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2/9/2016

White House wants to spend $300M on a water revolution


The amount is small, but the government is finally showing that it's interested in real solutions to our massive water problems—in Flint and everywhere else.

Imagine a world in which desalinated water, instead of being five or 10 times the cost of water from a river or lake, was just as cheap as any other supply. Suddenly desalination would be the solution for lots of water problems, from cities to farms to oil fields.

Imagine a world in which data about how much water people are using isn’t five years out of date before it’s available, but arrives in real time—just like data about energy use.

Imagine a world, in fact, in which companies, universities, and governments invested in new water technology in ways that matched investments in computing, or biotechnology, or cancer research—and and gave us new, more effective ways to tackle problems from the California drought to the lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan.

In its last 11 months in office, the Obama Administration wants to lay the groundwork for that kind of water innovation, hoping to jumpstart new investments, new technologies, and most of all a new attitude.

On Tuesday, President Obama’s White House will do something that, apparently, no previous president has ever done: It will submit a budget with a section devoted to spending money specifically on water innovation. The water innovation section will be two pages, two pages in what will likely be a four-volume document topping 2,000 pages.

Continued on FastCoexist.com »

2/9/2016

Florida Lake Management Society announces spring workshop

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The Central Chapter of the Florida Lake Management Society (FLMS) will be hosting a spring workshop on Thursday, March 3, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Berlinsky Community House, 300 Monument Avenue, Kissimmee.

The topic of the workshop will be National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and issues. Download agenda »

Lunch is included.
Free for current FLMS members! $20 for non-members and includes a three-month FLMS membership.
Must R.S.V.P. by February 29, 2016 to Maryann Krisovitch or (352) 434-5025. Payment can be made on site via cash, check (made out to FLMS), or charge.

Would your company like to sponsor this event? If so, contact contact Maryann!

Visit us on the web at FLMS.net!

Contact Information
Maryann Krisovitch, Florida Lake Management Society, flmshome@aol.com
phone: 352-434-5025.
http://www.flms.net/
2/8/2016

Bill Nelson blasts proposal to allow offshore drilling near Florida coast

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bill Nelson took to the Senate floor Wednesday (Feb. 3rd) to launch a fierce assault against a legislative initiative to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico by providing states huge financial incentives to increase energy exploration.

Displaying a large map of the gulf, Nelson accused Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, of offering a “secret amendment” to a broad energy bill that would boost revenue-sharing for states that allow offshore oil and natural gas production.

The amendment would provide $1.5 billion over 15 years to Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama for increased energy production. It would also create new revenue-sharing streams for Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and Alaska.

“Off of Louisiana there are not many beaches,” Nelson said. “Off of Mississippi there are not many beaches. Off of Alabama — not many beaches. But what do you think Florida is known for? Its pristine beaches all the way from the Perdido River, which is the Florida-Alabama line, all the way down the coast, all the way to Naples and then not only to the Keys, but up the East Coast of Florida.”

Continued in the Star-Telegram »

2/3/2016

Project proposed to store more water in Polk

Roger Griffiths regularly talks about ways to help Polk County's water supply problems by storing more water locally.

He has often clashed with officials at the Southwest Florida Water Management District over this issue, especially when it comes to regulating water releases from structures within the Lake Region Lakes Management District where he serves as executive director.

Now Griffiths has come up with a plan he said is supported by one of Swiftmud's own studies dating from 2005 that involves converting a pasture through which a World War I-era Wahneta Farms canal from the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes into a proposed 150-acre wetlands treatment area off of Rifle Range Road.

The treated water then would be released downstream into 512-acre Lake McLeod in Eagle Lake, which Griffiths said would provide increased recharge into the Floridan aquifer.

The project also could aid in restoring Lake McLeod's lake level to the minimum level established by Swiftmud officials, said Mark Hammond, director of the agency's Resource Management Division.

Swiftmud officials have set the minimum level of the lake at 128.2 feet above sea level, which is above the level it has been at in recent years.

Continued in The Ledger »

2/3/2016

Save the Date: 2016 NALMS monitoring conference

Join the NWQMC on May 2-6, 2016 in Tampa, Florida for the National Water Quality Monitoring Council’s (NWQMC) 10th National Monitoring Conference – Working Together for Clean Water. This conference provides many opportunities for water stakeholders – federal, state, tribal and local water professionals, non-profits, academia, and volunteer citizen scientists – to network, develop new skills and partnerships, and exchange information.

