Current News Items (within the last 30 days)
King Tide Photo Exhibit Debuts June 6; Display Raises Awareness About Rising Sea Levels
The Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay Estuary Programs have partnered to present "Chasing the Waves: The King TIde Photo Exhibit." The free traveling exhibit will launch Thursday, June 6 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Federal Building in downtown Sarasota at 111 S. Orange Ave. The photos will be on display during June and July before traveling to other venues in Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, and Pinellas Counties.
The goal of the exhibit is to raise awareness about the effects of sea level rise on our shorelines, structures and communities. Images will include winning submissions to the King Tide Photo Contest held last year by SBEP and TBEP. The exhibit will also include photos from the U.S., Australia, and small Pacific Island nations, showing the global impact of rising seas. A rough schedule for the exhibit is:
- Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Sarasota: June – July 2013
- South Florida Museum, Bradenton: September – October 2013
- Sarasota Bay Water Festival, Sarasota: November 2, 2013
- Weedon Island Preserve, St. Petersburg: TBD
- Robinson Preserve, Bradenton: January – February 2014
for updates on exhibit dates and locations.
What are King Tides?
High Five seeks local teams for Sarasota Dragon Boat races this fall
The races will be part of this year's Sarasota Bay Water Festival
SARASOTA – High Five Dragon Boat, LLC is seeking local teams from Sarasota and Manatee County to compete in the fun dragon boat races to be showcased at the 2013 Sarasota Bay Water Festival. The regional event will be held at City Island’s Ken Thompson Park on Saturday, November 2.
High Five provides registered teams with boats, paddles, life vests, a steerperson, and training prior to the event. Training includes practicing the proper paddling techniques and racing etiquette. Each dragon boat is 42-feet in length and coed teams consist of 20 paddlers with a minimum of 8 being female. Participants must be 14-years of age or older. The races involve three race heats during the day on a 350-meter course. Participants can enjoy activities at the Water Festival between the scheduled heats.
“This is a great way for local businesses and other organizations to encourage team-building while promoting their brand,” explained Christine Canevari with High Five. “We already have teams committed from the Tampa Bay area and our goal is to add additional new teams from Sarasota and Manatee County.”
Dragon boat racing is popular worldwide with hundreds of events each year throughout the U.S. and many other nations. Most participants race for fun, but there are also highly-competitive club level teams. The world championship was held in Tampa in 2011. Registration information and helpful guidelines is available at sarasotabaydragonboat.com.
Other highlights for this year’s Water Festival include live music, fine artists selling unique gift items, workshops that promote Bay-friendly living, food trucks and local restaurants, vintage boats, activities for kids, and exhibits promoting recreational boating, fishing, kayaking, paddle board sports, scuba diving, cycling, birding, and other fun activities.
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) is the Presenting Sponsor and HDR, Inc. is the Host Sponsor for 2013. Other sponsors include Sarasota County, Freedom Boat Club, City of Sarasota, Whole Foods Market, Manatee County, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Mote Marine Laboratory, West Coast Inland Management District, Caldwell Trust Company, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Town of Longboat Key, Triple 3 Marketing, City of Bradenton, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Save Our Seabirds, Around the Bend Nature Tours, High Five Dragon Boat, Suncoast Waterkeeper, and Sun King Disc Sports.
Festival organizers are seeking additional sponsors and exhibitors. Sponsor donations support the festival and SBEP education and volunteer programs benefiting Sarasota Bay. Details about sponsorship and exhibiting are posted at sarasotabaywaterfestival.com.
Governor approves $32 million in water projects; vetoes total of $27.3 million
TALLAHASSEE – Florida governor Rick Scott used his line-item veto authority to veto $368 million in spending from Florida's 2013-2014 budget, including a number of projects related to wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and water resource protection. These included:
- Bonita Springs ‐ Oak Creek Restoration ‐ Sediment & Exotic Plant Removal, $250,000
- Charlotte County ‐ Regional Reclaimed Water Expansion ‐ Phase 2, $500,000
- DeSoto County ‐ Lettuce Lake/Oak Haven MH Park Utility MCL Water Supply Improvement Projec,t $90,000
- DeSoto County ‐ Lake Suzy Utility Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements, $350,000
- LaBelle ‐ Wastewater Recycle Project, $1,812,500
- Lake County ‐ Umatilla Sewer System, $1,225,000
- Lakeland ‐ Skyview Water and Wastewater System Modification, $3,750,000
- Manatee County ‐ Wastewater Clarifier Retrofit ‐ Southwest Water Reclamation Facility, $1,000,000
- St. Johns River Restoration and Economic Impact Study, $7,000,000
- Tampa ‐ Met West Ditch Stormwater Project, $125,000
For a complete list of the approved and vetoed water projects, see the link below.
