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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Geothermal cooling could save 2 million kilowatts a month at new Orange City schools

Published Jun 29, 2008
Geothermal, literally, means earth (geo) heat (therm). In other parts of the country, naturally warm air from beneath the earth's surface is used to heat homes and water. Volusia County Schools will use the technology to cool schools.

Drago said water from the Floridan Aquifer, which is a constant 72 degrees, will be sucked up through pipes to the surface plant. Warm air will be pushed over pipes containing the cool water. The air and water will exchange heat, leaving the water warm, and the air cooled.

Of the options available to save money on heating and cooling, the location of the Orange City schools favored geothermal cooling.

...millions of gallons of chilly water are flowing below the site toward Blue Spring, minimizing the possibility of intrusion or leaching that might occur as a result of temporary withdrawals for the schools' cooling system.
Source

Friday, June 27, 2008

Blue Springs water use permit will not be revoked by water district

Published 6/27/2008
A water use permit for a proposed water bottling plant on Poe Springs Road will not be revoked following a mediation agreement.

Blue Springs Properties will still need to be granted a special use permit from Gilchrist County before a water bottling plant could be built.

The separate water use permit issued by the Suwannee River Water Management District was in jeopardy of being revoked following two years of non-use.

But mediation between the water district and Blue Springs was resolved on June 20, with the permit being valid until the year 2018.
Source

Skeletal remains from river ID'd

Published June 26, 2008
Skeletal remains found earlier this month at the bottom of the Suwannee River have been identified as those of a drowning victim from 2003.

The remains were confirmed as those of Luis Alberto Vargas, a Colombian national, on June 20, Sheriff Tony Cameron said, but family members could not be immediately located.
Source

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weeki Wachee mermaids double up as calendar girls

Posted Jun 25, 2008
Weeki Wachee Springs is now selling its first-ever calendar featuring its famed mermaids. The 16-month edition (which kicks off with September 2008) showcases underwater scenes captured by photographer Andrew Brusso, a Florida native, who has photographed celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith, Jim Carrey and LeBron James.

It's a limited edition of 2,700 copies. The calendar will be for sale in the park's gift shop beginning July 1, but it can be pre-ordered online now at http://www.weekiwachee.com
Source

Ruth Walker Springs restoration update

Published June 25, 2008
After a lengthy delay, resulting from inclement weather and other factors, the Suwannee River Water Management District has announced the Ruth Walker Springs restoration project will begin this week.

Already, construction workers moved their equipment to the site on Monday, June 23, and began construction work the next day. Ruth Walker Springs is located about 10 miles southeast of Mayo on CR 425 off SR 27.
Source

Little Devil Spring unusual but fun for divers

Published Jun. 26, 2008
At the popular Ginnie Springs Outdoors park, I was able to -- literally -- drop in on four of the park's seven springs and explore 1,000 feet of the adjacent Santa Fe River -- all in a single-tank drift dive recently.

Every day, as much as 80 million gallons of fresh water bubble up from beneath the earth's surface through Little Devil, Devil's Eye and Devil's Ear springs.

The flow is so strong out of the constricted, dungeon-like entrance to the Ear that it can push an unwary diver backward or cause a regulator to free-flow. At nearby Ginnie Spring, another 35 million gallons spew up every day through the bars erected to block the entrance to the narrow cave opening. Our object was to experience all these spring flows directly in our faces.
Source

Blue Green Algae - Have You been Slimed? (Brochure)

Click Image to enlarge
Blue Green Algae - Have you been slimed?
PDF Version

Thanks to Andrew Reich, the Coordinator of the Aquatic Toxins Program
Division of Environmental Health for the electronic version of this brochure.

More Info:
http://www.myfloridaEH.com
Aquatic Toxins Hotline 1.888.232.8635

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Septic Tank Stakeholder Workshop - Wakulla County

Septic Tank Stakeholder Workshop
Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 6:30 PM
Wakulla County Library
4330 Crawfordville Highway
Crawfordville, FL 32327
850-926-7415

Wakulla County is a leader in the state in addressing pollution from on-site treatment and disposal systems, OSTDS (septic tanks). The Florida Department of
Environmental Protection is funding a stakeholder input project lead by the FSU Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis and the FL Conflict Resolution Consortium to consider ways to policy refinements that address these questions:

1.Where in Wakulla County should sewers or performance-based OSTDS be required? Are there any areas where standard OSTDS would be acceptable?

