Water-Related News

Florida senators want federal help on their red tide problem

Algal blooms driven by chemical runoff and a warming climate killed aquatic life, slammed the state's tourism industry

As Florida grapples with so-called red tides of algal blooms along its coasts and waterways, the state’s senators are pushing the federal government to come up with a plan to help control them.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will on Wednesday mark up a bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott aiming to find a solution to the toxic algae that cost the state’s tourism industry millions of dollars each year.

The House in September passed a companion bill that was introduced by Rep. Brian Mast, R- Fla.

“I am encouraged by its continued progress in the Senate,” Rubio said in an emailed statement.

A spokeswoman said Scott is “proud to build on” his efforts to mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms and red tide during his time as governor, and “will continue to work with his colleagues to protect Florida’s environment for generations to come.”

As the governor of Florida before he came to the Senate, Scott received partial blame from critics for the widespread algal blooms that inundated his state’s shores last year, noting his administration cut the state’s water management budget by $700 million.

The bill would direct a federal interagency panel to “develop a plan for reducing, mitigating, and controlling” harmful algal blooms and hypoxia (dangerously low aquatic oxygen levels) in South Florida. It’s similar to one Rubio introduced last year with former Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Clean Water Act: Economic analysis could undermine Trump rule repeal

When the Trump administration finalized its repeal of the Obama-era Clean Water Rule last month, it also quietly updated an economic analysis of the repeal's costs and benefits.

The 195-page final analysis is nearly 10 times longer than the one that accompanied the Trump administration's initial proposal in 2017 to repeal the rule and estimates different costs and benefits of repealing the regulation, which clarified which wetlands and waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act.

The updated analysis — which the public did not have the chance to comment on — could leave the repeal vulnerable to legal challenges, experts say.

"The agencies aren't required to do an economic analysis, but once they decide to do it, courts typically want them to do it right," Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau said. "If there are flaws in the analysis, and if the public hasn't had a chance to see it, that could fit into the box of arbitrary and capricious."

Already, a coalition of environmental groups have cited the new analysis in their legal challenge to the repeal filed last week.

Mangroves reduce flood damages during hurricanes, saving $billions

Mangroves significantly reduce annual and catastrophic damages from storms and are a strong first line of defense for coastal communities, according to a new study from researchers at UC Santa Cruz, the Nature Conservancy, and RMS. The study brought together a team of scientists from the engineering, insurance, and conservation sectors to quantify the effectiveness of mangroves in reducing flood risk to people and property.

Their report, Valuing The Flood Risk Reduction Benefits of Florida's Mangroves, concludes that mangroves in Florida prevented $1.5 billion in direct flood damages and protected over half a million people during Hurricane Irma in 2017, reducing damages by nearly 25% in counties with mangroves. With coastal challenges created by growing populations, burgeoning development, and climate change, risks to people and property from flooding and storm surge are on the rise. Mangroves provide valuable flood protection and risk reduction benefits to these coastal areas, yet they are a threatened species.

The study used the risk insurance industry's latest and most rigorous high-resolution flood and loss catastrophe models and an extensive database of property exposure to estimate property damages from storms with and without mangroves in Florida. The report shows that mangroves significantly reduce flood levels during a catastrophic event such as Hurricane Irma.

High concentrations of red tide causing fish kills in Sarasota County

Red tide is getting worse in the Tampa Bay area, causing fish kills last week in parts of Sarasota County.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission collected water samples from Sarasota County this week and found high levels of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis.

Though red tide wasn't found in all areas of Sarasota County, very low to high concentrations of the organism were found in several areas off the shore. Scientists also found very low concentrations of red tide off Clearwater Beach.

Red tide was first detected off Sarasota County last week in medium concentrations. Fish kills were reported this week in Venice and Englewood.

Michelle Kerr, a spokesperson for FWC, says that the organism is natural to the Gulf of Mexico, but it can multiply uncontrollably, and that’s when it becomes dangerous.

Red tide and human health: Researchers study ‘Chronic Exposure’

Toxic red tide algae is starting to bloom along Florida’s west coast again. State wildlife officials say elevated levels have been detected recently from Pinellas to Collier counties, and people in Sarasota County have also been experiencing respiratory irritations.

Now, new research is looking into long-term health effects of the toxins, including neurological issues.

