Water-Related News

SCOTUS sinks Clean Water Act protection for 51% of U.S. waters

'Wetlands that are separate from traditional navigable waters cannot be considered part of those waters.'

A Supreme Court ruling that on its face just allows an Idaho couple to build a home near a lake goes in fact much further than that, eliminating Clean Water Act (CWA) coverage to 51% of previously protected U.S. wetlands.

“Wetlands that are separate from traditional navigable waters cannot be considered part of those waters, even if they are located nearby,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion.

“In addition, it would be odd indeed if Congress had tucked an important expansion to the reach of the CWA into convoluted language in a relatively obscure provision concerning state permitting programs.”

In this case, a road bisects the wetlands in question, and the house was going in on the part of the wetlands cut off from the rest. The Court ruled that the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction ended at the road. The water has to be visible and contiguous to be covered by the law.

Water management districts want visitors to enjoy Florida’s springs and rivers responsibly

Here are some reminders to take special care if you're planning to enjoy Florida's nature this weekend.

Before Memorial Day Weekend and the unofficial start of summer, Florida’s water management districts want to remind visitors to springs and rivers to leave no litter and protect nature.

Troy Roberts with the Suwannee River Water Management District said trash takes away from an area’s natural beauty. It is also harmful to plants, animals, and water quality.

“Make sure you’re taking your trash back with you,” Roberts said. “Take care of these natural wonders that we have like you would your own house.”

Roberts added it is also important to protect submerged aquatic vegetation or seagrass, which provides food and habitat, and can serve as an indicator of the health of a system.

“When people are out swimming or floating, they need to stay close to the surface of the water and they’re not trampling the vegetation,” he said. “Walking on it can uproot it, can damage it. Even walking in the sandy areas can prevent new growth in those areas.”

Vivianna Bendixson with the Southwest Florida Water Management District echoed that advice.

“We want boaters and kayakers to enjoy their time on the river, but we want them to do it while reducing their impact to the river,” she said.

Bendixson added that boaters should not moor along the river’s shore, because that contributes to shoreline erosion and the degradation of the system’s overall health.

Water management districts will promote being good stewards of the environment on social media and at their sites throughout the summer when springs see more visitors.

Live on a lake? Come to the June 10th Lakefront Homeowners Shoreline Forum

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What: Lakefront Homeowners Shoreline Forum
When: Saturday June 10th, 9 a.m. to noon

Where: Eustis Elks Lodge (2540 Lake Dora Ave Tavares, FL 32778
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Come join the Lake County Water Authority (LCWA) in learning everything you ever wanted to know about Living on a Lakefront. LCWA will have some amazing presenters and the LCWA staff will be there. We will have answers to your questions!

  • Lake County will cover Keep Lake Beautiful, Adopt a Lake, Water Quality, and Fertilizing.
  • Learn about pollinator plants and who/what they attract as well as shoreline birds from a local Naturalist.
  • FWC will be there to talk about aquatic Plant Management and Permitting.
  • Find out about all the appropriate aquatic and wetland plants that are available for your shoreline.
  • Learn about LCWA’s new Living Shoreline Grant Program.

LCWA will have DOOR PRIZES!! Coffee, Tea, and water will be available and fruit and croissants. Come join us for a fun learning session.

Any questions call LCWA at 352-324-6141 ex. 0

Several Lake County boat ramps closed for maintenance May 22-29

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Lake County, FL – This week, the following Lake County boat ramps will be closed for maintenance:

  • Johns Lake Boat Ramp, located at 13620 Lake Blvd., Winter Garden, will be closed on Monday, May 22, and will reopen for use on Tuesday, May 23.
  • Pearl Street Boat Ramp, located at 25140 E. Pearl St., Astor, will be closed Tuesday, May 23, and will reopen for use on Wednesday, May 24.
  • Butler Street Boat Ramp, located at 55400 Butler St., Astor, will be closed Tuesday, May 23, and will reopen for use on Wednesday, May 24.
  • Twin Lakes Park Boat Ramp, located at 35303 County Road 473, Leesburg, will be closed Monday, May 22, through Monday, May 29, and will reopen for use on Tuesday, May 30.

Florida environment groups, businesses urge DeSantis to veto ‘attack’ on fertilizer bans

A DeSantis veto would save important measures to curb urban pollution, the groups urged.

Dozens of Florida businesses and environmental organizations are calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a budget item that could curtail local fertilizer ordinances and stymie future water quality efforts.

A coalition of 55 groups from across the Sunshine State, including Alachua County commissioners, wrote a letter to DeSantis late last week urging he use a line-item veto to slash a proposed $250,000 appropriation for University of Florida researchers to study the impact of preempting local fertilizer regulations for the next year.

