Current News Items (within the last 30 days)
Submit your artwork for the CHNEP 2014 calendar
The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) has produced an annual calendar
since 2005. You can have your artwork published in the 2014 calendar. The
CHNEP encourages you to submit up to three images that capture the
beauty of the natural environment found within the CHNEP study area.
The images could have been captured by the young or old, amateur or
professional, today or 50 years ago, and in any medium (photography,
oil, illustration, etc).
The goal is that the 2014 calendar will depict the
diversity and beauty of the natural environment found within this geographic
area, which may include estuaries,
rivers, streams, native plants, native wildlife, native landscapes, weather events and people enjoying these resources.
To enter your images, complete a release form and submit your images by 5 P.M., July 15, 2013. There is no fee to
Guidance on image submission and link to release form
Environmentalists missing from state's water-management boards
By Kevin Spear
For the first time in nearly three decades, none of the Florida's water-management agencies — which are supposed to safeguard the state's wetlands, rivers and aquifers — has a board member who is an environmentalist.
Environmental activists are troubled because the boards are dominated by representatives of agribusiness, real estate and development industries.
"It is indeed a concern that there are no environmental representatives on any of the boards, when other interest groups are adequately and sometimes abundantly represented," said Rae Ann Wessel, policy director at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. "Because Florida's economy depends on its unique environment."
Gov. Rick Scott recently chose not to reappoint for a second term on the governing board of the St. Johns River Water Management District a University of Florida water-law expert known for his environmental advocacy.
It was the latest move by the governor to make the state's water-management agencies smaller, weaker and, now, less environmentally minded; none of the five water districts' combined 49 board seats is filled by someone readily identifiable as an active environmentalist.
Continued on the Orlando Sentinel online...
EPA: $384B needed for drinking water infrastructure by 2030
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released results of a survey showing that $384 billion in improvements are needed for the nation’s drinking water infrastructure through 2030 for systems to continue providing safe drinking water to 297 million Americans.
EPA’s fifth Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment identifies investments needed over the next 20 years for thousands of miles of pipes and thousands of treatment plants, storage tanks and water distribution systems, which are all vital to public health and the economy. The national total of $384 billion includes the needs of 73,400 water systems across the country, as well as American Indian and Alaska Native Village water systems.
“A safe and adequate supply of drinking water in our homes, schools and businesses is essential to the health and prosperity of every American,” said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “The survey EPA released today shows that the nation’s water systems have entered a rehabilitation and replacement era in which much of the existing infrastructure has reached or is approaching the end of its useful life. This is a major issue that must be addressed so that American families continue to have the access they need to clean and healthy water sources.”
The survey, required under the Safe Drinking Water Act to be submitted to Congress every four years by EPA, was developed in consultation with all 50 states and the Navajo Nation. The survey looked at the funding and operational needs of more than 3,000 public drinking water systems across the United States, including those in Tribal communities, through an extensive questionnaire. In many cases, drinking water infrastructure was reported to be 50-100 years old.
The assessment shows that improvements are primarily needed in:
- Distribution and transmission: $247.5 billion to replace or refurbish aging or deteriorating lines
- Treatment: $72.5 billion to construct, expand or rehabilitate infrastructure to reduce contamination
- Storage: $39.5 billion to construct, rehabilitate or cover finished water storage reservoirs
- Source: $20.5 billion to construct or rehabilitate intake structures, wells and spring collectors
EPA allocates Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants to states based on the finding of the assessment. These funds help states to provide low-cost financing to public water systems for infrastructure improvements necessary to protect public health and comply with drinking water regulations.
Since its inception in 1997, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has provided close to $15 billion in grants to all 50 states and Puerto Rico to improve drinking water treatment, transmission and distribution. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program has also provided more than $5.5 billion to protect drinking water in disadvantaged communities.
EPA is committed to utilizing the tools provided under the Safe Drinking Water Act to assist states and to better target resources and technical assistance toward managing the nation’s drinking water infrastructure. In addition to Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants, EPA awarded nearly $15 million in funding in 2012 to provide training and technical assistance to small drinking and wastewater systems – those serving fewer than 10,000 people – and to private well owners to improve small system operations and management practices and to promote sustainability. EPA also works with states, municipalities and water utilities to strengthen the resiliency of drinking water systems against the potential impacts of severe weather events and climate change.
