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Friday, November 28, 2008

Florida looks at mercury contamination in fish

Published 11/28/2008 - The Florida Times-Union
Largemouth bass in nine out of 10 Florida rivers that the scientists tested had unusually high mercury levels in their flesh, according to preliminary results from research by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Those rivers included the St. Marys on the Georgia border and the Santa Fe, which runs north of Gainesville. The St. Johns River apparently was not tested.

A summary of that research, which should be published next year, was presented at a science conference in Tampa last week.

Poe Springs to be run by new business promoting tourism

Published 11/27/08 - High Springs Herald
Nature Quest was the only proposal that said the company could operate the park at no expense to the county. By increasing attendance as much 15 percent in the first year, the company said it can make a profit of $35,957. The estimated profit for the fifth year is $43,706.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Commission to hear management proposals for Poe Springs

Published November 24, 2008 The Gainesville Sun
The County Commission on Tuesday will review proposals by Nature Quest, current park manager North Central Florida YMCA and High Springs resident Sharon Yeago.

A Nature Quest proposal several years ago drew heated opposition from Poe Springs users and nearby residents, prompting about 600 signatures collected from critics who said a change in management could lead to more noise and rowdiness.

The commission is set to discuss the proposals at its Tuesday morning meeting, which begins at 9 a.m.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Updated: Proposed Natural Bridge land deal called a 'steal' for Florida

Published November 17, 2008 - Tallahassee Democrat
The state would buy the land for nearly $3.4 million, or $62,020 an acre..

The property is immediately south of the Natural Bridge battlefield park and consists of eight large karst windows where the St. Marks River flows underground through an extensive cave system

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sinkhole Diving Deaths

Published 11/14/2008 - Firstcoastnews.com
A search team has recovered the bodies of two divers who apparently ran out of air while exploring a Florida cave system on Tuesday.

The bodies were pulled out of the sinkhole near the town of Hudson Wednesday afternoon.

The cave system (Forty Fathom Grotto) where they died is hundreds of feet deep and branches out six miles.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Climate change threatens Florida's drinking water supply

Published November 9, 2008 (in Print) St. Petersburg Times
Much of the damage to Florida's water supply will take place out of sight, in the underground aquifers that provide most of the state's drinking water. As rising seas nibble at the state's coastline, saltwater intrusion will also creep steadily inland.

Utilities and water managers are now studying the possibility of pumping wastewater underground to recharge the aquifer along the Hillsborough coast. In recent months, even the controversial idea of a north-to-south water pipeline enjoyed a short-lived revival.

Regional disputes highlight water shortage seminar

Published 11/07/08 - The Florida Times-Union
The Jacksonville University-Florida Coastal School of Law symposium held Thursday brought experts from around the country to talk about water shortages. Among the most-discussed: regional disputes that highlight the differences between water policy in Florida and its neighbor to the north, Georgia.

Varn called the battle over water withdrawals from the St. Johns in Central Florida a red herring. North Florida should be more concerned with groundwater withdrawals, and the risk of it drying up or being contaminated from South Georgia paper mills and other industry.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Florida DEP Continues Restoration of Rivers, Lakes, Estuaries

Published 11-05-2008
Florida has marked yet another significant milestone in its comprehensive strategy to address waterbody restorations around the state. As part of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program and the on-going initiative to set water quality goals for impaired waterbodies, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole has approved the establishment of specific reduction targets for 20 waterbodies. This latest round of pollutant reductions have been adopted for waters located in the St. Marks/Ochlockonee River, the Suwannee/Santa Fe River, and the Everglades West Coast Basins. These limits have also been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency under federal law.

County adopts new regulations on fertilizer use

Published November 5, 2008 - Ocala Star-Banner
Marion County commissioners on Tuesday passed new regulations on fertilizer use, the first piece of a set of broader comprehensive rules designed to protect the community's springs and groundwater.

Kesselring's revisions included: the striking of a proposed "blackout" period for applying fertilizers; raising the maximum limits of fertilizer that could be applied; so-called "fertilizer free" zones were changed to permit greater fertilizing of such areas; penalties for offenders were downgraded to emphasize education over punishment; and the effective date of the ordinance was put on hold for six months so the county's five municipalities could review the law and determine whether they wanted to adopt a similar measure.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A necessary step

Published 11/04/08 - The Florida Times-Union
The effort by the Lower St. Johns River Total Maximum Daily Load Executive Committee caps nearly a decade of work. It provides a roadmap for preserving and improving 101 miles of the river between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ocklawaha River, the largest tributary to the St. Johns.

Gov. Charlie Crist came to Jacksonville recently to acknowledge the plan's completion and tout the river's importance to the region's future.

The federal Clean Water Act mandates the creation of a management plan. The Basin Management Plan spells out responsibilities for governments, utility companies, industries and others regarding what can be discharged into the river and at what levels. It also spells out other efforts to improve the river's health, such as water reuse and septic tank removal.

Spring Rejuvenation

Published November 4, 2008 - Hernando Today
The Weekiwachee River springhead is the target of a half-million dollar restoration project to remove debris and algae and to replant the natural botanical bounty that will help keep the water clean.

It's an effort by the Southwest Florida Water Management District to get the springs looking like they did six decades ago, when the first mermaid performer dipped a tail into the 72-degree water.

Divers will use a massive vacuum system to suck out an estimated 6,100 cubic yards of accumulated algae and sediment - enough to fill more than 600 dump trucks. A system of pumps will push the muck under State Road 550 and into a borrow pit in Weeki Wachee Preserve, a large swath of district-owned land.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bubbling to the Surface

Published 11/1/2008 - Florida Trend
The Century Commission's Water Congress generates some bold recommendations, but will the state listen?

This fall, the Century Commission hosted an ambitious Water Congress in Orlando with the goal of finding sustainable long-term solutions to Florida’s water needs. Delegates — 120 in all, from commissioners in water-worried counties to sod farmers to environmentalists to utility directors — spent two days trying to reach a consensus on a broad range of recommendations submitted by all of the parties and the public.

Top 4 Recommendations:
1) Reinstate Florida’s annual funding for developing alternative water supplies.
2) Create strong incentives for regional partnerships such as water-supply authorities.
3) Consider conservation projects a type of alternative water supply, as eligible for funding as any infrastructure project.
4) Set per-capita goals for water use and provide a stable funding base for the Conserve Florida program.