The city’s rich history and modern landscape offer visitors a wide variety of attractions. Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest open water estuary and home to an impressive variety of wildlife, including manatees, wading birds, and prized sport fish.

Attendees will network, develop partnerships and new skills, and exchange information and technology related to all water resources, including rivers and streams, lakes, wetlands, coastal waters and estuaries, groundwater, and processed water. Conference themes attract professional papers and posters addressing a variety of topics ranging from monitoring and assessment to protection and restoration, as well as cutting-edge technologies and methods.

The NWQMC is requesting abstracts for oral presentations, posters, workshops, panels, short courses, and Round Table discussions that cover topics related to rivers and streams, lakes, wetlands, coastal waters and estuaries, groundwater, and drinking water. Abstracts are due September 18, 2015.

Abstracts are welcome on any of the following conference themes:

  • Monitoring Designs for the 21st Century
  • Connecting Coasts, Estuaries, and Freshwater Ecosystems
  • Innovations in Monitoring and Assessment
  • Identifying and Assessing Emerging Risks
  • Measuring Effectiveness of Water Management Actions
  • Managing, Sharing, Communicating, and Mining Data
  • Building Monitoring Collaborations
  • Assessing Trends in Water Resources


  • Click here to register

    Click here to view the event flyer for more details

2/3/2016

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces over $20 Million in Grants to Conserve Coastal Wetlands

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced over $20 million will be provided to 28 projects in 12 coastal states to protect, restore or enhance more than 10,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute over $20 million in additional funds to these projects, which acquire, restore or enhance coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Wetlands Grants provide critical funding in the effort to protect some of our most fragile and at-risk wildlife habitats, said Service Director Dan Ashe. “With rising ocean levels eating away at coastal wetlands from one side and development claiming more and more acres on the other, our coastal wetlands are being squeezed into an ever thinner sliver of land. Never before has it been so important to protect these places.”

The program, funded in part through taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters, creates significant benefits for other recreationists and the American public. The billions of dollars generated through recreational angling, boating, waterfowl hunting and bird watching benefit communities in the vicinity of wetlands restoration projects.

States and territories receiving funds are California, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. Click here for the complete list of projects funded by the 2016 grant program.

Click here to view original article »

2/1/2016

Register now for coastal climate adaptation workshop Feb. 23-25

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The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) invites you to the Climate Adaptation for Coastal Communities Workshop on Feb. 23-25, 2016, at Lemon Bay Park (570 Bay Park Blvd, Englewood, 941/861-5000). We are delighted that NOAA Office for Coastal Management is offering this workshop to CHNEP, a partnership working to protect the natural environment from Venice to Bonita Springs to Winter Haven.

This three-day instructor-led workshop will give you a thorough grounding in the topic of adaptation – and time in class to apply what you’ve learned to your own adaptation projects. The workshop covers these essentials: understanding climate science and impacts; determining community vulnerabilities; communicating effectively; identifying adaptation strategies; and finding mechanisms to implement those strategies. Opportunities for local collaboration and next steps for adaptation planning and implementation are emphasized through discussion, participant activities, and incorporation of local speakers and examples.

After completing this workshop, participants will be able to:
  • Recognize the changes and variability in climate and climate’s influence on coastal communities
  • Identify opportunities to leverage a range of governance mechanisms to integrate adaptation strategies into their existing efforts
  • Examine methods for conducting hazard, vulnerability, and risk assessment as it relates to climate change
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of adaptation strategies
  • Apply climate communication research concepts and findings to enable effective communication with target audiences

There is a registration fee of $75 with refreshments and lunch provided.

Please register by noon on Monday, Feb. 8. Registration is via EventBrite at the link below:

Register now »

Contact Information
Maran Hilgendorf, Communications Manager, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, maran@chnep.org, 326 West Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda, FL. 33950
phone: (941) 575-3374.
http://www.chnep.org/
1/29/2016

Save the date for 2016 Charlotte Harbor Nature Festival

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The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program invites you to help celebrate the splendor of the natural environment of Southwest Florida by sponsoring, exhibiting, volunteering and promoting the 17th annual Charlotte Harbor Nature Festival.

