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April 29, 2023 Weekly Newsletter

Updated: May 5, 2023


In this edition, explore a curated selection of notable news from across Florida. Delve into the updates on Vero Beach's septic-to-sewer pilot program designed to assist low-income households, witness the heart-stopping collision between a Brightline train and an 18-wheeler trapped on the tracks, and uncover the surprising discovery of redfish in the Indian River Lagoon testing positive for prescription drugs. Don't miss out on these stories and more!


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The Florida Right to Clean Water Initiative aims to establish a fundamental right to clean and healthy waters in Florida, empowering residents and organizations to hold state agencies accountable and enforce water quality standards through civil action and equitable remedies, ensuring the protection and restoration of Florida's waters​. Sign it today if you haven't already!


News Impacting Indian River County


 

Septic-to-sewer pilot in Vero Beach would make switch affordable for low-income households (CW34) - Vero Beach's City Council has approved a septic-to-sewer pilot project for around 30 homes in Indian River County, which would cost households $550 per year for 10 years, aiming to reduce harmful pollutants entering the Indian River Lagoon.


Video captures train smash into 18-wheel car carrier stuck on tracks during Florida storm (NY Post) - A Brightline passenger train collided with a car hauler trailer in Hollywood, Florida, severing the trailer and causing six of the eight cars to fly off and no injuries were reported, with the trailer possibly becoming stuck on the tracks due to light flooding caused by severe rain.


Researchers find redfish and Florida coastal fish contaminated with prescription drugs (Florida Today) - Researchers from Florida International University have found prescription medications, including caffeine, psychoactive meds, pills to keep hearts in rhythm and countless opioids, in redfish caught in Florida waters, as sewage systems fail to keep flushed pharmaceuticals at bay, with uncertain consequences for those who eat the fish; this has led to growing concerns regarding human and wildlife health.


Sick of seeing more storage units in Vero Beach? City Hall wants to do something about it (TCPalm) - The City Council of Vero Beach has approved a 180-day moratorium on permits for self-storage facilities in areas near downtown while city staff drafts permanent legislation to prioritize business uses more aligned with the downtown area and maintain the city's character.


Help get clean-water initiative on Florida ballot (TCPalm) - Our own Jean Captchpole writes a letter to the editor about the important Right to Clean Water initiative.


 

The IRNA and Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County sent a joint letter to the City of Vero Beach in response to this article in Vero News. We support Police Chief Currey's request for three additional officers, and we emphasized the need for additional people and resources in the City's Marine Division to enforce regulations and protect waterways. This aims to preserve water quality, benefiting the environment and residents' quality of life. Click here to read the letter. Sidenote: Writing a letter to elected officials doesn't need to be lengthy or technical, but it does make an impact. They need to hear from constituents, so when asked to reach out in the future, remember that short and sweet can be effective!


 

Tallahassee report: We came, we lobbied – and we’ll be back (VoteWater) - VoteWater is working to stop bad bills that would harm clean water in Florida and to pass good bills that would protect it.


New septic tank rules sent to Senate floor (Florida Politics) - SB 1632 would impose stricter regulations on septic tanks in Florida, especially in areas affecting the Indian River Lagoon, and allocate $100 million annually for Florida Forever. This has passed the Senate.


Radioactivity concerns not enough to derail phosphogypsum bill on path to Senate (Florida Politics) - The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has been directed by the state House to investigate the suitability of using phosphogypsum in road base, despite the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banning its use in road construction in 1989 due to its potential health and environmental risks, and a lack of support for this bill from environmental and worker advocates.


A bill to protect the habitat and food source of Florida manatees has the Senate's okay (WFSU) - The Florida Senate has approved a bill that aims to develop a 10-year seagrass restoration plan and allocate $2 million to the Department of Environmental Protection to restore seagrass habitats, as seagrass loss and record-breaking manatee deaths have caused concern in the state.


