An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

USF, Florida welcome new research vessel R/V W. T. Hogarth

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When Bill Hogarth was told the Florida Institute of Oceanography's new research vessel was going to be named after him, he had a pretty reasonable – and funny – reaction.

“I said, ‘Somebody knows something I don’t know!’ I think, it’s (the naming) usually after you’re dead, I said, ‘I’m retired but I didn’t know I was dying at the same time!’”

The former institute director and one-time dean of the USF College of Marine – who is not dying – was among the first passengers on the R/V W. T. Hogarth as the state-of-the-art, 78-foot-long ship recently moved into its home port at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg on a recent wet and windy afternoon.

"It’s very hard to put into words, but knowing how much the students use this vessel, how much research is done with this vessel, makes you awfully proud to see your name on it and to know what it will be used for," said Hogarth.

The new craft replaces the almost fifty-year-old Bellows, which is beginning to show its age – in addition to the ship’s sanitation system no longer working, there are concerns about its seaworthiness.

Bradenton area could lose $25.4 billion in homes due to climate change

BRADENTON – In the next century, nearly 40,000 homes in the Bradenton metropolitan area could be underwater because of climate change.

In a study published last month by real estate marketplace Zillow, Bradenton was listed ninth out of 10 areas across the country that will have the most houses submerged by rising seas. Miami, Tampa, Fort Myers and Naples were also listed.

Using data from Zillow’s median home value and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the listing was determined by how many homes would be inundated by 6 feet of water, what percentage of the cities’ homes would be underwater and the values of the homes that would be lost.

The amount of ocean rise projected for 2100 could sink $25.4 billion worth of homes in the 15 municipalities and unincorporated areas of the Bradenton area it studied from Terra Ceia to North Port.

Florida Chamber calls for science-based solutions to water issues

OKEECHOBEE — “Sound water science – not political science – is the way to secure the state’s water future,” said Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber.

“If you think about Florida’s future, more people are going to need more water,” he said.

“That means we need to focus on securing Florida’s water future.”

He said they don’t want Florida to end up with water shortages like California.

“Florida is adding 1,000 people a day,” he said. “We’re going to add six million more residents in Florida by 2030.

“By 2030 with population growth, we’re going to need 20 percent more water than we currently have available to us,” he said.

Last year the Florida chamber launched a series of educational videos about water issues. The first four videos focused on springs, Southwest Florida, the Florida Keys and the Indian River Lagoon.

“We reached out to a very diverse group of scientists, to people who care about protecting the environment,” he said.

On Nov. 8, at a press conference in Tallahassee that was broadcast live online, the Florida Chamber of Commerce unveiled its fifth in a series of water education videos which further demonstrates why following science-based research is important to securing Florida’s water future. The latest educational research video provides proof that septic tank problems are detrimentally impacting Florida’s water systems. The educational video highlights research produced by Florida Atlantic University–Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brian Lapointe, and sheds light on the algae blooms on the St. Lucie Estuary that followed unusually heavy rainfall in the winter and spring of 2016.

Lawsuit filed to ‘quash’ approval of Aqua by the Bay

MANATEE COUNTY – Several opponents of the proposed Aqua by the Bay development are suing to “quash” the Manatee County Commission’s unanimous approval of the controversial project.

The plaintiffs include former county commissioner Joe McClash, the local environmental organization Suncoast Waterkeeper, ecotourism operators Kathe Fannon and Katie Scarlett Turin, Longboat Key resident Larry Grossman and three residents of Legends Bay (a development east of the Aqua by the Bay property) - Beverly Hill, Arlene Dukauskas and Lenka Sukova.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Lon S. Arend. A court date has not been scheduled.

On Oct. 3, after a contentious public hearing that started in May and had several continuances, Manatee commissioners approved the 529-acre development between El Conquistador Parkway and Sarasota Bay and partially west of the intersection of 75th Street West and 53rd Avenue.

