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December 23, 2023 Weekly Newsletter


A CHRISTMAS WISH LIST FROM THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON


Dear Santa:


I have endured another year of pollutants dumped into my waters. If changes don’t occur soon the end of my life may be near (and of the creatures that depend on me for sustenance).


Please hear my pleas to:

  • Stop adding more nitrogen and phosphorous to my waters by connecting all septic systems to central sewer.

  • Educate my humans to substitute native plants for turf grass to reduce run off of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides into my waters.

  • Stop people from tossing plastic cups, bottles, and other packaging onto the roads and landscape that ends up in the stomachs of my resident marine life.

  • Capture and filter stormwater runoff of chemicals, plant debris and sediment that cloud my waters and accumulate more muck.

  • Give our elected leaders the courage to oppose special interests and pass legislation to fund projects to clean my water.


I ask this so that my humans may one day enjoy clear waters with undulating seagrasses and healthy manatees, dolphins and turtles and be able to catch a trophy fish that grew up protected in those same seagrasses.


Reposted from 2022 as my wishes have not been granted.


Thanks in advance,


The Indian River Lagoon Estuary

(Via Jean Catchpole, Indian River Neighborhood Association)


The Indian River Neighborhood Association wishes you and your loved ones a joyful Christmas and a prosperous New Year! These weekly newsletters are taking a short break but will return in January 2024. Stay tuned!


 

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We're truly grateful for your past support and kindly request your consideration for a contribution today, if you haven't yet. Your continued partnership is vital in our pursuit of a sustainable future. If possible, please donate today to assist us in continuing to make a meaningful impact. Thank you once again for your unwavering support.



 

Substantial Funding for Local Water Quality


The City of Vero Beach and Indian River County have secured a significant financial milestone, obtaining over $35 million in environmental grants. This funding marks a major step in enhancing water quality and environmental sustainability in the region.


  • The City of Vero Beach received $25 million, including $5 million from the Indian River Lagoon Water Quality Improvements Program and $20 million from the Water Quality Improvements Grant Program for their Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant.

  • Indian River County was awarded a total of $10.725 million for its Hobart Landing and Orchid Island Estates septic-to-sewer projects.


The Indian River Neighborhood Association expresses our gratitude to the city and county officials for their effective efforts in securing these funds. We also extend our thanks to Rep. Robbie Brackett for his support. The impact of our representatives in Tallahassee is often vital to local success such as these.


These grants are a testament to their dedication to environmental protection and will significantly contribute to the improvement of the Indian River Lagoon's health. We anticipate positive outcomes from these projects, supported by this substantial state funding. A great and positive way to end 2023!


 

Gov. Ron DeSantis funds $100 million of projects to benefit Indian River Lagoon (TCPalm) - Related to the above story. Governor Ron DeSantis allocated $100 million to fund 21 projects aimed at improving water quality in the Indian River Lagoon, part of a larger commitment to environmental protection in the state.


Vero Beach breaks daily rainfall record from weekend storms (Vero News) - Vero Beach set a new daily rainfall record with 2.13 inches, surpassing the previous record from 2003, amidst unforecasted wet weather and a following cold front that brought cooler temperatures to the region.


Indian River County gearing up for more erosion amid efforts to restore beaches, dunes (WPTV) - Indian River County faces more beach erosion due to recent storms, challenging the ongoing $13 million beach and dune restoration project, which aims to counteract sand loss from past hurricanes on a 6.6-mile shoreline.


The Treasure Coast experiences coastal erosion at high tide following weekend storm (TCPalm) - See more pictures of beach erosion around our area here. Thankfully there were no major reports of damage or flooding.


Winter-Proofing Your Home Garden (Vero Beach Magazine) - Here are some practical tips for winter-proofing gardens, including avoiding over-irrigation and fertilizing, deeply watering plants before cold snaps, maintaining mulch levels for root protection, and using poinsettias as a colorful, low-maintenance addition to brighten the garden.