2.Should the installation, maintenance and replacement of OSTDS be managed by property owners or a public or private entity?

3.How should installation and operation of OSTDS be paid for?
Source: Email received from Madeleine Carr

Agenda (Microsoft Word Format - DOC)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Florida circa 2100: Global warming's toll

Published June 23, 2008
Most of Florida pumps its drinking water from deep, underground pockets of fresh water in the Floridan Aquifer. The aquifer, however, sits in limestone, which is naturally porous. Along the coastline, there are breaks in the limestone, where the fresh water mixes with the sea.

Seawater is actually heavier and denser than fresh water because of the amount of salt and sediment in seawater. However, a large enough column of fresh water can equalize the pressure from the sea.

As long as the pressure remains constant, that zone where the fresh water and salty sea mix won't move. But that zone can shift depending on how the water pressure changes.

Rising seas will exacerbate that problem. The expanding ocean and the additional meltwater will increase the pressure of the sea as it pushes against the freshwater pockets. Eventually, it would overwhelm the fresh water and infiltrate inland wells.
Source

Monday, June 23, 2008

Group wants utilities out of St. Johns

Published June 22, 2008
For the first time, Florida's governor has been called on to formally intervene in the water war over the St. Johns River.

The Putnam County Environmental Council filed legal challenges late last week, seeking to block water managers from allowing Central Florida utilities to pump from the river.

The group contends the St. Johns River Water Management District failed to meet state law when it urged utilities to tap into the 310-mile waterway.
Source

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has voted to end bag...

Posted Jun. 22, 2008
The all-volunteer Woodville Karst Plain Project -- a group of underwater cave explorers based in Gainesville -- has announced a recent milestone in its push to connect Wakulla Springs, south of Tallahassee, with the Gulf of Mexico. On the weekend of June 13, cave divers Jarrod Jablonski and Casey McKinlay, aided by a large support team, explored more than 8,700 feet of virgin underwater cave passage 260 feet beneath the earth's surface known as Q-tunnel. Q-Tunnel, which runs south-southwest from Wakulla Springs, had been explored out to about 17,000 feet from its entrance. McKinlay describes the new passageway as ``a massive, corridor-style pipe, averaging 50 feet high by 50-100 feet wide with depths ranging from 250-285 feet.''

McKinlay said the total distance from Wakulla Springs to the new limit of exploration is 25,776 feet -- a new cave-diving distance record. He said the tunnel is wide open at the end, and he expects to make the remaining eight-mile connection to the Gulf.
Source

10 Tampa Bay water playgrounds to chill in

Posted: Jun 20, 2008
Rainbow Springs State Park. 19158 S 81st Place Road, Dunnellon in Marion County.

This is a two-hour drive north, but once there you might have trouble deciding whether you want to visit the man-made falls first or just plunge into the chilly 72-degree springs. After the immediate, mind-numbing shock, it can be wonderfully refreshing. The springs are crystal clear, and you can see fish, turtles and places where the water bubbles out of the sandy bottom (at a rate of 450-million gallons a day). The falls and accompanying gardens are remnants of what was once a tourist attraction called Blue Springs, which featured glass-bottomed boats, a monorail and a zoo. Facilities are clean and plentiful, and — pretend like you didn't read this if you don't want to spend more money — there are a concession stand and gift shop. In addition to the big swimming hole, you'll find a smaller wading area for tiny tots and canoe and kayak rentals. And the best part? Admission is just $1. The park also has a new tubing entrance, at 10830 SW 180th Avenue Road on the east side of the river. From there you can rent a tube, ride a tram upriver and then float back to your point of origin, not needing a second car. The float trip is about 90-minutes long. Sounds like a great day in Florida to us.
Source

Springs Celebration - Poe Springs

August 2, 2008
for more information:
Phone (352) 264-6827
Email: aar@currentproblems.org
Source (PDF)

First Step in St. Marks Growth Plan

Posted 6/19/2008
For the first time in a formal meeting-- the Wakulla County Commissioners met with the St. Marks City Commissioners to look at the future of St. Marks. The small fishing community is one of the oldest cities in Florida, dating back to the late 1520's. It was an industrial town, but now all that's left are the vacant buildings. Through a Community Redevelopment Agency, the city hopes to bring the town back to life.