SWFWMD meeting at FGCU focuses on Caloosahatchee River, estuary projects

Water managers are looking at more than two dozen ways to clean water stored along the Caloosahatchee River system.

The South Florida Water Management District also discussed several other projects that could mean cleaner water in the region at its meeting in Lee County Thursday.

The meeting at the Florida Gulf Coast University campus was the district's first meeting on the west coast of Florida since June 2016.

Jennifer Leeds, staff member with the district, presented the board members with updates on the projects along the Caloosahatchee.

"We recently had a celebration event getting the C-43 contract under way," Leeds said. "With all of these projects, everything is focused on adding additional storage within the Caloosahatchee."

Along with the recent groundbreaking of the C-43 reservoir, the district has completed the first part of a storage project in Lake Hicpochee.

The C-43 reservoir is meant to hold 178,000 acre feet of water for releases down the river. The Lake Hicpochee storage project is supposed to add to C-43's reservoirs giving the Caloosahatchee region a greater water storage capacity.

Lake Okeechobee’s low water levels cause concern

Lake Okeechobee's water levels have dropped to an alarmingly low level as Florida enters its dry season, prompting concerns that other waterways could be affected.

The lake's water is almost as low as it was eight years ago during Florida's worst drought in nearly a century, the Miami Herald reported.

"I’m a bit concerned about the lake level – we are right about where we were in 2011," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Andrew Kelly said in a recent phone call with reporters, according to the Herald.

South Florida's rainy season was drier than usual this year, and the lake serves as an indicator of drought throughout the region. It's also a key source of drinking and irrigation water for South Florida.

Kelly said there were worries over whether the Corps would be able to continue water releases into the Caloosahatchee Estuary, which relies on freshwater input from the lake to maintain its salt-to-freshwater ratio during the dry season, when there is less rain.

SFWMD starts public process to revise water quality rules for Everglades & estuaries

SFWMD Starts Public Process to Revise Rules for Northern Everglades and Coastal Estuaries Water Quality

Schedule of public workshops and interactive website announced where public can participate and provide input as District works to amend a Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program rule

WEST PALM BEACH – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) initiates a public rule-making process to support water quality improvements in the Northern Everglades, which includes the Lake Okeechobee Watershed and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee River watersheds and estuaries and announced the dates for several workshops to gather public input.

The Governing Board approved the public process last month to revise Chapter 40E-61 of the Florida Administrative Code. The rule was originally created in 1989, and in 2016, the Florida Legislature passed laws requiring SFWMD to revise the rule to support Northern Everglades restoration. The purpose of the rulemaking process is to amend Chapter 40E-61 to:

  • Be consistent with the 2016 Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (NEEPP or 373.4595, F.S.) and Section 403.067, F.S., including for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed.
  • Develop rules for Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River Watersheds.
  • Provide for a monitoring program for non-point source dischargers required to monitor under Section 403.067, F.S.
  • Provide for a research and water quality monitoring program.

The public engagement process will include workshops and opportunities to provide input through the District's website. An interactive web board will also allow the public to submit comments online.

The scheduled public workshops for the rule-making process include:

  • Nov. 5, 10 a.m. at the Indian River State College, Dixon-Hendry Campus, Williamson Conference & Education Center, Building C, Room 112, 2229 NW 9th Ave., Okeechobee, FL 34972
  • Nov. 15, 10 a.m. at the Fort Myers Regional Library, 1651 Lee St., Ft. Myers, FL 33901
  • Nov. 19, 10:30 a.m. at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Osceola County, 1921 Kissimmee Valley Lane, Kissimmee, FL 34744-6107
  • Nov. 19, 4 p.m. at the Indian River State College, Chastain Campus, 2400 S.E. Salerno Road, Stuart, FL 34997
  • Nov. 20, 10 a.m. at the South Florida Water Management District Headquarters, 3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33406.

The Nov. 20 meeting at 10 a.m. will also be broadcast online at SFWMD.gov and YouTube.com/SFWMDTV.

Sanibel golf courses graded on water quality efforts

The city wants to make sure the clubs are following the fertilizer rules to protect our water.

SANIBEL — As golfers on Sanibel fill out scorecards, the island's courses are getting graded on report cards.

The city is working with golf courses in the community to improve our water quality. They want to make sure the clubs are reducing fertilizer use and taking other measures to prevent harmful nutrients from getting into the Gulf.

