Water-Related News

Is spraying weeds in Central Florida lakes, contributing to Southwest Florida’s water crisis?

FORT MYERS - Scott Wilson is not a scientist. He’s a pastor and a fisherman with a passion for the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes where he spends most of his time off.

“I’ve grown up on this chain of lakes since I was 4 years old, and I love this part of Florida more than anywhere else,” he said, getting choked up as he tried to get the words out.

Wilson claims since 2012, he’s seen an excessive amount of chemical spraying done near his fish camp.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission does maintenance control throughout Florida to keep populations of invasive plants, or weeds, low.

“Invasive plants degrade and diminish Florida’s conservation lands and waterways. Decaying plants in lakes release nutrients that help algae to grow,” said Carli Segelson, a spokesperson for FWC.

How your lawn's fertilizers can contribute to the red tide; counties combat their use

ORLANDO - Water. It is everywhere in Florida, from our beaches to our lakes and canals. The red tide has not only affected our beaches, the ecosystem and tourism, but harmful algae blooms have also affected other bodies of water, such as inland lakes and canals closer to our homes.

For months, we have seen how some canals have turned red and how some even filled with green slime-like algae. Although algae blooms can occur naturally, nutrient runoff is one of Florida’s biggest problems contributing to the harmful blooms.

Hurricane rating system fails to account for deadly rain

When meteorologists downgraded Hurricane Florence from a powerful Category 4 storm to a Category 2 and then a Category 1, Wayne Mills figured he could stick it out.

He regrets it. The Neuse River, normally 150 feet away, lapped near his door in New Bern, North Carolina, on Sunday even as the storm had "weakened" further.

People like Mills can be lulled into thinking a hurricane is less dangerous when the rating of a storm is reduced. But those ratings are based on wind strength, not rainfall or storm surge—and water is responsible for 90 percent of storm deaths .

Several meteorologists and disaster experts said something needs to change with the 47-year-old Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to reflect the real risks in hurricanes. They point to Florence, last year's Hurricane Harvey, 2012's Sandy and 2008's Ike as storms where the official Saffir-Simpson category didn't quite convey the danger because of its emphasis on wind.

"The concept of saying 'downgraded' or 'weakened should be forever banished," said University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd. "With Florence, I felt it was more dangerous after it was lowered to Category 2."

It was a lowered category that helped convince Famous Roberts, a corrections officer from Trenton, to stay behind. "Like a lot of people (we) didn't think it was actually going to be as bad," he said. "With the category drop ... that's another factor why we did stay."

City Of Altamonte Springs Ranks Top In The World For Innovative Water Project

The City of Altamonte Springs’ innovative water treatment project, pureALTA, was named among the best in the world after fierce competition featuring 160 entries from 45 countries.

The City was ranked in the top three at the International Water Association (IWA) Project Innovation Awards in Tokyo, Japan on Monday, September 17, 2018. pureALTA was recognized for its forward-thinking applications and solutions to advance clean and safe water goals, taking home a top award in the Market-changing Water Technology and Infrastructure category. The City was honored as the only project from the U.S.

“We are proud to stand among such exceptional water projects,” said Frank Martz, Altamonte Springs city manager. “Water is essential for everyone on the planet, and we are focused on finding and sharing water preservation solutions. Taking steps to do so was a major goal for the City of Altamonte Springs, and we’re deeply humbled to receive this international recognition.”

The IWA Project Innovation Awards were presented at the 12th annual World Water Congress, which focuses on overcoming challenges through the development and implementation of creative water solutions. This global event helps shape the conversation on future water needs. Over 5,000 water leaders representing over 100 countries joined together to share the latest trends, innovative technologies and pioneering sciences to build partnerships that will deliver solutions for major water and wastewater challenges faced around the world.

Report on Florida's St. Johns River is mixed bag

JACKSONVILLE - A new report says development and the spread of non-native wildlife are all increasing strains on the health of the St. Johns River, which runs through north Florida.

The report released Friday by researchers from Jacksonville University, the University of North Florida and Florida Southern College in Lakeland was a mixed bag.

The report says that some changes are helping the river, such as lower levels in some areas of a chemical that feeds algae blooms.

Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program seeks photos for its 10th annual calendar

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TAVARES — Celebrating a decade of production, the Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program is seeking original photographs of Lake County waterways for its beautiful Adopt-a-Lake calendar. The top 14 photographs, as chosen by a panel of volunteers, will be published in the 2019 calendar.

Once the semi-finalists are selected, online voting will be opened to the public. The top-scoring picture will receive the coveted cover spot.

All photos submitted must be of a Lake County named water body, and must be shot in landscape (horizontal) mode. Entries are limited to five photos per person and should include the name of the photographer and the body of water pictured. A photo release form will be required.

To submit a photo, e-mail ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov, bring a CD to the Water Resource Management Laboratory at 12923 County Landfill Road, Tavares, or mail a CD to Adopt-a-Lake Program, Attn: Cathie Catasus, P.O. Box 7800, Tavares, FL 32778.

The deadline to submit entries is Oct. 10.

The Adopt-a-Lake calendar will be available at the Water Resource Management Laboratory for a suggested donation of $5, with proceeds benefiting the Adopt-a-Lake Program.

The Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program encourages local civic organizations, individuals and fraternal and business groups to adopt a segment of a lake’s shoreline. The program is comprised of three separate components: water-quality monitoring, public education and pollution prevention. Volunteers can select which aspects of the program best fit their level of interest.