The festival is firmly established as an annual community event that will continue to grow and enrich the lives of our citizens. We have scheduled the next annual festival for Saturday, November 19, 2016. It will again be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Charlotte County Sports Complex located at 2300 El Jobean Rd/SR 776 in Port Charlotte. (There is no rain date.)

We look forward to seeing you Nov. 19 but there's no need to register to attend as a visitor unless you wish to receive updates. Register for updates on EventBrite.com.

The Charlotte Harbor Nature Festival is a regional family-friendly celebration where people can learn about topics affecting the natural environment of southwest Florida. This is accomplished through a wide variety of activities for both adults and children, which include guided walks in Tippecanoe Environmental Park, hands-on activities, exhibits and vendors, music, a Children's Discovery Zone and more. A committee of volunteers, who represent a diverse group of organizations, is dedicated to making this Festival exciting and informative. Admission and parking are both free. To learn more, watch the short videos of past festivals that the CHNEP has posted on YouTube:

We hope that you will participate as a sponsor, exhibitor, volunteer or promoter of the 17th annual Charlotte Harbor Nature Festival, making it bigger and better than ever. Thank you for considering these requests.

For information about sponsorships or exhibit spaces, please visit the link below.

Download flyer with more information »

Contact Information
Maran Hilgendorf, Communications Manager, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, maran@chnep.org, 326 West Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda, FL. 33950
phone: (941) 575-3374.
http://www.chnep.org/
1/28/2016

Florida mayors to Rubio: We’re going under, take climate change seriously

A group of mayors from communities in south Florida has released an open letter to one of their senators, Marco Rubio, in which they call for a meeting to discuss the challenges posed by climate change. The mayors, from communities like Key Biscayne, Miami, and West Palm Beach, say that the challenge of climate change requires a strong presidential commitment to action, one they argue Rubio is lacking.

"As mayors representing municipalities across Florida, we call on you to acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the upcoming crisis it presents our communities," the letter reads. "Our cities and towns are already coping with the impacts of climate change today." Flooding at high tides, severe storm surges, and the intrusion of saltwater into municipal water supplies are all problems these cities face.

Those issues come thanks to 20cm of sea-level rise over the previous century. Studies project that the area could see up to another 30cm rise by 2050, which the mayors say "could wipe out as much as $4 billion in taxable real estate in the four-county region of Southeast Florida." If those projections are low, things get bad quickly; a 90cm rise takes out $31 billion and leaves cities and the Everglades decisively under water.

Rubio is considered one of the leading establishment candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, although that position leaves him well behind both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. But his past political history in the Florida legislature included the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

Continued online in Ars Technica »

1/28/2016

CHNEP's Mosaic Phosphate Reclamation Tour: Register now

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The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) Citizens Advisory Committee asked for a tour of phosphate reclamation efforts in the CHNEP watershed to better understand the techniques and outcomes. Thanks to Mosaic, a tour will be held Wednesday, March 30, 2016, leaving from the Turner Agri-Civic Center (2250 NE Roan St, Arcadia) by 8:30 a.m. and returning by 2:30 p.m. Participants will learn about Mosaic's phosphate mine reclamation and visit a variety of reclamation sites that may include uplands, wetlands and streams. This full-day tour will include transportation, lunch and snacks.

While this tour is offered free of charge, registration is required. Please complete the registration form at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/chnep-mosaic-reclamation-tour-2016-tickets-20059206627?aff=es2. (If this link does not work for you, go to www.EventBrite.com, search for CHNEP but change the location to Florida.)The bus tour is limited to the first 40 who register. If 40 have registered, please do still register to be placed on the wait list. An email will be sent approximately a week before the tour with additional details. On the day of the tour, please be sure to arrive early so the bus is loaded and ready to leave at 8:30 a.m.

Per Mosaic's visitor policy, attendees should be capable of walking and boarding vehicles throughout the day. Everyone must wear long pants and sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Guests should be in physical condition capable of walking unaided on uneven soft ground; going up and down high steps; and boarding/unboarding vehicles unaided throughout the day. Attendees may also travel in 15-passenger vans.

