June 10, 2023 Weekly Newsletter
The Indian River Neighborhood Association (IRNA) recently sent letters to the Board of County Commissioners and Vero Beach City Council about a concerning PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination in Stuart, Florida's water, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. PFAS, present in numerous items including firefighting foam, has severely tainted Stuart's groundwater and local drinking supply, exceeding federal safety limits and becoming a significant health issue.
Stuart is currently suing 3M and others who produced these chemicals, aiming to hold them accountable. Despite these legal actions, the city is burdened with the substantial cost of purifying the water. Given the similar geographical and demographic profiles of Indian River County, Vero Beach, and Stuart, IRNA is advocating for a proactive investigation of potential PFAS contamination in our local water supply. Additionally, IRNA stands ready to assist with public education, volunteer coordination, or other support methods to ensure resident safety. This issue is of the utmost importance due to the potential lasting impacts on community health and the environment.
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The Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI) is a training program aimed at enhancing leadership capabilities of professionals in the natural resources sector. It addresses complex and pressing issues such as endangered species, land use, marine resources, and water quality. The program includes eight three-day intensive sessions across the state, with each session focusing on a unique natural resource issue, providing practical training in collaborative decision-making, conflict management, communication, and negotiation.
We are pleased to announce that our IRNA Executive Director, Dan Lamson, has been selected as a fellow in this program for the 2023-24 season. The ultimate goal of NRLI is to foster a community of professionals capable of finding comprehensive solutions to seemingly intractable problems, promoting collaboration among divergent interests. We eagerly anticipate the enriched perspectives and strategies Dan will bring back to our organization and community.
This is an additional expense for the Indian River Neighborhood Association that will enhance our Executive Director's ongoing professional growth, and ultimately, benefit our entire community. If you share our vision and would like to contribute to this initiative, we kindly invite you to direct a donation to the IRNA at PO Box 643868, Vero Beach FL 32964. Please mark 'NRLI' in the memo line to ensure it's allocated appropriately. Your support is deeply appreciated and will help us make a lasting impact.
Take a look at this new video ad from the Indian River Neighborhood Association. Thanks to a generous donation, we've created an ad that highlights the importance of clean water and the consequences of not addressing pollution more seriously in the past.
The ad sends a clear message: we need to act now to repair the harm we've done to our water. After watching, we invite you to visit this web page where you can learn about the steps you can take to help. Let's all work together to ensure the health of our water and the future of our state.
News Impacting Indian River County
We're losing the battle against bird loss. Scientists estimate North America's bird population is down 3 billion and dropping fast in other countries worldwide. (Business Insider) - Bird populations worldwide are declining, with studies showing that more than half of bird species in North America have decreased, European bird numbers have fallen by up to 19% since 1980, and insect-eating birds in the Amazon have experienced shrinking ranks, emphasizing the need for conservation efforts to protect birds and their habitats.
Letters to the Editor on June 5 (TCPalm) - Check out the second letter on this page from the IRNA and CWC thanking Senator Mayfield for her hard work on the Environmental Protection bill that passed the Florida House and Senate this session. Sen. Mayfield worked hard on this and we appreciate it!
Vero Council shifts meetings to mornings (Vero News) - The Vero Beach City Council in Florida will shift its regular meetings to 9:30 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month starting in August, in order to avoid conflicts with County Commission meetings and allow council members and city staffers to attend important county meetings, while also eliminating potential scheduling conflicts for citizens who may want to attend both meetings.
DeSantis appointee from Treasure Coast slapped in face by Florida Senate, not reconfirmed (TCPalm) -Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a clean-water advocate from the Treasure Coast, was not reconfirmed for her second term on the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District by the Florida Senate, leaving her with unanswered questions and raising concerns about transparency and the future of clean-water leadership in the region.
Will Army Corps start Lake Okeechobee discharges to St. Lucie River despite toxic algae? (TCPalm) - The Army Corps of Engineers may start discharging water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River despite the presence of toxic algae, raising concerns about the potential harm to human health and the environment, as the lake's water level is too high and discharges are necessary to lower it, but it remains uncertain whether the agency will wait until the end of the rainy season or release the water into the communities sooner. Click here to see this week's Blue-Green Algal Bloom Update from FDEP for more.
Florida Tech Receives $400,000 Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for Sargassum Research (Space Coast Daily) - Florida Institute of Technology has received a $400,000 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency to fund research on Sargassum, a large brown seaweed that has been causing issues in the ocean and threatening marine life, with the aim of finding ways to address the problem and develop solutions such as using biochar from Sargassum to filter water and exploring other applications such as harmful algal bloom remediation and nutrient recovery.
