Water-Related News

‘King tides’ predicted for Memorial Day weekend

MANATEE – If you notice tides higher than normal, you can blame the universe.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that just after noon on Friday and Saturday, “king tides,” also known as perigean spring tides, around Manatee and Sarasota counties could reach nearly three feet.

King tides are higher-than-normal high tides. They happen once or twice a year, either when the moon is new or full and closest to Earth, according to NOAA. The lunar phase for Thursday happens to be both a new moon and a super moon, meaning it’s closest and appears the largest of the year.

Noah Valenstein is new Florida DEP chief

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet Tuesday hired Noah Valenstein as the state's new Department of Environmental Protection secretary.

The 39-year-old Valenstein has spent the past 19 months as the executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, an iconic agricultural region of north Florida home to some of the country’s largest freshwater springs.

Environmentalists praised his appointment telling the Cabinet that Valenstein has demonstrated an ability to bring people together and develop a consensus in how to manage natural resources.

District Tightens Water Restrictions throughout 16-County Region

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Governing Board voted today to increase water restrictions throughout the region. The modified Phase III water shortage order affects counties throughout the District’s boundaries including Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter.

District hydrologists report a rainfall deficit of 11-inches since the start of the dry season last October. In fact, this is the driest dry season in the past 103 years.

Under the new water shortage order, lawn watering is reduced to once-per-week and allowable watering hours also are reduced. Micro-irrigation and hand watering of non-lawn areas are still allowed any day, if needed. Additionally, there are now limits on car washing and homeowners’ associations may not enforce any deed restrictions which could cause an increase in water use. The restrictions will remain in effect through August 1, 2017. Additional details regarding the watering of new lawns and plants, reclaimed water and other water uses can be found at WaterMatters.org/restrictions.

The District considerers both natural water resource conditions and the viability of public supply when deciding to declare a water shortage order. For the past 20 years, the District has worked diligently with its partners to develop alternative water supplies. Even though the region is experiencing drought conditions, there is adequate public water supply available.

Florida’s dry season runs October through May. The District encourages water conservation year-round, and offers many tips to reduce water use and additional information at WaterMatters.org/conservation.

The Pace of Sea-Level Rise Has Tripled Since 1990, New Study Shows

Virtually all 2.5 million Miami-Dade residents live on land that's less than ten feet above sea level. In terms of real-estate assets vulnerable to flooding, Miami is the second most exposed city on Earth, behind only Guangzhou, China. And Miami is basically the poster child for the effects of climate change, because the city has already begun flooding on sunny days.

But now a new study shows the seas are actually rising three times faster as they were in the 1990s.

Using a new satellite technique, the study in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that before 1990, the ocean was rising at a rate of roughly 1.1 millimeter per year. From 1990 to 2012, however, that rate spiked to 3.1 millimeters per year. Though that rate might still seem small, even a rise of a few millimeters worldwide can lead to increased flooding events or more deadly storm surges at an alarming pace.

Importantly, the study's authors claim the new data — first reported by the Washington Post — shows that scientists had previously underestimated how fast the oceans were rising before 1990, before widespread satellite data was available.

Fort Myers spends $250K for drain inspections

FORT MYERS, Fla. -NBC2 is tracking your tax dollars as the City of Fort Myers prepares to spend a quarter of a million dollars to better inspect drain pipes.

The new Ford F-550 television digital universal camera inspection truck from Cues, Inc. features a small rover with a mounted camera.

The rover is driven deep into drain pipes to find any obstructions blocking the flow of water. Pipe investigations are completed to identify problems that could include, blockages to pipe, pipe defects and pipe preventative maintenance.

According to city documents, the outdated current truck was purchased back in 2002 and has more than $37,000 in repair costs. Making matters worse is parts are difficult to purchase for repairs.

City leaders would like to use a single source procurement to purchase the truck for $249,990 from Cues, Inc.

CHNEP needs your images for their 2018 calendar

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The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) is pleased to be able to once again produce a calendar for 2018 thanks to their partners, sponsors, and volunteers.

The images are gathered from public submissions and then selected with the assistance of our Citizen Advisory Committee volunteers. If you are interested in submitting images, please use a free file sharing service such as Dropbox to send them in high resolution JPEG or TIFF format by July 15th to sstrickland@chnep.org, as well as fill out the online questionnaire.

If any persons are depicted in the photos submitted, then please also fill out and email release form(s).

Please keep in mind:

  • All entries must be provided as JPEG or TIFF files.
  • Entries are limited to 3 images per person.
  • Submit the best version of the entries you have available.
  • Don’t submit images that are similar to each other.
  • Images of animals in distress because of possible interference or harassment will not be considered.

The CHNEP is a partnership to protect the native, natural environment of southwest Florida. The calendar must be consistent with this purpose. Entries of nonnative plants and animals, especially those that are invasive, will not be considered. The CHNEP is unable to advise entrants if they had submitted images that would not be considered.

Because the goal is to show diversity, entries of subjects other than birds have a better chance of being used. You may wish to review previous calendars to identify what hasn't already been featured. In general, we have not received many entries of sea life, landscapes (especially of our estuaries), weather, plants (from fields of flowers to our majestic oaks) and people enjoying the environment.

