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12/11/2014

Alliance to Protect Water Resources activist group disbands

By Lauren Ritchie

A death occurred on Nov. 13, and nobody even has noticed. The way things are now, they probably never will.

That's the day the Alliance to Protect Water Resources, an activist group in south Lake [County], voted to disband, saying few people came to meetings, nobody has time to work on projects and membership had dwindled to a few, mostly older folks who just can't keep it going.

The group simply wasn't able to accomplish much, and its passionate leaders grew weary of a proverbial gun battle in which they were armed with a pen knife.

"We live in the land of God's waiting room," mused President Peggy Cox, 66. "You'd think somebody would have some time on their hands. The minutiae of life consumes them."

Ironically, the disbanding of the Alliance comes at a time when the question of where to get drinking water never has been more important in Florida. In fact, it might be said that the state is on the verge of crisis because over-building has nearly drained the Floridan Aquifer.

Officials frantically are scrambling for "alternate sources" so that even more houses can be built, ignoring the balance between nature's underground water-storage system and how many humans and animals can be supported on the surface.

Continued in the Orlando Sentinel »

12/3/2014

Amendment 1’s passage opens floodgate of questions on water

TALLAHASSEE — State lawmakers and other elected officials are calling water policy a priority for next year, but where they’ll go with it remains up in the air.

One reason is the big unknown: how a constitutional amendment voters just passed that mandates spending for land and water conservation will work.

Beyond this, any attempt at a comprehensive policy will have to address myriad concerns and some powerful interests, including pollution from cities’ stormwater runoff and farmers’ fertilizer.

What’s more, the discussion will come against a backdrop that might seem counterintuitive to champions of water conservation: New data from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests the country’s water use overall is tapering off, with numbers at their lowest levels in 40 years.

Florida still managed to use 6.2 billion gallons of fresh water from underground and surface sources such as aquifers and rivers, according to the data. That was in 2010, the most recent year for which the information is available.

Continued on TBO.com »

12/3/2014

Math mistake could mean central Fla. running out of water faster than expected

News Image

USF/Seminole County Photo

9 Investigates [WFTV Orlando] has been reviewing depositions of senior staff members with the St. Johns River Water Management District as a result of a hearing before Judge E. Gary Early with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings. According to statements made by staff members, the water models used by staff at the St. Johns district may have had a fundamental flaw that caused the water management district to miscalculate how fast water is coming out of the Floridan Aquifer versus how fast the aquifer is recharging.

According to the deposition of Assistant Division Director for the Division of Regulatory, Engineering and Environmental Services Thomas Bartol, the water management district failed to account for what are known as sinks and drains. Sinks and drains are essentially lakes and other bodies of water where groundwater flows in and out of the aquifer. In the deposition, Bartol told attorneys, “So when we went back, we discovered this error. We kept those features in the model and just focused on the withdrawal, and that 29 CFS (cubic feet per second) jumped to somewhere between 45 to 50.”

For full article continue on WFTV9’s website here »

12/1/2014

Coast Guard flies 193 rare sea turtles from freezing Cape Cod to Florida

A Coast Guard plane touched down in Orlando at dusk Tuesday, hauling a cargo of the world's rarest sea turtles, rescued by volunteers from the lethally chilly waters and beaches of Cape Cod Bay.

Weighing only 2 to 10 pounds, the young Kemp's Ridley sea turtles are among the first of an astounding wave of the reptiles to succumb to hypothermia in the "bucket" of the Massachusetts bay.

"They're so small," said Alyssa Hancock, a SeaWorld Orlando aquarium worker, peering into one of 101 banana boxes holding 193 turtles.

Turtle rescues happen every year in late fall in the Northeast, but for reasons not yet known what's happening this year is "epic," said one of the nearly two dozen volunteers passing boxes of turtles like a bucket brigade.

"Statistically, I feel like we are out on Pluto," said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium's marine-animal hospital in Quincy, Mass., who fears the number of cold-stunned turtles could quadruple.

"We've been rescuing sea turtles for 25 years, and we are just absolutely shocked," LaCasse said.

Among possible explanation for the huge spike in turtle rescues – the record of 242 in 2012 has been eclipsed already this year by more than 400 rescues – is that the number of highly endangered Kemp's ridleys has been increasing slightly in recent years.

For full article continue on the Stars and Stripes’ website here »

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