Water project vetoed/approved list (prepared by The Florida Current/LobbyTools)
Tampa Bay Water has a new general manager
CLEARWATER – Tampa Bay Water's Chairman and General Counsel have successfully completed contract negotiations with Matthew W. Jordan, P.E., and he has accepted the position as Tampa Bay Water's new general manager. The contract will go before the Board of Directors for consideration at its June 17 regular board meeting. Pending board approval, Mr. Jordan will start work on July 8, 2013.
Mr. Jordan currently serves as Chief Executive Officer at the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, in North Carolina. He also worked as the Director of Public Works for the City of Gastonia, North Carolina.
Mr. Jordan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology from the University of North Carolina, an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Drafting, and is a Professional Engineer in the State of North Carolina.
Tampa Bay Water's Board of Directors began the search for a new general manager after Gerald J. Seeber informed the board in February of his intentions to leave the agency.
More than 180 applications were received. Of those, 52 met the minimum criteria and were reviewed by a screening committee, which included the agency's three officers, the outgoing general manager, representatives from each member government, and the chairman of the board.
Tampa Bay Water's board interviewed the top five candidates on April 29, 2013 before beginning negotiations with Mr. Jordan.
Tampa Bay Water will hold its regular board meeting on Monday, June, 17 at 9:00 a.m. This meeting is open to the public and will be held at Tampa Bay Water's administrative offices at 2575 Enterprise Road, Clearwater, FL 33763.
Tampa Bay Water provides wholesale water to the public utility systems of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, as well as the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa. To learn more about Tampa Bay Water, please visit www.tampabaywater.org.
Water projects left off Florida TaxWatch's "turkey" list this year
By Bruce Ritchie
Florida TaxWatch spared local water projects totaling $59.4 million from its list of "turkeys" in Legislature's 2013-14 state budget.
The group each year lists projects that it says were placed in the budget without proper public review and debate. The group says it doesn't condemn the projects but it does request that the governor consider them for vetoes.
In 2011, Scott vetoed more than $600 million of what he described as "special interest earmarks" including $16.5 million in water projects.
Last year, Florida TaxWatch labeled as turkeys 23 local water projects totaling $19 million. Scott eventually vetoed $12.6 million in water projects.
TaxWatch last year also called on the Legislature to establish a review process for water projects and the Legislature did so, said Kurt Wenner, the group's vice president for tax research.
Continued on The Florida Current...
Reservoirs language stripped from federal bill while Florida groups support alternative approach
By Bruce Ritchie
Georgia's U.S. senators have stripped from a bill language apparently supported by Gov. Rick Scott to require congressional approval of water for the Lake Lanier reservoir north of Atlanta.
Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been fighting in federal court over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system since 1990. Cities, farmers and industry upstream depend on the water while Florida says it needs flow to support fish and wildlife in the Apalachicola River and the seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay.
Continued on The Florida Current...
Clearwater's new water plant will use deep well to dispose of brine
By Charlie Frago
CLEARWATER – Clearwater is moving closer to producing nearly all of its own water as it prepares to build a second reverse osmosis water treatment plant.
The facility, projected to open by the end of next year, will treat millions of gallons of slightly salty water per day through a process that purifies water by removing salt and other materials.
The $34 million plant, set to begin construction in June, will be able to produce a maximum of 6.25 million gallons per day, although it will pump out about 5 million gallons on an average day, said Nan Bennett, assistant director of public utilities.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District will provide $15.2 million for the project. City water revenue will cover the rest.
Continued on the Tampa Bay Times website...
Foundation will direct $356 million from oil spill criminal cases to Florida for natural resource pr
By Bruce Ritchie
Natural resource projects in Florida will receive $356 million from plea agreements in criminal cases involving the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced the establishment of the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund and allocations Monday to five Gulf states. The foundation, created by Congress and overseen by federal agencies, will administer and monitor $2.5 billion provided by plea agreements.
