Water-Related News

How a Partnership with Ducks Unlimited is Helping to Restore 11,000-acres of Floodplain in the Kissi

Did you know that Gardner-Cobb Marsh is the largest District property near the Kissimmee Upper Chain of Lakes? The Gardner-Cobb Marsh consists of 11,000-acres of land nestled in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes watershed between Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha and Lake Kissimmee. Gentle slopes in elevation of mere inches results in a rolling landscape that produces a contrast in natural communities. Swamps, pine flatwoods and wet prairie are the dominant habitats found here, and in the fall and spring they burst with an array of wildflowers.

The goals of the Gardner-Cobb Marsh Restoration Project are to:

  • Enhance existing wetlands by reducing drainage and extending the hydroperiod (number of days per year that an area of land is wet).
  • Restore about 6,371 acres of over-drained marsh and natural wet prairie floodplain.
  • Provide habitat for native wildlife.
  • Improve water quality in the Okeechobee watershed.

Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program requesting photos for 2022 calendar

TAVARES – As a part of their ongoing mission for engagement to beautify Lake County, Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB) is encouraging residents to participate in the Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program 2022 Calendar Contest by submitting original photographs of county waterways.

All photos must be of a Lake County named waterbody and must depict water somewhere in the photo. Photos must be in landscape orientation. Entries are limited to 5 photos per person. The deadline for entries is Friday, Oct. 22.

The top 14 photographs submitted will be featured in the 2022 calendar. A panel of volunteers and staff will rate the photographs to select the semi-finalists. Once the semi-finalists are selected, online voting will be open to the public on the Adopt-a-Lake webpage. The top-scoring photograph will earn the opportunity to be featured on the calendar’s cover.

To submit photographs, email Cathie Catasus at ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov, drop off a CD at the Water Lab 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. All photos must include the identification of the water body and the name of photographer. If selected as a semi-finalist a photo release form is required.

The Adopt-a-Lake calendars, which include pictures from waterbodies in Lake County, will be available for a suggested donation of $5 from the Lake County Public Works Department, Water Resource Management Laboratory.

The Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program is comprised of three separate components: water-quality monitoring, public education and pollution prevention. Volunteers can elect which components of the program best fit their desired level of participation.

The Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB) Program works closely with the Adopt-a-Lake Program to keep Lake County beautiful by keeping litter out of our lakes. KLB seeks to lead the way to a cleaner and more beautiful Lake County by engaging residents and encouraging community 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 Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program, contact Cathie Catasus at (352) 253-1659 or ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov. For more information about the Keep Lake Beautiful Program, visit www.keeplakebeautiful.com or e-mail klb@lakecountyfl.gov.

FGCU tests new technology that could clean up algae blooms in canals, marinas

LEE COUNTY – Florida Gulf Coast University is testing out a new technology that could clean up algae blooms in canals and marinas without using any chemicals.

The University is partnering with the company Molear with a grant of $355,000 to set up four Nano Bubble Generators. The machines produce nanobubbles, which are so small, you can’t even see them through a microscope.

The location for their experiment is the small town of Pahokee, on the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee, with a marina that has a chronic Blue-Green Algae problem.

“So it’s not going to solve the long-term blue-green algae issues in our state,” Dr. Barry Rosen with FGCU’s Water School said. “That starts with controlling nutrients.”

Court vacates NWPR, is still weighing WOTUS restoration

A federal judge on Monday tossed out a Trump-era rule that rolled back water pollution protections, but is still weighing whether to restore Obama-era protections or simply undo the Trump rollback to return to pre-Obama regulations. In a court order, Judge Rosemary Márquez, an Obama appointee, vacated the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which governed which bodies of water get protection from pollution. Márquez remanded the rule for reconsideration to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Trump administration in 2019 repealed an Obama-era rule known as the Waters of the United States Rule, which expanded federal protections for smaller waterways.

And last year, the former administration put forward an additional rule, the NWPR, that reversed some protections, including for wetlands, that had been in place for decades.

The 2020 rule is the one that Márquez tossed and gave parties to a lawsuit challenging it 30 days to file proposals about what to do about the repeal rule.

The decision comes as the Biden administration seeks to revise the rule and asked the court to send the Trump rule back to it for reconsideration.

Blue-Green Algae Task Force talks stormwater at virtual meeting

Stormwater headlined Florida’s Blue-Green Algae Task force meeting Monday, with more than 250 tuning in to hear the online discussion.

Gov. Ron DeSantis mandated the five-member group in 2019, shortly after he took office, as part of a sweeping executive order designed to improve Florida’s water quality. His order included $2.5 billion for Everglades restoration and water protections — the highest level of such funding in the state’s history — and created the algae task force as well as the new position that oversees the group’s workings, the state’s chief science officer, currently University of South Florida Professor Mark Rains.

Rains kicked off Monday’s meeting by recapping its key accomplishments so far, before moving to the topic at hand.

“This task force under my predecessor, Dr. Tom Frazer, produced a consensus document that had a number of recommendations about what were the causes of water quality degradation,” he said. “Many of those recommendations went directly into SB 712, the Clean Waterways Act, and I think there’s a role for the Blue-Green Algae task force to play – kind of re-inserting themselves in that conversation along the way – as policies and practices change, and making sure that what was said in the consensus document is tracking all the way through to the actual changes of policy and practice.”

Water quality concerns stir up citrus BMP and phosphorus questions

As blue-green algae makes headlines again this summer, fertilizer from farms and urban sources are again under scrutiny. Last year, the state legislature passed the Clean Waterways Act to address continuing challenges with water quality.

The 111-page bill addresses agriculture, using biosolids as fertilizer, regulation of septic tanks, wastewater treatment systems, enhanced penalties, and other rules. It is part of the governor’s multibillion-dollar plan to improve the state’s water quality.

The BMP (Best Management Practices) Program for agriculture also saw some enhancements. The law requires that BMP manuals be updated more regularly to include current science. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) will now be required to collect and keep growers’ nutrient program records, with a particular focus on nitrogen and phosphorus. In the past, records of growers who are enrolled in the BMP Program were reviewed but not collected. Under the new law, growers have to fill out a Nutrient Application Report Form. These forms can be turned over to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The law also instructs FDACS to have on-site verification visits to farms at least every two years to confirm BMPs are being followed.