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Water-Related News

Tropical Storm Eta pounded Pinellas beaches; fears aired over future storms

Tropical Storm Eta caused considerable beach erosion on the Gulf Coast. It may mean our coastline is in danger from a future storm.

Massive erosion of dunes from Tropical Storms Eta and Hermine has left many beaches exposed if another storm hits.

John Bishop, coastal management coordinator for Pinellas County, says on Indian Shores, you can see how the sand has dropped two feet on piers leading into the water.

And at Pass-a-Grille, he says 16 feet of dunes were wiped out by the Eta.

As much as half a million cubic yards of sand were washed away.

There won't be any help coming quickly from the Army Corps of Engineers, which is not planning any beach nourishment projects until 2023 at the earliest.

"Without that storm damage protection there, we are wide open," he said. "We have winter fronts, where we get a lot of our erosion traditionally, and next summer, there'll be another hurricane season."

There are three Army Corps of Engineer beach nourishment projects planned in Treasure Island, Sand Key, and St. Pete Beach. There are easements in place where workers can get to the first two, but Bishop says they're having difficulty reaching beachfronts in Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, and Reddington Shores. So those beaches that need help may not get repaired.

Bishop says on Sunset Beach, a nourishment project from 2018 that was supposed to last six years is basically gone.

"The beach nourishment, which is a very effective way of trying to combat storm damage, erosion, build a nice beach — it's natural, provides habitat — in places like Sunset, the past nourishments have only lasted two years," he said. "So if full nourishment projects are lasting only two years, I don't know that other things are going to help."

Bishop says scientists from the University of South Florida are doing studies of the beachfront to see what priorities need to be tackled first.

Signing ceremony Dec. 1st for new Boca Ciega Bay Aquatic Preserve CSO

OCAlerts logo

In September 2019, TBRPC celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Boca Ciega Bay Aquatic Preserve.

Since that event, a committee of dedicated citizens worked to establish a Citizen Support Organization, Friends of Tampa Bay Aquatic Preserves, Inc.

The Tampa Bay Aquatic Preserves are a treasured asset throughout the region. Friends of Tampa Bay Aquatic Preserves, Inc. will build awareness for this natural resource and support the daily management efforts invested toward the health of the aquatic preserves

Friends of the Tampa Bay Aquatic Preserves will host an outdoor (socially-distanced) CSO signing ceremony on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 - 10 a.m. at Boca Ciega Bay Millennium Park

Attendees will wear masks. The event will be outdoors and as brief as possible.

Organizers hope for beautiful weather and anticipate taking photos to help share awareness.

Join signatories and environmental advocates Roger Wilson (featured in the video below) and Rose Poynor along with Alex Reed, Director, Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, in this celebration of the Tampa Bay Aquatic Preserves. Your participation is invited.

For more information, please contact:
Terry Fortner, 727-267-9401
friends@tampabayaquaticpreserves.org

Public comment invited on new speed zones in Hillsborough River

DUE DATE FOR COMMENTS: Thursday, December 10, 2020 (5:00 PM EST)

On November 3, 2020, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission) received a complete application from the City of Tampa requesting approval of an adopted ordinance to establish multiple Slow Speed Minimum Wake and Idle Speed No Wake boating-restricted areas within the Hillsborough River pursuant to Section 327.46(1)(c), Florida Statutes (F.S.) and Rule 68D-21.004, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.).

The boating-restricted areas would be within the Hillsborough River to include the waters south of Sligh Avenue Bridge out to Seddon Channel (see map for details). The City of Tampa contends that the boating safety zone is needed to protect public safety from hazards such as vessel traffic around the bridge fender systems, vessel traffic under bridges with less than a 25 foot vertical clearance, protect vessels and users at public docks or launching and landing facilities, and to close “gaps” of less than 500 feet between regulatory zones. The City of Tampa is required to provide competent substantial evidence that the ordinance establishing the boating-restricted area is necessary to protect the safety of the public.

As a part of the City of Tampa’s ordinance review application, they have provided evidence in support of the proposed zone to the Commission. At this time the adopted ordinance has been approved by the Commission based upon the evidence submitted.

