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

Water-Related News

Orange County Dept. of Health renews Health Alert for Lake Minehaha

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UPDATE: Feb. 23, 2024

ORLANDO – The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Minnehaha. This is in response to a water sample taken on February 20, 2024.

The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Minnehaha.

The Department of Health uses a two-tiered notification of Health Cautions and Health Alerts. For blue-green algae, a Health Caution is based on the presence of a bloom, and a Health Alert is issued on the basis of toxin detected.

Original notices follow.


Feb. 8, 2024 – ORLANDO – The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has issued a Health Caution for the presence of blue-green algae in Lake Minnehaha. This is in response to a water sample taken by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on February 7, 2024. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Minnehaha.

Blooms have the potential to produce toxins, and what triggers them to begin doing so remains poorly understood. For this reason, it is important to exercise caution, as bloom conditions are dynamic and could change at any time. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) collects algae samples from reported bloom locations for toxin analysis. Once completed, the results will be posted on the FDEP Algal Bloom Dashboard, and can also be viewed on the Protecting Florida Together website, where you can sign up to be notified of the latest conditions. 

 


Feb. 2, 2024 – ORLANDO – The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Minnehaha. This is in response to a water sample taken by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on January 31, 2024. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Minnehaha.

Residents and visitors are a

Orange County Dept. of Health LIFTS Health Alert for Lake Rowena

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ORLANDO – The Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) has lifted the health alert for the presence of blue-green algae in Lake Rowena. This is in response to a site visit and water samples taken from the site.

The public may resume normal activities in and around Lake Rowena. Because of the fluid and organic nature of algal blooms it is possible that bloom conditions could return so the public is advised to watch for and report future algae blooms on Lake Rowena.

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov. Protecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to action.

Photographer: Inland development is destroying Florida–s coastal freshwater wetlands

The object of Benjamin Dimmitt's pictorial and editorial attention has deteriorated significantly over the last few decades.

With the exception of its northern border with Alabama and Georgia, Florida is entirely surrounded by water. The state’s world famous sandy beaches make up about 825 miles of that coastline, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. But wetlands comprise several hundred more miles of the Florida coast. And contrary to popular belief, the majority of those wetlands are not salt water, but fresh water. Their source is the outflow from the gigantic Floridan Aquifer that underlies Florida. But as Florida’s population has grown, the size and condition of those wetlands seems to be on the decline. That’s the subject of a new book by noted naturalist and photographer Benjamin Dimmitt. It’s entitled: “An Unflinching Look: Elegy for Wetlands.” In it he documents – in both words and images – the profound changes in the Chassahowitzka National Refuge on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Herbicide application on Lake Whippoorwill (east canal only), 2/22

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 2/22/2024.

This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage Hydrilla in the east canal.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS (APPLIES ONLY TO THE EAST CANAL):

  • DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY.
  • DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 5 DAYS.

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

These restrictions apply only to the area in red:

treatment area

SJRWMD to host public meeting on Lake Apopka restoration on March 5th

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The St. Johns River Water Management District will hold an in-person public meeting to provide an update on Lake Apopka restoration efforts and vegetation management activities. This meeting is scheduled for 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, at Tanner Hall, located at 29 W. Garden Avenue, Winter Garden, FL 34787. See directions below.

For a copy of the agenda or for more information about this meeting, please contact the District by phone at 407-659-4868 or by email at LakeApopkaRestoration@sjrwmd.com .

Directions:

From State Road 50/W. Colonial Drive in Winter Garden: Turn north onto Vineland Road. Continue straight (north) onto S. Main St. Continue straight (north) across County Road 438/Plant St. onto N. Main St. At the end of North Main St., continue straight (north) onto Surprise Drive. Turn left (west) onto West Garden Avenue. Tanner Hall will be on your right before the playground.

From County Road 438/Plant Street in Winter Garden: Turn north onto N. Main St. At the end of North Main St., continue straight (north) onto Surprise Drive. Turn left (west) onto West Garden Avenue. Tanner Hall will be on your right before the playground.

USF’s ‘Flood Hub’ is helping the state look into resiliency needs

Resilience in the face of increasingly extreme weather is on the minds this week of those attending the annual Gulf of Mexico Alliance Conference in Tampa. And much of the work on resiliency will be done at the University of South Florida.

Many of us have heard the warnings about coastal flooding increasing because of strengthening storms and hurricanes. But before work can be done to address resilience in the face of these threats, we have to know what roads, buildings and utilities are at risk.

That's where the new Florida Flood Hub comes in. It was recently established at the USF College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg.

Once it is fully operational, Wes Brooks - Florida's chief resilience officer - says the hub will identify what's most vulnerable to flooding statewide.

“I believe that Florida will be the first state in the country - and certainly the largest for some time, I would suspect - to have assessed the flood vulnerability of virtually every single piece of infrastructure and critical asset that there is with the state's borders,” Brooks said.

Brooks told conference members that the hub will be a central repository for flood models and information.

“Once fully operational, the flood hub will also provide a statewide picture of flood risk in a clear and consistent manner that can be used for transparent and fair decision making,” he said, “while also significantly lowering the technical burden on local governments - like here in Tampa - to incorporate forward-looking flood data and municipal planning.”

Brooks adds that more than 230 planning grants have been awarded to counties and cities throughout the state.

Speakers at the conference also said the work will become critical as extreme weather becomes the "new normal."

Herbicide application on Lake Mary Jess, 2/20

OCAlert logo

The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 2/20/2024.

This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage Hydrilla in the NE canal (Near Lake Mary Dr).

