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April 22, 2023 Weekly Newsletter

The 2023 Legislative Session ends on May 5. The session is just sixty days long and the only time the Legislature will meet unless there is a special session. The last few weeks are always the craziest. Anything and everything is possible. Bills can spring from the ground fully formed and others that looked certain to pass can die. A lot can go on and we have some updates on this and more below.

The people have the inherent political power pursuant to Article I, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution to create the fundamental right to clean and healthy waters. The passage of the amendment will declare this a fundamental right, which is indefeasible.

This webinar was filmed on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, and updates you on bills before legislature relating to the environment, home rule, and development. Some good news, but still a lot of bad news. You will need to enter your name and email address to view the recording.


Local and Statewide News

Dear John letter: words to new Indian River CEO on how to aid Sebastian, Vero Beach region(TCPalm) - Larry Reisman welcomes John Titkanich as the new Indian River County Administrator and encourages him to foster relationships to enable productive growth while facing challenges.

Vero moves forward to help lower-income households convert septic systems to sewers (TCPalm) - The Clean Water Coalition, Indian River Land Trust, Indian River Community Foundation, and the Economic Opportunity Council are working with the City of Vero Beach to help subsidize the conversion of septic tanks to the STEP Program.

Blue-green algae presence at Lake Okeechobee causing concern on Treasure Coast (WPTV) - Blue-green algae concerns rise on Florida's Treasure Coast, with early blooms detected at Port Mayaca, prompting the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to test for toxicity.

Army Corps of Engineers to cut releases from Lake Okeechobee to St. Lucie, Caloosahatchee River (WPTV) - The US Army Corps of Engineers is reducing releases from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee River estuaries by 10%, with zero releases to St. Lucie and the targeted pulse release to the Caloosahatchee River Estuary to be reduced to a seven-day average of 1,800 cubic feet per second from the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam.

Deep Dive: Will septic-to-sewer conversions solve our water quality problems? (VoteWater) - Florida's septic systems contribute to water pollution and harmful algal blooms, but agriculture is the state's biggest polluter of nutrient pollution. While septic-to-sewer projects help protect waterways, they're not a complete solution, and more needs to be done to address agricultural pollution.

Surprise! Florida leads the nation in lead pipes carrying water supply (Florida Phoneix) - Florida has the highest number of lead pipes delivering water to its households than any other state, with around 1.16 million lead pipes out of the nationwide total of 9.2 million, according to a recent survey by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The survey covered over 3,600 public water systems in all 50 US states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the US territories, and found that even industrial states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania had fewer lead pipes than Florida. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause kidney and brain damage, particularly in children.

‘Radioactive roads’? Environmentalists criticize Florida plan to reuse toxic mining waste (Tallahassee Democrat) - A battle between environmentalists and mining company Mosaic Inc. is taking place in Florida, as Mosaic supports bills to use radioactive phosphogypsum waste in road construction, raising concerns over potential long-term health and environmental consequences.

Florida's Great Displacement (BusinessInsider) - The article describes the displacement of residents in the Florida Keys due to the destruction of affordable housing and the ongoing threat of climate change.

Senate environmental package moves ahead, amendments expected (Florida Politics) - The Senate environmental package geared towards tightening regulations on septic tanks and nutrient pollution clears its second committee and heads to the Senate floor.

Committee narrows House environmental package on wastewater nutrients (Florida Politics) - An amendment to Florida's HB 1379 bill changes specifications for nutrient reduction in septic tanks from 50% to 65% nitrogen reduction, addressing water quality improvement and environmental protection.


A new study led by UNSW Sydney estimates that global kelp forests are worth hundreds of billions of dollars through ecosystem services such as fisheries, nutrient cycling, and carbon removal. Collectively, kelp forests provide an average of $500 billion per year. Kelp forests are vanishing worldwide due to sea urchin overgrazing and climate change-related threats. The study aims to motivate governments, businesses, and society to advance kelp conservation and restoration efforts by highlighting their economic value. Kelp forests also play a significant role in supporting the livelihoods of around 740 million people who live within 50 km of these underwater ecosystems. Read more here.


Other News

How the bottled water industry is masking the global water crisis (The Conversation) - A recently published study found that the fast-growing and highly profitable bottled water industry is masking the failure of public systems to supply reliable drinking water for all, and its greatest impact seems to be its potential to stunt the progress of nations' goals to provide its residents with equitable access to affordable drinking water.

Federal judge blocks new EPA water-protection rule in Georgia and 23 other states (StatesboroHerald) - A federal court has temporarily blocked a new federal rule about the definition of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act in 24 states, while Georgia and other states have challenged the definition, contending that these water bodies should fall solely under the purview of state regulation.

Floods are the Most Common Natural Disaster, Be Prepared This Season (Space Coast Daily) - Be prepared for floods by making a plan, gathering supplies, protecting your property, and knowing evacuation routes.


A visit to the manatee safe haven in Florida’s Kings Bay l GMA

Paul Cross is the director of operations at Plantation on Crystal River, an area that has been restored to accommodate the gentle giants off Florida's west coast.


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