As required by Rule 68D-21.001(3), F.A.C., the City of Tampa has published as provided by Sections 50.011-.031, F.S., once a week for two consecutive weeks, notice of the public hearing on their ordinance in a newspaper of general circulation in the area affected by the ordinance.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: Pursuant to Rules 68D-21.002, and 68D-21.003, F.A.C., comments regarding this request will be accepted no more than 21 calendar days from the date of publication/distribution of this public notice. Public may provide written comments, recommendations, requests, inquiries, or other correspondence to the Boating and Waterways Section at 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600; or by email at waterway.management@myfwc.com. The Commission will conduct a public hearing within the City of Tampa if a written request for such a hearing is received within 21 days following this notice.

A COPY OF THE APPLICATION CAN BE OBTAINED BY EMAIL (IN PDF FORMAT) OR BY US MAIL. Please submit your request directly to waterway.management@myfwc.com or contact Boating and Waterways Section at (850) 488-5600.

AMI renourishment provides beach buffer for Eta, future storms

People have been wondering: Did Tropical Storm Eta suck all the sand off recently renourished beaches?

The storm’s passage through the Gulf of Mexico Nov. 11, about 100 miles from Anna Maria Island, coincided with high tide, creating about a 3-foot tidal surge.

Social media lighted up Nov. 12 with questions about how Eta might have affected the sand replenishment — a $17 million project which started July 8 near 77th Street in Holmes Beach and will soon terminate at Longboat Pass.

The project, which involves pumping sand from borrow areas via a dredge about a quarter-mile offshore to replenish eroded beaches, paused for storms Laura, Sally, Delta, Zeta and Eta.

Mote announces 2nd round of red tide projects

Mote Marine Laboratory has announced that 16 partner-led projects have been selected for the Florida Red Tide Mitigation & Technology Development Initiative; they will investigate potential solutions to mitigate the impacts of Florida red tide

SARASOTA — Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is pleased to announce 16 projects have been selected for Year 2 of the Florida Red Tide Mitigation & Technology Development Initiative. The Initiative is led by Mote in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The Florida Red Tide Mitigation & Technology Development Initiative was established and supported by state appropriations starting in June 2019. It focuses on uniting the best and brightest scientists from around the world in game-changing efforts to reduce impacts of Florida red tides, blooms of the toxin-producing algae species Karenia brevis.

The first round of projects was announced in early 2020, and included innovative projects such as deriving compounds from brewer’s spent grain, a byproduct from the beer brewing process, and testing its ability to control Florida red tide and its toxins. There are now more than 20 current research projects as part of the Initiative that includes 12 different partnering institutions and organizations. Read about all projects here. Additionally, Mote’s research facility infrastructure continues to expand in order to accommodate Initiative projects and provide safe spaces to test mitigation technologies and methods in a controlled setting.

“The projects selected for this round are made up of extremely diverse and innovative technologies, something that is really exciting for us at Mote and impactful for the Initiative,” said Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby. “We know that there will be no one single silver bullet for mitigating red tide and its effects, so we are supporting developing technologies and methodologies that range from physical to chemical controls, early prevention to bloom treatment, projects led by universities, independent nonprofits like Mote, and for-profit businesses. We know that when we bring in the best and brightest from a variety of sectors we’re more likely to find solutions, and that’s what makes the Initiative such an exciting endeavor.”

Kevin Claridge, Associate Vice President for Sponsored Research and Coastal Policy Programs at Mote, said: “We’ve had tremendous success with our first round of partner projects, even despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented. I think that success led to more wanting to be a part of this exciting Initiative. In total, the Initiative has received approximately 60 proposals from state, national, and international scientists – and we’re very pleased with the sixteen we’ve chosen for Year 2.”

A panel of scientists from eight different agencies and institutions reviewed the partner led grant proposals submitted, and the strongest proposals were presented to the Red Tide Initiative Technical Advisory Council on October 2, 2020. The sixteen Mote and partner-led projects will be awarded over $2.1 million in total grant support.

Learn more about the Red Tide Initiative and the full list of Mote and partner-led projects at redtidemtdi.org

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E-newsletter available for water restrictions notifications and more

Join thousands of Hillsborough County residents and get water restrictions updates, water-saving tips, Public Utilities' customer education information, and more by email. The Hillsborough County Water Restriction Notifications periodic e-newsletter delivers changes to Hillsborough County's permitted irrigation days/times and interesting Public Utilities news directly to your inbox.

Recent issues have included topics such as:

  • money-saving water rebates
  • gardening workshops
  • sprinkler system reminders
  • watering days notification
  • water conservation tips

Experts brainstorm ways to meet growth demands while protecting water supplies

The Nature Conservancy's Florida Chapter estimates roughly 1,000 people were moving to Florida every day before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter's Executive Director Temperince Morgan says that rapid growth is stretching the state's water resources.