Read detailed results from the survey
Florida DEP Announces TMDLs for Caloosahatchee River Basin
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is initiating rulemaking to establish Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for surface waters within the Caloosahatchee River Basin. The Notice of Rulemaking does not specify which water bodies will be included. However, it is anticipated that this rulemaking will result in the setting of TMDLs for nutrients and DO, as applicable, for the entire Caloosahatchee River Basin, plus those impaired tributaries. The Notice specifies that these waterbodies previously have been identified as impaired for specific pollutants and included on the Department’s verified list of impaired waters. Further, the Notice states that these nutrient TMDLs, if adopted, are intended to constitute site specific numeric interpretations of the narrative nutrient criterion set forth in paragraph 62-302.530(47)(b), F.A.C. This is important for purposes of compliance with the NNC criteria.
The FDEP concurrently noticed a workshop to discuss progress on the Caloosahatchee tributaries nutrient TMDLs and to discuss the Caloosahatchee TMDL rulemaking. The details on the workshop are:
DATE AND TIME: June 5, 2013, 1:30 p.m.
PLACE: Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, First Floor Conference Room, 1926 Victoria Avenue, Ft. Myers, Florida
Source: Florida Environmental Law Blog
SJRWMD: Get ready for hurricane season
Hurricane season preparation tips, storm contacts, flood information available in one location
PALATKA – Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and the St. Johns River Water Management District has added valuable information to its website to assist the public and local governments access resources before, during and after severe storm events.
The web pages (floridaswater.com/storm) include links to flood statements and warnings, river stage and flooding data, and local government emergency contacts. Also included are links to the National Weather Service, Florida Division of Emergency Management and the U.S. Geological Survey's interactive map of current conditions in the state.
Florida's many waterways and extensive coastline make the state especially vulnerable to floods. When hurricanes and other storms bring high volumes of rain in short periods of time, flooding can result.
The District works closely with local governments year-round to develop improved flood management plans, and to help communities establish and implement strategies to deal with floods once they occur. Local governments are the primary entities responsible for implementing state-of-emergency declarations, evacuations and rescue efforts during flood-related disasters.
Partnerships between the public and government entities are necessary to minimize flooding impacts, protect personal property and assist flood victims during and after storms.
In the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, the District assists local governments by issuing emergency orders that allow for the pumping of water to alleviate flooding when public health and safety are at risk. The District also issues emergency orders to authorize repair, replacement or restoration of public and private property.
To prepare for hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, the public can protect themselves and their property by:
- Keeping debris out of storm drains and ditches
- Reporting clogged ditches to local governments
- Cleaning out gutters and extending downspouts at least four feet from the home
- Building up the ground around the home to promote drainage away from the foundation
- Obtaining flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program
Governor approves $32 million in water projects; vetoes total of $27.3 million
TALLAHASSEE – Florida governor Rick Scott used his line-item veto authority to veto $368 million in spending from Florida's 2013-2014 budget, including a number of projects related to wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and water resource protection. These included:
- Bonita Springs ‐ Oak Creek Restoration ‐ Sediment & Exotic Plant Removal, $250,000
- Charlotte County ‐ Regional Reclaimed Water Expansion ‐ Phase 2, $500,000
- DeSoto County ‐ Lettuce Lake/Oak Haven MH Park Utility MCL Water Supply Improvement Projec,t $90,000
- DeSoto County ‐ Lake Suzy Utility Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements, $350,000
- LaBelle ‐ Wastewater Recycle Project, $1,812,500
- Lake County ‐ Umatilla Sewer System, $1,225,000
- Lakeland ‐ Skyview Water and Wastewater System Modification, $3,750,000
- Manatee County ‐ Wastewater Clarifier Retrofit ‐ Southwest Water Reclamation Facility, $1,000,000
- St. Johns River Restoration and Economic Impact Study, $7,000,000
- Tampa ‐ Met West Ditch Stormwater Project, $125,000
For a complete list of the approved and vetoed water projects, see the link below.
Water project vetoed/approved list (prepared by The Florida Current/LobbyTools)
Water projects left off Florida TaxWatch's "turkey" list this year
By Bruce Ritchie
Florida TaxWatch spared local water projects totaling $59.4 million from its list of "turkeys" in Legislature's 2013-14 state budget.
The group each year lists projects that it says were placed in the budget without proper public review and debate. The group says it doesn't condemn the projects but it does request that the governor consider them for vetoes.
In 2011, Scott vetoed more than $600 million of what he described as "special interest earmarks" including $16.5 million in water projects.
Last year, Florida TaxWatch labeled as turkeys 23 local water projects totaling $19 million. Scott eventually vetoed $12.6 million in water projects.
TaxWatch last year also called on the Legislature to establish a review process for water projects and the Legislature did so, said Kurt Wenner, the group's vice president for tax research.
Continued on The Florida Current...
Reservoirs language stripped from federal bill while Florida groups support alternative approach
By Bruce Ritchie
Georgia's U.S. senators have stripped from a bill language apparently supported by Gov. Rick Scott to require congressional approval of water for the Lake Lanier reservoir north of Atlanta.
Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been fighting in federal court over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system since 1990. Cities, farmers and industry upstream depend on the water while Florida says it needs flow to support fish and wildlife in the Apalachicola River and the seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay.
Continued on The Florida Current...
USGS Study: Spring 2012 earliest on record
March 2012 set records for warm temperatures that promoted early leafing and flowering across large areas of the United States. A team of scientists at the USA National Phenology Network, which is sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, have published a study which shows that 2012 was the earliest spring over the 48 U.S. states since 1900 when systematic weather data began to be available for the entire area.
Phenology is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, especially their timing and relationships with weather and climate. Assessing the severity and impacts of such extreme climatic events, either in the past or as they happen, requires consistent indicators of variability and change that can be mapped both nationally and historically.
The USA National Phenology Network provides a suite of "spring indices" based on the accumulated warmth needed to end dormancy and initiate growth in many native and cultivated plants. These complex, evidence-based algorithms can be calculated for any weather station that records daily maximum and minimum temperatures. Spring indices are independently validated using historical observations of leafing and flowering in lilac and honeysuckle nationwide.
The historical trend of spring indices suggests that the 2012 growing season advanced as much as 20-30 days in the East and Midwest from the 1900-2012 long-term mean.
"The results of this study clearly demonstrate the great importance of long-term monitoring of natural processes. A long record allows us to identify patterns of change that we might otherwise miss," said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director.
Today the response of vegetation to temperature and precipitation can be readily observed across wide areas by Earth-observing satellites at intervals of only a few days. USGS scientist Julio Betancourt, a co-author of the study, noted, "Indicators such as spring indices and satellite-based evaluations of vegetation growth will become essential tools for assessing climate variability and change and their impacts."
Satellite data show that the cumulative effects of the unusually early 2012 spring were most pronounced across the Corn Belt, the western Great Lakes region, and the northeastern U.S.
The beneficial effects of spring's quick start in 2012 were subsequently offset by a late spring frost and summer drought. In fact, the unusually early spring combined with late frosts in April to produce a so-called "false spring" that damaged fruit trees across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions.
The study appears in EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union.
Read the study
USGS Study: Deficit in nation's aquifers accelerating
A new U.S. Geological Survey study documents that the Nation's aquifers are being drawn down at an accelerating rate.
Groundwater Depletion in the United States (1900-2008) comprehensively evaluates long-term cumulative depletion volumes in 40 separate aquifers (distinct underground water storage areas) in the United States, bringing together reliable information from previous references and from new analyses.
"Groundwater is one of the Nation's most important natural resources. It provides drinking water in both rural and urban communities. It supports irrigation and industry, sustains the flow of streams and rivers, and maintains ecosystems," said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. "Because groundwater systems typically respond slowly to human actions, a long-term perspective is vital to manage this valuable resource in sustainable ways."
To outline the scale of groundwater depletion across the country, here are two startling facts drawn from the study's wealth of statistics. First, from 1900 to 2008, the Nation's aquifers, the natural stocks of water found under the land, decreased (were depleted) by more than twice the volume of water found in Lake Erie. Second, groundwater depletion in the U.S. in the years 2000-2008 can explain more than 2 percent of the observed global sea-level rise during that period.
Since 1950, the use of groundwater resources for agricultural, industrial, and municipal purposes has greatly expanded in the United States. When groundwater is withdrawn from subsurface storage faster than it is recharged by precipitation or other water sources, the result is groundwater depletion. The depletion of groundwater has many negative consequences, including land subsidence, reduced well yields, and diminished spring and stream flows.
While the rate of groundwater depletion across the country has increased markedly since about 1950, the maximum rates have occurred during the most recent period of the study (2000–2008), when the depletion rate averaged almost 25 cubic kilometers per year. For comparison, 9.2 cubic kilometers per year is the historical average calculated over the 1900–2008 timespan of the study.
One of the best known and most investigated aquifers in the U.S. is the High Plains (or Ogallala) aquifer. It underlies more than 170,000 square miles of the Nation's midsection and represents the principal source of water for irrigation and drinking in this major agricultural area. Substantial pumping of the High Plains aquifer for irrigation since the 1940s has resulted in large water-table declines that exceed 160 feet in places.
The study shows that, since 2000, depletion of the High Plains aquifer appears to be continuing at a high rate. The depletion during the last 8 years of record (2001–2008, inclusive) is about 32 percent of the cumulative depletion in this aquifer during the entire 20th century. The annual rate of depletion during this recent period averaged about 10.2 cubic kilometers, roughly 2 percent of the volume of water in Lake Erie.
Read the study