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January 6, 2024 Weekly Newsletter


Join Us at Woody's for the Sebastian Luncheon Talking City's Stormwater Plans


Ready for an engaging and educational luncheon? Join us on January 17th at Woody's for our annual Sebastian Luncheon. It's not just a meal; it's an opportunity to connect and learn.


We're excited to welcome Karen Miller, Public Works Director/City Engineer, and Brian Benton, City Manager both of Sebastian. They'll be sharing insights about the city's new stormwater master plan. It's a chance to dive deep into how this plan will shape our community's future, addressing critical stormwater management issues.


Woody's will be serving up some mouth-watering dishes: their Salmon Caesar Salad, signature Baby Back Ribs, a savory Loaded Mesquite Grilled Chicken Breast, and the famous Woody's Banana Pudding.


We're starting at noon on January 17th, and the cost is estimated to be between $25 per person payable at the door. We hope you’ll join us!


Don't miss out on this unique blend of informative talks and delicious cuisine. RSVP with your choice of meal by sending a message to info@indianriverna.com. See you there!


 

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In 2023, we made strides towards a greener tomorrow. To extend our impact, we humbly request your continued partnership. A donation today helps us secure a sustainable Indian River County for all. Thank you for being a pillar of our progress.



 


Help Indian River County Find the Ideal Candidate for

the New Natural Resources Director Role


Exciting news for Indian River County and our local environment! The county is creating a new position – Natural Resources Director – and they need your help to spread the word. This role isn't just a job; it's a chance to make a significant impact on our community's future, following in the footsteps of Brevard County's similar and successful model.


The Natural Resources Director will play a pivotal role in shaping our environmental landscape. They'll be responsible for the newly formed Department of Natural Resources, overseeing crucial areas like Stormwater Management, Coastal Engineering, and Indian River Lagoon Management. This position is about leading the charge in protecting and enhancing our natural treasures.


We believe this role is vital to our county, something the Indian River Neighborhood Association (IRNA) has advocated for. The right candidate will bring not just expertise but also a passion for environmental stewardship and expertise in acquiring additional state and federal funds for projects to improve our environment. It's a challenging position, but one that promises to be incredibly rewarding.


If you know someone who might be the perfect fit for this important role, please forward this information to them. Finding the right person is crucial for our county's environmental health and sustainability.


For more details about the position and how to apply, please visit this page: Indian River County, FL - Natural Resources Director.


Your assistance in this search is invaluable. Together, we can find a leader who will help preserve and enrich the natural beauty of Indian River County. Let's make a positive change for our environment and community!


 

UF report: Local summer fertilizer bans need comprehensive study to determine efficacy (TCPalm) - A state commissioned report recommends studying the effectiveness of local fertilizer bans in reducing water pollution, but environmentalists worry it could weaken existing ordinances. This is part of a special interest push to stop local jurisdictions from banning the application of fertilizer in the summer. They may not be perfect, but many of the areas in the state without these summer bans have the worst algae blooms (Lake O, for instance.) This will be discussed at Tuesday's County Commission meeting and we'll have more to report next week!


A New Year’s wish list for our community in 2024 (VeroNews) - The Vero Beach community faces challenges and changes in 2024, including adapting to an influx of new residents, addressing issues like affordable housing and traffic safety, while preserving its unique character and progressing on key projects like the Three Corners waterfront development and downtown revitalization.


A pair of nesting bald eagles in southern Indian River County (TCPalm) - A pair of nesting bald eagles observed in southern Indian River County highlights the species' characteristics, including their mating for life and tendency to scavenge rather than fish.


Paul Kroegel statue in Sebastian turns 20 this year, honors first warden (TCPalm) - A bronze statue in Sebastian, Florida, honors Paul Kroegel, the first U.S. wildlife refuge manager, who protected Pelican Island's birds from plume hunters and influenced national conservation efforts, embodying the belief that one person can make a significant difference.