The foundation says on its website that it will consult with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as well as with federal agencies identify projects in Florida.
Applications for projects are being accepted and those that have been submitted for other oil spill funds will automatically be considered, said Doc Kokol, a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman.
Continued on The Florida Current...
Tampa, Swiftmud change Rogers' golf course runoff
By Kevin Wiatrowski
TAMPA - City and state officials have taken the first steps toward a renovation of Rogers Park Golf Club that would reduce pollution washing into the Hillsborough River.
The Tampa City Council agreed to put $100,000 toward changing the course's drainage layout. The Southwest Florida Water Management District will put up $150,000.
“We're just hoping to clean up the water before it discharges,” said Stephanie Powers, the project manager for SWFMD. “Like any golf course, they use a lot of fertilizers.”
Those fertilizers contain nitrogen, a potential plant food. When nitrogen washes off golf courses, streets, or even falls out of the air, it promotes the growth of algae in the water. That can make the river and the bay too cloudy to sustain sea grass beds, important nurseries for fish and other sea life.
“Nitrogen is the number one pollutant in Tampa Bay,” said Nanette O'Hara, public outreach coordinator for the St. Petersburg-based Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
Continued on TBO.com...
USGS Study: Spring 2012 earliest on record
March 2012 set records for warm temperatures that promoted early leafing and flowering across large areas of the United States. A team of scientists at the USA National Phenology Network, which is sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, have published a study which shows that 2012 was the earliest spring over the 48 U.S. states since 1900 when systematic weather data began to be available for the entire area.
Phenology is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, especially their timing and relationships with weather and climate. Assessing the severity and impacts of such extreme climatic events, either in the past or as they happen, requires consistent indicators of variability and change that can be mapped both nationally and historically.
The USA National Phenology Network provides a suite of "spring indices" based on the accumulated warmth needed to end dormancy and initiate growth in many native and cultivated plants. These complex, evidence-based algorithms can be calculated for any weather station that records daily maximum and minimum temperatures. Spring indices are independently validated using historical observations of leafing and flowering in lilac and honeysuckle nationwide.
The historical trend of spring indices suggests that the 2012 growing season advanced as much as 20-30 days in the East and Midwest from the 1900-2012 long-term mean.
"The results of this study clearly demonstrate the great importance of long-term monitoring of natural processes. A long record allows us to identify patterns of change that we might otherwise miss," said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director.
Today the response of vegetation to temperature and precipitation can be readily observed across wide areas by Earth-observing satellites at intervals of only a few days. USGS scientist Julio Betancourt, a co-author of the study, noted, "Indicators such as spring indices and satellite-based evaluations of vegetation growth will become essential tools for assessing climate variability and change and their impacts."
Satellite data show that the cumulative effects of the unusually early 2012 spring were most pronounced across the Corn Belt, the western Great Lakes region, and the northeastern U.S.
The beneficial effects of spring's quick start in 2012 were subsequently offset by a late spring frost and summer drought. In fact, the unusually early spring combined with late frosts in April to produce a so-called "false spring" that damaged fruit trees across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions.
The study appears in EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union.
Read the study
USGS Study: Deficit in nation's aquifers accelerating
A new U.S. Geological Survey study documents that the Nation's aquifers are being drawn down at an accelerating rate.
Groundwater Depletion in the United States (1900-2008) comprehensively evaluates long-term cumulative depletion volumes in 40 separate aquifers (distinct underground water storage areas) in the United States, bringing together reliable information from previous references and from new analyses.
"Groundwater is one of the Nation's most important natural resources. It provides drinking water in both rural and urban communities. It supports irrigation and industry, sustains the flow of streams and rivers, and maintains ecosystems," said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. "Because groundwater systems typically respond slowly to human actions, a long-term perspective is vital to manage this valuable resource in sustainable ways."
To outline the scale of groundwater depletion across the country, here are two startling facts drawn from the study's wealth of statistics. First, from 1900 to 2008, the Nation's aquifers, the natural stocks of water found under the land, decreased (were depleted) by more than twice the volume of water found in Lake Erie. Second, groundwater depletion in the U.S. in the years 2000-2008 can explain more than 2 percent of the observed global sea-level rise during that period.