It's where the Wakulla River and the St. Marks River comes together and it should be absolutely a gem. A tourist destination for all of north Florida and we want to make that happen again," said Wakulla County Commissioner Ed Brimner.
Source

City Council should pass tougher rules on fertilizer

Published 6/18/2008
Algal blooms - the nasty stuff that can turn the St. Johns River green, kill fish, suffocate critical vegetation and create a giant, stinking mess - have begun their summer run.

The Mayor's Office proposed a solid, tough fertilizer ordinance in early January. It's still languishing in City Council committees.

The Mayor's Office blames the council for the delay. Council members say they have questions that haven't been answered. The Mayor's Office retorts the answers are ready, just ask.
Source

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2008 Wacissa River Cleanup & Fun Day

Saturday July 12, 6 AM - 2 PM

Click image to enlarge
2008 Wacissa River Cleanup

For More Info:
850-997-2324 jimdulock@hotmail.com or edde@nettally.com
Source

Lawmakers Ask for Study of Apalachicola River, Bay

Published 6/18/2008
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and U.S. Congressman Allen Boyd (D-North Florida) today introduced legislation calling for a comprehensive study of the water management, needs, and conservation along the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River System. The legislation introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enter into an agreement with the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies to conduct a basin-wide assessment of the ACF system.

“It is clear from talking with Florida’s stakeholders, the Corps, and the Fish & Wildlife Service that more information about the ACF system, specifically the impact of freshwater flows on the Apalachicola Bay, is desperately needed,” said Boyd. “This study will show the real impact that low water flows have had on our river and bay. The National Research Council has a long history of providing policy makers and the public with expert advice based on sound scientific evidence and research. A study by the NRC will allow the three states and the Corps to develop a more successful, long term water management solution that recognizes the needs of all the users along the ACF system.”
Source

Local woman kayaks 500 miles on St. Johns River

Published June 18, 2008
When Michelle Thatcher first told friends and family that she was planning on trekking the entire St. Johns River on a 14-foot kayak, many of them told her she was crazy.

"I wanted to be as safe as possible," said Thatcher, who is the executive director of the Association of Florida Conservation Districts. "I didn't just do this on a whim. I did a lot of research and made sure I was completely prepared."

Thatcher began her trip at the true headwaters of the St. Johns River, all the way in Okeechobee County. By launching from Fort Drum Creek, Thatcher was bucking the traditional wisdom of where the river actually begins. The navigational headwaters of the river are actually much farther north at Lake Helen Blazes.
Source

Seminole County launches Web site

Published June 18, 2008
The Seminole County government is pleased to announce the launch of a new Web site featuring the proposed Yankee Lake Project, located along the St. Johns River. The Web site can be accessed at http://www.sharedwaterworks.com and was developed to provide accurate and up-to-date information about the project to the citizens of Central and Northeast Florida.

The Yankee Lake Project proposes to use a small amount of water from the St. Johns River as an alternative water supply for Seminole County. The project will use about one-quarter of one percent of the flow in the St. Johns River. Initially, this water will support Seminole County's reclaimed water irrigation system, but it will eventually meet the future potable water needs of its customers. In fact, once fully implemented, about 80 percent of the water will be used for drinking water.
Source

Regulation Looming for Septic Tanks

Posted Jun 17, 2008
As Leon County's population grows, especially in previously rural areas, so does the number of septic tanks in the county.

In a joint City-County workshop Tuesday, officials brought up the need for septic tank regulation.

Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge says, "We've got about 30 thousand septic tanks in Leon County today so there was an interesting discussion at the comp plan meeting today about how do we deal with septic tanks going forward specifically as it relates to Wakulla Springs and some of the impact that septic tanks are having on the south side."
Source

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Couch: Floridians wrong about water

Published June 17, 2008 (Opinion)
Georgia EPD director says Florida water claims 'fiction'

Facts, not fears or fictions, are necessary for interstate cooperation on comprehensive solutions as the Savannah River valley continues to grow.