"We grade them 1-5 so they can see how well they’re complying with our recommendations," said Dana Dettmar, with the city's natural resources department.

The recommendations come from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The courses are graded based on four categories: education, lake management, fertilizer management and irrigation and fertilization.

2019-2020 Bay Wise Kayak Tour Schedule Announced

Join the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program for sustainable kayak eco-tours throughout the Sarasota Bay watershed and discover the habitats and wildlife that make Sarasota Bay an "Estuary of National Significance".

Eco-tours run from November through April with professional guide Brad Tanner. The trips are free, but participants need to bring their own kayak and gear or rent from the many outfitters throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Each trip lasts two to three hours. Space is limited to 15 individuals per outing.

Registration for upcoming tours begins one month in advance of each tour date. 

Schedule: https://sarasotabay.org/bay-wise-kayak-tours-2019-2020/

MOTE-FWC red tide initiative announces new applied research grant opportunity

Mote Marine Laboratory announced the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative’s first competitive grant opportunity for scientists working to fight red tide impacts on Nov. 7 during the 10th U.S. Symposium on Harmful Algae in Orange Beach, Alabama.

The Initiative is a partnership between Mote—a 64-year nonprofit leader of independent and entrepreneurial marine science including decades of red tide research and monitoring—and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC’s) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute—the primary state-government entity focused on Florida red tide. Florida red tides are harmful algal blooms caused by higher-than-normal concentrations of Karenia brevis, microscopic algae native to the Gulf of Mexico. Florida red tide toxins can cause widespread mortality of fish and marine wildlife and cause respiratory irritation in people. The Initiative establishes an independent, coordinated effort among public and private research entities to develop prevention, control and mitigation technologies and approaches that will decrease Florida red tide impacts on the environment, economy and quality of life in Florida.

The new Initiative, 379.2273 Florida Statutes, was signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in June 2019 and provides a $3-million appropriation for six years ($18-million total). There will be six opportunities for scientists to submit competitive grant proposals from 2019–2025, and applicants have the opportunity to partner with Mote scientists and utilize Mote facilities, infrastructure and technology.

Lake Okeechobee's Low Water Levels Cause Concern

Lake Okeechobee's water levels have dropped to an alarmingly low level as Florida enters its dry season, prompting concerns that other waterways could be affected.

The lake's water is almost as low as it was eight years ago during Florida's worst drought in nearly a century, the Miami Herald reported.

"I’m a bit concerned about the lake level – we are right about where we were in 2011," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Andrew Kelly said in a recent phone call with reporters, according to the Herald.

South Florida's rainy season was drier than usual this year, and the lake serves as an indicator of drought throughout the region. It's also a key source of drinking and irrigation water for South Florida.

Kelly said there were worries over whether the Corps would be able to continue water releases into the Caloosahatchee Estuary, which relies on freshwater input from the lake to maintain its salt-to-freshwater ratio during the dry season, when there is less rain.

Neighborhood initiative grants now available

Sarasota County's Neighborhood Services team is preparing to educate and inspire residents for the next round of neighborhood initiative grant opportunities, which assists neighborhoods in improving their leadership, character, safety, health or environment.

The past year included projects such as an entry sign overhaul at Englewood Isles, storm drain marking in Gulf Gate, the removal of invasive plant species in Orchid Oaks, the installation of a pollinator garden in Palmer Ranch and aquatic plantings in Lakeshore Village. The grants award up to $10,000 in matching funds to a single neighborhood.

Applicants looking to pursue a neighborhood grant must attend a two-hour application seminar to be eligible. Five seminars will be offered between Nov. 25 and Dec. 17, at locations throughout Sarasota County.

For more information, or to register for an application seminar, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.  

Appeals court ruling okays Mosaic mining expansion in Central Florida

An appeals court panel voted 2-1 this week to reject the arguments of environmental groups trying to overturn a federal permit that would allow Mosaic phosphate company to proceed with mining on more than 50,000 acres of Central Florida.

“In simple terms, we lost,” said Jacki Lopez of the Center for Biological Diversity, which joined with the People for Protecting Peace River, ManaSota-88 and Suncoast Waterkeeper in suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She said the four groups are now considering whether to appeal Monday’s ruling.