Seattle firm proposes Indiantown biosolids plant (Hometown News TC) - Sedron Technologies Group is proposing to build a cutting-edge biosolids conversion facility next to the Indiantown wastewater treatment plant in Florida, promising job creation, innovative waste processing, and environmental benefits, including renewable nitrogen fertilizer and fuel production.


Stricter standards, requirements seen in construction of new island condos (Vero News) - Following the Champlain Towers South collapse, stringent inspection and repair requirements for Florida condos have increased confidence in building safety, as exemplified by the meticulously engineered and inspected construction of new luxury condos at 30 Indigo Lane in Vero Beach.


Construction is underway in Indian River County for the Oslo Road bridge replacement with an I-95 interchange (TCPalm) - The $95.8 million project to replace the Oslo Road bridge and add an interchange with Interstate 95 in Indian River County, which began on August 14, 2023, is expected to take four years, accommodating the daily traffic of about 5,000 vehicles. Check out this video for a drone flyover of the project.


 

Vacation Rental Preemption is Back Again


Florida's vacation rental industry is under the spotlight again with the introduction of Senate Bill 280 (Analysis here). This bill, following its predecessor SB 714, proposes to limit local and state government control over vacation rentals. It raises concerns about the influence of large, often out-of-state vacation rental businesses, and the potential disruption to residential communities.


Key Concerns and Community Impact


SB 280 could transform residential areas into zones dominated by "mini-hotels," undermining the quality of life for local residents and destroying neighborhoods. The bill's approach to deregulation favors big business interests, potentially sidelining the needs and voices of Florida's communities.


Your Voice Matters: Act Now


The fate of SB 280 and its impact on Florida's communities is not just in the hands of legislators. Your voice and actions can shape this crucial issue. We urge you to reach out to Sen. Erin Grall and Rep. Robbie Brackett to express your views and concerns about this legislation.


Your involvement is key to ensuring a balanced and fair approach to vacation rental regulations in Florida.


 

Coastal News Today Taking a Hiatus to Recharge and Reimagine (Coastal News Today) - This is a shame, we shared many articles from Coastal News Today in this newsletter and hope they come back bigger and better than ever!


The Toxic Truth About Your Christmas Tree (Wired) - The article raises concerns about the environmental impact of both real and artificial Christmas trees, highlighting the use of harmful chemicals in tree farming and the carbon footprint of artificial trees, and suggests considering greener, less toxic alternatives for holiday decorations.


Indian River State College Biological Sciences Students Host Undergraduate Research Symposium (Vero News) - Students in the Biological Sciences programs at Indian River State College showcased their research at a symposium, presenting a range of projects from the effects of probiotics on gut health to Alzheimer's treatment and the impact of environmental factors on ultramarathon runners, reflecting the diversity and real-world applicability of their scientific studies.


Clean-water funding + dirty water legislation = no progress (VoteWater) - Gil Smart, Executive Director of VoteWater, expresses skepticism about Florida's progress on clean water issues. He points out that while Governor Ron DeSantis's proposed 2024 budget includes significant funding for water quality and Everglades restoration, concurrent legislative efforts undermining environmental protections could negate these investments, highlighting the need for genuine commitment to environmental stewardship beyond just financial allocations.


How sea rise could reshape South Florida neighborhoods: Retreat here, growth there (Miami Herald) - A report on a study predicting future population shifts in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties due to sea level rise-induced flooding, which could lead to a decline in certain flood-prone areas and growth in higher elevation zones, contrasting with current trends of booming real estate in these areas despite increasing flood risks.


15 most pressing issues for conservation, including invertebrate decline and changing marine ecosystems (ScienceDaily) - The Cambridge Conservation Initiative's 15th annual horizon scan identifies the most pressing conservation issues for the upcoming year, including the decline of invertebrates, changing marine ecosystems, and the impact of new technologies and methods on biodiversity and climate change. The scan highlights topics like sustainable energy sources, threats to marine ecosystems, and innovative approaches to carbon capture and soil monitoring, emphasizing the need for policies and technologies to address these challenges.


