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Everglades Restoration

February 24, 2017 by flera

The House Natural Resources and Public Lands Subcommittee heard presentations this week regarding the history of the Everglades and Everglades Restoration from Representative Matt Caldwell and the federal role in Everglades Restoration from Congressman Francis Rooney.  The presentations did not cover SB 10 by Senator Bradley related to Water Resources or any specific House proposal, but represented the beginning of a dialogue on the issue.  Although the Legislature recently passed the Legacy Florida Act dedicating Land Acquisition Trust Fund dollars to Everglades Restoration, recent discharges from Lake Okeechobee have caused significant environmental and economic harm, which has kept the issue in the forefront of environmental policy and funding discussions.

Stormwater Legislative Update

February 24, 2017 by flera

HB 751 by Representative C. Clemons requires all local government stormwater management plans and programs to adopt certain Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) best management practices and provides a presumption of compliance related to water quality standards.  Additionally, it prohibits local water quality standards that are more stringent than state standards.  Please submit any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this legislation to executivedirector@flera.org.

Everglades Rule Changes Approved

February 10, 2017 by flera

ERC Approves Changes to Everglades Rule

The Environmental Regulation Commission approved a Department of Environmental Protection request this week to revise the phosphorus rule for the Everglades.  The new rule clarifies that stormwater treatment areas must meet the same discharge limits imposed under federal law.  The revisions were supported by environmental and agricultural stakeholders.

SB 10 Everglades Proposal Passes First Committee

February 10, 2017 by flera

Negron Everglades Proposal Passes First Committee

SB 10 by Senator Bradley represents Senate President Negron’s proposal to reduce the negative impacts of harmful discharges of water from Lake Okeechobee and expedite Everglades Restoration. This bill passed the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee this week after much discussion, testimony and debate. Environmental Committees in the Senate have devoted several hours to study and discussion of this issue.

During the committee meeting, Senator Simmons proposed a state loan to the federal government in order to expedite repairs on the dike so that Lake Okeechobee can hold more water. This issue will likely continue to be a constant source of discussion and debate in the Senate. It is not clear when or how the House will address this issue.

 

Governor Announces $15M for Emergency Beach Restoration Projects Following Hurricane Matthew

February 1, 2017 by flera

Executive Orders 16-230 and 17-16 to Allocate State Funds for Emergency Beach Restoration Projects

Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that he will use his executive authority under Executive Orders 16-230 and 17-16 to allocate nearly $15.8 million in state funds for emergency beach restoration projects in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia and Brevard Counties. Funding will be used to immediately address critically eroded beaches where there is an imminent threat to beachfront structures, such as roadways, homes and businesses.

Governor Scott said, “Hurricane Matthew was the most destructive storm our state has experienced in over a decade, and while communities have worked hard to rebuild, many of our beautiful beaches remain significantly damaged. Since this storm first crossed our state, we have been fully committed to using every available resource to help our families and communities recover, and we will continue to do so. Today, I am allocating $15 million in state funding to help expedite emergency restoration projects in order to repair our beaches and ensure beachfront roadways and buildings are prepared for any potential future storms.

“Florida’s beaches are not only an economic driver for coastal communities, but also provide critical storm protection and habitat for wildlife. With sea turtle nesting season beginning in May and hurricane season beginning in June, it is crucial that these projects are completed as soon as possible.”

Projects will include replacing sand along beaches and repairing and constructing sand dunes. The Governor’s proposed budget for 2017-2018, which will be announced later this month, will also include the remaining $61.2 million to fulfill the state’s share of needed restoration, for a total of $77 million, based on the latest hurricane damage assessment from both Hurricanes Matthew and Hermine.

Senate Files Legislation Aimed at Protecting Coastal Counties from Polluted Discharges

February 1, 2017 by flera

Florida Senate 2017 – SB 10

SENATOR BRADLEY FILES PLAN TO PROTECT COASTAL COUNTIES FROM POLLUTED DISCHARGES

In the wake of Lake Okeechobee discharges that caused a severe algae bloom on the Treasure Coast, Senate President Joe Negron (R – Stuart) has made funding for storage south of Lake Okeechobee a top priority for the 2017 Legislative Session.  This week, Senator Bradley (R – Orange Park), who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources, filed SB 10.  This legislation authorizes the issuance of bonds to raise over a billion dollars to acquire 60,000 acres of land and build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries.

“Despite the sincere efforts of our state and federal government to plan and fund long-term solutions to address rising water levels and pollution in Lake Okeechobee, year after year as the Lake levels rise, the solution is to flood my community and many others across our state with billions of gallons of polluted water that destroys our estuaries and harms our local economies,” said President Negron.

“These algal blooms have occurred before and will occur again unless high volume discharges from Lake Okeechobee are stopped and pollution in the Lake Okeechobee basin is abated,” said Senator Bradley. “Algal blooms are not simply an unsightly nuisance for residents and tourists, they bring real health risks to humans and wildlife and result in severe economic damage to local businesses.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R – Lutz) responded by saying that the House is not prepared to issue bonds for land buying.  “The fact you are bonding is saying government needs more money for X,” he said. “I think that the House has been very vocal about the fact that we do not need more money, that we have a spending problem.”

