SW FL Water Quality
SWFL Water Quality Advisory Newsletter | May 2019
Information from our NABOR Newsletter; May 2019 where we cover many Water Quality Related Articles / Headings:
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.
Older March Update:
REBUILDING FLORIDA’S AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS
Check out how Artificial Mini Reefs Are Profoundly Improving Aquacultures Across Florida.
Images of thick algae blooms in canals and dead fish blanketing shorelines on nightly national news programs during the second half of 2018 wrecked havoc on Florida tourism and created a serious topical obstacle for Southwest Florida REALTORS®.
State officials responded with a host of solutions and emergency actions, much of which created great political campaign fodder and sparked enormous public outrage at a water management system that broke public trust and failed to protect the people and resources it was tasked to protect.
Above the noise and confusion, several NABOR® members saw the water quality issue as a real professional threat.
Come Together: A Force for Actionable Results The February 28th NABOR® Business Meeting introduced members to three men who have become allies in the water quality movement.
Florida native Jason Pim is an advocate for boating and Calusa WaterKeeper. He has seen progressive destruction of Florida’s aquaculture and provides firsthand reporting to help bridge marine science research and Florida lifestyles.
David Wolff, another Florida native (and former REALTOR®), is a USF trained marine biologist turned entrepreneur who developed and sold over 800 mini reefs across America.
Captain Daniel Andrews is Executive Director of Captains for Clean Water, which united an industry of fishermen. Last year they led the charge and helped turn the tables on a corrupt water management system. “We have a fraction of the sea life we did just 10 years ago,” said Captain Andrews. One solution the Task Force endorses to improve and regenerate aquatic habitats is the artificial mini reef system by Ocean Habitats, Inc. For $250, they will install a safe polypropelene structure under residential docks. Within 60 days, the structure will be teeming with new sea life. The artificial reef grows 300 fish each year and can clean 30,000 gallons of water per day!
GOVERNOR REVAMPS SWFL WATER BOARD
Floridians seeking action on projects surrounding water quality improvements might have been surprised when, on his third day in office, Governor Ron DeSantis called for the resignations of all nine board members leading the SWFL Water Management District.
Perhaps it was the pleas from scientists and environmentalists to DeSantis that board members were too closely aligned with special interest groups and had failed to protect the public from exposure to toxic algae that helped the Governor take immediate action.
The Governor’s first new appointment to the board was Sanibel City Councilor Chauncey Goss, who also serves on the boards of Captains for Clean Water and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
In February, the Governor added the appointments of Marco Island City Councilor Charlette Roman, Everglades Foundation Member Charlie Martinez, Islamorada City Councilor and chemist who worked for the EPA Cheryl Meads, and former Sewall Point Mayor Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch to the board of the South Florida Water Management District.
A few board positions remain, but we feel confident the right people of action will be appointed by the Governor soon.
CAPTAINS TO PROVIDE REEF HABITAT BOGO
NABOR® REALTOR® members that purchase a mini reef habitat through Ocean Habitats and become a supporting member of both Captains for Clean Water & Calusa WaterKeeper will receive a second mini reef for FREE! (Limit one per member. While supplies last.)
A great closing gift for new waterfront homeowners, this promotion will help Naples rebuild its natural aquacultures and reduce future algae bloom threats. Much like a mangrove, the artificial mini reefs are designed to encourage filter-feeders to attach and keep small fish from predators.
Your support will help Ocean Habitats continue a water quality project to document the reefs impact in local canals, with volunteers collecting water and tests being performed by Ocean Habitats staff and student interns from local schools and universities.
NEW LEGISLATIVE ACTION
When the Legislative Session begins on March 5th, Governor DeSantis, along with many Florida legislators on both sides of the aisle will seek approval of a proposed $625 million package for Everglades restoration and other water-related issues including:
• $360 million for Everglades Restoration projects, including funding for projects that aim to reduce discharges from lake Okeechobee.
• $100 million for water projects that reduce nutrient pollution, including septic-to-sewer conversions and stormwater treatment improvements.
• $50 million for Florida springs restoration projects.
• $50 million for projects to reduce total maximum daily loads.
• $25 million for projects to combat algal blooms.
• $10 million for short-term treatment projects and technologies.
• $10.8 million for water quality monitors that create an information portal for people to report blooms and provide funding for a bluegreen algae task force established by the governor’s office.
• $4 million for red tide research and creation of a center to research the blooms led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
DOES IT IMPACT HOME SALES?
Naples Area Board of REALTORS® is closely watching tourism activity to determine whether Florida’s water quality issues impact home sales.
In October, tourism fell 1.8%, but pending sales of homes increased 17%.
While tourism helps people discover Naples, it does not appear to directly affect the housing market.
