Water-Related News

Herbicide Application on Lake Tibet 2/28/2017

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 2/28/17. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage Hydrilla in the lake. WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE.

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

Herbicide Application on Little Lake Conway Feb. 23rd (Finger Canals North East Lobe)

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 2/23/17. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage algae in the canals and cove. WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE.

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

Herbicide application on Little Lake Conway Feb. 24th (NE Finger Canals and Cove)

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 2/24/17. This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage algae in the canals and cove.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS:

  • FOR RESIDENTS OF THE FINGER CANAL COVE (WEST SIDE): DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 7 DAYS. DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 7 DAYS.
  • FOR RESIDENTS WITHIN THE CANALS (WEST SIDE): DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY. DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 5 DAYS
  • Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

    Florida lawmakers push water agenda

    WASHINGTON – Fully upgrading the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee could be done three years ahead of schedule if Congress appropriated the full amount this year to complete the project, a senior U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official told a gathering of congressional lawmakers from Florida Wednesday (Feb. 15th).

    “If we were able to maximize funding, we think we could move the timetable up to 2022 (from 2025),” Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, the agency’s deputy district commander for South Florida, told the group. “There are some constraints with being able to work on components of the dike at the same time, so we don’t think it’s feasible to speed it up any faster than (that).”

    But convincing Congress to pony up the $800 million for the dike — not to mention funds for dozens of other Everglades-related projects — won’t be easy considering the limited resources and competing interests on Capitol Hill, said Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Weston.

    “We should all maintain a constant worry that the patience of our colleagues who have very major water projects of their own (around the nation) in the queue and the number of years that this project was expected to take — and is taking — has a tendency to wear thin not only on the staff that makes recommendations on funding these projects but on our colleagues.”

    The bipartisan Florida congressional delegation met to discuss the state’s significant water woes, which range from last summer’s toxic algae blooms along the Atlantic coast that were visible from space, nutrient-addled shorelines in Southwest Florida that have wreaked economic devastation, and red tides that led to massive fish kills near Sarasota.

    Much of Wednesday’s meeting focused on speeding up and funding the massive, multibillion-dollar project to rehabilitate the Everglades.

    Rainfall deficit prompts Water District advisory

    WEST PALM BEACH — A huge reason the brush fire danger has climbed so high is a significant lack of rain in recent months.

    In fact, water managers are already talking conservation.

    "I don't think that it's a bad idea to just conserve all the time," said Vicki Wagner, who lives near West Palm Beach.

    Wagner said she has set her sprinklers to run just two nights a week, all year long.

    "I think twice a week is enough," said Wagner.

    Music to the ears of South Florida’s water managers, who just issued an advisory encouraging residents to start being more water-wise.

    "We've been extremely dry, and this started with the record low rainfall in November,” said Randy Smith, spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District.

    “And (the dry spell) has been continuous, which is pretty unusual," said Smith.

    Long slog likely if Trump EPA attempts WOTUS do-over

    President Trump's pick to lead U.S. EPA, Scott Pruitt, is an avowed foe of the agency's Clean Water Rule.

    As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sued the Obama administration over what he deemed an unlawful expansion of federal regulatory power over isolated streams and wetlands. And if he's confirmed as EPA chief, he has said he will replace the rule.

    But legal experts say killing that rule is one thing, replacing it another.

    The regulation — which is also known by an acronym, WOTUS, for "Waters of the United States" — was written by the Obama EPA and Army Corps of Engineers in an effort to help regulators and landowners end a murky, decadeslong legal battle over the reach of the Clean Water Act.

    At issue: unclear case law and a vaguely written statute.

    Bernadette Rappold, former director of the EPA Office of Civil Enforcement's Special Litigation and Projects Division, said all the legal baggage complicates the effort to write a clear, scientifically defensible rule for protecting areas that are valuable as filters for water pollution, buffers for floodwaters and habitat for wildlife.

    Florida has seen bad effects from Trump-like climate gag orders

    Kristina Trotta was working for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Miami in 2014 when she and her colleagues were called into a staff meeting. “We were told by the regional director that we were no longer supposed to say ‘global warming,’ ‘climate change’ or ‘sea level rise,’” says Trotta, who works on coral reef conservation. “We were finally told we are the governor’s agency and this is what the governor wants, and so this is what we’re going to do.”

