Wekiwa project, noting he made a splash at Weeki Wachee Springs last month, announcing $50 million in the 2020 Florida budget for springs-related protections.

Exploring the widespread impacts of ongoing nitrogen pollution

The release of reactive nitrogen into the environment is having severe and ongoing ecosystem, economic, and human health impacts. How can we reduce our nitrogen footprint?

Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients in the environment, but its natural cycling has been significantly altered by human activities, specifically the release of excessive and harmful amounts of nitrogen from various sources including fertilizers, animal and human wastes, fossil fuel combustion, and mining.

Nitrogen Overload: Environmental Degradation, Ramifications, and Economic Costs, a new book recently published by AGU (American Geophysical Union), seeks to improve our understanding of the negative impacts of so much excess reactive nitrogen in the environment.

Visit the link below for a summary of content from the book. In the article the author, Brian G. Katz, a scientist who has spent the past four decades investigating the transport and fate of nitrogen in groundwater, springs, surface waters, and the atmosphere, gives an overview of the main issues.