The Mosaic permits cover parts of Hillsborough, Hardee, Manatee, and Polk counties. Mosaic spokeswoman Jackie Barron said the company was pleased with the ruling, which “demonstrates the strength and validity of our ... permit and the robust environmental review that accompanied it.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued the permit, did not respond to a request for comment.

DeSantis rolls out water quality website

With the state of the water a paramount issue in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis was at Lover's Key State Park on Fort Myers Beach Tuesday to tout a new website that folks can check to see the latest news on the safety of their water.

The website is ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov and it is up and running. It provides updates on water quality issues from red tide to algal bloom and health notifications.

The website currently focuses on three bodies of water, the Caloosahatchee River, Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River. Eventually, it will include all of Florida's waterways, DeSantis said.

Southwest Florida residents can check the red tide along the Caloosahatchee River from here to Sanibel and Boca Grande. Currently, the map on Fort Myers Beach has a caution sign which states, "Red Tide Algae may be in these waters. Avoid this beach if you have chronic respiratory problems. Keep pets away from water and dead fish. Do not swim near or touch dead fish."

Red Tide back but not as bad -- so far

A Red Tide algae bloom that began off Collier County’s beaches in late September has been inching its way up the coast during October, killing fish and choking beachgoers. On Wednesday, state scientists said the algae was detected in “very low concentrations” off of Pinellas County.

The most recent tests show that the higher concentrations that constitute a bloom have reached an area near Venice, south of Sarasota.

“Bloom concentrations ... were observed in five samples from Sarasota County, two samples from Charlotte County, seven samples from and offshore of Lee County and nine samples from and offshore of Collier County,” the latest Red Tide report from the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

Reports of fish kills have come in from Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, and people have reported breathing problems from the beaches in Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties.

Ainger Creek Boat Ramp closed Nov. 12-26

Ainger Creek boat ramp, 2011 Placida Road, Englewood will be closed Nov. 12-26 for repairs. During this time please use surrounding boat ramps at Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Park at 1000 S. McCall Road, Englewood or Placida Park boat ramp at 6499 Boca Grande Causeway, Placida.

For information, contact Travis Perdue at 941-764-4130 or Travis.Perdue@CharlotteCountyFL.gov. 

Maintenance dredging of the Gulf ICW in Venice-closures 11/4

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintenance dredging project to maintain the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Venice is under way. The project involves removal of shoaled sediment and use of the dredged material on the beach and nearshore area to take advantage of ecosystem restoration opportunities. The project is scheduled to run for several months and be completed before the end of the calendar year.

Work near Venice involves maintenance dredging within an approximately 5-mile stretch of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Over time, coastal processes have resulted in significant shoaling and deposition of sediment within the waterway, and maintaining long-term navigation requires the removal of these sediments.

UPCOMING CLOSURES: The morning of Monday, Nov. 4, the South Jetty walkway will be temporarily closed so the Army Corps of Engineers contractor can place the dredging pipe across the Jetty. A bridge span will be put in place to allow pedestrian traffic over the pipe while construction takes place. This will take most of the morning on Nov. 4 to construct. Once this is completed, the walkway to the Jetty will remain open during the project. Humphris Park at the South Jetty will remain open during this process; only the walkway will be temporary closed.

Also the morning of Nov. 4, at approximately 6 a.m. the contractor will be using the Venice Beach north lot to offload equipment. The north lot will temporarily close to allow 2 tractor trailers hauling a loader, bulldozer and mats to offload. Once the equipment is offloaded, it will immediately be moved from the lot using the north lot beach access. The equipment will then be walked down the beach to the renourishment site.  

How Southwest Florida' s business community got woke about water

For too long in Florida, environmental advocacy was viewed as the domain of tree-huggers and eco-nuts.

Full-time environmentalists carried the torch for cleaner water and more open spaces, occasionally scoring a policy win — but more often losing ground as armies of industry lobbyists shaped the legislative agenda in Tallahassee.

Then, in 2018, thousands of businesses in Southwest Florida banded together to push for clean water.

Spurred by a deadly confluence of red tide and toxic blue-green algae blooms, they educated themselves on water quality. They found a unified voice to push for stricter pollution limits.

As the kids say, they got woke.

And it had a tangible impact on Florida politics.  