As Cargor Partners, developers Carlos Beruff and Larry Lieberman intend to build 2,894 residences (2,384 multi-family units and 510 single-family lots) and 78,000 square feet of retail. Their plan calls for 16 residential buildings up to 95 feet high and a yet-to-be determined number of buildings between 36 and 75 feet.

BOCC Votes 4-3 to Allow Comp Plan Amendment for Housing Near Evers Reservoir

After contentious debate and strong public opposition at Thursday's land use meeting, Manatee County Commissioners voted 4-3 in favor of a comp plan amendment that would change a parcel of land owned by the City of Bradenton in east county to Res-6, facilitating its sale to a home developer.

The land is near Evers Reservoir and the city’s water treatment plan. The city said that it had held the land as surplus in case it needed to expand that facility but decided it would be best to sell the asset and use the money for current infrastructure needs within the city.

At the last meeting, the county broached the issue of negotiating to get another parcel of city-owned land that would allow them to connect the southern dead end at nearby Natalie Way (which connects to SR70 to the north), to Honore Ave. This would create a second north-south thoroughfare between SR70 and Honore, improving the flow of traffic to accommodate the increased development, while also acting as a replacement for the controversial Tara Bridge.

That possibility hit a major roadblock at the start of the meeting, however, when Caleb Grimes, attorney for the developer, Taylor Morrison, explained that they had discovered a previous agreement between the city and the county, in which the city yielded right of ways needed for Honore’s 2010 expansion to Lockwood Ridge (the existing N-S thoroughfare between it and SR70) and, as part of that deal, were assured that Natalie Way would not be considered for a future north-south thoroughfare, better protecting its reservoir and plant.

Check your irrigation timer when you 'fall back' to Standard Time

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is reminding residents to check the timers on their irrigation system controllers this weekend, which is the end of Daylight Saving Time.

Saturday night is when we will turn our clocks back one hour. The time change is also a good time to make sure irrigation system timers are set correctly to ensure that the systems operate consistently with year-round water conservation measures.

All 16 counties throughout the District’s boundaries are now on year-round water conservation measures, with lawn watering limited to twice-per-week unless your city or county has a different schedule or stricter hours. Local governments maintaining once-per-week watering by local ordinance include Hernando, Pasco and Sarasota counties.

Know and follow your local watering restrictions, but don’t water just because it’s your day. Irrigate your lawn when it shows signs of stress from lack of water. Pay attention to signs of stressed grass:

  • Grass blades are folded in half lengthwise on at least one-third of your yard.
  • Grass blades appear blue-gray.
  • Grass blades do not spring back, leaving footprints on the lawn for several minutes after walking on it


  • For additional information about water conservation, please visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/Conservation.

    Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine visits Europe to study water issues

    Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine stood on a beach in the Netherlands facing the North Sea last week and watched as people walked along the sand.

    It was only three years ago that the beach near Amsterdam was under sea water because of unrelenting beach erosion. But thanks to a massive restoration effort, the beach is now an area where families relax, swim and fly kites.

    Beach restoration was one of the topics covered at a seven-day water-management conference hosted by the European Union that Constantine attended last week in three European countries.

    “We’re pouring sand onto our beaches and then losing them again,” he said. “But they’re doing things differently that will literally restore and maintain those beaches.”

    He thought about Florida’s coastlines, where recent hurricanes have eroded much of Volusia and Brevard counties’ beaches. Hurricane Matthew in 2016, for example, washed out nearly 2 million cubic feet of sand in those two counties and took out a chunk of State Road A1A in Ormond-By-The-Sea.

    Constantine was the only Florida representative among a dozen water policy experts from around the U.S. invited on the trip, funded by the EU. The group visited Brussels and Antwerp in Belgium, Rotterdam and Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Helsinki, Finland, to exchange ideas and study EU policies regarding flooding, wastewater management, potable water and renewable energy.