For more information about Lake County’s Adopt-a-Lake Program, the calendar, or to become a volunteer, contact Cathie Catasus at 352-253-1659 or ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov.

SJRWMD cost-share project applications due Oct. 18th

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PALATKA — The St. Johns River Water Management District is accepting applications through Oct. 18 for Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) communities and innovative projects to share in cost-share funding that supports the agency’s water resource protection mission.

Project proposals considered for FY 2018–2019 funding should benefit water supply (including water conservation, alternative water supplies, and maintenance and enhancement of REDI community water distribution systems and water resource development), improve water quality, provide flood protection, or protect or enhance natural systems.

Project criteria, application instructions and additional information about the program are available on the district’s website at www.sjrwmd.com/localgovernments/funding.

A REDI community is economically disadvantaged with an employment base dominated by traditional agriculture or resource-based industries and a population of 25,000 or less. REDI-designated communities within the district are Baker, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and Okeechobee counties, all communities within those counties and the communities of Astatula, Fellsmere, Hawthorne, Mascotte, Pierson and Umatilla.

Innovative projects include those that use emerging or proven technology in a unique way to provide alternative water supply quantities or to expand available quantities to offset groundwater withdrawal, or to otherwise improve the water resources of the district in support of the core missions. Examples of innovative technologies include indirect or direct potable reuse, rainwater harvesting for residential or commercial uses, and stormwater harvesting for aquifer recharge benefits.

District staff will evaluate each project proposal to determine which provide the most beneficial water resource results and can be constructed in a timely and efficient manner. Staff will then prepare a recommended list for board funding consideration in December 2018.

Now you can take your boater safety exam online

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FWC now allows online providers to offer boating safety exam

Access to Florida’s Boater Education Temporary Certificate Program has been expanded, thanks to work done by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to make allowances for online course providers to offer the required courses over the internet.

In August of 2017, the FWC amended Florida Administrative Code 68D-36.108 to allow the temporary certificate exam to be offered in an online version. This change makes it easier and more convenient for both vessel operators and vessel liveries to comply with Florida’s boater education laws, which require liveries to verify that customers born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, have met Florida’s boating safety education requirements before allowing them to rent their vessels.

Online temporary certificate exam providers will create a system that allows 24-hour, seven-day a week accessibility to the exam using tablets, laptops, or other electronic devices. This added convenience will make it easier for both visitors and residents by allowing them to take the test before a vacation to Florida.

Currently, one online boating safety education provider, Boat Ed, has completed the process to offer the exam online. Boat Ed has been a leader and innovator in boating safety education since 1995. Study or learning materials are available on the Boat Ed site to prepare students for the exam, improve their boating knowledge and increase their chances of successfully completing the exam on the first try. The exam costs $3 and study materials are available for an additional charge. A link to the exam can be found at Boat‑Ed.com/FloridaRental/.

Prior to this change, paper exams were the only option and were required to be completed and passed by rental vessel operators. The ability for liveries to continue to offer paper exams has not changed with the addition of this online option. Liveries can still purchase and administer the paper exams, as long as their contract and insurance are valid.

The temporary certificate exam is a knowledge check, not a full education course. It cannot be converted into a boater safety identification card that is valid for life. Temporary certificates are not valid in any other state and do not meet boater safety education requirements in other states.

The online exam will be 25 questions, randomly selected from a large pool of questions. The cost for the exam will remain $3. Upon successful completion of the exam, students will be provided an electronic proof of their successful completion and their passing score. A livery will be able to inspect this proof to ensure that a prospective vessel renter has met Florida’s boating safety education requirements.

The new change offers various benefits to liveries:

  • Liveries are not required to contract with any other company to use the online exam.
  • A link that will send customers directly to the online exam can be provided by liveries.
  • Liveries are not required to continue purchasing paper exams from the FWC.
  • The burden of mailing paper tests back to the FWC is removed with the online option.
  • Liveries will be able to provide speedier service to customers who take the exam in advance of renting.

The FWC encourages liveries to transition to the new online exam system to increase accessibility and streamline the testing process for renters interested in enjoying Florida’s beautiful waterways by boat.

Florida DEP funds Lake May Reserve acquisition

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Communities Trust (FCT) awarded Hillsborough, Lake and Indian River counties with more than $6 million in grant funding to help acquire 720 acres of land across the state for conservation and outdoor recreation.

“The collaborative efforts between FCT and our local stakeholders are represented through these projects," said David Clark, DEP Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation. "I thank our partners for continued commitment to achieve land acquisitions that promote conservation and protection of Florida."

In Lake County, lhe acquisition of 136 acres at the Lake May Reserve will provide hiking trails, picnic areas, outdoor education facilities, an observation platform and floating canoe/kayak launch.

Funded by the Florida Forever Program, Florida Communities Trust assists communities in protecting important natural resources, providing recreational opportunities, and preserving Florida's traditional working waterfronts. This preservation works through the competitive criteria in the Parks and Open Space Florida Forever Grant Program and the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant Program. These grant programs provide funding to local governments and eligible nonprofit organizations to acquire land for parks, open space, greenways, and projects supporting Florida's seafood harvesting and aquaculture industries.

Florida Forever is Florida’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program, a blueprint for conserving natural resources and renewing Florida’s commitment to conserve the state’s natural and cultural heritage.