SW FL Water Quality
Hope this page helps; we have Resources at the bottom including Daily Red Tide Reports
OCTOBER 2020 Report
NEW WATER LAWS
Governor DeSantis signed into law this summer several bills that aim to improve water quality across Florida.
SB172 – Florida Drug and Cosmetic Act:
Preempts the regulation of overthe-counter proprietary drugs or cosmetics to the state. This bill was inspired by a Key West ordinance put from 2019 making it unlawful to sell, offer for sale, or distribute for sale...any SPF sunscreen protection personal care product that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate, or both, without a “medically licensed” prescription. The city commission cited significant harmful impacts from the two chemicals on the marine environment and residing ecosystems around the waters of Key West, including coral reefs that protect the shoreline of Key West and the Florida Keys.
SB180 – Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act:
Removes the import of domestically sourced shark fins by any shark fin processor that obtains fins from a wholesale dealer who holds a valid federal Atlantic shark dealer permit on January 1, 2021 from the prohibition’s exceptions. The bill also removes the expiration date of the listed exceptions, and adds additional language to allow the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to review and include any other information in its report that is not explicitly required if it believes it is relevant to the management of shark fisheries.
STATE INCREASES FINES FOR SEWAGE POLLUTION
As the voice of REALTORS® in the Naples area, NABOR® has and will always advocate for action to reduce or eliminate any man-made or environmental threats to home ownership, property values and the living standards in Florida.
Fines for sewage spills – including from public utility systems – increased 50 - 75%. These new fine rates were part of HB1091 Environmental Accountability, and became effective July 1, 2020. “These new fines really put the burden on city and county agencies to be more proactive in the maintenance of our sewage lines,” said NABOR® President Elect Corey McCloskey. McCloskey is also co-chair of NABOR®’s Water Quality Advisory Task Force and is a member of the board of directors at Calusa WaterKeepers. “For example, after a recent downpour, there were numerous reports of serious leakage in older neighborhoods in South Naples [East Trail area], including notice of a 2,000 gallon leak of highly treated effluent water,” added McCloskey. “After Tropical Storm Sally, there was a 3,000 gallon leak of raw wastewater near Santa Barbara and Rattle Snake Hammock Roads.” The new bill increases various statutory penalties for violations of environmental laws. For certain violations, it specifies that each day during the violation occurrence constitutes a separate offense.
The bill further specifies that each day the cause is not addressed constitutes a separate offense until the violation is resolved by order or judgment. In certain situations, a violation is punishable by a civil penalty of up to $75,000 per violation per day. Put in practice, for a drinking water contamination violation, the department shall assess a penalty of $3,000 (previously $2,000) for a Maximum Containment Level (MCL) violation; plus $1,500 (previously $1,000) if the violation is for a primary inorganic, organic, or radiological
Maximum Contaminant Level or it is a fecal coliform bacteria violation; plus $1,500 (previously $1,000) if the violation occurs at a community water system; and plus $1,500 (previously $1,000) if any Maximum Contaminant Level is exceeded by more than 100 percent. For failure to obtain a clearance letter prior to placing a drinking water system into service when the system would not have been eligible for clearance, the department shall assess a penalty of $4,500 (previously $3,000). The bill also requires a seller of real property to disclose any known defects in the property’s sanitary sewer lateral.
In related news, SB1720 – The Florida Safe Drinking Water Act, was shot down by the Appropriations Committee and indefinitely postponed. It would have required DEP to change the way it collects data to how it makes rules for statewide drinking water maximum contaminant levels.
REDUCING CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER LOADS
How a November Referendum Could Help Key West Reduce Water Quality Issues and Disease Spread
After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a “no-sail order” for the cruise ship industry in March, Key West residents quickly saw, within a few short months, something amazing for the first time in many years: clear water!
