See below for the most recent news regarding Florida's water resources!
As vice chair of the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District and a longtime South Florida resident, I have a deep sense of responsibility to follow sound science in making decisions to keep all of our waterways clean. Our environment and the residents and wildlife that call it home, as well as our burgeoning economy, depend on both state and federal agencies to do their part to ensure the cleanliness and health of this important resource.
As they have for decades, the real estate brochures and tourism campaigns continue to tout Florida as a sun-kissed Shangri-la, blessed with clear blue waters and pristine beaches that look like paradise. Those of us who live here know paradise is in trouble. Even as North Florida struggles to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Michael, a more persistent, insidious crisis has been brewing for decades. Florida has become the land of sunshine and environmental crisis.
If it wasn't for a sign saying 'red tide may be present,' you wouldn't know Boynton Beach's Oceanfront park was shut down a few weeks ago. "We just love the weather down here," said Kevin Palmer. "We were a little bit worried about the fact that we wouldn't able to get in the water." Palmer is visiting Boynton Beach with his family from New York. Unlike a few weeks ago when the red tide was causing respiratory issues and closing down beaches throughout the east coast, red tide levels are very low at Oceanfront Park and most county beaches north and south of there.
Water insecurity is a touchstone for 2018. Our planet isn't running out of water, but various kinds of mismanagement have led to local water crises across the planet, directly threatening millions of people. Ensuring water quality requires regular testing, protecting source water, monitoring and repairing distribution systems, treatment plants and other infrastructure, and developing the ability to recycle water and desalinate salt water. These activities require many types of specialists. But they can also benefit from the direct participation of engaged citizens, who themselves can also benefit from getting involved with this work.
By some estimates, red tide has cost Manatee County $4.4 million in direct visitor spending since early August, dealing a harsh blow to tourism, the area's leading economic engine. Even though conditions have improved recently and visitors are returning to the beach, red tide is a naturally occurring phenomenon, aggravated by human activity, and could intensify again.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a water bill that would authorize the EAA reservoir designed to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges. By a 96-3 vote Tuesday evening the Senate enacted its cloture rule, which limits consideration of a bill to 30 additional hours. Both of Florida's senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, voted in favor of hastening the vote on the Water Resources Development Act, which is expected sometime Wednesday afternoon.
Red tide - a toxic algae that leads to human health problems and marine animal deaths - has arrived in Miami-Dade, just in time for the annual King Tides. Scientists say this year's annual highest high tides (popularly known as King Tide) could push that poisoned water further onshore, potentially spreading the algae's health impacts inland.
Efforts to clean up polluted springs in Florida now include a state rebate for homeowners opting to replace their septic systems with models that perform better. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is offering as much as $10,000 to offset the cost of installing septic-tank systems that significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen pollution they discharge. Nitrogen pollution seeping through the ground into the Florida Aquifer is emerging at springs, triggering growths of harmful algae.
Florida and Georgia have renewed their fight over the impact of Georgia's water consumption on the Apalachicola River system. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June that Florida be given another chance to prove its case that Georgia's overconsumption of water is damaging the Apalachicola region, the states filed a joint legal pleading this week before a federal appellate judge who will act as a special master in the case.
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - Pinellas County is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to start putting out a first of its kind air quality forecast to keep residents and visitors safe during red tide. Beach conditions across Pinellas County's 35 miles of shoreline have drastically improved. However, the bloom lingers as close as two miles offshore.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Red tide continues to spread along Florida's west coast. At least four counties in the Panhandle are reporting the algae blooms. The crisis has Governor Rick Scott ordering a resumption of research into the cause and possible solutions. Red tide has been known to exist for hundreds of years, but scientists still don't know enough.