In 2007, the worst drought year on record, more than half of the entire water stored in Georgia or Alabama reservoirs on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River system was used to support an augmented flow into Florida of at least 5,000 cubic feet per second. Flows at this level are approximately twice what nature would have provided without the use of the reservoir storage, and mitigate any loss of water associated with metro Atlanta's use by a factor of seventeen.

Carol A. Couch is director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division Information on the Georgia Statewide Water Plan and regional planning can be found at www.georgiawaterplanning.org.
Source

New water plan floats no one's boat

Published June 17, 2008
“I hold the Army Corps in great respect, but they're just in a no-win situation,” said Sherk, who used to represent the city of LaGrange on water issues and now teaches water law and policy at the Colorado School of Mines.

Asked about the criticism, Army Corps spokeswoman Lisa Coghlan said the plan was designed to address several factors, including “incorporating a drought contingency plan that allows for additional storage conservation and system recovery during periods of extreme drought” while “still providing support for listed species and their critical habitat in the Apalachicola River.”

Lake Lanier sits at the top of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin. Water collected at Lake Lanier is released at Buford Dam and flows downstream through metro Atlanta, by the cities of LaGrange and Columbus, into Florida and empties into the Apalachichola Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, the water passes through a number of Army Corps-administered dams and lakes, including West Point Lake, Walter F. George Lake and Lake Seminole.
Source

Monday, June 16, 2008

Green Cove Spring (Clay County, FL)

229 Walnut St
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043
Cost: $1 for Children and $2 for Adults as of 6/13/2008
Hours: Mon, Thurs, Fri, Sat 11-6; Tues and Sun 1-6; Wed Closed
Contact: Laura Burk, YMCA, at 904-272-4304.

Description:
Water from the spring fills the swimming pool, it then flows out the other side of the pool, and continues via a small stream to the St. John's River. The Green Cove Springs City Pool is run by the YMCA, but membership to the YMCA is not required.

Pictures taken 6/13/2008

FlickrMore Photos


More Info:
Green Coves Website
Waymark - Green Cove Springs City Pool - Green Cove Springs, FL

Florida DEP continues restoration of rivers, lakes, estuaries

Published 6/16/2008
Florida has marked another milestone in its comprehensive strategy to address waterbody restorations around the state. Beginning its second five-year rotation to study the waters in the state, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Michael W. Sole has signed an order identifying waterbodies for water quality improvement goals. The waters identified for restoration are in the St. Marks/Ochlockonee River Basins, the Suwannee/Santa Fe River Basins, the Ocklawaha River Basin, Tampa Bay, Lake Okeechobee and its Northeast Tributaries, and the Everglades West Coast Basin which are collectively known as ‘Group 1’
Source

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Special Series: Apalachicola Water Wars

By Margie Menzel. Originally aired on: 88.9 WFSU-FM & 89.1 WFSW-FM

The struggle for water among Florida, Georgia and Alabama threatens the Apalachicola River and Bay - not just a few endangered species, as some have charged, but the health of an ecosystem, an economy, and a heritage passed down over centuries. Margie Menzel prepared this four-part series.
Source

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Big algae bloom on the Caloosahatchee River

Published Jun 13, 2008
(Not a spring-fed river that I am aware of but I think this is still important information)

If you're planning on boating this weekend, it might be a good idea to avoid the Caloosahatchee river, above the Franklin locks in East Lee County.

The big algae bloom is showing no signs of going away, and scientists are warning don’t go in that water.
Source

Rules for the Yard: Putnma Town Sets Limits

Published 6/13/2008
Despite its constant promotion of regulations that restrict lawn and landscape irrigation, the St. Johns River Water Management District has found only one taker in Putnam County.

Welaka Mayor Charles Wilson says he thinks local residents have no comprehension of water scarcity when they live next to such an imposing water source as the St. Johns River.
Source

Scientists Monitor Algae Bloom In St. Johns

Published June 13, 2008
Environmental scientists are monitoring algae blooms from Lake Harney in east-central Florida to Doctors Lake in Clay County, the St. Johns River Water Management District announced on Friday.

The staff regularly monitors algal growth in the river and routinely collect water and algae samples, but step up the testing for toxins when a bloom is observed.