In response, a new citizen-led action committee was formed, Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships, with the goal of shrinking the footprint of cruise ship tourism in Key West. After collecting enough signatures, the groups was able to get three referendum questions on its November ballot. One prohibits ships that can carry over 1,300 passengers from disembarking, another limits the number of passengers who can disembark in Key West to 1,500 a day, and a third gives priority to ships with good environmental and health records.
On its website, the group provides a list of strong arguments including the fact that “Cruise ships have been plagued by outbreaks of H1N1, Norovirus, high-morbidity influenza, Legionnaire’s Disease, and other highly communicable diseases for decades, and over 85% of cruise ships that entered U.S. waters after March 1st carried COVID-19.” It also says that large cruise ships navigating “in Key West’s shallow channel stir up silt plumes that drift onto coral and seagrass beds.
Excessive silt kills juvenile conch, lobster, stone crab, fish, and coral.” The group didn’t have to go far for good data, as the City of Key West Naval Properties Local Redevelopment Authority results of a study on the Impacts of the Cruise Industry on the Quality of Life in Key West, stated “cruise ships routinely dump pollutants into the ocean, including bilge water containing oil and grease, raw sewage, food waste, and household garbage.”
The good news is that the cruise ship industry has already started to respond and “Construction orders through 2024 show that 45% of all new ships being built would qualify to call on Key West after the referenda
Pacific Princess: Length: 594’. Draft: 19’. Combined passengers and crew: 1053. (In background is Grand Princess: 951’ and 3700 passengers and crew. Source
November 2019 Report
EAA RESERVOIR GETS UNDERWAY
Governor Ron DeSantis and dozens of leaders in Florida’s environmental protection industry were at the groundbreaking of the new C-43 reservoir in LaBelle on October 25th.
The 10,500-acre Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir – when completed in 2023 – will be part of an ambitious project to restore and improve the Caloosahatchee estuary including its 19 miles of embankments and canals.
The project was fast tracked because the state ended a lease with Florida Crystals early so it could engage in immediate water quality corrective measures. In fact, according to Noah Valenstein, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, “The reservoir project will be completed before it was originally scheduled to begin.”
The reservoir will clean over 55 billion gallons of water from the Caloosahatchee river, which has suffered from years of severe nutrient rich water discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
NEW WEBSITE IS GREAT RESOURCE
The new website will allow the public to obtain recent information on water conditions to avoid being exposed to toxic waters. According to Noah Valenstein, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said, “We’ve got a great environmental movement really starting here in Florida, and I think leading the nation, about the importance of water quality and making a difference for our environment.” NABOR® members are encouraged to share the new resource website with clients so they can better understand the truth about Florida’s water issues and how they can become involved.
SPONSOR A REEF
The RINK2REEFS habitats will enjoy oysters, sponges and other filter-feeding aquatic organisms that remove pollutants and excessive nutrients from local waterways.
Efforts to keep the spirit of the RINK2REEFS project alive are ongoing by several members of the class, many of whom are now actively involved in supporting it and other water quality projects in the area.
You can continue to support the RINK2REEFS project by funding the cost to build one or several reefs. Here’s how to do it:
Write a check for $175.00 to “FGCU Vester Field Station” include “NABOR RINK2REEFS” in the check’s memo section. Mail it to: NABOR, 1455 Pine Ridge Rd. Naples, FL 34108
Older September 2019 Update:
SWFL Water Quality Advisory Newsletter
Information here is mainly from our NABOR Newsletter; September 2019; and older, where we cover many Water Quality Related Articles / Headings
IMPROVING STORMWATER POND QUALITY
There are over 10,000 stormwater ponds in Lee and Collier County, according to Dr. Serge Thomas, a professor in the Marine & Earth Sciences Division at FGCU. During a TedX talk, Dr. Thomas outlined the importance of these ponds, why they are in serious danger today, and what we can do to help them recover. When these hydrosystems were added to community master plans in the 1980s, the role of these ponds was to collect and filter rainwater with an output that produced 80% clean water back into the aquifer. As development continued over the decades, the ponds became landscape features rather than natural wetland filters. Consequently, with increased use of fertilizers, pesticides, and most recently – copper sulfate to destroy algae blooms – many ponds are now at -190% clean water. YES! Negative 190 percent!
