August 19 Weekly Newsletter
Stormwater systems, the often-overlooked guardians of our urban environment, play a vital role in managing runoff from rainfall that impacts everything from our roads to our rivers. These complex systems channel rainwater away from rooftops, parking lots, and streets, trapping trash and filtering out pollutants. Engineered to emulate natural wetlands, stormwater systems provide essential pollution reduction but require regular maintenance to function effectively.
As we explore the intricate mechanisms behind these systems and their significant contributions to ecological balance, we must also recognize the urgent financial considerations tied to them. In 2024, Vero Beach stands at a crucial juncture. The implementation of the Stormwater Utility's ERU (Equivalent Residential Unit) rate will take center stage, a decision made even more pressing as the American Rescue Plan funds that once bridged the gap will no longer be available.
This presents the Vero Beach City Council with a defining and hopeful opportunity. By fully funding the Stormwater Utility, they have the chance to ignite a transformation within our community, upgrading deteriorating infrastructure, and initiating new stormwater projects to curb nutrient pollution. It's not just about numbers on a spreadsheet; it's an investment in our community's future, a commitment to environmental resilience, and a step towards a cleaner, greener world. The choices made today will resonate for generations to come, reflecting our values and our vision for a sustainable future in Vero Beach.
For more detailed information about stormwater systems, click the button below to access a document from the St. Johns River Water Management District titled "Understanding Stormwater Systems." This comprehensive guide will further illuminate the importance of these systems and their vital role in preserving our environment.
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Important info about the 17th St. Bridge (Alma Lee Loy Bridge)
17th Street Bridge to Undergo Full Closure for Traffic Shift Operations, August 29 through August 31, 2023
Click here for a larger version of the above flyer.
NOAA now projects 'above-normal' Atlantic hurricane season in update. Be ready for it!
News Headlines and Articles
I-95's new interchange at Oslo Road is four years away, but what's the plan for development? (TCPalm) - Construction of a new interchange at Oslo Road over Interstate 95 in western Indian River County is beginning, fostering excitement for development prospects. County officials are prioritizing strategic planning to guide growth, emphasizing balanced industrial and manufacturing expansion that complements tourism and agriculture, while avoiding an excessive presence of fast-food restaurants.
Judge’s ruling may mean clear sailing for marina project (Vero News) - A court ruling in favor of Vero Beach allows the city to proceed with its plan for a larger boat-storage facility at the marina, ending a dispute with opponents that had caused project delays.
‘Perfect fit’: Polk eager to oversee Three Corners project (Vero News) - Civil engineer Peter Polk, founder of Occam Consulting Group, chosen to lead Three Corners property development in Vero Beach, receiving $8,000 monthly to oversee the project, leveraging his engineering expertise.
Brightline cancels bookings to Orlando scheduled to start Sept. 1 (WPBF) - Brightline has canceled all rides on its opening week from September 1-6 for its extension to Orlando, citing the need for more time to complete certification and crew testing; customers who booked trips during this period will receive refunds and be able to rebook once a new opening date is announced.
Scientists find nine kinds of microplastics in human hearts (Interesting Engineering) - Researchers have discovered nine types of microplastics in human hearts, highlighting the presence of microplastics in various parts of the body and in food, with annual consumption estimates ranging from 39,000 to 52,000 particles depending on age and sex.
Port Salerno/New Monrovia septic-to-sewer issues highlight problems along Treasure Coast (TCPalm) - Residents in Port Salerno and New Monrovia prompted the Martin County Commission to postpone a decision on a special assessment for converting around 1,000 residential lots from septic tanks to the sewer system, underscoring the community's resistance to the potential financial impact. This emphasizes the need for innovative approaches to septic to sewer conversions here in Indian River County as well because similar issues have arisen here in the past.
Could Treasure Coast local governments head off controversial developments by buying land? (TCPalm) - Martin County Commission addresses contentious Palm City apartment complex by allowing negotiations for land purchase instead of approving the development, potentially setting a precedent for using land acquisition to prevent unwanted projects and protect open spaces.
Building seawalls will not work — especially not in Florida (Coastal News Today) - Florida's grant program for private beachfront property seawalls raises concerns about accelerating erosion, harming beaches, and conflicting with coastal resilience efforts and tourism.
Indiantown suffers toxic algae bloom from Lake Okeechobee discharges to C-44 Canal (Source: TCPalm) - Indiantown residents, including those living below the poverty level, are grappling with a severe toxic algae bloom caused by Lake Okeechobee discharges into the C-44 Canal, with concerns about water pollution, disappearing wildlife, and potential health risks. If you want to know more about how Lake O causes problems, here is an older video with a lot of good info.
At the July 2023 Save Our Lagoon Citizen Oversight Committee Meeting, Dr. Austin Fox, Assistant Professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, presented his recent research, 'Impacts of Glyphosate on Seagrass Growth and Nutrient Cycling.' This in-depth study is the first to our knowledge that focuses on the potential impact of chemical weedkillers like Roundup on underwater plants in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). For a copy of the slideshow, click here. (If the video link does not take you directly to the presentation, jump to 32:49.)