Since 1950, the use of groundwater resources for agricultural, industrial, and municipal purposes has greatly expanded in the United States. When groundwater is withdrawn from subsurface storage faster than it is recharged by precipitation or other water sources, the result is groundwater depletion. The depletion of groundwater has many negative consequences, including land subsidence, reduced well yields, and diminished spring and stream flows.
While the rate of groundwater depletion across the country has increased markedly since about 1950, the maximum rates have occurred during the most recent period of the study (2000–2008), when the depletion rate averaged almost 25 cubic kilometers per year. For comparison, 9.2 cubic kilometers per year is the historical average calculated over the 1900–2008 timespan of the study.
One of the best known and most investigated aquifers in the U.S. is the High Plains (or Ogallala) aquifer. It underlies more than 170,000 square miles of the Nation's midsection and represents the principal source of water for irrigation and drinking in this major agricultural area. Substantial pumping of the High Plains aquifer for irrigation since the 1940s has resulted in large water-table declines that exceed 160 feet in places.
The study shows that, since 2000, depletion of the High Plains aquifer appears to be continuing at a high rate. The depletion during the last 8 years of record (2001–2008, inclusive) is about 32 percent of the cumulative depletion in this aquifer during the entire 20th century. The annual rate of depletion during this recent period averaged about 10.2 cubic kilometers, roughly 2 percent of the volume of water in Lake Erie.
Read the study
Ernst: In Phillippi Creek sewer project, a 'nobody' makes a splash
By Eric Ernst
Who is Mike Scarborough?
Most of us have not asked that question. We're not among the 216 homes known as Area N-3 in the Phillippi Creek sewer project.
When Scarborough poses the question to himself, in a blog, he comes up with a disarming answer: "I'm nobody in particular."
But ask the Sarasota County commissioners who Scarborough is, and they'll say he's the guy who's making them rethink how they'll accomplish the sewer project in his neighborhood, and maybe the next one, as they try to replace 14,000 septic tanks with central sewers.
The experience is a good example of how government is supposed to work.
Continued on HeraldTribune.com
Register now for 7th Symposium on Harmful Algae
Students, established HAB researchers and policy makers, managers and scientists from NGO, academic institutions, and local, state and federal agencies are invited to participate in the 7th Symposium on Harmful Algae in the U.S., in Sarasota. Everyone who works on HAB issues should attend the only national conference focused exclusively on HABs. Whether your focus is freshwater or saltwater, microalgae or macroalgae, basic research or policy and management, this conference is relevant to your work.
Important Dates & Info
- Early registration and abstract submission closes at midnight EDT May 24. Please make sure all co-authors have reviewed your abstract prior to submission.
- Your abstract WILL NOT be reviewed if you are not registered for the meeting by May 24.
- Registration ends Sept. 6.
- The Symposium will be held at the Hyatt Regency, Sarasota. Book your room early to guarantee the special conference rate of $132 per night for non-government employees or $87 per night for government employees.
- While Symposium registration ends Sept. 6, you may still book your hotel at the special rate if rooms are still available through Sept. 27.
Tampa biologist gets national award for restoration work
By Yvette Hammett
APOLLO BEACH – Pride, for biologist Tom Ries, comes in the form of meandering wetlands, native grasses and flowers and a flourishing nursery for Tampa Bay’s prized fish. All on private land.
He calls the projects P3s—public-private partnerships—restoration where it’s needed, not just where public land is available.
For years, Ries worked for various agencies whose mission was to restore or recreate wetlands. In 2003, he added another layer, creating a non-profit group to specifically target private landowners willing to partner on restoration projects and give up future development rights.
He was recognized for his work last week when he headed to Washington, D.C. to claim the coveted National Wetlands Award for Conservation & Restoration from the Environmental Law Institute.
Ries, executive vice president of Scheda Ecological Associates, was honored at the U.S. Botanic Garden on May 9.
Continued on TBO.com...
SWFWMD to hold Lakes Rogers and Raleigh Guidance Levels Workshop
The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to comment on proposed minimum guidance levels for Lakes Rogers and Raleigh in Hillsborough County at a public workshop on Wednesday, May 29. The workshop will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Walker Middle School Cafeteria, located at 8282 North Mobley Road in Odessa.
The state Legislature requires the District to set minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for priority water bodies within the District. A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment. Minimum levels are established to protect lakes from impacts associated with ground water and surface water withdrawals. Guidance levels are developed as advisory information on expected water level fluctuations within lake basins. Minimum and Guidance levels serve as guidelines for the District’s permitting programs and for development of water resource projects.