1/28/2016

New water law will affect everyone who uses water in Florida

On January 14, 2016, the officers of the Legislature presented CS/CS/SB 552 to Governor Scott for signature. More famously known as the "Water Bill," this 134-page page marvel of compromise proves that it is still possible to pass controversial legislation in Florida today, even if it takes two years to do so. And, indeed, there is something in the law of interest to every homeowner, land developer, institutional user, farmer, utility, governmental unit and environmentalist, including plans for the allocation of limited water resources, development of new water projects, protection of Florida springs and regulation of discharges to impaired waters.

Origins

To understand the Water Bill, one needs to know the origin of much of it. Simply put, significant portions of Florida do not have enough water reserves from traditional groundwater sources to sustain continued growth. This dilemma has sparked the need to promote or even require development of alternative water supplies and to adopt additional limitations on withdrawals from traditional groundwater sources. Alternative water supplies include innovative solutions that do not involve withdrawal of water from traditional groundwater sources. Such solutions include implementation of graywater, stormwater and brackish water projects to augment existing sources.

In addition to the threat of diminishing water supplies, continued concern for Florida's premier springs brought about the creation of a new regulatory category to afford them special protection, together with associated development limitations and remediation plans. Additional protections have also been afforded to help remediate impaired water bodies throughout the state, but particularly the ecosystems in south Florida.

Finally, the Bill addresses the multiple existing programs for protection of the South Florida natural environment, some quite outdated, to clarify who's on first and what's on second by creating lead agency responsibility for various regulatory programs and identifying Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) as the definitive tool for problem solving and regulation to protect/restore impaired waters. Key Elements

Set forth below is a compilation of the key provisions of the Bill:

Continued on JDSupra.com »

1/26/2016

Where is the oil in the Gulf?


A Florida State University researcher and his team have developed a comprehensive analysis of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and determined how much of it occurs naturally and how much came from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

And more importantly, their data creates a map, showing where the active natural oil seeps are located.

The research was recently released online by the Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans and is also the basis for a paper with researchers at Columbia University published today in Nature Geoscience.

In total, 4.3 million barrels were released into the Gulf from the oil spill versus an annual release of 160,000 to 600,000 barrels per year from naturally occurring seeps, according to the new results.

“This information gives us context for the Deepwater Horizon spill,” said FSU Professor of Oceanography Ian MacDonald. “Although natural seeps are significant over time, the spill was vastly more concentrated in time and space, which is why its impact was so severe.”

Among the findings was that dispersants were able to eliminate about 21 percent the oil that floated on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico after the spill, but at the cost of spreading the remaining oil over a 49 percent larger area.

FSU news release continues »

1/25/2016

Clean Water State Revolving Fund provides more than $375M in loans to Florida communities


Loans are designed to improve wastewater treatment facilities

TALLAHASSEE — The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has recently awarded more than $375 million in low-interest loans and loan increases to eight Florida communities for new or existing wastewater treatment facilities through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF).

“Investments in water infrastructure projects offer numerous benefits to Florida’s communities, including protecting water quality, supporting our state’s growing population and ensuring the protection of public health and the environment,” said DEP Secretary Jon Steverson. “DEP is proud to partner with communities to make vital investments.”

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program provides low-interest loans for planning, designing and constructing water pollution control facilities. Recent award recipients include the following communities:

View the list of loan recipients »

1/21/2016

Obama vetoes GOP attempt to block water rule

President Obama on Tuesday rejected an attempt by congressional Republicans to overturn his landmark regulation asserting federal power over small bodies of water.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule, dubbed the Clean Water Rule or “waters of the United States,” would ensure that water used for drinking, recreation, economic development and other purposes is kept safe, Obama said in a message to Congress late Tuesday.

“We must protect the waters that are vital for the health of our communities and the success of our businesses, agriculture, and energy development,” Obama wrote in his veto message.

“Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water, I cannot support it.”

The House passed the resolution last week under the Congressional Review Act, which gives lawmakers a streamlined process to disapprove of regulation, blocking it and any similar rules. The Senate passed it in November.

The EPA wrote the rule with the Army Corps of Engineers, saying it essential to clarify that small waterways like ponds, streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act.

Obama said in his veto message that the rule responded to requests from Congress and industry, and is in line with Supreme Court rulings.

But the GOP made it a priority to block the rule. Republicans and business advocates say it extends federal reach over puddles, wet areas and other water and land that was never meant to have federal control.

Farmers, developers and other land users say that the rule would require federal permits for simple, everyday tasks like digging ditches and spraying pesticides.