"Our current demands are exceeding our current supplies from traditional sources. We're seeing drawdowns and impacts to springs, lakes, and wetlands and other water bodies around the state," Morgan says.

Morgan says demand for freshwater will keep going up, especially in places like Central Florida, where more people are choosing to live.

"In recent years, public water supply demand has, for the first time in Florida history, begun to exceed agricultural demand. And the vast majority of that public water supply demand is for irrigation. So, to irrigate our lawns," Morgan says.

Her group is partnering with the University of Florida and a developer to study a new irrigation-free community—meaning a neighborhood that replaces grassy lawns with plants that are meant to live in Florida's specific climate without the need for frequent watering.

Environmentally significant lands referendum passes in Manatee County

On November 3rd, Manatee County voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum Tuesday to acquire as much as $50 million worth of land for the purpose of environmental protection.

The referendum, approved by 71.27% of county voters, is dedicated to "finance the acquisition, improvement, and management of land to protect drinking water sources and water quality, preserve fish and wildlife habitat, prevent stormwater runoff pollution, and provide parks." The money will be raised by instituting a 0.15 mill ad valorem tax over 20 years.

Christine Johnson, the president of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast who spearheaded the referendum, said Manatee County has long been at a disadvantage compared to other counties on Florida’s Gulf Coast, many of which have dedicated funding sources for land conservation. She pointed out that only 13% of Manatee County’s land is conserved, compared to a 30% average statewide.

Check your irrigation timer as we ‘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 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 Citrus, Hernando, Pasco and Sarasota counties and the City of Dunedin.

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.

USGS unveils National Water Dashboard (NWD)

The U.S. Geological Survey announced Friday the completion of a new mobile tool that provides real-time information on water levels, weather and flood forecasts all in one place on a computer, smartphone or other mobile device.

The new USGS National Water Dashboard, or NWD, provides critical information to decision-makers, emergency managers and the public during flood events, informing decisions that can help protect lives and property.

“The National Water Dashboard is a much-needed advancement that will help keep communities across the country safe during extreme weather conditions,” said Tim Petty, Ph.D., Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, from an agricultural round table with the Water Subcabinet in Janesville, Wisconsin. “The development of a comprehensive tool that can provide real-time, critical information on mobile devices is great news for areas in our country that are prone to flooding or drought. In addition to giving the public key information on what’s happening in their communities, it will also help improve the response of federal, state and local agencies during storms, floods and drought conditions.”

“Our vision is the National Water Dashboard will be a one-stop resource for all available USGS water data used by the public to make decisions that can preserve life and property,” said Jim Reilly, Ph.D., director of the USGS. “The USGS will continue to build out this tool incorporating future advances in water information so the public will have the latest and best information on hazards and resources.”

Information from the NWD will help inform forecasting, response and recovery efforts for agencies such as the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal, state and local agencies. The tool can be used by forecasters and local emergency managers as they issue flood- and evacuation warnings, verify safe evacuation routes and coordinate emergency response efforts. The NWD can assist the USACE as they manage water supplies in river basins and operate flood-control reservoirs. During a drought, the tool can help state resource managers identify areas where water supplies are at risk.

“The National Water Dashboard is an exceptional tool for staying up to date on real-time USGS water information coupled with forecasts and warnings from NOAA’s National Weather Service,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “Giving individuals access to water information whether it be a flood or drought, on their mobile device, will help protect lives and property."

The NWD presents real-time stream, lake and reservoir, precipitation and groundwater data from more than 13,500 USGS observation stations across the country. This information is shown along with NOAA weather data such as radar, watches and warnings, past precipitation totals, precipitation forecasts and drought conditions from other open water-data sources. The NWD also links to the USGS WaterAlert system, which sends out instant, customized updates about water conditions.

"The National Water Dashboard builds on the USGS Texas Water Dashboard that was created in 2016," said Don Cline, Ph.D, USGS Associate Director for Water Resources. "Expanding this tool nationwide will increase the ease and ability for the public to have access to USGS real-time water data at all times to help make informed decisions regarding the safety of their families and homes."

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers values the continued partnership and active engagement within our Federal family,” said Chandra S Pathak, Policy Advisor and Senior Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering and Construction Division. “The new USGS National Water Dashboard is well suited to support the ever-evolving needs for increased hazard risk awareness and mitigation actions toward preparedness and response."