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11/20/2014

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

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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 »

11/10/2014

DEP’s Florida Coastal Office debuts interactive map of Aquatic Preserves

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office presents an online interactive story map that takes visitors on a virtual tour of the state’s 41 aquatic preserves through pictures, videos and website links.

Florida’s aquatic preserves encompass approximately 2.2 million acres. All but four of these “submerged lands of exceptional beauty” are located along Florida’s 8,400 miles of coastline in the shallow waters of marshes and estuaries that serve as a critical nursery for many of the nation’s recreationally and commercially important fish and shellfish.

“The aquatic preserve story map provides a captivating way for the public and government officials to learn about each aquatic preserve and the great things being accomplished by Florida Coastal Office staff and volunteers across the state,” said Chris Robertson, GIS coordinator for the Florida Coastal Office. “This map is an incredible tool that can be used to teach Florida residents about the natural beauty found right in their backyard.”

This interactive mapping project was created to educate the public about the diverse ecosystems found across the state and to encourage public support and community involvement in the aquatic preserves.

Approximately two-thirds of Floridians live in counties that border an aquatic preserve.

The creation of this interactive map takes promoting the aquatic preserves further than just handing out a pamphlet or pointing to a storyboard. It allows guests to get a closer look at the research, resource protection, education and community outreach that is taking place at each site.

The map is hosted on the Florida DEP’s ArcGIS online gallery.

Visit the interactive story map »

11/4/2014

Public invited to 15th annual Charlotte Harbor Nature Festival

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The 15th Annual Charlotte Harbor Nature Festival will be held Saturday, November 22, 2014 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.

Please help celebrate the splendor of the natural environment of Southwest Florida by sponsoring, exhibiting, volunteering and promoting this event.

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 the CHNEP has posted on YouTube:

2013 Festival
2012 Festival
2011 Festival

The CHNEP invites public participation as a sponsor, exhibitor, volunteer or promoter of the 15th annual Charlotte Harbor Nature Festival, making it bigger and better than ever. To register as a sponsor or exhibitor, click on the link below.

Sponsor / exhibitor information and registration »

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/
11/3/2014

As Infrastructure Crumbles, Trillions of Gallons of Water Lost

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Photo courtesy of National Public Radio

A recent study by Gallet's group and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning found the Chicago area alone is losing 22 billion gallons of treated water per year through leaky pipes.

"We figured that that could fill the residential needs of about 700,000 people in a year," says Tim Loftus, water resource planner for the agency.

"That's a big city," he says. "That's a year's worth of residential water use."

Nationwide, the amount of water that is lost each year is estimated to top 2 trillion gallons, according to the American Water Works Association. That's about 14 to 18 percent (or one-sixth) of the water the nation treats.

And it's not just water that's going down the drain, but billions of dollars in revenue too because utilities can't charge customers for water that is lost before it gets to them.

But fixing the nation's water systems isn't going to be cheap.

"Our estimates are that this is a trillion-dollar program," says David LaFrance, CEO of the American Water Works Association. "About half of that trillion dollars will be to replace existing infrastructure. The other half will be putting into the ground new infrastructure to serve population growth and areas that currently aren't receiving water."

Across the country, many communities are raising water rates — some in the double and triple digits — to begin addressing the problem. California and Maine, as well as several individual communities, are asking voters next week to approve massive bond initiatives to fund water infrastructure improvements.

For full article continue on NPR’s website here »

10/30/2014

Service proposes trade protections for four native freshwater turtles

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A booming international trade in turtles has put pressure on populations across the country and has led to concern about the long-term survival of several species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a proposed rule to address the growing threat of illegal take and trade in native turtles. If finalized, this action will bring four native freshwater turtle species – the common snapping turtle, the Florida softshell turtle, the smooth softshell turtle and the spiny softshell turtle – under the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and require exporters to obtain a permit before shipping turtles overseas.

Freshwater turtles and tortoises are collected, traded and utilized in overwhelming numbers. Bringing these turtle species under CITES protection will allow the Service to better monitor international trade, determine the legality of exports and, in consultation with State wildlife agencies and other experts, decide whether additional conservation efforts are needed. It will also enlist the assistance of 179 other countries that are part of CITES in monitoring trade in these species.

“Wildlife trafficking is not just a danger to foreign species. Native wildlife, including paddlefish, live reptiles and sharks, as well as plants such as ginseng, are poached and illegally traded,” said Bryan Arroyo, Assistant Director of International Affairs. “We work closely with State wildlife agencies to protect native species and ensure that trade is legal and sustainable, particularly for species at greatest risk of overexploitation.”

Continue reading on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website here »