    Florida’s hush order, along with a similar effort in North Carolina, offers a preview of what will happen if Pres. Donald Trump continues preliminary moves to muzzle climate communication from key federal agencies. The Florida gag effort was part of a broader move by Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who questions the scientific consensus on climate change. Experts and local officials say it hampered community efforts to plan for worsening flooding and extreme weather.

    Now on the national level all references to climate change have been removed from the White House Web site (except those promising to eliminate Obama climate policies). Trump aides also reportedly ordered the deletion of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s main page on the topic, although those plans were put on hold after word leaked out. Federal agencies have more responsibilities than state authorities, including gathering and analyzing authoritative data about effects on wide areas of the country. If they pull back, the negative effects could be much bigger.

    Legislature needs educating about flood risk

    A state senator proposing legislation to mitigate flood risk said Friday that lawmakers in Tallahassee don’t fully appreciate the extent of that risk.

    Brandes discussed flood insurance during the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Insurance Summit in Miami.

    He has introduced SB 584, to create a statewide flood mitigation and assistance program, providing up to $50 million per year in matching grant money.

    The money would help reduce the risk and severity of coastal flooding by using Amendment 1 resources for land acquisition and preservation, and extending the expiration of deregulated rates in flood insurance to 2025 from 2017, giving the flood insurance market more time to grow.

    National Flood Insurance Program costs less in communities that have mitigated their flood risk, Brandes said during a short interview.

    What would happen to Florida if the EPA really did go away?

    For years the Environmental Protection Agency has been depicted as a jackbooted thug, a humorless generator of red tape, even the nefarious villain in such films as The Simpsons Movie and the original Ghostbusters.

    Now the agency started by a Republican president, Richard Nixon, faces an uncertain future. The new president who once pledged to eliminate it now promises to refocus it. The man he nominated to be its new leader, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, made his reputation suing it. Meanwhile, a Florida congressman has filed a bill to obliterate it.

    Under the bill filed by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, the EPA would cease to exist at the end of 2018.

    "They have exceeded their original mission substantially under both Republican and Democratic presidents and violated the sovereignty of the states," Gaetz said in explaining his bill. "I think we need to start fresh."

    His bill would leave it to "states and local governments to protect their environmental assets in the absence of federal overreach."

    Obliterating EPA would create chaos, experts say

    After soliciting endorsement from his colleagues earlier this week to eradicate the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has garnered support from a trio of congressmen in what he assures would translate to a smooth transition in oversight and regulations from the federal government to individual states.

    But legal experts disagree with the Fort Walton Beach Republican, arguing that eliminating the agency would incite statutory chaos and devastating impacts to human health and the environment.

    "When it was originally created, states and local communities didn’t have the technology or expertise to protect the environment," said Gaetz, who has targeted 2018 for when he hopes to see the agency disappear. "We’ve come a long way in the last 50 years. Time and again, I’ve seen constituents unknowingly subject themselves to the oppressive jurisdiction of the EPA by doing simple things."

    Gaetz said Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) have agreed to co-sponsor a bill to the House Committee on Natural Resources to eliminate the agency. At that point, the committee's chairman, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), would decide if it would be put to a vote. Many environmental protection laws create legal standing for states to enforce federally administrated regulations. Gaetz contended that without the EPA, authority for those laws would simply shift to states. But multiple professors at the University of Florida Levin College of Law contradicted him.

    "A lot of states just don’t have resources available to them," said Mary Jane Angelo, professor and director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Program at the university. "Wealthier states would have better protection for their citizens’ health than poorer states."

    In Florida, debate over pollution limits rages

    In Florida, members of the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation argued with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in January about its handling of controversial new water pollution limits.

    The Tallahassee Democrat reported that In May, the DEP introduced an update to human health criteria “for 43 chemical compounds that are allowed in Florida’s rivers, lakes and estuaries and [created] new limits for 39 others.”

    The agency’s plan received a lot of criticism from environmental groups, not only because of the relaxed standards for some of the chemicals but also because of the way the agency presented the proposal.

