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May 27, 2023 Weekly Newsletter


As we approach the annual fertilizer blackout period, it's vital to revisit our county's existing fertilizer ordinance. This is a reminder to homeowners and landscapers alike to align our practices with these important guidelines, crucial to preserving our local ecosystem.


Key restrictions include not applying fertilizer from June 1 to September 30, during extreme weather, or on saturated soils. Fertilizer must also stay ten feet away from any wetland or water body. Using phosphorous requires appropriate soil tests, while nitrogen-based fertilizer must contain a certain percentage of slow-release nitrogen. Remember, it's not just about following rules—it's about ensuring our community's future. We encourage you to discuss this ordinance with your landscaping professionals. While they should be aware, it's essential to ensure that they are abiding by these regulations, thereby safeguarding our water resources from potential contamination due to chemical applications. Furthermore, you might contemplate replacing your lawn with Florida Native Plants. Not only would this embody a unique Florida aesthetic, but it also contributes to a sustainable landscape, aligning with our collective responsibility towards environmental stewardship. Read more here.


Join Indian River County's Stormwater Educator & Fertilizer Enforcement Officer, Alexis Peralta, in this informative look at the IRC fertilizer ordinance.


 

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News Impacting Indian River County

‘Hail Mary’ bid launched to save beach project (Vero News) - Indian River County is making a final attempt to collect enough signed easements from oceanfront homeowners to replenish beaches, using a door-to-door approach that aims to secure additional signatures in order to proceed with a feasibility study and eliminate certain properties from the project; however, even with the signatures, the project's success is not guaranteed, as it depends on factors like FEMA's approval for funding extension and a feasibility study to determine the viability of altering the project scope.


FDOT to begin $22 million, 5-year repairs on Alma Lee Loy Bridge. Here's what to know (TCPalm) - The Florida Department of Transportation will begin a five-year, $22.3 million repair project on the Alma Lee Loy Bridge in Vero Beach, with the east end of the bridge closing this month for structural repairs due to deterioration, and the project is expected to be completed by summer 2028.


Public officials should be on the side of the public, not developers (VoteWater) - Public officials in Miami, including Mayor Francis Suarez, have come under scrutiny for their involvement as paid consultants for real estate developers, raising concerns about their impartiality and prioritization of public interests over special interests, highlighting the need for voters to demand a change in this system.


These 4 native Florida birds are threatened or facing extinction. Here's what to know (Herald Tribune) - Florida is home to several native bird species facing threats or extinction, including the Florida Scrub-Jay, which relies on scrublands that have been depleted and require restoration efforts; other at-risk birds include the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow, Everglade Snail Kite, and Wood Stork, all affected by habitat loss and destruction of wetlands, highlighting the need for conservation measures to protect these species.


Protecting Indian River Lagoon manatees one thing; but fighting pollution protects us all (TCPalm) - A consortium of environmental groups is planning to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for inadequate protection of manatees, highlighting the ongoing threats faced by these gentle marine creatures; however, the real issue that needs to be addressed is the pollution and nutrient runoff causing the decline of seagrass, the primary food source for manatees, emphasizing the need to save manatees by saving the waterways and addressing agricultural runoff and sewage discharges that contribute to pollution in the Indian River Lagoon. Protecting manatees not only benefits the species but also safeguards the local economy and recreational activities dependent on clean water.


 

At this week's Water and Lagoon Committee meeting, we celebrated Jean Catchpole, retiring chair of the committee. Her relentless advocacy and resolute leadership served as the foundation of many of our triumphs, leaving behind a legacy to light our way forward. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement, Jean! Here's Board Chair, Mike Johannsen, expressing our gratitude with an award to Jean for her years of dedicated service. We're thrilled that Jean's retirement only extends to her chairmanship, and she'll continue to be an integral part of our IRNA family!


 

Utility ruling has Shores mulling options (Vero News) - The Indian River Shores Town Council plans to hold a closed meeting with its attorneys to discuss the next steps after a court ruling in favor of the City of Vero Beach, with possible topics of discussion including whether to appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court, explore alternative paths, or focus on negotiating a deal with Indian River County for water-sewer service when the franchise agreement with Vero expires in 2027, while the discussion will be limited to the parameters allowed by Florida's Sunshine laws.


Editorial: Legislature's bill a severe blow to home rule in Palm Beach (Palm Beach Daily News) - The recent passage of Senate Bill 250 by Florida's Republican-supermajority Legislature, which restricts municipalities within 100 miles of hurricane landfalls from proposing construction moratoriums, adding "burdensome" amendments to comprehensive plans, or imposing certain permitting procedures, is seen as a severe blow to home rule and adds to a series of legislative encroachments on local government authority in recent years, prompting a call for municipalities to unite in defending their constitutional home-rule rights.


May 2023 edition of Florida Geological Survey News and Research (State Publication) - The May 2023 edition of FGS News and Research highlights the ongoing projects and outstanding employees of the Florida Geological Survey (FGS), including the recognition of the FGS National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP) team, articles on the Cedar Keys Formation and Madison Blue Spring State Park geology, the designation of Jennings Bluff Tract as Florida's seventh State Geological Site, a guide to identifying springs and seeps, and an article on the importance of hydrologic tracers in managing water resources in Florida.


