Water-Related News

2021 Adopt-A-Lake calendars available

TAVARES – The 2021 Adopt-a-Lake Program calendar, released in coordination with Keep Lake Beautiful, is now available. More than 300 photos showcasing Lake County’s water bodies were submitted, and the top-voted photograph of Lake Cooley, submitted by Diane Roberts, is featured on the calendar’s front cover.

Photo submissions were narrowed down by a committee to 36 semi-finalists, and the public voted on the photos via the Adopt-a-Lake webpage. More than 2,500 votes were submitted to select the top 14 finalists, and these 14 are featured in the 2021 calendar. Photos from runners-up are included in a special section at the back of the calendar.

The Adopt-a-Lake 2021 calendar is available for a suggested donation of $5 and can be purchased at the Lake County Water Lab, located at 12923 County Landfill Road in Tavares, or at the Solid Waste Administration Office, located at 13130 County Landfill Road in Tavares. Calendars may also be ordered by mailing a check to: Adopt-a-Lake Program, P.O. Box 7800, Tavares, FL 32778. If requesting a calendar by mail, please include a mailing address and an additional $1 for postage.

Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB) works closely with the Adopt-a-Lake Program to keep Lake County beautiful by keeping litter out of our lakes. 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, including water-quality monitoring, public education and pollution prevention, and volunteers can elect which components of the program best fit their desired level of participation. KLB is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit agency that focuses on building and maintaining vibrant communities.

For more information about the Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program, contact Cathie Catasus at (352) 253-1659 or email ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov. For more information about the Keep Lake Beautiful Program, visit www.keeplakebeautiful.com or email klb@lakecountyfl.gov.

SJRWMD approves funding for ag projects that conserve water, reduce nutrients

District has funded more than 100 agricultural cost-share projects since July 2015

PALATKA — Nine agricultural projects will share in nearly $779,000 in cost-share funds from the St. Johns River Water Management District to improve water conservation and reduce nutrient loading to area waterways. Projects approved by the District’s Governing Board on Tuesday are estimated to collectively conserve 138 million gallons of water a year and reduce total nitrogen by 17,100 pounds and total phosphorus by 3,170 pounds per year.

“Since the program began in July 2015, we have funded 103 partnership projects to help farmers and growers implement projects that conserve water and result in nutrient load reductions,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Our program works to protect the environment and supports sustainable farming practices while also increasing farms’ production and quality.”

Per the project ranking approved by the board at Tuesday’s meeting, the following projects will receive funds this cycle:

  • Orange Bend Harvesting Inc., Lake County, precision fertilizer application equipment
  • Wild Goose Farms LLC, Marion County, precision fertilizer equipment and soil moisture sensors
  • Total Ag Care LLC, Orange County, irrigation retrofit and soil moisture sensors
  • Richard Davis, Lake County, irrigation retrofit
  • Sun Ag LLC, Indian River County, conversion to surface water
  • Cherrylake Inc., Lake County, soil moisture sensors and weather station
  • Estes Citrus Inc., Indian River County, portable tissue testing lab, soil moisture sensors
  • Lake Jem Farms Inc., Lake County, soil moisture sensors and precision fertilizer equipment
  • Underhill Ferneries Inc., Volusia County, precision fertilizer application equipment

The District received 13 applications for projects seeking funds through the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Districtwide Ag Cost-share Program for projects in the 15 counties outside the Tri-County Agricultural Area (portions of Flagler, Putnam and St. Johns counties), which has its own separate funding program for agricultural projects.

The types of projects eligible for funding include irrigation system retrofits, soil moisture and climate sensor telemetry, rainwater harvesting, subirrigation drain tile and more. The program is entirely voluntary and includes a requirement that funding recipients modify their consumptive use permits to memorialize the actual water reductions resulting from the District’s monetary contribution.

For information about District cost-share programs, visit www.sjrwmd.com/localgovernments/funding/.

Experts brainstorm ways to meet growth demands while protecting water supplies

The Nature Conservancy's Florida Chapter estimates roughly 1,000 people were moving to Florida every day before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter's Executive Director Temperince Morgan says that rapid growth is stretching the state's water resources.

"Our current demands are exceeding our current supplies from traditional sources. We're seeing drawdowns and impacts to springs, lakes, and wetlands and other water bodies around the state," Morgan says.

Morgan says demand for freshwater will keep going up, especially in places like Central Florida, where more people are choosing to live.

"In recent years, public water supply demand has, for the first time in Florida history, begun to exceed agricultural demand. And the vast majority of that public water supply demand is for irrigation. So, to irrigate our lawns," Morgan says.

Her group is partnering with the University of Florida and a developer to study a new irrigation-free community—meaning a neighborhood that replaces grassy lawns with plants that are meant to live in Florida's specific climate without the need for frequent watering.

Innovative algal bloom treatment pilot project gets under way at Lake Minneola

PALATKA — An innovative project to fight algal blooms in Lake Minneola is getting under way this week with water quality monitoring. Lake Minneola, which has been plagued with blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, was selected earlier this year for a pilot remediation project to combat harmful algal blooms.

“We look forward to seeing results from this innovative project as we work to discover new remedies to our water quality challenges,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “With Gov. DeSantis’ commitment and the state’s investment, we can continue pursuing science-based strategies to tackle algal blooms and nutrient reduction in our waterways.”

Funding for the $1.7 million project comes from a 2020 legislative appropriation providing grant funding through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Water Policy and Ecosystem Project’s Innovative Grant Program. The program funds innovative technology projects to test new processes for dealing with water quality challenges.