    The Tallahassee Democrat reported that on May 15 Florida wanted to weaken its restrictions on roughly two dozen cancer-causing chemicals that it would allow in its surface waters.

    DEP Secretary Jon Steverson said the coverage "inaccurately and unfairly" depicted the agency's proposal.

    "The state has some of the most comprehensive water quality standards in the country, including the most advanced numeric nutrient criteria in the entire nation," Steverson told the Tallahassee Democrat. "We will continue to coordinate with EPA to adopt standards that will ensure our residents and natural resources enjoy clean and safe water."

    Originally, the DEP stated that it would take the proposal to the state Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC) for approval in the fall but changed the meeting to July. The ERC had then voted on the plan while two of its seats set aside for environmental and local government representation were vacant. The ERC in July approved the limits in a 3 to 2 vote.

    State may require licensing for kayaks, canoes, paddle boards

    Update: FWC refutes assertion that licensing is intended

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released a statement clarifying its position on the licensing of non-motorized watercraft, as follows:

    Today, a group of citizens and stakeholders charged to make recommendations to FWC’s Boating Advisory Council considered a proposal for expanding vessel registration to non-motorized boats in Florida. The FWC appreciates the work of this advisory group, but we are not supportive of increasing fees on Floridians or visitors who participate in non-motorized boating. The FWC greatly values our boating community and will continue to work hard to keep Florida’s standing as the boating capital of the world without increasing costs and fees.

    —Nick Wiley, FWC Executive Director


    Original News Article:

    To fans of kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding, gliding along Florida waters is an expression of freedom; to advocates of boating-regulation reform, it's time to mandate licensing for small craft without motors.

    A citizens panel assembled by state-boating authorities will meet in Orlando on Wednesday to explore what could become a path to adopting registration and fees for small boats powered by humans, wind and currents.

    "That sounds like a root canal for a paddler," said retired Coast Guard officer William Griswold, a member of the Non-Motorized Boats Working Group, a panel reporting ultimately to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "But we need to start to get a grip on how many of these boats are out there."

    Proposals for licensing Florida's canoes, kayaks and other motorless craft have surfaced in past years.

    Each has been met by vehement opposition from paddlers and sailors of small boats, who say their pastime is healthy, affordable, inflicts little harm to the environment and is akin to riding a bicycle.

    2017 Invasive Species Blitz a great success thanks to volunteers

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    Thank you to all the volunteers that participated in the Invasive Species Blitz on January 21, 2017! In all, 60 volunteers at Blanchard Park and 27 volunteers at Savage/Christmas Creek Preserve removed more than 100 bags of invasive plants. Participants at Blanchard Park enjoyed snacks generously provided by ASCE Environmental & Water Resources Institute (EWRI). The trail mix and bananas were much appreciated and kept everyone energized and ready to work. This year's event was another great success thanks to our fabulous volunteers and staff!

    New storm drain labels are here

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    New labels for storm drains have arrived! The Orange County Environmental Protection Division has redesigned our storm drain labels for 2017. The new labels are ready for volunteers to apply them. If you have been thinking of labeling your community's storm drains, or if your old labels have faded to white, now is a great time to organize a storm drain labeling project. These attractive labels help to remind everyone to keep our surface waters clean by allowing, "Only Rain in the Drain."

    Contact Information

    Carrie Mohanna

    Orange County Environmental Protection Division

    800 Mercy Drive, Suite 4
    Orlando, FL - 32808

    (407) 836-1430
    Carrie.Mohanna@ocfl.net

    President Trump transition leader's goal is two-thirds cut in EPA employees

    The red lights are flashing at the Environmental Protection Agency.

    The words of Myron Ebell, the former head of President Donald Trump's EPA transition team, warn employees of a perilous future. Ebell wants the agency to go on a severe diet.

    It's one that would leave many federal employees with hunger pains, and jobless too.

    Ebell has suggested cutting the EPA workforce by 5,000, about a two-thirds reduction, over the next four years. The agency's budget of $8.1 billion would be sliced in half under his prescription, which he emphasized is his own and not necessarily Trump's.