Why you pay to remove derelict boats and why it takes so long (TCPalm) - The removal of derelict boats in Florida's waters is a lengthy and complicated process that involves investigation, notification of owners, seeking bids from contractors, and securing funding from various sources, resulting in delays and frustration for residents and boaters, despite efforts to prevent vessels from becoming derelict through programs like the Vessel Turn-In Program.


 

We're sorry to have to share this news: Governor DeSantis has gone ahead and signed Senate Bill 540 into law.


This is confusing, considering just a few months ago he was talking about the need to plan for sustainable growth and protect our natural resources, including the Lagoon and the Everglades. This new law kind of goes against all of that and even threatens the good work he's done on restoring our waterways.


But we're not giving up. Groups like us here at the IRNA, along with our friends at 1000 Friends of Florida, are determined to make sure that this law isn't the last word on planning our state's growth and safeguarding our rights to have a say in it. We're committed to working with lawmakers in future sessions to try and fix or at least lessen the damage from this new law.


We're counting on your help to make this happen. So please, stick with us. We appreciate you being part of this team. Let's keep going and do what we can to make things better.


 

Large algae bloom spotted on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee (Fox Weather) - A large algae bloom has been identified in Florida's Lake Okeechobee, prompting health officials to issue warnings and advise caution due to potential toxins and odor emitted by the harmful blue-green algae.


With Rainy Season Underway, There Could Be More Mosquitos. What to Know to Prevent Infestation, Illness (NBC Miami) - With the start of the rainy season in South Florida, residents are advised to take preventive measures to avoid mosquito infestation and mosquito-borne illnesses by draining standing water, using mosquito repellents, wearing protective clothing, and maintaining screens on doors and windows.


State agrees to protect nearly 40,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands (WUSF News) - The governor and Cabinet of Florida have approved the conservation of nearly 40,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands, including properties with conservation easements in critical areas for drinking water supplies and wildlife corridors, as part of efforts to protect natural and agricultural lands and ensure clean water and a healthy economy.


7 lessons for the 2023 hurricane season from Hurricane Ian (Tampa Bay Times) - Lessons from Hurricane Ian include the importance of preparing for storm surge, the risk of inland flooding, the need to evacuate if in the forecast cone, the increasing occurrence of rapid intensification, the vulnerability of the Tampa Bay area to small shifts in storm tracks, the seriousness of official warnings, and the need for timely and thorough preparedness.


 

The people have the inherent political power pursuant to Article I, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution to create the fundamental right to clean and healthy waters. The passage of the amendment will declare this a fundamental right, which is indefeasible.



 

Other News

Supreme Court weakens EPA power to enforce Clean Water Act (Washington Post) - The Supreme Court has weakened the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate wetlands and waterways under the Clean Water Act, limiting the agency's authority to combat pollution; the ruling narrows the definition of "waters of the United States" protected by the law, potentially leading to weaker regulations and fewer federally protected wetlands and streams.


Sierra Club issues failing grades to Legislature’s GOP supermajority (Florida Politics) - The Sierra Club has given failing grades to the GOP supermajority in the Florida Legislature, including House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, for their actions that harm the state's ecosystems and prioritize profit over environmental conservation, such as approving budget items that preempt local ordinances on fertilizer use and passing legislation that restricts environmentally friendly actions and hinders resiliency projects.


Florida farmers getting assistance from AI technology (NBC-2) - Florida farmers are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as Agtools, to make informed decisions about when to grow, harvest, and ship their products, optimize resource usage, and stay competitive in the market by understanding consumer demands and pricing trends. AI tools help farmers track factors like commodity futures, shipping costs, and market conditions to improve profitability and sustainability in agriculture.


Inside the Billion-Dollar Effort to Clean Up the World’s Most Romantic River (Time) - Paris officials are undertaking a €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) project to clean up the Seine River, aiming to make it fit for swimming by next spring, which would allow Paris to become the world's first major urban area with inner-city bathing, providing environmental, economic, and cultural benefits for the city and potentially inspiring similar projects worldwide.


New billion-dollar water system in Florida Keys sent raw sewage into ocean, state says (Miami Herald) - Documents obtained by the Miami Herald reveal that parts of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System in the Florida Keys, a billion-dollar sewer system completed in 2017, have been leaking raw sewage into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, with repairs estimated to exceed $16 million and fines of over $45,000 imposed on the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) responsible for the system; the revelations come amid an investigation into the FKAA over freshwater main breaks threatening drinking water supply in the Keys.


In Panama, legal rights given to sea turtles, boosting the 'rights of nature' movement (AP News) - Panama has passed a law granting sea turtles legal rights to live and thrive in a healthy environment, marking a victory for the "rights of nature" movement and providing hope for similar measures in other countries; the law explicitly recognizes sea turtles as rights-holders and prohibits pollution, climate change, coastal development, and unregulated tourism that harm the turtles' well-being, allowing for legal enforcement and holding violators accountable.


 

Please throw away your trash and reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Gatis Sluka | Copyright 2018 Cagle Cartoons


 

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