Water District spokeswoman Teresa Monson said the bloom is not unusual for summer and early fall, when the St. Johns River typically exhibits its largest blooms. The algal growth results from excess nutrients -- nitrogen and phosphorus -- from fertilizer, wastewater and stormwater runoff, along with lots of sunlight and warm temperatures
Source

Florida counties seeking water flow action

Published June 13, 2008
Some counties along the Apalachicola River are asking Gov. Charlie Crist to take legal action to block a reduction in water flow from Georgia and Alabama.

Gulf County this week was preparing to ask Crist to petition the federal courts to block the request, County Attorney Tim McFarland said. Franklin County made a similar request to Crist last Friday, saying the local seafood industry would be
devastated by a lack of fresh water.
Source

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Using our water once more:Treated wastewater

Published 6/11/2008
Palatka’s use of treated wastewater is growing.

On Monday, work crews began extending a network of pipes to irrigate local cemeteries and sports facilities from Palatka Municipal Golf Course to St. Johns River Community College.

When the expansion is complete, about 1.5 million gallons of treated water will be used for irrigation per day, rather than discharged into the St. Johns River.
Source

Plan your weekend

Published June 12, 2008
If you forgot to shop, you can instead take Dad out for the day. On Sunday, dads get in free to Weeki Wachee Springs with the purchase of a child's ticket.
Source

Can't blame corps for all water woes

Published 06/11/08 (Opinion)
Lanier's low water levels, as though the agency's operation of its dams on the Chattahoochee-Apalachicola river system is the major impediment to unlimited water availability for all current and future Atlantans ("Low-level operating plan," @issue, June 6).

Never mind the millions of gallons of water that are removed from the lake and river and never returned as a result of more new development in metro Atlanta and electric production. Forget the hundreds of millions of gallons wasted through water-system inefficiencies, outdated plumbing, poorly designed rate structures, wasted outdoor watering and national-record overreliance on septic systems in suburban counties.
Source

Excerpts from editorials in Florida newspapers

Published June 10, 2008
The findings of a recent Florida Geological Survey analysis of Fanning Springs are alarming and put that out-of-the-way landmark front and center of the springs discussion. Again, the springs is far from any major urban center, yet hydrologists for the FGS report the spring has one of the highest nitrate levels of any of Florida's more than 300 springs.

But that is not the worst of it. FSG geologist Tom Greenhalgh said at a recent meeting of the Fanning Springs/Manatee Springs Basin Working Group that the spring, one of Florida's 33 first-magnitude springs, no longer emits enough water to be categorized a first-magnitude spring. A first-magnitude spring pumps out at least 60 million gallons of water per day, or 100 cubic feet per second. Fanning Springs has been averaging about 71 cubic feet per second for at least a decade.
Source

Flagler County to get $2M more for desalination plant

Published June 10, 2008
Flagler County is $2 million closer to building a seawater desalination facility after the St. Johns River Water Management District's governing board approved a cost-share funding and administrative services plan.

This is in addition to the $5 million the district gave in May for the construction of the facility, which is expected to be completed by 2017.
Source

DEP Celebrates Florida's Rivers Month with Photo Contest

Published 06-10-2008
Governor Charlie Crist recently signed a proclamation honoring June as Florida Rivers Month, recognizing the more than 50,000 miles of rivers and streams throughout the state. Florida’s famed waterways include the 310-mile St. Johns River, one of the only rivers in North America flowing north, as well as two designated National Wild & Scenic Rivers, the Wekiva and Loxahatchee Rivers.

Color photos will be accepted through July 31, 2008 and should capture the environmental richness, unique landscape, flora and fauna, human involvement, recreational opportunities or simply the exceptional beauty of Florida’s rivers and surrounding landscapes. Photographs will be judged in six geographic categories with specific river basins within each region.
Source

Florida DEP - 2008 Florida Rivers Month Photo Contest

High ground

Published 6/10/2008 (Opinion)
When it comes to the future of the Apalachicola River and Bay, most probably wouldn't characterize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state of Florida as being of one mind.

But despite the Corps' own shortsightedness in its efforts to resolve this 20-year dispute, a top Corps commander has a promising idea that's worth pursuing for the long term. Brig. Gen. Joseph Schroedel, who oversees the Corps' South Atlantic region, suggests that a Southeast regional water council would help resolve — and, it is hoped, avoid — problems like the one Florida, Georgia and Alabama have been wrestling with for so long.
Source

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Diver Discovers Skeleton in Suwannee River

Published Jun 9, 2008
Authorities are working to identify a human skeleton that was found at the bottom of the Suwannee River.