From January to October, tourism has gone up 2%. During this same time period, closed sales have increased 5%.
We encourage REALTOR® members to stay positive and focus on the facts about water quality and the many programs that provide both short- and longterm solutions.
KEEPING OUR WATER CLEAN
Helpful Tips Homeowners Can Use To Reduce Water Contamination
Transitioning to a new home in Florida can be a challenge for a homeowner who migrated from a northern state. In addition to their first sighting of a Palmetto bug, homeowners that hail from a state where snow plows and windchill reports are common will need to become familiar with a whole new set of basic homeowner tips as they set up home in our subtropical climate.
As a REALTOR®, you are often their first point of contact and have a great opportunity to become a valuable resource and ally. This is a very important responsibility now more than ever as we continue to explore and implement solutions to Florida’s water quality issues.
Possibly you’ve already been approached by a potential buyer who is concerned with media reports that paint an unflattering picture of our beaches, lakes and inland waterways.
The following homeowner tips can help Collier County reduce its “algae” footprint and improve its water quality for the benefit of all creatures that live near or in our local aquacultures.
Prescription Drug Disposal
It is estimated that at least half of all medications we bring home go unused. Numerous studies have found prescription drugs – like antibiotics, blood thinners, heart medications, hormones and opioids – are in just about every body of water that’s near or used by humans.
This waste is changing the anatomy of our sea life. Discarded hormones are feminizing male fish. Researchers have found fish located near wastewater treatment plants have more female and intersex fish. Other research has found concentrated amounts of antidepressants in the brain tissue of fish downstream from wastewater treatment plants. Furthermore, ibuprofen is found to stimulate the growth of cyanobacteria and inhibit the growth of aquatic plants. See sidebar “Waste vs. Fresh” for local information.
Drug take-back programs can reduce water contamination from prescription and over-the-counter medications and their potential side effects on sealife. In Collier County, residents can dispose of medications responsibly at 12 locations through Operation Medicine Cabinet, a program by DrugFree Collier. Find a drop off center near you. If you are unable to discard medication using a drug take back program, please use the tips in the sidebar “Drain vs. Trash”.
Responsible Lawn Feeding
Lawns only need watering every five to seven days in the summer, and every 10 to 14 days in the winter. A heavy rain eliminates the need for watering for up to two weeks.
Application of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides must be very carefully applied around lakes, estuaries and any other waterways. The University of Florida Collier IFAS extention office recommends homeowners maintain a buffer zone between where the granules land and the water’s edge. A zone of ten feet is recommended if no deflector shield is used. If the fertilizer applicator uses a deflector shield, delivery is easier to target, but there should still be a “no-go” buffer zone of three feet to prevent it from going into the water.
Too much nitrogen and phosphorous causes algae blooms that are detrimental to aquatic wildlife. Some insecticides, such as those used to kill chinch bugs, can actually kill fish.
To minimize run-off, carefully analyze how many pounds of fertilizer per 1000 sq. ft. should be applied and how many applications are needed to maintain the turf. The goal is to reduce the fertilizer and pesticide load on the environment, but still maintain a reasonable quality of turf. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Services recommends a fertilizer blend that contains slow release nitrogen and low levels of phosphorous.
Waste vs. Fresh
Collier’s Wastewater division provides reclaimed water (not for drinking) service to golf courses, parks, schools, residential and commercial areas.
According to Beth Johnssen, Director of Collier County’s Inground Services Division/Public Utilities Department, “drinking water produced at our utility plants is compliant with the standards prescribed by the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection. We monitor for contaminants in the drinking water supply aquifers, of which none have been found.”
Drain vs. Trash
Flushing medications or washing them down a drain can have a longlasting negative impact on aquatic ecosystems and water quality.
Medications thrown into the trash are incinerated or buried in landfills, which is preferable to drain or toilet disposal. If you put them in the trash, remove them from the packaging, crush them, and seal them in a plastic bag with some water or soda. Add sawdust, cat litter, coffee grounds, or some other unappealing material to the bag. Peel off any identifying personal information from pill bottles before you discard them.
A neglected septic tank system can leak contaminants into groundwater and acquifers putting those who use water from nearby wells at risk for illness. Have your septic system inspected and pumped every 3 to 4 years.
Information from our NABOR Newsletter; October 2018:
The Issues & Solutions
Florida’s rare and beautiful natural resources, the public’s health, and the state’s economy are suffering from a water quality crisis. Fortunately, there is not one elected official in Florida who does not support actions to improve our current conditions.
At the September business meeting NABOR® hosted Congressmen Francis Rooney and Mario Diaz-Balart, who discussed Florida’s water management and restoration plans.
Short and Long-term Remedies Both Congressmen support the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) which was approved by Congress in 2000. It included 68 projects at a cost of $7.8 billion (now estimated to cost over $16 billion).