‘It’s devastating’: Florida questioning Michael Mota after resort’s protected mangrove trees chopped down (The Boston Globe) - Inspectors discovered that over 17,800 square feet of protected mangroves along the St. Lucie River in Florida had been illegally cut down at the Sandpiper Bay Resort, leading to an investigation into the involvement of Michael Mota, a Rhode Island entrepreneur, who denied any involvement and claimed the destruction was due to a tornado, although there were no reported tornadoes in the area at the time.
Florida’s fertilizer use could be flattening (Columbia Missourian) - The use of fertilizer in Florida may be leveling off, with farmers exploring alternative methods such as precise nutrient management and reduced runoff to protect the environment and improve agricultural practices.
Florida fishing: Catch snook, tarpon, tuna, dolphin, kingfish and jacks in the inlets now (TCPalm) - Currently, in Florida, anglers have the opportunity to catch a variety of fish including snook, tarpon, tuna, dolphin, kingfish, bonito, and jacks in the inlets and along the beaches, with specific regulations in place for different species and seasons.
Save Our Lagoon Program Update (StoryMaps) - Brevard County's Save Our Lagoon Program, implemented through revenue from a half-cent sales tax, aims to restore the Indian River Lagoon by implementing over 300 projects to reduce pollution, restore habitats, and improve water quality, with progress updates, financials, and grant programs available to homeowners for septic and sewer system upgrades.
For anyone who would like to really understand the legal landscape that clearly demonstrates the need for Florida's Right to Clean Water, here you go! Check out this video explaining why we need the Right to Clean Water. Warning, it's a bit long but if you are interested in how the Right to Clean Water will work or have questions about it, this is the video for you!
Arizona Restricts Home Construction in Phoenix Area Amid Lack of Groundwater (EcoWatch) - Amidst ongoing water scarcity issues, Arizona has imposed restrictions on new home construction around Phoenix to limit reliance on groundwater, a measure that highlights the need for sustainable water management practices in other regions facing similar challenges. Will this happen in Florida too? Probably before too long if we don't start taking better care of our water resources.
Phenomenal Phytoplankton: Scientists Uncover Cellular Process Behind Oxygen Production (Coastal News Today) - Scientists at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography have discovered a previously unknown cellular mechanism in marine phytoplankton that promotes photosynthesis and accounts for 7% to 25% of all oxygen production and carbon fixation in the ocean, potentially responsible for up to 12% of the planet's oxygen; the findings may contribute to understanding global biogeochemical cycles and developing biotechnological approaches for improving photosynthesis and carbon sequestration.
As Palm Coast's infrastructure ages, city looks for solutions (Observer Local News) - Palm Coast, Florida, is facing deteriorating roadways and aging pipes, with the city's infrastructure in need of maintenance and repair; however, funding has been a challenge, and the current budget is insufficient to address the issues, leading to concerns about public safety and the long-term sustainability of the city's infrastructure. Not a bad idea for us to be having this conversation too, some of our infrastructure is quite old.
UK - Seaside resort turned rat-infested 'ghost town' with abandoned homes falling off cliffs (Coastal News Today) - Skipsea, a former seaside resort in east Yorkshire, UK, has turned into a rat-infested "ghost town" with abandoned homes falling off cliffs due to the rapid erosion of the coastline, resulting in a decline in tourism and population.
Supreme Court’s wetlands decision could spell more construction, major impact on Florida (WFLA News) - The recent Supreme Court decision regarding wetlands and the Clean Water Act could have a significant impact on Florida, potentially leading to increased construction and development in the state, as the ruling weakens environmental protections on wetlands by changing what land is and is not protected.
Companies reach $1.18 billion deal to resolve claims from ‘forever chemicals’ water contamination (The Philadelphia Inquirer) - DuPont de Nemours, Chemours, and Corteva have reached a $1.18 billion settlement to address claims of water contamination by PFAS chemicals, establishing a fund to compensate water providers affected by the harmful compounds, which have been linked to health problems; however, the settlement only covers a defined class of public water systems and does not resolve thousands of other cases against other PFAS manufacturers and dealers.
Breakthrough proposal would aid drought-stricken Colorado River as 3 Western states offer cuts (AP News) - Arizona, Nevada, and California have offered to reduce their use of the Colorado River in exchange for federal funding, proposing a $1.2 billion plan that would conserve an additional 3 million acre-feet of water through 2026, aiming to mitigate the effects of drought on the key water supply for the U.S. West.