During the workshop, District staff will review the technical basis for the proposed levels. The workshop will also provide an opportunity for local government, citizens, and others to be part of the development of the proposed levels for these two Hillsborough County lakes.
Information obtained at the workshop will be summarized and made available to the Governing Board. District staff anticipates presenting the proposed levels for Lakes Rogers and Raleigh at the June 25 Governing Board meeting, where the Governing Board may choose to recommend adoption of the minimum and guidance levels into District rules. Governing Board meetings are open to the public and brief oral comments are permitted on meeting agenda items.
Written comments are also welcome and can be submitted via mail or email to
Keith Kolasa, senior environmental scientist, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899.
Draft reports summarizing the proposed Minimum and Guidance levels for these lakes will be made available for review one week prior to the workshop and will be posted on the District’s Internet site at http://WaterMatters.org/MFLreports, under the Proposed Minimum & Guidance Lake Levels section. In addition, digital copies of the draft reports will be made available at the workshop.
Study: phosphate mine expansion will cause 'significant' wetlands damage
By Craig Pittman
Creating three phosphate mines and expanding a fourth will destroy nearly 10,000 acres of wetlands and 50 miles of streams, causing a "significant impact," according to a study prepared to guide permitting by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
But the two-year study —- prepared for the corps by a consultant paid by the phosphate industry — contends the miners would do such a good job of making up for the damage, through a process called mitigation, that the impact will not be all that noticeable.
"Without mitigation, a lot of the effects would be significant — on wetlands, on groundwater, on surface water," said corps senior project manager John Fellows, who works in the Tampa office. "No question about it, mining is an impactive industry."
The report is so vague about just what kind of mitigation would make up for such widespread destruction in Hillsborough, Hardee, Manatee, Polk and De Soto counties that Fellows called it "a hand-wave" at the subject. He said that was all the law required.
Both Mosaic and CF Industries, the two phosphate companies that want federal permits for about 42,000 acres of new and expanded mining, issued statements saying they welcomed the report.
Continued on TampaBay.com...
Florida Geological Survey receives national grant to map in NE Florida
Grant will increase knowledge of geology, which helps improve land-use planning in northeastern area of Florida
TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Geological Survey has been awarded $193,183 by the U.S Geological Survey to produce a detailed geologic map of a portion of northeast Florida. The STATEMAP grant is the fourth-highest award amount distributed nationwide this year for work that will begin in September and is expected to be publicly available for digital download by December 2014.
“The funding provided by the USGS allows us to produce a geologic map in support of the societal, economic and scientific welfare needs of Florida,” said STATEMAP Project Manager Rick Green. “Our goal is to make these findings readily available and accessible to the public.”
The benefits of this type of mapping include a more comprehensive understanding of the distribution of rock, mineral and groundwater resources, including vulnerability of aquifers to contamination. These maps are also important in providing shallow subsurface geological information that can be used in understanding sinkholes and other geologic hazards.
The mapping effort involves extensive field work over a 12 month period, including visits to accessible rock and sediment exposures in mines and other excavated areas, as well as natural exposures in rivers, streams, sinkholes and springs. To better understand the underlying geologic units, project staff inspect rock and sediment samples from hundreds of wells, including new wells drilled in support of the project to fill data gaps. Extensive data management and map making in a geographic information system platform is also involved.
This work is conducted under the STATEMAP component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, which serves to create a national geologic database that is accessible to the public. The STATEMAP Advisory Council, which is comprised of geologists and engineers in Florida, prioritized the St. Augustine quadrangle as the primary focus for this year’s work.
The approximately 2,000 square mile area was approved due to its location adjacent to current project mapping underway in the Daytona Beach area, as well as an additional project being conducted along the northeast coast of Florida funded by the National Park Service and Florida Geological Survey. This will allow the Florida Geological Survey to maximize its resources and expand upon existing data.
Since its inception in 1994, this component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program has funded more than $4.6 million in support of mapping to benefit Florida’s residents and environment, covering an area of more than 13,000 square miles.
Data gathered by the STATEMAP program is also used by other agencies in Florida. The Florida Department of Transportation used information from mapped STATEMAP projects for an assessment of strategic aggregate reserves in the state and to develop a better understanding of the geology in support of projects, such as the Florida Future Corridors program.