Senate saltwater intrusion study bill flows out of final committee (Florida Politics) - Senate bill (SB 734) has been approved to open Resilient Florida grant funding for coastal counties to authorize and complete saltwater intrusion vulnerability assessments, which would include projections of saltwater intrusion, cost analysis to relocate affected freshwater wellfields, and maps of the county’s freshwater wellfields, and would be compiled by the Department of Environmental Protection to provide information to the public online.


 

The Indian River Neighborhood Association would like to take a moment to share a recent award received by our Executive Director, Dan Lamson. The Pelican Island Audubon Society has named him Conservationist of the Year. Dan worked steadfastly to support the $50m Land Acquisition Bond last year, and his other efforts in conservation, sustainability, and community engagement contribute to the protection and preservation of our local environment. Well done, Dan! Mike Johannsen IRNA Board Chairman




 

Other News

SFWMD takes lead on water storage north of Lake O (Okeechobee News) - The State of Florida is planning to store more water north of Lake Okeechobee to reduce the duration and frequency of high and low water levels in the lake, which are harmful to its ecology, and to reduce the likelihood of harmful discharges from the lake to the northern estuaries as part of the Lake Okeechobee Component A Reservoir (LOCAR) project within the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).


SpaceX Starship explosion spread particulate matter for miles (CNBC) - SpaceX launched its largest rocket, the Starship spacecraft, for the first time on Thursday from its Boca Chica spaceport in Texas, but it exploded mid-flight, causing residents and researchers to assess the impact on local communities, health, habitat and wildlife, including endangered species, and leading to the FAA grounding the company's starship Super Heavy launch program pending a mishap investigation.


Environmental report expected soon regarding proposed SpaceX expansion in Florida - (My News 13) - SpaceX is working towards bringing Starship launch capability to Florida and is collaborating with Kennedy Space Center's Environmental Management Branch on a 100-acre expansion, undergoing an environmental assessment to ensure minimal environmental impact.


Broward’s historic flooding caused more than $100 million in losses, major damage to 1,095 homes, and job layoffs (Sun Sentinel) - Gov. Ron DeSantis has requested a major disaster declaration for Broward County from President Joe Biden following historic April 12-13 flooding in the area that resulted in over $100 million in damage, major damage to 1,100 homes, and hundreds of layoffs from affected businesses.


Florida bills open the door to demolishing iconic Miami Beach and Key West sites (Miami Herald) - a pair of bills in the Florida Legislature would allow the demolition and redevelopment of historic buildings and districts in coastal areas, overriding local protections and causing alarm among preservationists and municipal officials.


A Duke Energy contractor hit a pipe. 45,000 gallons of treated wastewater dumped into Boca Ciega Bay (Tampa Bay Times) - A contractor working for Duke Energy accidentally hit a pipe during construction, causing about 45,000 gallons of treated wastewater to spill into Boca Ciega Bay for 7.5 hours, affecting over 1,000 commercial and residential customers.


Florida House passes GRU takeover bill with majority vote. What happens now? (Yahoo News) - The Florida House of Representatives has passed House Bill 1645 to establish a five-member board appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to oversee all decisions related to Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) and remove the City Commission's century-long control of its municipal utility, although the bill must still make it through the Senate and be approved by the governor before taking effect but sets a scary precedent if it becomes law.

 

Aquifer Performance Test Conducted at Monitor Well Site in Polk County


This brief video highlights aquifer performance tests and their role in identifying alternative water resources. The video specifically showcases Polk County, which has traditionally relied on fresh groundwater from the Upper Floridan aquifer as a primary water source. However, in order to meet future water needs, Polk County is currently exploring the Lower Floridan aquifer as a potential alternative water source. The investigation involves drilling exploratory wells at key locations to assess the viability of the Lower Floridan aquifer as an alternative water supply.


Indian River County has been exploring the Lower Florida Aquifer for potential supply, but with their last Geohydrology Study conducted in 1988, more information on aquifer conditions is needed. Expect further developments on this issue in the coming months.


 

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