A local fertilizer ordinance — like the one Pinellas County initiates from June through September — aims to prevent polluted, nutrient-heavy water from flowing off lawns and parks during Florida’s rainy season. That runoff can fuel toxic blue-green algae and red tide blooms that plague Florida’s cherished coastlines and cost the state millions in missed tourism dollars.

More than 100 municipalities across Florida, including more than 20 local governments in Pinellas, have used rainy season fertilizer bans as a tool to prevent souring the state’s waters.

Mount Dora gets warning letter over wastewater plant as foul smell persists throughout city

MOUNT DORA – Dozens of families still have questions as to what’s causing a foul smell throughout the city of Mount Dora.

For months, Channel 9 has reported on the problem that the mayor and Florida Department of Environmental Protection to fix.

Now, the city has gotten a warning letter.

Documents from the state’s website show the city’s wastewater plant may be in violation of state law.

Last October, the DEP noted two different facilities could be part of the problem: the wastewater treatment facility and the local landfill. The city took steps to deal with the smell that was found to be released to their water treatment facility.

The city has reassured residents and the state the issue is being dealt with.

St. Johns Riverkeeper launching expedition to investigate submerged aquatic vegetation loss

ST. JOHNS COUNTY – The St. Johns Riverkeeper is launching a multi-day expedition to investigate the lost grasses of the St. Johns River. The mission is to raise awareness about the fragile state of the river and demonstrate the need for urgent action.

Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAVs) are an essential indicator of river health and are vital to the continuation of a healthy river ecosystem.

SAVs are sources of refuge, oxygen, habitat and food for many aquatic species including the West Indian Manatee.

Yet, scientists have concluded that most SAVs have disappeared in the lower St. Johns River. Estimates put the loss as high as 99 percent.

SAVs do periodically decline as a result of droughts or hurricanes, but the grasses typically begin to bounce back within a few years. However, this time is different. The grasses in the St. Johns have not returned since Hurricane Irma. The question is why?

What is preventing the regrowth of the SAV?

Government environment agencies have offered several possible reasons, but consensus has not been reached and more needs to be done.

As a result, St. Johns Riverkeeper is launching a multi-day expedition to investigate the case of the lost grasses.

The team will spend several days on the water monitoring the most threatened habitat of the St. Johns River. They will patrol an 80-mile stretch of the river between Doctors lake and Lake George in search of remaining SAV beds.

The hope is to answer questions on the massive decline of SAVs and to find solutions to restore the vital habitat.

Lake County issues summer fertilizer ban

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In accordance with Lake County’s Fertilizer Ordinance, Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB) is issuing a ban on fertilizers during summer months when they have the most impact on wildlife and water ways. From June 1 through Sept. 30, the application of phosphorus and nitrogen on residential turf grass is prohibited.

This restriction is intended to help reduce nutrient loading from urban landscapes to our bodies of water. The ordinance was recommended by the Keep Lake Beautiful Committee and approved by the Lake County Board of County Commissioners in 2017.

Keep Lake Beautiful has an ongoing nutrient pollutant awareness campaign that gives residents the opportunity to pledge to keep a “Lake Friendly Lawn.” Residents who take the pledge promise to educate themselves on nutrient pollution and the fertilizer ordinance as well as to share the initiative with others and engage the community to help beautify Lake County. To view a video about steps to take for a Lake Friendly Lawn in the summer months, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1dnl9QIDEI.

Keep Lake Beautiful is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, a national nonprofit agency that focuses on building and maintaining vibrant communities. For more information on KLB, the fertilizer ordinance and to take the pledge, visit www.KeepLakeBeautiful.com

Florida lawmakers propose statewide preemption of local fertilizer use restrictions

The measure would prohibit at least 117 local governments from “adopting or amending a fertilizer management ordinance” during the 2023-24 budget year.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislators are poised to block one of the most effective tools local governments say they have to protect water quality in their communities in the face of red tide and blue-green algae outbreaks by banning rainy season restrictions on fertilizer use.

A measure quietly tucked into a budget proposal over the weekend would prohibit at least 117 local governments from “adopting or amending a fertilizer management ordinance” during the 2023-24 budget year, requiring them to rely on less restrictive regulations developed by the University of Florida, which are supported by the state’s phosphate industry, the producers of fertilizer.

Legislative leaders tentatively agreed to a $116 billion budget on Monday and, with no public debate or discussion, included the fertilizer language that emerged late Sunday.

It is the latest proposal to emerge in a legislative session that has fast-tracked industry-friendly bills aimed at removing local control and public input over emotionally-charged environmental and development issues.

Lawmakers took no testimony from local government officials or environmental advocates who are now warning that the measure could dramatically impede efforts to curb toxic algae outbreaks that feed on nitrogen and phosphorus-rich runoff.

“Supporting this change would allow more fertilizer runoff into Florida’s waters, period.,’’ said Eve Samples of Friends of the Everglades. “That doesn’t benefit anyone except big fertilizer companies.”