Using a combination of collected field data, water samples and remote sensing imagery, BlueGreen US Water Technologies (BGWT) Ltd. will identify algae-prone areas in Lake Minneola and deploy its LakeGuard® Oxy Technology in strategic locations to reduce current or forming algal blooms.

BGWT’s technology was demonstrated during the Governor’s Trade Mission to Israel in 2019. According to BGWT, the Lake Guard® treatment selectively eliminates and prevents cyanobacterial blooms in lakes, regardless of lake size or shape. Lake Guard® uses a proprietary new formulation of potent algaecides that allows the granular product to float and time-release the active ingredient on the water surface, while targeting cyanobacterial mats as they float on the water’s surface.

The same innovative technology is being deployed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District to address blue-green algae caused by discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchie and St. Lucie estuaries.

The LakeGuard® Oxy Technology’s active ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, decomposes quickly to water and oxygen. Due the unique formulation of the Lake Guard® products, its ingredients dissolve completely in a few hours after application, is ecofriendly and does not persist or accumulate in the environment.

The pilot project is expected to be in operation for at least six months.

Visit www.sjrwmd.com/projects/lake-minneola-project for more information and updates.

Reset your sprinkler system to fall back to once-a-week

PALATKA — Starting Nov. 1, homeowners and businesses across the 18 counties of the St. Johns River Water Management District should reset their automatic sprinkler systems to water no more than once a week. When “falling back” — turning your clocks back an hour — it’s also time to change your irrigation system timer to water your lawn only on your designated watering day.

“Research shows that, in Florida’s cooler months, grass and plants don’t need as much water to be healthy — you can save water and money and still have a beautiful lawn,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “When you turn back your clocks Saturday night, be sure to also reset your sprinkler timers to water only on the designated day for your address. Keep in mind that you may not need supplemental irrigation at all if it has rained.”

Public water supply is the largest category of water use in the District’s 18-county region — about 565.5 million gallons of water a day. Most of this water is for residential water use, and many people don’t realize that more than half of total residential water use is used outdoors if the home has an automatic irrigation system. Efficient irrigation systems that are scheduled correctly can save up to half of that outdoor water use.

Because lawns need significantly less water in Florida’s winter months, watering restrictions are in place to ensure that water used for irrigation is used efficiently. During Eastern Standard Time (early November through mid-March), landscape irrigation is limited to no more than one day a week on the following schedule:

  • Saturday at addresses that end in an odd number or have no address
  • Sunday at addresses that end in an even number
  • Tuesday at non-residential addresses
  • No irrigation is allowed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The District’s 2020-2021 Water Less campaign aims to raise awareness about water conservation and to communicate easy ways to integrate outdoor water conservation into Floridians’ daily lives. The year-round campaign features seasonal messages, starting with “Fall Back” in November to encourage no more than once-a-week watering as temperatures begin cooling.

More information and water-saving tips can be found at www.WaterLessFlorida.com. To learn how your neighbors across the District are saving water, visit our Water Less Heroes series here.

USGS unveils National Water Dashboard (NWD)

The U.S. Geological Survey announced Friday the completion of a new mobile tool that provides real-time information on water levels, weather and flood forecasts all in one place on a computer, smartphone or other mobile device.

The new USGS National Water Dashboard, or NWD, provides critical information to decision-makers, emergency managers and the public during flood events, informing decisions that can help protect lives and property.

“The National Water Dashboard is a much-needed advancement that will help keep communities across the country safe during extreme weather conditions,” said Tim Petty, Ph.D., Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, from an agricultural round table with the Water Subcabinet in Janesville, Wisconsin. “The development of a comprehensive tool that can provide real-time, critical information on mobile devices is great news for areas in our country that are prone to flooding or drought. In addition to giving the public key information on what’s happening in their communities, it will also help improve the response of federal, state and local agencies during storms, floods and drought conditions.”

“Our vision is the National Water Dashboard will be a one-stop resource for all available USGS water data used by the public to make decisions that can preserve life and property,” said Jim Reilly, Ph.D., director of the USGS. “The USGS will continue to build out this tool incorporating future advances in water information so the public will have the latest and best information on hazards and resources.”

Information from the NWD will help inform forecasting, response and recovery efforts for agencies such as the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal, state and local agencies. The tool can be used by forecasters and local emergency managers as they issue flood- and evacuation warnings, verify safe evacuation routes and coordinate emergency response efforts. The NWD can assist the USACE as they manage water supplies in river basins and operate flood-control reservoirs. During a drought, the tool can help state resource managers identify areas where water supplies are at risk.

“The National Water Dashboard is an exceptional tool for staying up to date on real-time USGS water information coupled with forecasts and warnings from NOAA’s National Weather Service,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “Giving individuals access to water information whether it be a flood or drought, on their mobile device, will help protect lives and property."

The NWD presents real-time stream, lake and reservoir, precipitation and groundwater data from more than 13,500 USGS observation stations across the country. This information is shown along with NOAA weather data such as radar, watches and warnings, past precipitation totals, precipitation forecasts and drought conditions from other open water-data sources. The NWD also links to the USGS WaterAlert system, which sends out instant, customized updates about water conditions.

"The National Water Dashboard builds on the USGS Texas Water Dashboard that was created in 2016," said Don Cline, Ph.D, USGS Associate Director for Water Resources. "Expanding this tool nationwide will increase the ease and ability for the public to have access to USGS real-time water data at all times to help make informed decisions regarding the safety of their families and homes."

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers values the continued partnership and active engagement within our Federal family,” said Chandra S Pathak, Policy Advisor and Senior Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Construction Division. “The new USGS National Water Dashboard is well suited to support the ever-evolving needs for increased hazard risk awareness and mitigation actions toward preparedness and response."