Water-Related News

Blue-Green Algae Task Force: Alert public when algal toxins detected

How much toxicity does it take to make a blue-green algae bloom hazardous?

The World Health Organization says 10 parts per billion of the toxin microcystin is hazardous to touch. The federal Environmental Protection Agency sets the threshold at 8 parts per billion.

But the Florida Blue-Green Algae Task Force agreed Wednesday [July 30] people need to be warned when any toxins are in the water.

"A simple detection of toxins is enough to prompt a health alert," Florida Chief Science Officer Tom Frazer, who leads the panel, said during the Zoom meeting.

The task force was discussing whether Florida needs to establish a state threshold for hazardous levels of microcystin such as those used by the WHO and EPA and looking at signs developed by the Florida Department of Health and state Department of Environmental Protection to warn people of toxic algae blooms in water bodies.

"There's no safe exposure to toxins," said task force member James Sullivan, executive director of Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Fort Pierce. "If there's a reliable detection (of toxins in the water), the number doesn't mean anything. To be the most cautious for the public, if you detect toxins, you put out an advisory."

Lake Mirror circulation study to use solar technology

LAKELAND – The City of Lakeland Lakes & Stormwater Division will be undertaking a Surface Water Artificial Circulation Impact Study of Lake Mirror that includes the installation of a SolarBee® solar-powered artificial circulation system. The Impact Study will include a robust surface water sampling program throughout a four-month trial period to evaluate the efficacy of the SolarBee® and assess the potential water quality benefits in Lake Mirror.

The SolarBee artificial circulation system is designed to promote enhanced water column mixing and circulation. The system is used to increase dissolved oxygen content and reduce the abundance of algae and nutrients and it will operate 24-hours per day on solar power. Artificial circulation is a widely used surface water quality restoration technique ideal for smaller sized freshwater lakes and ponds. Use of the SolarBee® and has been identified as a possible method for improving the water quality in Lake Mirror, and potentially other City lakes.

The video below gives a quick overview of how the SolarBee lake circulation system works.

Two Polk projects receive CFWI cost-share funding

Two Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) projects received funding from the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) conservation cost-share program. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) will provide $151,758 to pay for these projects.

The following projects, located in Polk County, are estimated to save approximately 49,500 million gallons per day:

  • The Polk Regional Water Cooperative’s rebate program will offer various conservation incentives, including approximately 100 high-efficiency toilets and 15 smart irrigation controllers, for an estimated total savings of 8.5 million gallons per year.
  • The Ray Bob Grove Inc.’s project will involve the installation of hydraulic control valves to automate irrigation zones within the citrus grove to improve irrigation efficiency for an estimated total savings of 9.58 million gallons per year.

“DEP is proud to award the Southwest Florida Water Management District funding for projects that will promote technological innovation and cost savings for the average Floridian,” said DEP Deputy Secretary Adam Blalock. “On the surface these may seem like small projects but saving nearly 50,000 gallons of water per day is huge for both Florida’s quality of water and water supply. Small steps build up over time, and we need to keep taking important steps forward like these to preserve Florida’s water supply.”

The CFWI encompasses five counties: Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and southern Lake. Through the CFWI, three water management districts — South Florida, Southwest Florida and St. Johns River — are working collaboratively with other agencies and stakeholders to implement effective water resource planning, including water resource and s

EPA limits states’ power to review projects that affect water quality

SAN FRANCISCO — For almost 50 years, states and tribal governments have played an outsized role in deciding whether projects that can harm water quality should receive federal permits — a role that is about to change under a new rule finalized by the Trump administration Monday.

The “Clean Water Act 401 Certification Rule” narrows what issues state and tribal governments may consider when determining if a project, such as one that involves discharging pollution into a river or stream, will comply with state water quality standards. State or tribal approval is a prerequisite for obtaining a federal permit under the Clean Water Act.

The new rule curtailing states’ review power is intended to advance President Donald Trump’s goal of promoting “efficient permitting” and reducing “regulatory uncertainties” as outlined in his April 2019 executive order on “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth.” This rule is one of the first major overhauls of the water quality certification process established by the Clean Water Act of 1972.

Environmental groups say latest water bill bad for Florida

Environmental groups across the state are challenging the bill recently signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis that is supposed to help clean up Florida's ailing waterways.

Proponents of Senate Bill 712, also called the Clean Waterways Act, say it will help the state better deal with blue-green algae blooms that have popped up across the Sunshine State in recent years.

Critics, however, say the bill fails to advance Florida's water quality standards and regulations and is actually worse than having no new water laws at all.

"It started out with good intentions, taking the Blue-Green Algae Task Force recommendations and trying to convert them into law," said Chuck O'Neal, with Speak Up Wekiva, one of several groups that have filed a legal challenge to the bill. "But as always happens it goes to Tallahassee and gets picked apart until what comes out is worse than the status quo."

FWC seeks assistance in developing lake management plans

A new Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Lake Management Plans webpage is designed to strengthen communication and encourage stakeholders to become more involved with the management plan process.

The FWC’s lake management plans focus on the management of a system’s fish, wildlife and habitat. They are intended to guide the successful management of fish and wildlife on these systems for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people. The FWC is committed to designing these plans using stakeholder input and feedback to help guide management activities on individual lakes. Input from the public is vital to the success of these projects. The FWC is actively gathering input on each plan through multiple methods to ensure stakeholders can be involved in the development of management goals and objectives.

The FWC is currently developing lake management plans for the Harris Chain of Lakes, the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and Lake Okeechobee. If you would like to get involved in this planning effort, select the lake in which you’re interested, click the “Get Involved” button and send us your information. Check the webpages for information on the progress of the plans and for completed management plans.

For general waterbody information, fishing forecasts, virtual tours, plant control operation schedules and annual workplans, boat ramp information and more, visit the “What’s Happening on My Lake” website at MyFWC.com/Lake.

For more information about lake management plans, contact Laura Rambo at 850-488-0520.

New technology delivers fast, easy results on water quality

Handheld platform technology uses single sample to test for a variety of contaminants

A new platform technology can assess water safety and quality with just a single drop and a few minutes.

Likened to a pregnancy test, the handheld platform uses one sample to provide an easy-to-read positive or negative result. When the test detects a contaminant exceeding the EPA’s standards, it glows green.

Led by researchers at Northwestern University, the tests can sense 17 different contaminants, including toxic metals such as lead and copper, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and cleaning products. The platform — which is powered by cell-free synthetic biology — is so flexible that researchers can continually update it to sense more pollutants.

“Current water tests rely on a centralized laboratory that contains really expensive equipment and requires expertise to operate,” said Northwestern’s Julius Lucks, who led the study. “Sending in a sample can cost up to $150 and take several weeks to get results. We’re offering a technology that enables anyone to directly test their own water and know if they have contamination within minutes. It’s so simple to use that we can put it into the hands of the people who need it most.”

The research was published today (July 6) in the journal Nature Biotechnology. Lucks is a professor of chemical and biological engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and a member of the Center for Synthetic Biology. Jaeyoung Jung and Khalid Alam, members of Lucks’ laboratory, are co-first authors of the paper.