However, he indicated that the reservoir proposal will be discussed in the House.  “Is land south of the lake part of the discussion?” Corcoran said. “Sure, let’s have that as part of the discussion. Is that the best way to achieve their goal of ending blue green algae? Maybe it’s fixing the dike.”

Review the text of SB 10 here: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/0010/BillText/Filed/PDF.

Read Senator Bradley’s press release here: https://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressReleases/Show/2621.

Legal challenges mount over new water standards

August 25, 2016 by FLERA

Legal challenges mount over new water standards

By JIM SAUNDERS
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, August 24, 2016………. After the Seminole Tribe of Florida launched a legal challenge earlier in the month, the city of Miami and a paper-mill industry group also are taking aim at controversial new state water-quality standards.

The city and the group Florida Pulp and Paper Association Environmental Affairs, Inc., filed separate challenges during the past week in the state Division of Administrative Hearings, records show. The challenges raise substantially different arguments in fighting the standards, which were developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and approved in July by the state Environmental Regulation Commission.

The standards, which are technically considered a proposed rule, involve new and revised limits on chemicals in waterways. The Department of Environmental Protection said the plan would allow it to regulate more chemicals while updating standards for others.

The Miami challenge, filed Friday, alleged that the “proposed rule is arbitrary and capricious — particularly because the rule loosens restrictions on permissible levels of carcinogens in Florida surface waters with absolutely no justification for the need for the increased levels of the toxins nor the increased health risks to Florida citizens.”

Meanwhile, the industry group, which includes Georgia-Pacific, International Paper Co., WestRock and Packaging Corporation of America, takes issue with scientific calculations and assumptions used in developing the standards.

“The proposed rule, if adopted, may affect the nature or amount of wastewater that the mills are allowed to discharge either now or in the future, and may affect whether a body of water into which they discharge is in compliance with water quality standards,” said the group’s challenge, filed Tuesday. “Additional limitations may require the mills to reduce their current operations or may prevent future expansion or conversion of products produced at the mills.”

But in a document posted on its website last month, the Department of Environmental Protection defended the way the standards were developed and said the criteria would protect people’s health. The plan still is subject to review and approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Both the new and updated criteria have been calculated using the most advanced science, including recently issued guidance from the EPA for updating 43 chemicals whose standards are more than 20 years old,” the department said in the online post. “While EPA and DEP’s chemical limits go up and down based on new data and science, each and every criterion protects Floridians, according to both EPA and the World Health Organization.”

The Seminole Tribe filed a challenge Aug. 8, contending the standards don’t adequately take into consideration potential health effects for people who eat fish on a “subsistence basis.” A hearing is scheduled to start in that case Sept. 6. The city of Miami is asking that its case be consolidated with the tribe’s challenge.

The Department of Environmental Protection argues the tribe challenge should be dismissed because it was not filed by a legal deadline — an argument that the tribe disputes.

 

For Online Article go to: http://www.sayfiereview.com/page/Legal%20challenges%20mount%20over%20new%20water%20standards

Water Quality Monitoring Council Conference

April 21, 2016 by FLERA

The National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC) will be having their 10th Annual National Monitoring Conference in Tampa next month (May 2-6).  Many of the FLERA members will be attending and presenting (4 presentations from the Tampa Bay folks including a Panel Discussion on the successes of the Southwest Florida Regional Ambient Monitoring Program (RAMP) over the last 20+ years). Come and join us!

Here’s the link to the conference:  http://www.cvent.com/events/10th-national-monitoring-conference/event-summary-1d1a64bf5230414d9732c2dc2d9ca425.aspx
 

SFWMD Recent Flood Control Measures

February 1, 2016 by FLERA

Over the past several days South Florida Water Management District completed a rare “back pumping” flood control operation to protect thousands of families, businesses and property in the Glades communities, where 6 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

Source: http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/st_2016_0131_emergency_pumping_update.pdf

SB 552 (Water/Springs Bill) approved by House and sent to Governor

January 18, 2016 by flera

CS/CS/SB 552 Overview

  • Creates the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act to provide for the protection and restoration of Outstanding Florida Springs (OFSs);
  • Codifies the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) and ensures that the appropriate governmental entities continue to develop and implement uniform water supply planning, consumptive use permitting, and resource protection programs for the Central Florida Water Initiative;
  • Updates and restructures the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (NEEPP) to reflect and build upon the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) completion of basin management action plans (BMAPs) for Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary, and the St. Lucie River and Estuary, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (DACS) implementation of best management practices (BMPs);
  • Modifies water supply and resource planning and processes to make them more stringent;
  • Requires the Office of Economic and Demographic Research to conduct an annual assessment of water resources and conservation lands;
  • Requires the DEP to publish an online, publicly accessible database of conservation lands on which public access is compatible with conservation and recreation purposes;
  • Requires the DEP to conduct a feasibility study for creating and maintaining a web-based, interactive map of the state’s waterbodies as well as regulatory information about each waterbody;
  • Creates a pilot program for alternative water supply in restricted allocation areas and a pilot program for innovative nutrient and sediment reduction and conservation; and
  • Revises certain considerations for water resource permits.
  • Creates a pilot program for alternative water supply in restricted allocation areas and a pilot program for innovative nutrient and sediment reduction and conservation; and
  • Revises certain considerations for water resource permits.

Posted by Alan Marshall, President

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