The Suwannee County Sheriff says a Tallahassee diver found remains of a human being in the Suwannee River.

Deputies say the bones were found Friday afternoon about four miles north of the Suwannee River State Park six to eight feet at the bottom of the river.
Source

Monday, June 09, 2008

Cave diver dies at Blue Springs near Marianna

Published: June 9, 2008
A diver died at Blue Springs Recreational Area near Marianna early Monday morning.

The diver has been identified as Joel Mitchell Tubbs of Oakmans, Ala., located near Jasper in the northwest portion of the state. No findings have been determined yet on specific cause of his death. He was 41 years old, according to a press release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

A portion of Blue Springs is leased by the county from the state to provide recreational activities for area residents. The swimming and recreation area are closed on Monday.
Source

Oystermen pay price for rising water use

Published June 9, 2008
The Apalachicola River -- which carries water more than 300 miles from Georgia's Lake Lanier into the bay, providing the delicate balance of freshwater and saltwater oysters need to thrive -- is running dry.

Oystering is a $10 million industry in Florida, with about 1,200 licensed harvesters and 25 processing houses in the Apalachicola area. Approximately 3 million pounds of oyster meat was landed in the state last year, about 10 percent of the national harvest. Texas and Louisiana are bigger oyster producers and could make up the difference if the Florida industry fades.
Source

St. Johns River cleanup yields 15.5 tons of trash

Published June 8, 2008
The 12th Annual St. Johns River Cleanup coincided with National River Cleanup Week, a series of stream cleanups across the country relying on thousands of volunteers.

Tom Carey, who helped organize cleanups in Volusia and Lake counties, said it's crucial for communities to help keep the river clean.
Source

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Tons Of Debris Removed From 2 Pasco Sinkholes

Published June 8, 2008
"The worst sinkhole of all the sinkholes was in Pasco near Crews Lake," said Robyn Felix, a water district spokeswoman.

Located east of the Suncoast Parkway and north of the Crews Lake Park entrance, that sinkhole produced 83 tons of refuse, mostly tires, Felix said.

"It's been there a long time and it accumulated over a long time," Zajac said of the Crews Lake sinkhole, part of a chain of sinkholes known as Hernasco Sink.

The second-worst sinkhole, containing about 3 tons of junk, was on the Pinellas County side of County Line Road. Known as Arch Sink, the hole yielded a small handgun among the discards.
Source

Florida fights plan to restrict water to Apalachicola Bay

Published in print June 6, 2008
In a Thursday meeting at the Capitol, members of Florida's congressional delegation told the Army Corps of Engineers general in charge of the Southeast that restricting flow into the bay to 4,500 cubic feet per second, below historic low-flow levels, will put wildlife, the bay's ecosystem and commercial fishermen at risk.

Water flows into the Apalachicola Bay, a key oyster-producing area, from Lake Lanier in the foothills of northwest Georgia. Water released from the lake provides Atlanta's drinking water. Under the Corps of Engineers plan, water managers can slow the flow in the Apalachicola to ensure adequate water upstream.

The Corps plan only considered the impact upon federally protected species, not other wildlife like shrimp and oysters. "The only voice that the oysters have are us," Nelson said
Source

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Guaranteed to leak

Published June 6, 2008
Florida just can't seem to catch a fair break in its long-running effort to be treated as an equal partner with Georgia and Alabama in a long-sought tri-state water agreement affecting the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system.

For most of the past 20 years, Georgia has held the upper hand in what is supposed to be a water sharing plan.

Besides the fundamental unfairness of that arrangement, the inequity and adverse environmental effects have been exacerbated by the fact that the Peach State has done a rotten job of managing its own water resources to meet the demands of rapid growth in metropolitan Atlanta. As a result, Georgia's failure to conserve, particularly when there is drought, produces negative consequences beyond its own borders.
Source

Spring time!: Florida's high springs

Published June 8, 2008
The purity of the water at Ginnie Spring has attracted the Coca-Cola Co., which has a permit to extract up to 600,000 gallons a day from a deeply placed well there and bottles some of it as Dasani water. And with water temperatures a cool 68 to 72 degrees, these alluring springs are unlikely spots for a meeting with an alligator.