Rotarians want to revitalize once-proud fountain (VeroNews) - Vero Beach's Rotary clubs plan to refurbish the deteriorating Centennial Fountain in Pocahontas Park, which has become a haven for the homeless, and seek a maintenance agreement with the city, aligning with Main Street Vero Beach's efforts to revitalize the park.


Poop processing plant coming to Indiantown. Will it reduce fertilizer water pollution? (TCPalm) - A new biosolids processing plant in Indiantown will convert treated human waste into concrete, fertilizer and irrigation water, solving nutrient pollution and potentially providing the agricultural industry with new products.


Brightline reports $192 million net loss in 1st nine months of 2023 (South Florida Business Journal) - Brightline's ridership and revenue surged in 2023, but station openings and expansion plans kept the train service deep in the red. While losses shrank slightly, Brightline still faces hefty debt and rising costs as it races towards ambitious expansion goals.


Fort Pierce gains support here for Brightline station (VeroNews) - In Indian River County, a shift in perspective towards Brightline's high-speed train service is evident, with local leaders and communities supporting a proposed station in Fort Pierce for its economic and connectivity benefits, despite a lack of consensus among County Commissioners and ongoing hopes for a station in Vero Beach.


Could Treasure Coast get commuter rail, more inter-city service? Not with our attitude. (TCPalm) - Blake Fontenay argues that Treasure Coast residents' reluctance to adapt to Brightline's high-speed train service, despite its potential economic and connectivity benefits, hampers the possibility of further developing regional commuter rail services and integrating more efficiently with larger urban centers like West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.


 

A group of manatees at Florida’s Blue Spring State Park was captured playing with loose branches and palm fronds after high winds in the area blew debris into their water on Sunday, December 17.

 

Florida Must Toughen Rules for Water Pollutants, EPA Says (Bloomberg Law) - The EPA has determined that Florida's water quality standards for streams and wetlands are insufficient to protect human health, leading to a potential federal intervention to set surface water quality standards if the state does not enhance its regulations.


Florida the only state to turn down millions to lessen emissions, feds say (Tampa Bay Times) - Florida declined $320 million in federal funds aimed at reducing tailpipe emissions and addressing climate change, with the state's Department of Transportation citing government overreach and a lack of clear program guidelines, a decision that contrasts with other states, including Texas, and raises concerns among environmental groups and some lawmakers about missed opportunities for environmental and economic benefits.


Big Sugar spent millions in 2023; most went to PACs (VoteWater) - In 2023, the major sugar corporations in Florida, notably U.S. Sugar, Florida Crystals, and the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, spent $2.76 million on political influence, primarily through donations to PACs, in preparation for the 2024 Florida Legislative session.



2024 will be a year to GET LOUD (VoteWater) - VoteWater, gearing up for the 2024 Florida Legislative session, plans to intensify its advocacy against dirty-water legislation, provide insights into political influences on water-related policies, and proactively engage in efforts to protect Florida's waterways, especially the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, from pollution and mismanagement.


The best upgrade to reduce a home’s hurricane damage? A newer roof, FEMA study finds (Miami Herald) - A FEMA study analyzing Hurricane Ian's impact in 2022 revealed that homes with newer roofs, particularly those built or renovated after 2015, significantly outperformed older roofs in withstanding damage, emphasizing the effectiveness of updated Florida building codes in enhancing hurricane resilience.


After Historic Die-Off, Manatee Deaths Drop in Florida (Miami New Times) - Florida manatee deaths significantly decreased in 2023, indicating a possible subsidence in the recent alarming mortality rates, with improvements in seagrass recovery and manatee body conditions contributing to this "guarded" optimism.


‘Green’ energy, plant food from Florida’s stinky seaweed? Ideas will be put to test (Miami Herald) - Miami-Dade is testing six innovative solutions to turn the smelly sargassum seaweed problem into opportunities for green fuel, fertilizer, building materials, and coastal protection.


