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  • Writer's pictureIRNA

July 1, 2023 Weekly Newsletter


As I was flying back home this week, I snapped the picture you see above of Vero Beach. It's a perspective that reminds me of how much I love sitting by the window, watching the world unfold beneath. What caught my eye wasn't just the view - it was the amount of green space that still exists here.


Compared to the heavily developed areas to our north and south, Indian River County with its expanses of green, felt like a breath of fresh air. It's a reminder of the unique charm that our area holds and a testament to our forebarer’s efforts to preserve it.


I encourage you to share this image, not just as a beautiful snapshot of where we live, but also as a reminder of our collective responsibility. We're not just residents of this beautiful place; we're its caretakers.


Every time we see an image like this and remember the beauty of Indian River County from above, let's also remember our duty to protect it. The green and blue we see from the sky needs to thrive on the ground. It's not just about enjoying where we live—it's about preserving it for future generations.


 

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We're pleased to share an update on the PFAS (Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl substances) issue we've previously discussed. Indian River County's Department of Utility Services (IRCDUS) has informed us of their planned actions to address the concern over these pollutants. Complying with the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) latest Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5), the county has scheduled samples for August 2023 and February 2024, testing for an expanded list of 29 PFAS compounds.


In an encouraging move, the IRCDUS has pledged to surpass these EPA requirements. They've begun a series of additional monitoring events from various system and source points, with the first round of supplemental samples taken in May 2023. Three further rounds are planned for August and November 2023, and February 2024. This proactive approach demonstrates the county's commitment to safeguarding public health against PFAS. We appreciate their efforts and look forward to sharing the results of the upcoming tests.



 

News Impacting Indian River County

Stop Gilligan's Island nonsense: Speed up abandoned boat removal in Indian River Lagoon (TCPalm) - Efforts to remove abandoned boats in the Indian River Lagoon are being hindered by the high cost and time-consuming process, prompting calls for faster and more effective solutions, such as shortening response times for boat owners, distributing funds based on registered boater numbers, and implementing a visiting boater fee to support derelict vessel removal programs.


Coast Guard set new schedule for Stuart railroad bridge. Why isn't FEC following it? (TCPalm) - The Coast Guard has established a new schedule for the railroad drawbridge in Stuart, Florida, but the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) is not following it, causing conflicts with boaters and hindering the collection of accurate data to establish a permanent schedule.


The real story behind the Atlantic's record-breaking seaweed blobs (Coastal News Today) - The massive blooms of sargassum seaweed washing ashore on beaches in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico contain plastic debris and bacteria, including Vibrio species that can adhere to plastic and potentially cause health issues, shedding light on the causes and impacts of these seaweed blooms.


‘Not out of the woods:’ Manatee death numbers improve along Central Florida coast (Click Orlando) - New data from the state shows a significant decrease in manatee deaths along the Central Florida coast this year compared to previous years, indicating an improvement in water conditions in the Indian River Lagoon; however, experts caution that the situation is not completely resolved, and efforts to protect water quality and conserve seagrass should continue to ensure the survival of manatees.


Indian River Lagoon communities fight wastewater pollution | Commentary (Orlando Sentinel) - Dr. Nicole Kirchhoff, an aquaculturist, highlights the significance of combating wastewater pollution in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and praises the recently passed "Indian River Lagoon Protection Plan" for its focus on eliminating sewage pollution and providing state funding for restoration projects, emphasizing the need to prioritize water quality improvement efforts for the success of long-term restoration initiatives.


Indian River commissioners name Bill DeBraal county attorney, succeeding Dylan Reingold (TCPalm) - Bill DeBraal, the longtime deputy county attorney, has been appointed as the new county attorney for Indian River County, succeeding Dylan Reingold, who resigned to pursue other interests, with DeBraal agreeing to serve for a year before potentially stepping down.


1 million Florida buildings will be overrun by sea-level rise by 2100, study shows (TCPalm) - According to a flood-risk research group, approximately 1 million buildings in Florida will be inundated by rising sea levels by the end of the century, prompting the need for residents to elevate their homes or face devastating floodwaters and skyrocketing insurance costs, with the Indian River Lagoon being one of the areas most affected.


Treasure Coast member no longer on water management governing board (WPTV) - Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a clean water advocate, has been removed from the South Florida Water Management District's governing board following a comment she made during a meeting that was deemed inappropriate and disrespectful by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo's office.


Call to action: Tell Gov. DeSantis we need this clean-water advocate back (Vote Water) - Related to the above story. Governor Ron DeSantis has the power to rectify the removal of clean-water advocate Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch from the South Florida Water Management District's Governing Board by appointing her to the vacant seat, and concerned citizens are urged to contact his office and advocate for her reinstatement. You can urge him to do so by calling (850) 717-9337 or emailing GovernorRon.Desantis@eog.myflorida.com.


 

Beautiful reminder of why we should continue to gather Right to Clean Water petitions. Please volunteer either to Herman Cook (cookiecook@hotmail.com) in IRC or Kathy Brandt (kbrandt32935@gmail.com) in Brevard. Both are out there working hard collecting petitions.



 

Army Corps releases wet season strategy amid blue-green algae concerns (WPTV) - The Army Corps of Engineers has released a wet season strategy for Lake Okeechobee in response to concerns over the extensive blue-green algae coverage, with the Florida Department of Health issuing health alerts and high levels of toxins detected in the lake, while local residents fear harmful discharges and the potential negative impacts on the environment and local businesses.