Lee Commissioners approve renovation for Alva Boat Ramp

Boaters who enjoy navigating the upper Caloosahatchee River will soon enjoy improved access to the Alva Boat Ramp due to a renovation project approved today, Nov. 5, by the Lee Board of County Commissioners.

The project will expand the popular boat ramp, 21580 Pearl St., to two lanes, replace the boarding dock and make parking lot improvements, including ADA accessibility. The ramp, which provides access to the Caloosahatchee River upstream of the Franklin Locks, is used by an average of 1,150 people monthly.

The work is scheduled to be completed by Spring 2020 and is being completed by Kelly Brothers, Inc., of Fort Myers.

The cost of the project, about $495,000, is funded by boater registration fees.

For more information on Lee County Parks & Recreation, visit www.leeparks.org, call 239-533-7275 or visit leeparksandrecreation on Instagram.
 

New tool detects red tide concentrations in the air

On Tuesday, the most recent red tide results will be released and SWFL is hoping the red dots in the previous one that showed high levels are no longer there.

Now, there is also a new tool that can help gauge the amount of red tide concentration in the air.

Delving deeper into our red tide concerns, more like waist-deep. The online tool brings locals and visitors real-time information about red tide.

“I’d definitely look at it if I was going to the beach or bringing little kids,” said Ron Garlit from Estero.

And not just what’s in the water, what’s in the air that could reach well inland. A red tide respiratory forecast.

“The abundance of it is tabulated and sent to a database where it’s coupled with a wind forecast model to provide a respiratory irritation forecast for each beach,” said Dr. Eric Milbrandt, the Marine Lab director with Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCFF).

Mote launches stone crab research, education project with new grant

Mote Marine Laboratory is launching a new research and education project aimed at examining which coastal habitats might help stone crabs—a $30-million seafood staple in Florida—survive the growing threat of ocean acidification, thanks to a new grant from Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund.

The $70,000 grant will be matched by Mote and support the latest of several Mote studies to shed light on the 30% decrease in Florida’s yearly stone crab catch since 2000. So far, Mote’s controlled lab studies point out that ocean acidification and high levels of Florida red tide can each have significant impacts on stone crabs throughout different stages of their life cycle.

Female stone crabs brood their eggs—carry them until hatching—in coastal environments vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA), a worldwide decrease in ocean water pH driven by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Some coastal habitats in Florida are experiencing seasonal declines in pH estimated to be three times faster than the rate of OA anticipated for global oceans by the end of the century due to nutrient-rich runoff, a potential threat for sensitive coastal species.

Scallopalooza early-bird pricing available until Dec. 20th

Sarasota Bay Watch invites you to Scallopalooza, It's Clamtastic!

Early Bird pricing is in effect now through Dec. 20th.

This event will celebrate and support our community-driven shellfish restoration. Sarasota Bay Watch is working to clear and clean our waters utilizing hardshell clams. These shellfish resist the effects of red tide while naturally filtering nutrients and algae from our waters. If you love the water and appreciate its importance for this area, this is the event for you. Please, join us!

Location::
The Hyatt Regency Sarasota
1000 Blvd of the Arts, Sarasota, FL

Date/Time: February 15, 2020 6 PM

Go to www.sarasotabaywatch.org for tickets

Individual tickets: $90
Tables for 10: $850

Sponsorship Opportunities are Available
Show your support for local restoration!
Go to www.sarasotabaywatch.org to become a sponsor.

Need to contact event organizers? rondaryan@sarasotabaywatch.org or 941-232-2363

Sarasota Bay Watch believes that "A Healthy Bay is Everybody's Business". Please, make it your business too!

SWFWMD seeking volunteers for seagrass/water clarity observations

At the most recent meeting of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program's Technical Advisory Committee, Dr. Chris Anastasiou announced that the Southwest Florida Water Management District will begin conducting aerial seagrass surveys for the gulf coast (Levy to Charlotte counties) beginning this November.

Volunteer observers are needed to provide water clarity observations. Observers must be available on potential flight days to take a photo and report on water clarity conditions (>2m necessary) using a secchi disk or visual estimate. Observations should be taken every day and shared with the SWFWMD via web upload by 0830AM.