If you are interested in sponsoring the calendar, please email Jennifer Hecker by July 1, 2017. Or, if you receive calendar(s) and would like to assist in underwriting the expense associated with their production and mailing, please visit the CHNEP website and click on the "Donate" button on the upper left of the home page, then indicate "calendar" in the notes field provided.

Cape Coral mulls end to special lawn-watering restriction

CAPE CORAL –City officials are considering an end to the once-weekly lawn watering restriction, a city spokeswoman said.

Levels have risen in the freshwater canals that supply irrigation water for the city’s residents. They’re fuller by 90 gallons over their low point a month ago, when the restriction went into place, even as a severe drought persists.

About 17 million gallons are flowing daily into the canals from a 640-acre reservoir at a Charlotte County mining pit operated by Southwest Aggregates.

The city entered into a 90-day, $140,000 contract with the company on May 1 to pump water from the reservoir to the canals after a study determined the project was feasible.

The water travels in ditches along an 8-mile stretch of U.S. 41 and empties into Alligator Slough in the northeast part of the city. It flows into the canals from there.

More than enough water exists in the mining pit to keep pumping water to the canals until rainy season, the company said.

The lawn-watering restriction was an unprecedented move to address the water shortage, which threatened the city’s fire hydrants. The city’s utilities director recommended in December that it be put into place, but the city waited until April.

The city estimates it has enough drinking water, which comes from a different source than irrigation water does, to last the next 15 to 20 years.

Governing Board Declares Water Reuse Week May 14-20

Orlando, FL - The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board passed a resolution Thursday declaring May 14-20, 2017 as Water Reuse Week in Florida. The resolution urges local governments, utilities and businesses to implement water reuse programs to help protect future water supply of 8.1 million South Florida residents.

"The water reuse operation as a crucial program is no more evident than right now as South Florida is in the grip of a severe drought," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe. "As a responsible Governing Board, it is our duty to do everything in our power to encourage utilities and citizens to reuse as much water as possible. Every gallon reused is a step in the right direction."

Mangrove trimming May 15-25 at Burnt Store Isles

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Beginning Monday, May 15th, 2017 through May 25th, 2017 (weather and equipment operation permitting), the City of Punta Gorda contractor, Ecosystem Technologies, Inc. will be trimming the mangroves along the perimeter canal in the Burnt Store Isles subdivision. Boaters should use caution in this area.

For additional information on this project, please contact Canal Maintenance Supervisor, Catherine Miller, Punta Gorda Public Works Department at (941) 575-5071 between the business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday thru Friday.

Rip-rap installation at Burnt Store Isles lock area

PUNTA GORDA – Beginning Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 through May 26th, 2017 (weather and equipment operation permitting), the City of Punta Gorda contractor, Marine Contracting Group will be installing rip-rap next to the Lock in the Burnt Store Isles subdivision. Boaters should use caution in this area and should expect delays when passing through the Lock.

For additional information on this project, please contact Canal Maintenance Supervisor, Catherine Miller, Punta Gorda Public Works Department at (941) 575-5071 between the business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:0 p.m., Monday thru Friday.

Cape Coral reverse osmosis plant set for $1 million in repairs

Four ‘busway’ components need to be replaced

Exposure to the sun may have contributed to a major component failure at the North Reverse Osmosis water plant, resulting in the need to replace all four "busways" at a cost of nearly $1 million.

The tally is nearly $200,000 less than it could have been and the expenditure is needed to prevent a major plant emergency similar to one experienced at the city facility in 2014.

Cape Coral City Council on Monday awarded the work to Cogburn Brothers of Jacksonville, the lowest and only responsive responsible bidder, officials said.

The consent agenda resolution states the company will provide construction services for modifications to the power distribution system at the plant for $898,500 plus a 10 percent contingency of $89,850 for a total of $988,350.

A small portion will be reimbursed through a warranty. The rest of the money will come from the city's Water and Sewer Fund.

At Monday's meeting, Public Utilities Director Jeff Pearson said the busway's power run for the plant failed and needs to be replaced before complete failure.

Bill would expedite southern reservoir to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast will file a bill Thursday to expedite Everglades restoration projects, including a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, he said in a news release Tuesday. His Everglades FIRST Act — it stands for Flow Increases Rely on Storage and Treatment — directs the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite work on reports needed for projects to increase water storage around Lake O and minimize discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, and the harmful algal blooms they cause. "The federal government needs to step up and do its part to get this project done as quickly as possible,” the Palm City Republican said, anticipating Gov. Rick Scott's signature on a bill the Florida Legislature approved last week to fund the reservoir. The state agreed to pony up $800 million for a 78.2 billion gallon reservoir on land called the A-2 parcel, where the Corps currently plans to build a much smaller water-cleaning project. So it's up to the Corps to change its plans — and match the state's $800 million for a bigger, deeper reservoir.