At Rum Island Springs, a cabin can be rented for the weekend beside a turquoise pool of water twice the size of a large Jacuzzi. Poe Springs, in a 200-acre Alachua County park, has concrete steps leading into clear blue water. Blue Spring, Naked Spring, Johnson Spring and Kiefer Spring are all accessible from the privately owned Blue Springs swimming area in High Springs. More springs are preserved in more than a dozen state parks, including Troy, Manatee, Ponce de Leon and Wakulla Springs.

Ginnie Spring is in High Springs (population 3,600), a town with a historic district, craftsman homes and antiques shops that has also become the state's unofficial natural springs capital, a base for weekenders and vacationers. The town has two dive shops, canoe and kayak outfitters and tube rental establishments. The Great Outdoors, a new restaurant, bottles a beer called Naked Ed Ale, named for Ed Watts, who for 20 years has greeted visitors to the lovely Lilly Spring clad in only a necklace, wire-rimmed glasses and a loin cloth.
Source

Low-level operating plan

Published 06/06/08 (Opinion)
In its June 3 article "Federal agency OKs reducing reservoir releases" (Metro), The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' latest operating plan for the federal reservoirs in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin. It also reports that this plan would allow the corps to store up to 50 percent of the inflow into the river basin, up from the 30 percent allowed under the previous operating plan.

From these reports, some might conclude that Lake Lanier is now on its way to a quick and full recovery. Unfortunately, that conclusion would be mistaken. The reality is that the new operating plan will do little to raise the level of Lake Lanier and does not do nearly enough to prevent the reservoir from falling to dangerously low levels in the future.

The problem is that the corps' ability to use Lake Lanier and the other reservoirs in Georgia to alter flows in the Apalachicola River is severely limited by the location and size of the reservoirs within the basin. Most of the streams in the basin enter the system downstream of Buford Dam. In fact, Lake Lanier controls only 9 percent of the flow in the ACF basin above the Florida line. Flows at the Florida line are 11 times greater than in metro Atlanta, and the majority of these flows, including the entire flow of the Flint River, cannot be stored in any reservoir.
Source

Water Wars Heats Up

Posted Jun 5, 2008
Two of Florida's top lawmakers are leading an effort to halt the Army Corps of Engineers new plan to reduce water flow to the Apalachicola River and Bay.

At a meeting in Washington Thursday, U-S Senator Bill Nelson, Congressman Allen Boyd and members of the Florida congressional delegation accused Georgia of negligence in managing its water. And they called on the federal government to intervene to prevent further damage to the bay.
Source

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Florida lawmakers blast Georgia's water management

Published Jun 5, 2008
Florida lawmakers on Thursday accused Georgia officials of negligence in managing water consumption, urging the federal government to prevent further damage downstream in Florida's Apalachicola Bay.

At a meeting on Capitol Hill, the lawmakers said a recently unveiled federal plan governing the region's river basin gives Georgia a free pass for its conservation failures. They called on the Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the plan and said because Georgia's water consumption affects other states, the federal government should force Georgia to better plan for growth.
Source

Volusia County gets Keep America Beautiful grant from Anheuser-Busch

Published Jun 4, 2008
Volusia County has landed a grant to help clean up the St. Johns River, which forms Volusia County's western and southern boundary for 59 miles.

Anheuser-Busch has awarded a Keep America Beautiful grant of $4,000 to support the volunteer effort to remove trash and litter from the river. The money will also help pay for a campaign to dissuade people from throwing bottles, cans, plastic, paper and other debris into the scenic waterway.
Source

Boyd unhappy - Isakson farseeing

Published 06/03/2008
Boyd plans to have oystermen, shrimpers and others on the Apalachicola River and Bay further plead the case to the Corps and USFWS at a forum in Chattahoochee, Fla., on July 21.

But U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia is looking ahead, way ahead into the future.

In March, Isakson introduced the Twenty-First Century Water Commission Act of 2008 in the U.S. Senate to establish a national commission to develop strategies to increase water supplies and improve the availability, reliability and quality of freshwater resources.