OPINION: Save water and stop development (Villages-News) - The request for communities to reduce water usage due to declining aquifer levels seems contradictory when new developments continue to increase water demand and should prompt consideration of moratoriums on such developments in Florida.


Stuart reverse osmosis plant delayed, now slated for spring (Yahoo News) - Stuart's $18.3 million reverse osmosis water treatment plant, initially scheduled for completion by November 30 and operational in February, is now delayed due to supply shortages, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for April or May; the plant was prioritized in response to the discovery of PFAS contaminants in the drinking water supply in 2016 and will help provide clean water from the Floridan aquifer, with the city expecting over $100 million from a lawsuit settlement against 3M to assist in funding new water filtration equipment.


 

Join local history buff Jim Wilson as he transports you back in time to explore the fascinating story of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet. Learn about its historical importance, tragic fate, and the thrill of searching for its lost riches using metal detectors and beachcombing techniques. This captivating lecture at the Emerson Center on January 23rd at 7 PM is the perfect event for history enthusiasts and treasure hunters alike. Don't miss this chance to dive deep into Florida's legendary shipwreck and hear from a local expert inspired by the legendary Mel Fisher himself!


 

Right to Clean Water efforts set the stage for 2026 | Opinion (Sun Sentinel) - Floridians still lack constitutional right to clean water due to powerful special interests but remain motivated to secure it in 2026 despite recent setbacks.


BioE Team harness Microbial Consortia to Tackle Plastic Pollution (ENN) - Researchers engineer bacteria that efficiently breakdown and upcycle plastic into valuable chemicals like biodegradable polymers, offering a promising solution to plastic pollution.


24 Climate Predictions for 2024 (Grist) - Ranging from policy developments like the launch of an American Climate Corps to environmental impacts like a potentially record-breaking hurricane season. These predictions highlight both progress and challenges in addressing climate change, showcasing continued efforts in renewable energy, carbon capture, and environmental justice alongside setbacks like rising "heatflation" and industry pushback against regulations. Overall, it paints a complex picture of a world on the cusp of change, where advancements and obstacles are intertwined in the fight against climate change.


‘Green roads’ are plowing ahead, buffering drought and floods (Grist) - Green Roads for Water is an innovative concept that involves designing roads to capture and manage water strategically, benefiting agriculture and mitigating road-related problems caused by water. This approach has been successfully implemented in places like Makueni County, Kenya, where it has improved farming, reduced road maintenance costs, and made the rainy season less damaging. This approach, which repositions roads as environmental assets, holds promise in the face of a global road-building boom and offers a sustainable solution to the challenges posed by roads and water intersecting in developing countries.


Plastics’ impact on our coastal environment may be more destructive than you think (Sun Sentinel) - The detrimental impact of plastics on marine life includes instances of marine animals ingesting plastic and suffering harm. The article also emphasizes the need for reducing plastic usage and promoting responsible consumption to protect the environment and marine ecosystems.


Without federal action, hackers will continue to endanger US water systems (The Hill) - Hacks such as the one that happened in Vero Beach on Thanksgiving are becoming more and more commonplace. Read more about how US water systems remain vulnerable to cyberattacks due to lack of federal cyber mandates and uneven cybersecurity practices across the fragmented water industry.


How crowded are the oceans? New maps show what flew under the radar until now (The Verge) - Researchers have used satellite imagery and AI to map human activity at sea, revealing previously unnoticed industrial activity, including fishing operations and offshore energy development, which could impact global conservation efforts and the need for more accurate tracking of resource exploitation in oceans.


A cocktail of toxins is poisoning our fields. Its effect on humans? Nobody can tell us (The Guardian) - Numerous untested novel chemicals are released into the environment, creating a gap between actions and knowledge, including the contamination of sewage sludge used in farming, which contains toxins, antibiotics, microplastics, and more, with no legal limits, and a 2017 report proposing action to investigate these contaminants has been buried by the government, leading to a legal campaign called Fighting Dirty to challenge the government's failure to regulate sewage sludge on farmland.


 

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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