    Mosaic to close 430-employee Plant City fertilizer plant at year’s end

    PLANT CITY — Mosaic announced Tuesday it will close its Plant City fertilizer plant at the end of 2017 for at least a year to cut costs and improve profitability.

    The plant, on State Road 39 just south of the Hillsborough-Pasco county line, has a work force of 430. The company said it is offering 200 voluntary retirement incentive packages to its Florida employees and has created about 100 more open positions through a hiring freeze over the last several months.

    "The hope is to place as many of those impacted employees as possible in open positions in the company’s other facilities," Mosaic spokeswoman Jackie Barron said.

    Mosaic has Florida operations in Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee and Hardee counties. Those not placed elsewhere will receive a severance package based on, among other things, their number of years with the company and pay.

    The Plant City facility opened in 1965 and has the capacity to produce 2 million tons of fertilizer a year, the company said.

    "Our business performed well in the third quarter, notwithstanding the impacts of Hurricane Irma on our phosphates operations," Mosaic president and chief executive officer Joc O’Rourke said on a conference call to announce the company’s third-quarter earnings.

    "We are making the move in Florida for several reasons," he said. "Plant City is the highest-cost facility amongst our Florida operations, and it requires a disproportionate amount of sustaining capital each year."

    Idling the plant, he said, should help the company optimize capital investments and allow it to increase production at its most efficient Florida facilities to offset the tons produced at Plant City. And it also gives the company the option to re-open the Plant City plant if demand grows.

    Florida bill could require sea-level-rise studies for publicly funded buildings

    As sea levels continue to rise, Florida has taken a licking for its bad habit of climate-ignorant development.

    But despite warnings from the state's most brilliant and respected scientists, Gov. Rick Scott has more or less disregarded the issue, infamously banning the Department of Environmental Protection from using the term "climate change" in 2015. And though national publications such as Scientific American have taken developers to task for their reluctance to stop building along the coast, state law does little to discourage the practice.

    State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez wants to change that. Last week, he filed a bill that would require contractors to conduct what's called a sea-level impact projection study on state-funded buildings near the coastline. Before the first shovel hits the ground, builders would have to publish the results — even if they show the building could be underwater in a few years.

    Rock ponds project honored by planning commission

    The Rock Ponds Ecosystem Restoration Project was recognized last week by the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission for excellence in planning, design and execution.

    The District, along with Hillsborough County and Scheda Ecological Associates, Inc., won an Award of Outstanding Contribution to the Community, the top prize in the Environmental category. The award recognizes projects in Hillsborough County that benefit the community’s quality of life, use innovative concepts and demonstrate meaningful public involvement.

    Rock Ponds is the largest restoration project in the history of Tampa Bay and is part of the District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program.

    The project involved the restoration of approximately 1,043 acres of various coastal habitats, including 645 acres of uplands, such as pine flatwoods and hardwood hammocks, and 398 acres of various estuarine and freshwater habitats.

    The Rock Ponds project also was recognized earlier this year by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council with a first-place award in the Natural Environment category in the Future of the Region Awards.

    To learn more about the Rock Ponds Ecosystem Restoration Project, visit WaterMatters.org/RockPonds.

    District will reduce risk of wildfires through prescribed fires for Hillsborough/ Manatee Counties

    Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s recent drought. That’s why the Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of October, November and December on the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area (LHFDA) and the Chito Branch Reserve in Hillsborough County.

    The LHFDA is located south of Cross Creek Boulevard between U.S. Highway 301 and Morris Bridge Road near Thonotosassa. Chito Branch Reserve is located south of Boyette Road west of County Road 39 near Lithia. A total of approximately 1,115 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

    The Gilley Creek property is located between State Road 62 and State Road 64 and east of County Road 675, southeast of Parrish. The Flatford Swamp property is located on Myakka Road, south of State Road 64 and north of Myakka City. Approximately 1,400 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

    Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

    • Reducing overgrown plants which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires
    • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants
    • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat
    • Maintaining access for public recreation

    The District’s land management section conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year.