The maps are published annually and released in segments online.
Source: Florida DEP news release
Take the challenge during Drinking Water Week
TAMPA – Tampa residents are invited to take the 7-Day Drinking Water Knowledge Challenge this week during Drinking Water Week to discover the importance of drinking water in their daily lives. Challenge details are available at tampaGov.net/SaveWater. In the United States, the average person uses about 100 gallons of water a day.
“Continuing to have a sufficient supply of drinking water is essential to Tampa’s economic and environmental health. Our community’s efficient use of water starts with each individual’s actions. Participating in the 7-Day Challenge is an easy way to find out how well you are doing”, said Brad Baird, Water Department Director.
Drinking Water Week is an annual week-long celebration of our most precious natural resource, water. Water is the first ingredient in nearly every product we use. It is a vital element of our daily lives, and it is used by everyone.
For more than 30 years Drinking Water Week has provided an opportunity to highlight the essential role a safe, reliable water supply has in our overall quality of life – from public health protection and fire suppression to the critical role it plays in supporting the economy, and renew our commitment to use it wisely.
Visit tampagov.net/Water to find out about Tampa’s drinking water and how we can work together to protect our community’s natural water resources.
Decades-old nitrate found to affect stream water quality
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologic researchers have found that the movement of nitrate through groundwater to streams can take decades to occur. This long lag time means that changes in the use of nitrogen-based fertilizer (the typical source of nitrate) — whether the change is initiation, adjustment, or cessation — may take decades to be fully observed in streams, according to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Water quality experts have been noting in recent years that nitrate trends in streams and rivers do not match their expectations based on reduced regional use of nitrogen-based fertilizer. The long travel times of groundwater discharge, like those documented in this study, have previously been suggested as the likely factor responsible for these observations.
"This study provides direct evidence that nitrate can take decades to travel from recharge at the land surface to discharge in streams," said Jerad Bales, acting USGS Associate Director for Water. "This is an important finding because long travel times will delay direct observation of the full effect of nutrient management strategies on stream quality."
Rivers and streams are fed by both groundwater held in underground aquifers and surface water from precipitation runoff. In low streamflow conditions, groundwater sources take a larger role.
In this study, USGS scientists closely examined surface and ground waters at seven study sites from across the nation to determine the portion of stream nitrate derived from groundwater. They found that most of the nitrate observed in streams located in groundwater-dominated watersheds was derived from groundwater sources. To determine the time it takes groundwater to reach a stream in a groundwater-dominated watershed, an age dating tracer study was conducted in the Tomorrow River in central Wisconsin. The findings indicated that decades-old nitrate-laden water was currently discharging to this stream. Consequently, base flow nitrate concentrations in this stream may be sustained for decades to come, regardless of current and future practices.
The slow release of groundwater nitrate to streams may also affect the water quality of large rivers. For example, increases in nitrate concentrations during low and moderate flows in large rivers in the Mississippi River Basin have been observed to be greater than or comparable to increases in nitrate concentrations during high flows. (See USGS website, Nitrate in the Mississippi River and its tributaries, 1980 to 2008.) These findings also suggest that increasing nitrate concentrations in groundwater are having a substantial effect on nitrate concentrations in rivers and nitrate transport to the Gulf of Mexico. Because nitrate moves slowly through groundwater to rivers, the full effect of management strategies designed to reduce nitrate movement to these rivers may not be seen for many years.
Learn more about the nitrate study on USGS.gov
Register Now for "Introduction to Aquaculture" Workshop
Do you have an interest in the development or growth of aquaculture-related businesses? Want more information? Join us for this public workshop. Speakers will present on the status of aquaculture in Florida, pros and cons of specific business ventures, and provide an overview of state regulations and resources.