Pollution notice bill inspired by sinkhole passes Legislature

A bill requiring industry and government to notify the public quickly of any pollution problems has passed both houses of the Legislature and is headed for Gov. Rick Scott. Scott, who called for the change in the law, will definitely sign it.

The bill, SB 532, was inpsired by the sinkhole at Mosaic's Mulberry phosphate plant and St. Petersburg's sewage disaster.

The sinkhole, in particular, drove Scott's desire for the bill. When it opened up in August 2016 and swallowed 215 million gallons of contaminated water, dumping it into the aquifer, neither Mosaic nor Scott's own Department of Environmental Proteciton told the public about it for three weeks. The reason? State law did not require them to do so unless the pollution was detected outside the polluter's property boundaries. Mosaic (but not the DEP) later apologized for the delay.

The delay in St. Petersburg officials reporting the tens of millions of gallons of sewage that the city's aging wastewater system released into Tampa Bay after Hurricane Hermine bothered Scott as well.

Cape Coral water ban averages 100-plus violations a day

Since Jan. 1, the city has issued 8,062 violations, the majority, 7,302, of them first violations, Barron said. The first violation is a warning. A second violation carries a $100 fine; and a third violation carries a $200 fine. A fourth violation, and any subsequent violations, carries a $400 fine, and the city can disconnect them from the system.

One community has pressed the far limits of Cape Coral's water restrictions, racking up four violations costing it a total of $700 to keep their lawns lush and green.

Public Affairs Manager Connie Barron said the Coral Lakes community, which has its own irrigation system, is the violator. Rich Carr, code compliance manager, said workers observed the violations in the common areas of the property outside the gate at 1500 Coral Lakes Blvd., near Del Prado. The property includes more than 700 homes spread over 370 acres, its website indicates.

Another 868 city residents have tested the restrictions, receiving from a warning to a third violation notice. For private homeowners, the city can disconnect them from the municipal irrigation system upon their fourth violation.

"We're seeing a consistent number of violations," Carr said. "A lot of firsts, not a lot of seconds and thirds. Most people when they get the warning, they do comply."

Florida drinking water ranks among nation’s worst, study finds

7.5 million: The number of people in Florida served by water treatment plants with safe water violations

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article148112799.html#storylink=cpyMore Floridians are exposed to unsafe drinking water than just about anywhere in the country, according to a new study of violations.

The state ranked second in the number of people impacted by violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act based on the most recent data available from 2015, the Natural Resources Defense Council said. Nationally, 77 million people were exposed to unsafe water, with violations including high levels or toxic arsenic, lead and other chemicals, as well as failure to test or report contamination.

The study, a follow-up to an examination of the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., comes as the Trump administration considers drastic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces the law.

“The problem is two-fold: there’s no cop on the beat enforcing our drinking water laws, and we’re living on borrowed time with our ancient, deteriorating water infrastructure,” Erik Olson, NRDC’s health program director, said in a statement. “We take it for granted that when we turn on our kitchen tap, the water will be safe and healthy, but we have a long way to go before that is reality across our country.”

To compile the data, the nonprofit looked at the most recent, comprehensive data and ranked states based on the number of people exposed to unsafe water. That could skew findings to heavily populated states, but even as a percentage, Florida ranked in the top ten, said NRDC spokesman Alex Frank.

Cape Coral begins pumping water from reservoir to freshwater canal system

The City of Cape Coral has launched the test run to pump water from the reservoir property at Southwest Aggregates in Punta Gorda into the freshwater canal system in Cape Coral.

The city will pump 8.5 MGD for the next 48 hours and, if the initial test run is successful, Cape Coral will be permitted to pump up to 17 MGD from the reservoir by Sunday. The current test run is scheduled for 90 days.

"This reservoir project could provide the City of Cape Coral with another freshwater source to supplement the irrigation supply for our community," said City Manager John Szerlag in a prepared statement. "We are extremely pleased with how the various agencies came together to secure the necessary permits required to move this project forward in such a short timeframe."

The city worked with the South Florida Water Management District, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Department of Transportation to bring the project online. The city also negotiated an agreement with the owners of Southwest Aggregates, and the agreement is on the Council agenda for approval on Monday, May 1. The agreement includes reimbursement to the owner for the costs of the pumping equipment being used in the testing phase, $140,000.

Southwest Florida so dry that canals, wells, pumps, lawn watering are concerns

As Southwest Florida is gripped by a particularly dry season and residents are urged to conserve water, some municipalities are more affected by the relatively sparse rainfall and low water levels than others, officials say.

As of Friday, the Southwest coast area of the South Florida Water Management District — which includes large parts of Collier and Lee County — received only 5.46 inches of rain, said Randy Smith, a district spokesman. That's only 45 percent of what the area usually would receive during an average dry season, which runs from Nov. 1 through May 31, he said.

"It got less than half the rain that you normally would have," Smith said.

To make matters worse, Southwest Florida's dry spell has parched the area's woods, leaving wildfires with plenty of sun-baked brush to fuel their rage. Two large blazes in Collier torched thousands of acres in March and April and razed eight homes. A 400-acre fire in Lehigh Acres last week also destroyed or damaged structures.