Should we really roll the dice and roll back fertilizer bans? (VoteWater.org) - Amidst legislative actions influenced by studies from the University of Florida and Florida Atlantic University, fertilizer bans' effectiveness is questioned, but their significance in combating nutrient overload and safeguarding water quality remains crucial alongside other solutions.
Florida Fish and Wildlife report on manatee deaths this year (WCJB) - As of August 4th, a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission indicates that 403 manatees have died this year in Florida, with watercraft strikes causing more deaths than last year; while deaths from starvation are decreasing, boat strikes are on the rise.
Hurricane season: U.S. Atlantic Coast faces growing threat of intensifying storms (Coastal News Today) - US Atlantic coast hurricane intensification rates have significantly increased over 40 years due to climate change, driven by factors like temperature differences between land and sea, potentially leading to wetter and faster-developing hurricanes in the future.
Treatment reducing toxic algae levels in Martin County (WPTV) - Choppy waters at Lake Okeechobee have impacted algae at the Port Mayaca Lock, prompting the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to deploy a contractor using peroxide treatment to reduce cyanobacteria levels, successfully lowering the toxin level from 800 parts per billion to 5.6 parts per billion, in an effort to combat the toxic algae bloom affecting Martin County's waterways.
Orange juice prices to surge as US crops ravaged by disease and climate (The Guardian) - Extreme weather events, including hurricanes exacerbated by climate change, and an incurable citrus greening disease, have devastated Florida's orange production, causing a dramatic decline in output and leading to significantly higher orange juice prices in the US.
As water reuse expands, proponents battle the ‘yuck’ factor (WUSF News) - In response to water shortages from climate change and drought, cities and states are embracing recycled water projects like direct and indirect potable reuse, despite perception worries; experts envision buildings relying on advanced recycling systems and rainwater for sustainability.
Announcing 1000 Friends of Florida 2023-2024 DeGrove Webinar Series (1000 Friends) - 1000 Friends of Florida provides free monthly webinars on planning, development, and growth in Florida, aiming to incorporate healthier community designs for well-being, climate resilience, and sustainability; upcoming webinars cover public health and community design, linear park planning, biosolids management, and a legislative preview for 2024.
Florida fishing: Sawfish, sharks, snapper, snook energize late summer bite (TCPalm) - Late summer fishing in Florida is highlighted, with mentions of species resurgence like sawfish and snook, upcoming snook harvest season starting on September 1st, fishing regulations, and conditions in regions like Indian River County, St. Lucie County, Martin County, and Lake Okeechobee.
Click here for the numbers! Please report sea turtles that are sick, injured, dead, entangled or are in danger to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline (888-404-3922).
Which insurance carriers are Florida homeowners complaining about? (TCPalm) - Thousands of Florida homeowners have filed over 7,000 complaints against property insurance carriers, primarily related to their response to Hurricane Ian claims, with the top 10 insurers in Florida, including Universal Insurance Holdings, Citizens Property Insurance, and State Farm, receiving the most complaints for damage, delayed payments, handling, and unresponsiveness.
Rescue of Florida’s endangered Okaloosa darter is quite a fish tale (Florida Phoenix) - The article discusses the successful recovery of the endangered Okaloosa darter, a tiny fish species in Florida, through habitat restoration efforts and creative solutions, highlighting the positive outcome as a beacon of hope amidst environmental challenges.
Judge rules in favor of Montana youths in landmark climate decision (Washington Post) - A victory for the Right to Clean Water! In a landmark decision, a Montana state court rules in favor of young people who alleged that the state violated their constitutional right to a "clean and healthful environment" by promoting fossil fuel use, with the court deeming a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act unconstitutional for preventing consideration of climate impacts of energy projects, potentially energizing the environmental movement and setting a precedent for future climate change cases.
Extreme Heat in Florida Keys Threatens an Entire Ecosystem (EcoWatch) - A historic marine heat wave in the Florida Keys led to unprecedented coral bleaching in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, causing concerns for the entire ecosystem's health due to record-breaking sea temperatures, and experts worry about potential long-lasting harm to coral reefs, marine life, and the ecosystem's vital services.
Editorial: Seminole County rallies to demand clean water. That’s promising (Yahoo Finance) - Seminole County residents rally to demand clean water in response to the "Toxic Secret" investigation, with a surge of urgency to get answers about the presence of the potentially cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane in the water supply, prompting a public forum and actions by officials to address water quality issues and push for tougher regulations, raising hope for increased transparency and pollution fighting efforts in water utilities nationwide.
The Benefits of Urban Food Forests: A Comprehensive Guide (Mercurial Trends) - Urban food forests, innovative urban agricultural spaces that mimic natural forests while providing nutritious and locally grown food, address pressing challenges such as food security, environmental sustainability, and community engagement, with benefits including diversified food sources, reduced environmental impact through carbon sequestration and improved air quality, and strengthened communities through shared activities and education, ultimately creating vibrant and self-sufficient urban ecosystems.
NOAA Is Rolling Out a Plan to Radically Expand Offshore Aquaculture. Not Everyone Is Onboard. (Civil Eats) - The NOAA's plan to expand offshore aquaculture has sparked debates between proponents touting benefits such as addressing the seafood trade deficit and opponents raising concerns about ecological impact and fish populations' well-being.