• When: June 12, 2013, from 10 am to 4 pm
• Where: Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St Petersburg
• Cost: $10
Florida Aquaculture Overview
Cortney Ohs – UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant Aquaculture Specialist, Indian River Research and Education Center
Investing in Florida Aquaculture: Pitfalls to Avoid
Chuck Adams – UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant Marine Economics Specialist, UF Department of Food and Resources Economics
State Permitting/ Best Management Practices
Chad Evers - FDACS Division of Aquaculture
Shellfish Aquaculture in Florida
Leslie Sturmer - UF/ IFAS Florida Sea Grant Statewide Shellfish Aquaculture Agent
LeRoy Creswell – Florida Sea Grant Regional Marine Education Coordinator
Marine Ornamentals in Florida
Carlos Martinez – UF/IFAS Aquaculture Extension Agent, Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory
Cortney Ohs – UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant Aquaculture Specialist, Indian River Research and Education Center
Fish Health Management
Roy Yanong - V.M.D. UF/IFAS Extension Veterinarian, Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory
More information and online registration
Tampa Bay Water asks public to reduce water use
By Suzette Porter
CLEARWATER – Tampa Bay Water officials are asking the public to reduce water use as much as possible.
The agency, which provides wholesale drinking water to Tampa, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, as well as Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties, announced April 17 that it is in a Phase 4 water status, under the agencies modified Water Shortage Mitigation Plan.
Alison Adams, spokesperson for TBW, said the Phase 4 designation is part of a system to monitor of supply and demand.
“It has to do with supply availability, water supply readiness,” she explained “With the reservoir out of service, and as dry as it is now, we have no surface water, which is why we have a level 4 water supply shortage.”
Phase 4 is the highest alert, signifying a critical shortage due to the lack of surface water.
Continued online at TBNweekly.com...
Up to 375 USGS flood gauges to turn off because of fund cuts
Just in time for the spring flood season, the federal sequester is threatening to shut off funding for hundreds of stream gauges used by the U.S. Geological Survey to predict and monitor flood levels across the country.
"The USGS will discontinue operation of up to 375 stream gauges nationwide due to budget cuts as a result of sequestration," the USGS notes on its website. Additional stream gauges may be affected if USGS partners at state and local agencies reduce their funding support.
USGS is quick to point out, though, they won't take out of service the gauges now being used to monitor the heavy floods soaking the Midwest. Robert Mason, deputy chief of the USGS Office of Surface Water, says the USGS plans to prioritize those gauges that are used by the National Weather Service for forecasting, so that the impact of the cuts is minimized.
In all, a total of 682 gauges have some level of funding issues (some of the gauges may not be shut off entirely). The USGS, which operates about 95% of the gauges, is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Continued in USA Today online...
Saint Leo team monitoring mangrove health
By Jerome R. Stockfisch
Photo: Luke Johnson, TBO.com
ST. PETERSBURG – They are the stinky trees. Mosquito factories. Barriers to our cherished water views.
But Florida’s mangroves are also valuable wetland habitats, coastal water filters, defenders against storm surge, and they help mute the effects of climate change.
A group from Saint Leo University in Pasco County is compiling a record of Tampa Bay’s mangroves, the tropical trees that thrive in saltwater at the edge of shore. Crews of faculty and students led by biology professor William Ellis have been recording the condition of the Tampa Bay shoreline with video and still cameras, global positioning devices and spoken and written anecdotal observations.
“We don’t really have any record of their condition at this scale, and this will provide that,” Ellis said. The idea is to obtain a baseline documenting the existing condition of the mangroves in order to note changes from year to year.
Continued on TBO.com...
Legislators prepare for potential ‘fracking’ in Florida
By Mary Ellen Klas and Curtis Morgan
TALLAHASSEE – No one knows if Florida is going to be the next frontier for the new generation of oil and gas drilling known as fracking, but state legislators say — just in case — it’s time to write rules to require disclosure of the controversial technology.
The Florida House on Wednesday is expected to pass a bill that will require companies to disclose what chemicals they use when they explore for oil and gas using the controversial extraction process.
Fracking uses hydraulic fracturing technology to inject water, sand and chemicals underground to create fractures in rock formations. Oil and gas is released through the fissures and is captured by wells, built at the sites. Environmentalists warn that the chemical makeup of the fluid that is pumped into the ground could contaminate groundwater and release harmful pollutants, such as methane, into the air.
Continued in the Bradenton Herald online...
Abandoned orange grove now flourishing wetland
By Yvette C. Hammett
RUSKIN - Traffic at the Bahia Beach restoration site near the shoreline of Tampa Bay is picking up.
Chattering black-necked stilts dance along the shoreline of the newly created estuarine wetland here, as a small flock of lesser scaup – ducks visiting for the season – splash and bob within eye shot in the manmade freshwater marsh.