The EPA is currently prohibited from enforcing the rule. A federal court blocked it last year to allow the court system to review whether it is legal.

It’s the second time Obama has vetoed a congressional attempt to overturn a major environmental rule in just over a month.

In December, he rejected the GOP’s resolution to stop his landmark climate rules for power plants.

Click here to view original article »

1/20/2016

Florida DEP to hold public meetings on water quality assessments


Basin assessments identify waters not attaining water quality standards

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Beginning Jan. 20, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will kick off a series of five meetings around Florida to take public input on the draft assessment lists for the Group 3 basins. The meetings will be held in Sarasota, Palm Bay, Boynton Beach, Fort Myers and Panama City.

“Because our programs can’t succeed without stakeholder cooperation and action, we are committed to taking advantage of local perspectives and priorities to better inform our watershed work plans,” said Tom Frick, director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration.

To restore and protect Florida’s surface waters, the department collects water-quality data through its own monitoring programs and with the help of other agencies. The department uses this data to assess approximately 20 percent of Florida’s watersheds each year to identify waterbodies that do not meet water-quality standards (“impaired waters”), which are then placed on a “Verified List” to guide restoration priorities. Other potentially impaired waters, where more data is needed, are listed for further investigation. The upcoming meetings will provide an opportunity for the department to present these assessment lists and findings for the Group 3 basins.

At the public meetings, department staff will explain the results of draft basin-specific assessments for waters in the Choctawhatchee - St. Andrews, Sarasota Bay – Peace – Myakka, Upper St. Johns, Lake Worth Lagoon – Palm Beach Coast, and Caloosahatchee basins.

For each impaired waterbody or group of related waters, the department develops and adopts a scientifically derived restoration target, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load. Based on the target, a restoration plan is implemented to return the waterbody to health.

A complete list of workshop dates and locations can be found at the link below.

Public meeting schedule »

1/20/2016

Districts extend deadline to submit applications for $4 million in cost-share funding

The deadline to apply for cost-share funding for water conservation projects that benefit springs has been extended to Feb. 17, 2016, to allow additional time for completing the application process.

Local governments and public entities are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to receive part of the $4 million in state funding for projects in the Central Florida Water Initiative region and the North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership region.

Projects to be considered focus on creating sustainable water resources, enhanced conservation efforts and improved efficiency of use. Details of the cost-share program are available at floridaswater.com/funding.

The St. Johns River Water Management District is administering the program, in partnership with the Suwannee River Water Management District, Southwest Florida Water Management District, South Florida Water Management District and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Contact Information
Teresa Monson, St. Johns River Water Management District, tmonson@sjrwmd.com
phone: (904) 730-6258.
1/20/2016

Environmental groups want Scott to veto water bill

Sweeping bills to address concerns over Florida’s imperiled water supplies were rushed through the Legislature this week and should be rejected by Gov. Rick Scott, environmental groups said in a press briefing Friday.

The twin bills, which have been in the works for nearly two years , were overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers with the support of the agriculture industry as well as the Department of Environmental Protection. Scott has said he plans to sign the bills next Thursday.

But critics, including more than 100 groups and businesses, say the measure fails to accomplish much-needed reforms that would help regulate water use and pollution and also strips control from local water management districts. The legislation also weakens water pollution controls in the Northern Everglades and fails to protect sensitive lands around springs. Instead, critics say the bills largely set up a shell game of commissions and reports.

Continued on the Miami Herald »

1/20/2016

Changes planned for downtown Clermont

The West Lake/Wetlands Park project incorporates a necessary stormwater drainage system and pond with a passive park. Residents got a look Tuesday at three projects aimed at attracting more people to the downtown area.

During his State of the City address, City Manager Darren Gray told dozens of people how the newly created master plan will transform Clermont in the next 5 to 10 years.

“I think it’s important for us to talk to the residents about the future of the city,” Gray said. “It’s going to be a very busy year and an exciting one — plus more to come.”

The plan is primarily focused on enhancements to the downtown and waterfront areas.

“It’s great to have seen this through from the visioning process — where people told us what they wanted — to the master planning process, to the implementation process,” he said.

There are six projects total in the master plan, but three have been tagged as priorities, Gray said.

Continued on Daily Commercial.com »

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