Water-Related News

Appeals court ruling OKs Mosaic mining expansion in Central Florida

An appeals court panel voted 2-1 this week to reject the arguments of environmental groups trying to overturn a federal permit that would allow Mosaic phosphate company to proceed with mining on more than 50,000 acres of Central Florida.

“In simple terms, we lost,” said Jacki Lopez of the Center for Biological Diversity, which joined with the People for Protecting Peace River, ManaSota-88 and Suncoast Waterkeeper in suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She said the four groups are now considering whether to appeal Monday’s ruling.

The Mosaic permits cover parts of Hillsborough, Hardee, Manatee, and Polk counties. Mosaic spokeswoman Jackie Barron said the company was pleased with the ruling, which “demonstrates the strength and validity of our ... permit and the robust environmental review that accompanied it.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued the permit, did not respond to a request for comment.

SWFWMD awards grants to schools in Polk County for water resources education projects

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) awarded $119,000 in grants to 65 schools within the District as part of the Splash! school grant program. The program provides up to $3,000 per school to enhance student knowledge of freshwater resources in grades K-12.

Splash! grants encourage hands-on student learning through STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities as well as engagement of the greater school community through awareness campaigns. Each school district allocates a portion of their annual youth education funding provided by the District to support the Splash! grants in their county.

The District awarded grants to the following schools/teachers in Polk County:

  • Bartow Elementary Academy - Amanda Bender
  • Berkley Charter School - Deanna Brewer
  • Daniel Jenkins Academy - Melanie Tucker
  • Gause Academy - Herbert Maysonet
  • Griffin Elementary - Laurie Croft
  • James W. Sikes Elementary - Lara Price
  • John Snively Elementary - Johnna Bryant
  • Kathleen Senior High School - Beth Nance
  • Loughman Oaks Elementary - Sabrina Hughes
  • McKeel Academy Central - Leslie Taylor

Grants are available for freshwater resources field studies, water-conserving garden projects, community or school awareness campaigns and on-site workshops. Last year’s Splash! grants brought water resources education to nearly 10,487 students throughout the District. For more information, please visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/SchoolGrants.        

New nature parks coming to Winter Haven

Area residents may have an opportunity to enjoy at least two new nature parks in the coming years, according to City of Winter Haven staff.

The first new nature park in Winter Haven will be built on what is now dehydrated wetlands on the south side of Lake Conine, near the Florence Villa neighborhood and Lucerne Park Road. City staff awarded a $3.4 million contract to the Wauchula firm of Cobb Site Development, Inc. on Sept. 15 to build the South Lake Conine Wetland Restoration/Stormwater Treatment Project.

Back in the 1980s, Lake Conine was one of the dirtiest lakes in the county due to wastewater plant discharge and untreated storm water. Staff are hoping that restoring wetlands on the south side of the lake will help treat dirty storm water before it reaches the lake, similar to nature parks on Lake Howard and Lake Hartridge.

A few months ago Winter Haven Utilities Director MJ Carnevale said the park, which will include trails, could be completed in 2020.