An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Orange County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Herbicide Application on Lake Holden, 10/15

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 10/15/18. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage Hydrilla in the lake.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE.

Herbicide Application on Little Lake Conway (NE Finger Canals), 10/19

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 10/19/18. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage algae in the canals.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY. DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 2 DAYS.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

District provides an update on rainfall, aquifer and surface water conditions as Hurricane Michael a

PALATKA — The St. Johns River Water Management District recently presented data that provided a snapshot of rainfall, aquifer and surface water conditions across the district’s 18-county service area.

As Hurricane Michael approaches Florida, the National Weather Service has issued a Coastal Flood Advisory along the coast and along portions of the St. Johns River Basin around the times of high tide, due to high astronomical tides. This advisory affects the lower St. Johns River basin in the northeast Florida region.

Below-average rainfall has decreased surface water flow across the district. By the end of September, surface water flow decreased and dropped into the low range in the headwaters of the St. Johns River and in Orlando-area tributaries. Surface water flow also dropped into the average range further downstream in the St. Johns River Basin. The tidally influenced river near Jacksonville was in the very low range, dominated by the incoming Oct. 1 tide.

In a step forward for Everglades restoration, U.S. Senate approves reservoir plan

A project intended to help address blue-green algae outbreaks took a major step forward Wednesday as the U.S. Senate passed a bill that includes a proposal for an Everglades water storage reservoir.

Senators approved the bill, which includes many other water-related projects nationwide, by a margin of 99-1.

The reservoir would be built south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce the need for water discharges east and west. The lake water contains high levels of nutrients like phosophorus and nitrogren, which fuels algae blooms in inland waterways and coastal areas, including the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

The hurricanes and climate-change questions keep coming. Yes, they’re linked.

Scientists are increasingly confident of the links between global warming and hurricanes.

In a warming world, they say, hurricanes will be stronger, for a simple reason: Warmer water provides more energy that feeds them.

Hurricanes and other extreme storms will also be wetter, for a simple reason: Warmer air holds more moisture.

And, storm surges from hurricanes will be worse, for a simple reason that has nothing to do with the storms themselves: Sea levels are rising.

Florida DEP announces “Septic Upgrade Incentive” program

Program will help reduce excessive nutrients in Florida’s springs

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is announcing a Septic Upgrade Incentive Program to improve water quality and protect Florida's outstanding springs. The incentive program encourages homeowners to enhance conventional septic systems by adding advanced features to reduce nitrogen pollution.

This Septic Upgrade Incentive Program is designed to offset homeowner costs by providing certified installers and licensed plumbers with up to $10,000 after the installation of enhanced nitrogen-reducing features to existing septic systems located in targeted areas within eligible counties. This incentive effectively reduces the costs to the homeowner for the septic system upgrades. Designated areas are identified and delineated by DEP as Priority Focus Areas in Citrus, Hernando, Leon, Marion, Orange, Pasco, Seminole, Volusia and Wakulla counties. View the Priority Focus Area map to see if a home location is in an eligible area.

Eligible enhancements include retrofitting septic tanks with advanced pre-treatment, recirculating aerobic treatment units, or replacing traditional septic tanks with upgraded nutrient-reducing technology. Visit the Florida Department of Health's webpage for more information about onsite treatment and disposal systems.

The incentives are available for payment directly to septic system installers and licensed plumbers retained by homeowners to update existing systems, and must be pre-approved by the department prior to the commencement of work.

Septic system installers and licensed plumbers can find complete instructions regarding how to participate, as well as the application for reimbursement by visiting the Septic Upgrade Incentive Program webpage or calling toll-free 1-866-601-6910.

Orange County launches site to explain new septic rules in Wekiva Basin

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Orange County government launched a new page on its web site this week to help homeowners understand confusing new septic rules in the Wekiva Basin, an area that includes neighborhoods near Apopka and in Pine Hills.

New rules for property owners in the Wekiva Basin became effective July 1.

The 2016 Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to adopt strategies to improve water quality in the aquifer that feeds the springs and develop plans to prevent and remove pollution.

Some of those plans have been controversial — and could potentially be costly.

State scientists and environmental groups contend that seepage from 60,000 residential septic tanks within the Wekiva River basin is a big contributor of nitrates — a pollutant — in both the river and the springs, which are popular venues for canoeing, swimming, tubing and other water sports.

Only lawn and agricultural fertilizer account for more, they say.

The new rules, enacted by the Florida Legislature, will require some Wekiva-area property owners with septic tanks to upgrade to more complex and expensive systems to treat nitrogen pollutants or connect to sanitary sewers if available.

Conservation groups say damaging pollution percolates from residential septic systems and flows through the environmentally sensitive Wekiva River basin, imperiling the long-term health of the springs, the river and its tributaries.

The site includes answers to frequently asked technical questions and helps explain a BMAP, the so-called "blueprint" for restoring the impaired waters.

Homeowners can learn if their property is located in the area subject to new state rules by visiting the website and using an interactive maptyping their property address into a search window.

The page also provides links to helpful fact sheets for home-builders, Realtors and local governments.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

Orange County Advises Residents to Practice Lake Safety During High Water Levels

The Orange County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution on Sept. 18, 2018 urging operators of all watercraft vessels to slow down in areas 300 feet or less from docks, piers and shorelines. The resolution also encourages property owners to mark submerged docks because of the potential navigational hazards of high water levels.

Due to the unusually high amounts of rainfall that have occurred over the past several months, Orange County is issuing an advisory that current water levels on various lakes are high. Boat docks may become hidden just beneath the surface being a danger to boaters, skiers and wakeboarders. Please avoid these submerged structures that are normally visible during normal water level periods.

High water conditions can also create other hazards. Use caution and follow these safety measures:

  • Extra precaution should be taken while swimming, fishing or boating while water levels are high.
  • Boating when water levels are high may cause waves that could damage property by eroding shoreline soils and possibly flooding homes along the lakefront.
  • Low wake zones mean no hydroplaning. It takes some effort to get a vessel off the water and results in high wakes. Wake height should be no more than one foot.
  • Large and heavier boats could create damaging waves even at low speeds. Take extra caution when cruising the lake.
  • All watercraft should remain at least 300 feet from the shoreline whenever possible or travel in the center of the lake when approaching vulnerable shorelines. Maintain a slow speed and minimum wake when travelling within 300 feet of the shoreline.
  • If you have electrical service near a facility (e.g., piers, outside lighting on seawalls, etc.) on or near the water, have a qualified electrical contractor disconnect the power to this service to avoid injuries and equipment damage.
  • Do not touch debris blocking a drainage structure, storm drain or retention pond.
  • Be mindful that high water levels may bring wildlife, such as alligators and snakes closer to your home and outside recreational areas.

Measures that would help address Florida's harmful algal blooms remain stalled In Congress

Florida is waiting on Congress to authorize two efforts that could help address algal blooms plaguing the state's coastal and inland waterways.

Congressional authorization expires Sunday for legislation that helps communities cope with harmful algae blooms. The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act enables the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, and an inter-agency task force to do things like monitor algae blooms, research their causes and give grants to communities trying to cope. A lapse in authorization wouldn't eliminate the program, but it would make it less likely that Congress would continue to fund it.

Simultaneously, Florida leaders and environmental groups are calling on the Senate to vote on a bill that includes plans for a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. That reservoir would reduce the need for lake water discharges that contribute to blue-green algae outbreaks.

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.