Homeowners are encouraged to remove grass at the edge of ponds and replace it with native plants to reduce chemical nutrient runoff and promote water quality for faster pond recovery. Another solution is Beemats, floating wetlands that feature an island of hydroponically grown native plants that sequester harmful nutrients. When mature plants on the Beemats are removed regularly, the captured nutrients are taken out of the lake. Over time, the pond’s natural balance returns and mature plants can be replanted along pond edges. When the City of Naples lost a battle to add an ordinace that would ban copper sulfate applications (it’s regulated by the State of Florida), the city offered homeowners Beemats if they would agree not to apply copper sulfate to the ponds. Help us advocate for better stormwater pond quality by talking to developers and new homeowners about the benefits of natural pond plantings and floating wetlands. Watch Dr. Serge Thomas’ TedX Talk, “Ponds of Southwest Florida: Ticking Time Bombs,” on Youtube.
CYANOBACTERIA EXPOSURE CAN HURT PETS
Reports of dogs getting sick or dying after swimming in ponds, lakes, and streams are more common during the summer months. Dogs can be exposed to toxins by skin contact with water contaminated with cyanobacteria when swallowing water while playing in the water, or by licking it off fur or hair. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to a toxic algal bloom, please seek immediate veterinary care. The EPA says don’t let your dog drink or swim in water if:
• It’s slimy or looks like foam, scum or mats on the surface;
• The color is weird; or
• It stinks.
CELEBRATE A CLEAN WATER EVENT, OCT 5th
Oyster Reef Habitats built using broken NHL-hockey sticks by members of the Naples Area Board of REALTORS® (NABOR®) 2019 Leadership class will be secured to docks at several locations on the water off Bayshore Drive in Naples and celebrated with a public party at Celebration Park on Saturday, October 5th from 3pm to 6pm. The reefs were assembled by Leadership class members from NABOR® and BEAR® in early September at the Florida Gulf Coast UniversityVester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station in Bonita Springs, Florida. Scheduled to speak at the October 5th reef installation event at Celebration Park are Dr. Michael Parsons, Professor of Marine Science, Director of the Vester Marine & Environmental Science Research Field Station and is on the Blue Green Algae Task Force; Florida State Senate Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo (District 28); and Florida House of Representatives Byron Donalds (District 80). The Leadership class chose the oyster reef habitat project after its members voiced interest in doing a special project that would reduce algae blooms and improve the quality of our coastal ecology.
The Rink2Reefs program uses otherwise useless broken hockey sticks to create habitats for oysters, sponges and other filter-feeding aquatic organisms that remove pollutants and excessive nutrients from local waterways. To date, the Rink2Reef Oyster Habitats Waterways Restoration Program has sparked more than 400 oyster restoration projects in coastal states. Bring your friends or family for a fun evening as you show your support for projects that improve water quality by joining the Leadership Class of 2019 at Celebration Park off Bayshore Drive in South Naples on October 5th from 3pm to 6pm.
Older May 2019 update:
REDUCING POLLUTION AT THE SOURCE
At the April 23 Board of Collier County Commissioners meeting Danette Kinaszczuk, Pollution Control Manager, proposed a public hearing to consider the adoption of a new Pollution Control & Prevention Ordinance to replace a 30-year-old ordinance that does not address current water quality issues and standards.
Water quality samples collected and analyzed by Pollution Control over the past five years show 33 percent of Collier County’s waterbodies are impaired. This is caused by multiple sources of pollution and an ineffective ordinance that prevents the agency from stopping discharges of polluted water into Collier County’s stormwater system thus creating excessive pollution levels. The state sets water quality standards and assigned total maximum daily loads due to pollutant levels exceeding those standards. Pollution Control’s job is to adhere to these standards, but without enforcement authority, it can only use education to try and make the polluters stop.