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS:

  • DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY.
  • DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 5 DAYS.
  • There are NO fishing or swimming restrictions.

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

These restrictions only apply to the areas indicated in red here below:

treatment area

Herbicide application on Lake Jessamine, 2/20

OCAlert logo

The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 2/20/2024.

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

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE.

There are NO fishing or swimming restrictions.

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

Orange County Health Dept. issues Bloom Alert for Lake Pearl - Center

FDOH logo

UPDATE – Feb. 19, 2024

The Orange County Health Department has issued a Health Alert for Lake Pearl, as testing has detected toxins in the water in the vicinity of the bloom.

Feb. 13, 2024

ORLANDO – The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has issued a Health Caution for the presence of blue-green algae in Lake Pearl - Center. This is in response to a water sample taken by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on February 12, 2024. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Pearl - Center.

(The Department of Health uses a two-tiered notification of Health Cautions and Health Alerts. For blue-green algae, a Health Caution is based on the presence of a bloom, and a Health Alert is issued on the basis of toxin detected.)

Blooms have the potential to produce toxins, and what triggers them to begin doing so remains poorly understood. For this reason, it is important to exercise caution, as bloom conditions are dynamic and could change at any time. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) collects algae samples from reported bloom locations for toxin analysis. Once completed, the results will be posted on the FDEP Algal Bloom Dashboard, and can also be viewed on the Protecting Florida Together website, where you can sign up to be notified of the latest conditions.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • We do not recommend that you swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Avoid getting water in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • You should keep pets and livestock away from the waters in this location.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish to the appropriate temperature.
  • You should not eat shellfish from this location.

For updates, please visit the FDEP statewide Algal Bloom Dashboard.

Crucial system of ocean currents is heading for a collapse due to climate change

A vital system of ocean currents could collapse within a few decades if the world continues to pump out planet-heating pollution, scientists are warning – an event that would be catastrophic for global weather and “affect every person on the planet.”

A new study published Tuesday in the journal Nature, found that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current – of which the Gulf Stream is a part – could collapse around the middle of the century, or even as early as 2025.

Scientists uninvolved with this study told CNN the exact tipping point for the critical system is uncertain, and that measurements of the currents have so far showed little trend or change. But they agreed these results are alarming and provide new evidence that the tipping point could occur sooner than previously thought.

The AMOC is a complex tangle of currents that works like a giant global conveyor belt. It transports warm water from the tropics toward the North Atlantic, where the water cools, becomes saltier and sinks deep into the ocean, before spreading southwards.

It plays a crucial role in the climate system, helping regulate global weather patterns. Its collapse would have enormous implications, including much more extreme winters and sea level rises affecting parts of Europe and the US, and a shifting of the monsoon in the tropics.

Orange County Dept. of Health issues Health Caution for Cypress Lake-West Lobe

FDOH logo

Feb. 8, 2024

ORLANDO The Florida Department of Health in Orange County has issued a health caution for the presence of blue-green algae in Cypress Lake – West Lobe. This is in response to a water sample taken by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on February 7, 2024. The public should exercise caution in and around Cypress Lake – West Lobe.

Blooms have the potential to produce toxins, and what triggers them to begin doing so remains poorly understood. For this reason, it is important to exercise caution, as bloom conditions are dynamic and could change at any time. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) collects algae samples from reported bloom locations for toxin analysis. Once completed, the results will be posted on the FDEP Algal Bloom Dashboard, and can also be viewed on the Protecting Florida Together website, where you can sign up to be notified of the latest conditions.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • We do not recommend that you swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Avoid getting water in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • You should keep pets and livestock away from the waters in this location.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish to appropriate temperature.
  • You should not eat shellfish from this location.

New NASA mission could help Lake Okeechobee, red tide in Florida

CAPE CANAVERAL – NASA will be taking images of bodies of water on Earth and using that information and data to predict how healthy, or unhealthy, water surfaces are.

NASA is elevating what it means to take photos of Earth. The newly launched satellite is a game-changer, according to the agency.

They’ll be taking images of bodies of water, and that information and data will then be used to predict how healthy, or unhealthy, water surfaces are.

The program is called PACE, which stands for Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud ocean Ecosystem mission.

“PACE is going to see earth in a way we’ve never seen before, in so many different colors,” Ivona Cetinic, an oceanographer with NASA’s PACE, said. “I’m hoping this data will get to everybody and help them understand how beautiful our home planet is.”

NASA said this will enhance how they study water and the environment, including algae blooms and red tide, which are issues found in South Florida.

With pipes in need of repair, Orlando residents face paying much higher stormwater fees

The cost to homeowners could double, to more than $20 a month

Orlando property owners could see a steep increase in the fee they pay to maintain and upgrade the city’s stormwater system.

The current fee, unchanged for 15 years, is $9.99 monthly for most single-family homes and commercial properties.

But it doesn’t rake in enough to fund the city’s annual stormwater operations, and falls far short of paying for needed repairs and upgrades for aging infrastructure across the city, Public Works Director Corey Knight told city commissioners Monday.

He proposed an increase of roughly $3.50 monthly each year, with the fee topping out at $21.24 per month in 2028.

“Operating expenses are basically equal to what we’re bringing in,” Knight said. “If we keep that, we’re going to be way far behind in 2028.”

Commissioners didn’t – and couldn’t – vote on the idea Monday as it arose in a workshop setting, but sounded supportive of the plan. A vote on higher fees is likely to come before the city’s next fiscal year begins Oct. 1.