The two have kept the plan a priority plus they backed additional federal water bills and an ambitious land acquisition project for more stormwater treatment facilities, reservoirs and protected marsh land.
The Congressmen co-sponsored two bills that passed earlier in the year to allow the Army Corps of Engineers the ability to conduct additional projects to improve water infrastructure and repairs. The duo were also instrumental this year in getting Congress to redirect funds to complete the Herbert Hoover dike repairs within five years.
Future projects they support include the restoration of over 55,000 acres of over-drained wetlands in Southwest Florida, bridge construction on Tamiami Trail to allow more natural flows to the Everglades, restoration efforts on Kissimmee River to help control Lake Okeechobee water levels, and solutions to protect Florida’s aquifers from salt water intrusion.
As the voice of REALTORS® in the Naples area, NABOR® has and will always advocate for action to reduce or eliminate any manmade or environmental threats to homeownership, property values and the living standards in Florida.
HOW REALTORS® CAN HELP
From political ads to national news headlines, Florida’s water quality issues have heightened public awareness and concern.
NABOR® member and Executive Director of Collier County Water Keeper Harrison Langley encourages REALTORS® to share the following THREE messages with buyers and sellers about Collier County’s current water quality situation:
1) RED TIDE IS TEMPORARY
Red Tide (Karenia Brevis) is a naturally occurring saltwater algae bloom that may collect on the beach during a very hot and wet summer. Several federal and state water quality projects are in place to reduce its severity by controlling future algae overgrowth.
NOTE: The blue/green algae blooms (Cyanobacteria) laying on the surface of freshwater canals in Lee County have never been present in Collier County canals.
2) OUR BEACHES ARE NOT COVERED IN DEAD FISH
Despite videos circulating on social media of dead fish piled across the beach, Collier County beaches are not experiencing that level of fish loss. In fact, no large whales, sharks, or porpoise (dolphins) have been found dead on Collier shores or in canals.
NOTE: The recent accumulation of dead fish in Moorings Bay (Oct. 7th) was a result of Hurricane Michael, which created very high tide levels that pushed canal water into nearby sewer pipes. As the tide receded, a Cylindrotheca algae bloom formed that killed fish living in the bay. This is a different algae than what causes red tide.
3) SUPPORT INCREASED WATER TESTING IN COLLIER
Steps to protect water habitats from high nutrient output cannot be taken without proper environmental testing. But budget cuts have reduced water testing to monitor nutrient levels in Collier County.
TIP: Ask your elected government officials to increase funding for future testing or donate to a registered marine or water-quality agency that has the ability to perform the tests and monitor for irregularities.
The University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science recently completed a study using a robotic water glider that confirms circulation changes in the Gulf brought cooler temperatures and salt to shore thus creating a severe red tide bloom that affects all Florida coasts.
Two Florida counties located north of Lake Okeechobee hired AECOM to deploy a custom-built, mobile algae harvesting unit that separates algae biomass from water. Once harvested, it converted the recovered algae into two streams: a dense algae biomass that becomes a solid and a second that filters the greenbrown algae water into a clear water stream.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is researching the benefits of several remedies to red tide including the use of “living dock” structures that would be covered with filter-feeding animals to remove red tide from canals; Ozonation to destroy red tide algae and their toxins in limited areas; and the use of algae in the Amoebophrya genus to serve as a natural control parasite for K. brevis red tide blooms.
South Florida Water Quality Roundtable
On October 9, NABOR®’s Governmental Issues Committee sponsored the South Florida Water Quality Roundtable featuring panelists Gaston Cantens, VP of Corporate Relations for Florida Crystals and
Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation. Many elected officials from Lee and Collier Counties attended as well as concerned citizens and members of several local water quality advocacy groups.
The main topic of debate was water quality issues involving Lake Okeechobee and the release of its overly nutrient-rich waters into the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie Canal. These releases contribute greatly to increased algae blooms on both coasts.
Cantens argued that the solution is to treat water before it enters the lake because releases to the east and west coasts will never end despite current projects to restore flow to the Everglades. Alternately,
Eikenberg pressed for building more reservoirs and stormwater treatment facilities south of the lake in order to re-engineer water flow into the Everglades and Florida Bay thus saving those habitats.
Want to read more about what the Congressmen had to say about water quality projects in Florida?
Please let us know if you would like the full press release?
Also; if you wish; please ask us for a link to a full video of the entire South Florida Water Quality Roundtable event.
Collier County Watershed Management Plan
Florida Department of Environmental Protection:
Collier County Water Keepers
Captains for Clean Water
Daily Red Tide Reports
In addition; please check out the tabs to the other different Links, Updates & Reports that we have here.
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