Another state regulation the county faces is implementation of Basin Management Action Plans. Lee County spent $27 million to construct and implement its plans. Kinaszczuk estimates that Collier County’s plan for just two of its watersheds would be in excess of $85 million.
The new proposed ordinance would add language necessary to comply with the county’s state permit that prohibits illicit discharges. It would also require best management practices, add enforcement authority, allow for source tracking, and focus on pollution prevention.
The main goal of the new proposed Pollution Control & Prevention Ordinance is to stop the problem at its source. For example, parts of Haldeman Creek watersheds are impaired for copper. If, through source tracking, it is determined that one neighborhood is contributing to the high copper levels then through the ordinance, that neighborhood would be required to implement best management practices such as stopping the use of copper-based algaecide in ponds. If they refuse to reduce excessive algaecide use, then another method would prevent them from discharging polluted water into the county’s stormwater system.
The new ordinance would also remove fees and lessen the redundancy of sludge transportation licensing. The county’s planning commission, other departments and civic groups approved the proposed ordinance.
The commission voted to continue discussions and asked Kinaszczuk to obtain additional feedback from sludge contractors and report her findings at the next meeting. The commission also agreed to delay a vote to approve a public hearing on the matter until the next meeting.
FL LEGISLATORS PASS NEW BUDGET
The Florida Legislature passed a budget with funding for environmental projects including:
• $322M for Everglades restoration and early planning, design and construction of the Everglades Ag Area Reservoir
• $40M to complete the raising of Tamiami Trail
• $100M for springs restoration
• $50M for beach restoration
• $10M for a red tide/blue green algae task force
• $25M for a septic-to-sewer costshare program
SFWMD HIRES NEW EXECUTIVE
The South Florida Water Management District board has hired Drew Bartlett as the new Executive Director.
Bartlett was a deputy secretary at the state Department of Environmental Protection. In this position, he worked with the state’s five water management districts and oversaw several divisions of the DEP responsible for environmental restoration, water quality and coastal management.
Bartlett will work closely with the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite construction on a 23-footdeep, 10,100-acre reservoir to store up to 78.2 billion gallons of excess lake water, and a 6,500-acre manmade marsh to clean the water before it’s sent south to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
FLORIDA GETS FIRST CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER
In early April, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed biologist Thomas Frazer as the state’s first Chief Science Officer.
Frazer is the director of the University of Florida’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, and previously worked as acting director of the UF Water Institute. In the new role, Frazer will direct all scientific work and research directed at understanding and finding solutions to water quality and environmental issues affecting Florida.
He also holds a Ph.D. in biological science from the Univ. of California, and is on the faculty advisory committee with the UF Climate Institute and served as chairman of the Climate Science Faculty Committee. Climate change will be a part of his office’s mission.
FGCU PROFESSOR JOINS NEW BLUE-GREEN ALGAE TASK FORCE
Florida Gulf Coast University marine science professor Mike Parsons was recently named to the five-member Blue-Green Algae Task Force created by Governor DeSantis. The Task Force’s objective is to expedite progress toward reducing the adverse impacts of blue-green algae blooms now and over the next five years.
DeSantis said the five researchers on the Task Force will “make recommendations to reduce nutrients in Lake Okeechobee and downstream estuaries as well as look at connections to the red tide algal blooms that have affected Florida’s coasts.”
Parsons said the Task Force’s first order of business is to ensure Florida is ready if an algae outbreak happens in 2019. In addition to Parsons, the Task Force includes Wendy Graham from the University of Florida, Evelyn Gaiser from Florida International University, James Sullivan from Florida Atlantic University, and Valerie Paul from the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. They will report to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection secretary.
A bill that provides $3 million a year for the next six years for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote Marine Laboratory to research red tide passed during the 2019 Legislative sessions.
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