Please share within your networks and contact Chris with any questions if you are interested in helping with this important effort:

Cell: (813) 310-6809
Office: (813) 985-7481 x2029
Chris.anastasiou@swfwmd.state.fl

Bonita Springs bioreactor key to nitrogen reduction

Creative Cost-Effective Solutions

In 2012, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requested that Bonita Springs work to reduce the total maximum daily load of nitrogen in its waterways to 0.74 mg/L under what is referred to as the “Everglades West Coast Basin Management Action Plan”. This tasked the city of Bonita Springs to reduce the amount of nitrogen along the Imperial River to more closely reflect those of pre-development and agriculture levels.

The FDEP has projected a target reduction amount of 60,000 lbs. by the year 2027, of which Bonita Springs is required to remove 9,303 lbs. The city has already successfully removed around 3,301 lbs. of nitrogen from the waterways through various removal methods and has been developing a sustainable long-term solution for the remaining 6,000 lbs. of nitrogen.

Under the guidance of city council, construction began on phase 1 of its bioreactor project located in downtown Bonita Springs. The goal for phase one of this project was to capture nitrogen removal ratings data as a baseline for FDEP to review and approve a removal efficiency rating for the bioreactor systems to facilitate the achievement of clean water statewide.

What is a Bioreactor?

Bioreactors use an anaerobic (oxygen-starved) environment to leverage naturally occurring denitrification bacteria to remove nitrogen in the water. They work by running water through pipes into basins filled with carbon-based filtering materials (ie: wood chips) that are used to collect the nitrogen and expel a more natural quality of water into local waterways. The woodchips act as a carbon source for anaerobic bacteria to colonize. The bacteria, in turn, strip nitrogen entrained in the stormwater runoff and convert it into nitrogen gas.

This technology is proving to be highly effective at nitrogen removal, while at the same time being very cost-effective. Over the last 20 years state and local governments

Public comment sought on CDC plan to study Lake O algae exposure

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control is seeking public comment on a proposed study of persons exposed to algae in Lake Okeechobee.

CDC-2019-0079, published Sept. 17 in the Federal Register, proposes a collection project titled “Aerosols from cyanobacterial blooms: Exposures and health effects in a highly exposed population.”

CDC will accept written comments up to Nov. 18, 2019.

Algae blooms are a problem in lakes nationwide, according to the CDC. Anglers who regularly fish Lake Okeechobee question the assumption those fishing the Big O are a “highly exposed population.”

Why was Lake Okeechobee chosen? The CDC study is the result of a May 7 closed-door meeting where Congressman Francis Rooney hosted “selected” federal, state and Lee County area leaders to discuss harmful algae blooms. Gov. Ron DeSantis was at that meeting. Members of the press were not allowed at the meeting, which was closed to the public. Protesters outside the meeting held signs calling the closed-door meeting “dirtier than polluted water.”

According to the proposal: “CDC will conduct a study of 50 people highly exposed to cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms to assess exposure of CyanoHAB aerosols and determine if exposure is associated with health symptoms and/or outcomes.”

SCCF Laboratory finds red tide bloom

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported that Karenia brevis - the organism that blooms into red tide - recently was documented during water sampling in nearby areas.

According to the SCCF, research scientists from the Marine Lab collected water samples on a short cruise on Oct. 15 to the lower Caloosahatchee, San Carlos Bay and into the Gulf of Mexico. The results indicated that Karenia brevis was present at all sites sampled.

The maximum concentration was 880,000 cells/liter, found two miles offshore of Tarpon Bay Road Beach. Levels higher than 100,000 can result in fish kills and respiratory irritation in humans.

Since September 2018, the SCCF Marine Lab has been systematically sampling the Caloosahatchee and Gulf for nutrients, phytoplankton and water quality. A total of nine trips have been completed, with one more planned, under a National Science Foundation RAPID grant to study harmful algal blooms.

Army Corps dredging Venice ICW

Construction will begin around Oct. 15, 2019, on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintenance dredging project to maintain the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Venice. The project involves removal of shoaled sediment and use of the dredged material on the beach and nearshore area to take advantage of ecosystem restoration opportunities. The project is scheduled to run for several months and be completed before the end of the calendar year.

Work near Venice involves maintenance dredging within an approximately 5-mile stretch of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Over time, coastal processes have resulted in significant shoaling and deposition of sediment within the waterway, and maintaining long-term navigation requires the removal of these sediments.

The Army Corps of Engineers has a Fact Sheet on the project that includes a map. For more information, please email Jim Yocum, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District, at James.A.Yocum@usace.army.mil