The Private Equity Firm Tapping America’s Spring Water (Bloomberg) - BlueTriton Brands, which owns bottled water brands such as Poland Spring and Arrowhead, is under scrutiny for its impact on sensitive springs and groundwater supplies across the United States, with concerns raised about increased water extraction and the influence of private equity in the bottled water industry.


OPINION: Restoration? Not exactly ... (South Central Florida Life) - The term "restoration" is considered misleading in Florida's watershed management, as efforts like the Kissimmee River and Everglades projects are limited in scope and fail to fully revert these ecosystems to their original states.


 

Extreme weather cost $80 billion this year. The true price is far higher. (Grist) - In 2023, the U.S. experienced a record number of billion-dollar weather events, highlighting the increasing severity and financial impact of climate-related disasters, despite advancements in climate adaptation and disaster response.


Here’s how experts graded US climate progress in 2023 (Grist) - Climate experts give mixed grades to the U.S. for its climate efforts in 2023, acknowledging progress through the Inflation Reduction Act but criticizing incomplete work on permitting reform and the approval of the Willow drilling project.


Florida researchers are studying ‘plant diamond’ for carbon capture secrets (Miami Herald) - Florida researchers are exploring the potential of sporopollenin, an indestructible material in pollen, to permanently store carbon in soil, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2 levels.


Needing Every Last Drop: Western States Are Recycling Wastewater in a Variety of Ways (Informed Infrastructure) - Western states in the U.S. are adopting various water recycling methods to address water scarcity, with significant projects in Texas, Idaho, California, and Washington, each aiming to conserve water resources and meet the growing water demands of their communities.


Costs to save southern areas of St. Johns County from erosion are pricey (Florida Politics) - St. Johns County Commissioners are considering options, including building a $47 million sea wall or implementing $121.9 million beach nourishment, to address erosion issues in the Summer Haven community, with funding likely required from various sources, following a study that cost around $400,000.


Why people still fall for fake news about climate change (Grist) - Despite overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, fake news and conspiracy theories about it continue to thrive online, with some disinformation being more persuasive than scientific facts, as it plays on people's emotions and pre-existing beliefs, making it essential to use tactics that prompt individuals to evaluate the accuracy of the information they encounter and engage in nonjudgmental conversations to address their concerns and build trust in locally-relevant climate information.


Researchers Invent “Methane Cleaner”: Could Become a Permanent Fixture in Cattle and Pig Barns (ENN) - Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have developed a novel method using light and chlorine to remove low-concentration methane from the air, potentially offering a solution for reducing methane emissions from sources like livestock housing, biogas production plants, and wastewater treatment plants to combat climate change.


Some Coral Species Might be More Resilient to Climate Change than Previously Thought (ENN) - Research from Oregon State University suggests that some coral species may exhibit resilience to marine heat waves by retaining a memory of how they survived previous events, potentially aided by the microbial communities living among the corals, which has implications for understanding coral adaptation to climate change-related stressors.


White House Announces Historic Agreement to Study Dam Removal and Fund Fish Restoration (Inside Climate News) - The White House has reached an agreement to settle a longstanding legal dispute with Native American tribes and conservation groups regarding 14 dams on the Columbia River basin, allocating $300 million for salmon restoration projects, upgrades to hatcheries, and the development of tribal-sponsored renewable energy, with provisions for the eventual removal of four dams, raising questions about the role of hydropower in the clean energy transition.


 

Want your voice to be heard? Use this link to easily contact elected officials—from your city council to the President. Your voice can make a real impact. While the IRNA may occasionally prompt you to contact specific officials about urgent issues, we keep this list handy for your convenience. Can't find who you're looking for? Just let us know; we're here to help connect you with the right people.


 




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