Toxic algae issues continue to plague Lake Okeechobee (WPTV) - Lake Okeechobee in Florida continues to be plagued by toxic algae, with high concentrations of algae reported and concerns raised about nutrient runoff contributing to the growth of the algae, prompting efforts to reduce nutrient loads in the lake.


Stuart likely to receive millions in $10.3 billion settlement over water contamination (TC Palm) - Stuart, Florida is set to receive millions of dollars as part of a $10.3 billion lawsuit settlement with chemical manufacturer 3M Co. over water contamination with "forever chemicals" known as PFAS, which do not degrade naturally and have been linked to health problems; Stuart officials hope to collect over $100 million for past and future expenses related to installing new water-filtration equipment and seek punitive damages.


3M to spend billions settling pollution lawsuits (Brookings Register) - Chemical manufacturer 3M Co. will pay at least $10.3 billion to settle lawsuits over contamination of U.S. public drinking water systems with PFAS compounds, known as "forever chemicals," linked to health problems, and the settlement could reach up to $12.5 billion depending on future testing of public water systems for PFAS.


Five million dollar DeSantis veto triggers cancellation of $346 million in federal funding (The Capitolist) - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's veto of federal block grants worth $29 million has led to the cancellation of $346 million in federal funding, including a program that would have provided rebates on energy-efficient household appliances to Florida consumers, sparking controversy and criticism that the move is a political strategy to refuse federal money from the Biden Administration and potentially boost DeSantis's presidential campaign, while returning federal tax dollars to other states.


Retrofitting flood-prone buildings would help Florida economy (Orlando Sentinel) - Retrofitting flood-prone buildings, particularly older properties, with flood mitigation measures such as elevation and floodproofing, is crucial to reducing flood risk and insurance rates, preserving property values, and sustaining Florida's economy, but requires new funding and the development of a low-interest, long-term loan program to make these projects affordable for property owners over time.


DeSantis to pause bans on fertilizer. Advocates worry it’ll worsen water woes (WUSF News) - Environmental advocates in Florida express concern over Governor Ron DeSantis's decision not to veto a measure in the state budget that suspends the creation of new city and county fertilizer bans, fearing it will worsen water quality issues as these bans have been effective in preventing nutrient pollution, algal blooms, and fish kills.


Florida deputies save ‘exhausted’ manatee by holding its head above water for hours until help arrives (Law Officer) - Two Florida deputies saved a distressed manatee from drowning during a red tide by holding its head above water for hours until wildlife officials could rescue it, with Deputy Jill Constant stating that she wasn't going to let the manatee die and jumped in the water with her partner to offer aid.


Best boat tours for sightseeing on Sebastian River, St. Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon (TCPalm) - This article highlights the best boat tours for sightseeing on the Sebastian River, St. Lucie River, and Indian River Lagoon, showcasing the diverse plant and animal species found in these areas and offering opportunities to see wildlife such as birds, fish, manatees, dolphins, rays, and sharks.

 

Purchased in 2011 by the Land Trust, Bee Gum Point Preserve is a 111-acre coastal wetland on the barrier island that serves as a bird sanctuary. Purchased with grant funds and private donations, the property also serves as a study site for several on-going research projects including Tarpon & Snook, Diamondback Terrapins, and Seagrass restoration studies.

Due to its key location on the Atlantic Flyway, Bee Gum Point is “for the birds” which is why public access is limited to scheduled, guided Birding and Conservation Tours. The free Birding and Conservation Tours are regularly offered between November – May so the public can access and explore this unique preserve. To learn more about Bee Gum Point and/or register for a free tour, visit the Land Trust's website at www.irlt.org.


 

Other News

Noise Could Take Years Off Your Life. Here Are the Health Impacts (New York Times) - Chronic noise exposure, even at moderate levels, is a largely unrecognized health threat that can increase the risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart attacks, according to a growing body of research, and measures to mitigate noise pollution are crucial for protecting public health.


New Trees Are No Substitute for Old Trees (Politico) - Protecting and allowing mature forests to age into old-growth forests is essential for preventing future forest fires, reducing climate change, and preserving carbon storage, as new trees cannot replace the ecological benefits provided by old trees and their ecosystems.


What Does Sackett v. EPA Mean for Clean Water? (Earthjustice) - The Supreme Court's ruling in Sackett v. EPA, which narrows the definition of wetlands protected by the Clean Water Act, poses a threat to communities, public health, and ecosystems, allowing for further attacks on environmental law and enabling big polluters to evade regulations.


Are You Ready for ‘Extreme’ Water Recycling? (Wired) - Onsite water recycling systems, known as "extreme decentralization of water and wastewater," are emerging as a leading strategy to make water use more sustainable, with buildings and neighborhoods equipped with recycling plants that can make water for nonpotable use cheaper than buying it from a centralized source, driving down demand for potable water and managing water more efficiently.


Zephyrhills City Council votes to halt new de­vel­opment for a year as water woes rise (Bay News 9) - The Zephyrhills City Council in Florida has unanimously voted for a yearlong moratorium on new housing developments due to concerns that the city's water supply is insufficient to support its rapid growth, with the number of proposed developments potentially exceeding the allotted water capacity within two years.


Montana officials downplay first-of-its-kind climate trial (ABC News) - Montana officials downplayed the significance of a climate change trial taking place in the state, stating that a victory for the young plaintiffs would not impact approvals for fossil fuel projects, as they defended a state law preventing consideration of greenhouse gas impacts when issuing permits for such projects.


 

FLORIDA WATER POLLUTION published June 28, 2023 by Bill Day courtesy of politicalcartoons.com. Visit this page to see the source.

 

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