This previously abandoned orange grove, once left to succumb to invasive Brazilian pepper trees and cogon grass, is transforming into a thriving freshwater and saltwater marsh system that will cleanse runoff from a nearby subdivision before it reaches Tampa Bay. In the process, it has become home to a wide variety of wading birds, blue crabs, red drum and snook. A bald eagle pair has successfully nested here for two years now.
Continued on TBO.com...
St. Petersburg to build waste-to-energy plant
By Christopher O'Donnell
ST. PETERSBURG – Every year, the city transports roughly 36,000 tons of treated sewage to Polk County to be used as fertilizer.
That simple form of recycling reduces the burden on city landfills, but trucking the waste as much as 80 miles away still costs the city about $2.6 million per year.
Now, city officials are planning to save money by turning the sewage into renewable energy that could be used to power its water treatment plant or be converted into natural gas to fuel service vehicles.
Last week, the City Council approved a $2.9-million contract with a consulting firm to design a system to convert methane gas from sewage into energy at its wastewater treatment plant on 54th Avenue South.
Continued on TBO.com...
Spring Issue of Bay Soundings is Now Available
Here's what you'll find in the new issue of Bay Soundings, the quarterly environmental journal sponsored by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Florida Department of Transportation, District 7:
• The Perils of Plastic
• Alternatives to toxic pesticides
• A new stormwater project in Safety Harbor
• How you can help save frogs and much more...
Read it online at BaySoundings.com
Coast Guard Auxiliary will demo boating safety at spring nautical expo
At the West Marine Nautical Expo on May 4th and 5th, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will conduct a demonstration of on-the-water assistance procedures, utilizing one boat acting as distressed and the other responding to help. The boat assistance drill will take place on the water at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. A speaker will provide a description of the interaction between the distressed boat and the USCG responder boat.
This demonstration will show the proper steps that a boater in distress should take when the Coast Guard responds. Two types of tow for the distressed boat will be demonstrated. The correct way to tow from either the stern or onside will be shown and described. The USCG Auxiliary will also demonstrate the proper use of flares and other visual distress signals and the proper selection and wearing of personal flotation devices (PFDs or life vests). Free annual vessel examinations will be conducted at a location in the marina or you can arrange for the inspection at another time and at your boat's location. Boaters can sign up to attend the ABS (About Boating Safety) course conducted monthly by the USCG Auxiliary. If you are new to boating or if family or friends need a basic boating course this is the one to take!
The West Marine Nautical Expo will be held at Regatta Point Marina, 1005 Riverside Drive, in Palmetto.
More information about the West Marine Nautical Expo
Fort De Soto’s 50th BIrthday Celebration on May 11th
Happy Birthday, Fort DeSoto!
It has been named America’s Best Beach, and one of the 20 most beautiful beaches in the world, according to Trip Advisor. Fort De Soto Park has been a crown jewel of the Pinellas County park system and this year it celebrates its 50th year.
To help celebrate this significant anniversary, the Friends of Fort De Soto are planning a big beach bash on Saturday, May 11. Activities throughout the day will be reminiscent of the opening of the park, featuring the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show and special guest, reigning Miss Florida 2012 Laura McKeeman.
The day begins with a sea oat planting at 9 a.m. Sign up is behind the fort from 8 to 9 a.m. There will be a re-dedication ceremony and then the water ski show will hit the gulf waters at approximately 10:30 a.m. After the show, kayakers and paddlers will eco-paddle to the north tip of the island to continue planting sea oats.
The afternoon will be filled with music, a community barbecue, giveaways and exhibits that include Tampa Bay Watch, Birds of Prey and other community groups. The event will take place rain or shine. For more information, call (727) 582-2267.
Go online to learn more about Fort De Soto park. Videos about Fort De Soto may be viewed on You Tube.
Funding Now in Place to Complete Wares Creek Project
MANATEE COUNTY – Two months after local officials traveled to Washington D.C. to request additional federal funding for Wares Creek, the final piece of federal funding has been secured and the flood relief project will now be completed, according to county officials.
Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker announced last week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was recently allocated an additional $12 million requested as part of the Manatee County Commission’s federal legislative package. The additional funding will enable the Corps to contract work to complete the long-awaited project along the creek bed from 9th Avenue to Cortez Road in Bradenton.
Read this story online in The Bradenton Times