The commission, according to Isakson, would study current water management programs of federal, interstate, state and local agencies and private-sector entities, as well as consult with representatives of such agencies and entities to develop recommendations for a comprehensive national water strategy for the next 50 years.
Source

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Florida Loses Water Wars

Published June 3, 2008
The US Fish and Wildlife Services sides with Georgia and Alabama and against Florida in the Water Wars.

Florida lost its water war with Georgia and Alabama.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service sided with the bordering states...claiming dams upstream on the Apalachicola River wouldn't kill hurt four threatened species living in the bay
Source

The lake will return, if we let it

Published June 3, 2008 (Opinion)
Picture Taken 6/4/2008


A large portion of the lake drained out the sinkhole in 1999. Though the lake rebounded by 2002, the area near the sinkhole has been dry for several years.

That has led lakeside residents to push for damming up the offending Porter Sink. Their frustration is understandable. They miss the bass fishing, water skiing and other recreational amenities the lake provides in its full state.

Lake Jackson is a "Florida aquatic preserve." That's the highest level of protection/management the state affords water bodies. It is a designation created in the 1970s and applies to 41 Florida springs, bays and estuaries. The state would never issue a permit to plug or dam Lake Jackson.

Lake Jackson is popular with eco-tourists because it is a karst lake, meaning it's part of the swiss cheese, limestone geology of the Big Bend that creates sinkholes, rivers that dip underground — and disappearing lakes. There are only three karst regions in the world: the other two are in Croatia and China.
Source

Orlando might restrict water use further

Published June 3, 2008
The city is considering a plan to enact mandatory lawn-watering restrictions, allowing sprinklers to run only two days a week during the warm months and one day a week during cool months.

The restrictions follow the lead of the St. Johns River Water Management District, which is revamping its watering rules and encouraging cities and counties in its 18-county jurisdiction to follow suit. Orange County passed its own rules last week.

...Public-works director Alan Oyler told commissioners that the demand for potable water from homes and businesses will outstrip Orlando's water allotment from the underground aquifer around 2014 or 2015.
Source

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cool summer fun

Published June 1, 2008
While last weekend saw 7,781 people float down the Ichetucknee River over the Memorial Day holiday, up from last year’s 6,522, the numbers were still low for a major holiday weekend.

To protect the vegetation that calls the Ichetucknee home, the north entrance is only open for floating between Memorial and Labor Day weekends, Martin said.

Additionally, only 750 people a day are allowed to begin their float at the headsprings.

On busy weekends the north entrance can be closed as early as 8:30 or 9 a.m., she said.

The mid-point and Dampier’s Landing entrances can be accessed at the South entrance and can carry more people.

The mid-point max is 2,250 people while the Dampier’s Landing, which is the shortest float, has no limit and is open everyday until 5 p.m.
Source

What Will You Find In A Sinkhole? Maybe A Sink

Published: May 30, 2008
Mattresses. Bicycles. Shopping carts. Even a light-duty pickup truck, complete with camper top.

These are just a few things residents saw fit to dump into sinkholes in Hernando, Citrus and Pasco counties.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District, known as Swiftmud, just wrapped up a three-year project to collect debris from 18 sinkholes in the three counties.

The idea for the project came when a Swiftmud governing board member saw the documentary "Water's Journey" by Florida filmmaker Wes Skiles.

The documentary shows how water travels through the Floridan aquifer and out of springs. In one scene, the narrator notes how divers can tell they're getting close to a sinkhole because of the amount of litter floating in the water.
Source

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Illegal dumps lose 90 tons

Published in Print May 31, 2008
Household trash and other debris piling up at remote, illegal dump sites is a major reason for the declining water quality at the area's freshwater springs. But the Southwest Florida Water Management District has just finished a three-year project to clean up the mess.

The agency has removed more than 90 tons of junk from spots around Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties where sinkholes have allowed contaminants to quickly flow into the groundwater.

The cleanup project was budgeted to cost $200,000, but the work was wrapped up for just $90,000. Part of that savings came about because the team found out early on that if they examined the sites using an $800 camera they bought to lower into sinkholes, they could save thousands of dollars in consultant's fees, Zajac said.

The project was part of the district's Springs Clean Up Initiative. There are more than 100 springs in the district, with the majority clustered around the five first-magnitude springs systems at Weeki Wachee, Homosassa, Chassahowitzka, Kings Bay and the Rainbow River.
Source