May 6, 2023 Weekly Newsletter
Yesterday,on May 5, the legislative session ended. Unfortunately, several undesirable bills passed. In the last week, the IRNA sent four letters to Governor DeSantis, urging him to veto specific bills while explaining our concerns. Click below to see our letters or follow the link to the bills to read more about them.
HB 1515 & SB 170 (Link to bill) - Preemption of Local Ordinances
HB 1191 & SB 1258 (Link to bill) - Use of Phosphogypsum
Veto HB 359 & SB 540 2023 (Link to bill) - Local Government Comprehensive Plans Premption
The harmful fertilizer preemption (Snuck into the budget, more info here)
We now ask you to email Governor DeSantis at governorRon.DeSantis@eog.myflorida.com, requesting that he veto these harmful bills. Even a short email with "VETO SB170!" in the subject line is helpful. The more unpopular a bill is, the more likely Governor DeSantis will veto it. Please take a moment to do your part.
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Check out this really well done 13 minute documentary. From the nonprofit conservation organization, Project Paradise, comes the film, The Water State, which illustrates how Florida’s governmental protections have failed to protect the state’s precious freshwater springs, which are now facing imminent extinction. The aquifer system underlying Florida’s springs is the main source of freshwater for the state.
The short documentary explores Florida’s state-controlled water management districts’ excessive approval of water-drawing permits. The Water State profiles the story of a particularly controversial permit that the district awarded to Nestle Waters North America. The water permit, which cost $115, allows the multinational corporation to pump up to one million gallons of water per day out of Ginnie Springs.
News Impacting Indian River County
DOH issues toxic algae health alert for Martin County's St. Lucie Canal, Lake Okeechobee (TCPalm) - The Florida Department of Health issued a health alert due to toxic blue-green algae containing the toxin microcystin measuring 2.8 parts per billion in water samples taken on May 1 near Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie Canal in Martin County, Florida, advising the public to avoid contact with the water.
Marine businesses sue Army Corps, others for railroad bridge control (TCPalm) - Marine business leaders in Martin County have filed a federal lawsuit against Florida East Coast Railway, the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers over the scheduled drawbridge closures for Brightline trains, which they fear will obstruct the St. Lucie River and cost them millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Breeze Airways popularity here flying high; will expand service to Northeast (Vero News) - Budget airline Breeze Airways is expanding its service to offer daily flights to and from Hartford, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York, from Vero Beach, Florida, after just three months of operation, citing strong demand for its flights, and may add other destinations in the future. House agrees to Senate language on septic tank, Florida Forever package (Florida Politics) - The Florida House approved a bill that bans new septic tanks in several environmentally sensitive areas, imposes stricter standards on septic tanks, and enhances the Florida Forever program. The Senate passed the bill previously.
Home2 Suites by Hilton proposed for Indian River Drive near Sebastian (TCPalm) - Miami-based Wynne Building Corporation has proposed building a 98-room Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel on a 2.8-acre parcel at 11360 S. Indian River Drive in Sebastian, near the Sebastian city line, however, local residents and council members have voiced their concerns over the environmental impact, traffic, and the hotel's design, with several other hotels having failed to develop on the same spot in the past. Florida manatees dying; lawsuit filed to protect them (AP News) - This is a new lawsuit, not the same one that's been in the news recently. Several conservation groups plan to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect the West Indian manatee following record death rates in recent years.
Central Florida lakes, rivers face more algae blooms in warming world (Florida Today) - Not far from us! The St. Johns River and Lake Washington in Florida face more frequent and severe droughts, making them saltier, more algae-prone, and difficult and expensive to treat, as higher carbon dioxide in air and water speeds up toxic algae growth, and state and local officials warn that the era of cheap, easy-to-treat water is drawing to an end.
Flood insurance costs soar in South Florida. New rates to double, even triple for many (Miami Herald) - A sign of things to come? Flood insurance premiums will soar for South Florida homeowners as FEMA changes the way it calculates premiums, factoring in the distance from the ocean, rainfall levels, and rebuilding costs, with the worst-hit zip code set to experience a 342% premium increase.
NASA program aims to help fix lagoon woes: What you need to know (Florida Today) - NASA has launched a pilot program in partnership with local organizations to recover seagrass around the Kennedy Space Center, with the hope that it could eventually spread throughout the Indian River Lagoon.
Banning Fertilizer Bans: Dirty Trick by Legislature will Lead to Dirtier Water (Vote Water) - The Florida Legislature passed an implementing bill that would eliminate local governments’ ability to adopt strict fertilizer control ordinances for the next year, which would result in dirtier water across the state, and may be followed by legislation designed to make it permanent.
There is no right to pollute our shared waters. There is no right to destroy our shared environment. There is no right to degrade the rights and interests of others.
There is, however, a right to clean and healthy waters, and by enshrining it in our state's constitution, it will be abundantly clear to all where our priorities lie as Floridians.
$4.3M flows from Senate, House 'sprinkle lists' to septic-to-sewer projects (Florida Politics) - The Florida Legislature has allocated $4.3 million in last-minute funding for four septic-to-sewer conversion projects in Central, South, and Northwest Florida, which are expected to help address septic tank malfunctions caused by rising sea levels, but could still be vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis.
Florida fertilizer ban measure (Axios Tampa Bay) - The Florida Legislature's recent move to block seasonal fertilizer bans could hinder local efforts to improve water quality, with conservation groups and some lawmakers warning that it will exacerbate nutrient pollution and the toxic algae bloom known as red tide, which has been known to devastate marine life and repel tourists. Community Foundation awards $44,000 to three local nonprofits (Indian River Community Foundation) - Congrats to our friends in the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County for the grant supporting their amazing low-income Septic to Sewer project! Saving Paradise benefit inspired to love and protect lagoon (Vero News) - The Pelican Island Audubon Society hosted a fundraiser called 'Saving Paradise: Protecting What You Value,' during which attendees raised funds for protecting the Indian River Lagoon and heard from guest speakers who discussed the environmental problems the lagoon is facing and how people can help.
Sewall's Point dismayed at stormwater bid (Hometown News TC) - The town manager of Sewall's Point, Florida, revealed that the only bid for the third phase of an ongoing stormwater work along South Sewall’s Point Road had come in at $4 million over budget, highlighting the increasing costs of labor and materials caused by the pandemic, which could be a harbinger of things to come to our area.
Florida Fishing This Weekend: Grouper, Dolphin, Snook are biting; Sharks an issue; Wickstrom Reef (TCPalm) - The Florida fishing season has opened for grouper and hogfish, with new rules for cobia in state waters and a snook harvest closure coming up, while the spiny lobster mini-season will open in July, and Headwaters Lake bass fishing will soon be catch-and-release only.
What a pending Supreme Court ruling could mean for Biden's new clean water protections (Coastal News Today) - The US Supreme Court is set to rule on the Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency case, which could potentially restrict the federal government's authority to protect wetlands and other waterways under the Clean Water Act, with environmental advocates expressing concern that the court's conservative majority could impose a narrow reading on what counts as one of the "waters of the United States."
Florida's Conservation Voice in DC (Florida Wildlife Federation) - This is an interesting look at how environmental lobbying works in Washington DC. The Florida Wildlife Federation traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for the 2023 Farm Bill and the Recovering America's Wildlife Act, focusing on priorities such as protecting conservation funding, expanding Sodsaver nationwide, advancing wildlife corridors and connectivity, and dedicating robust funding to recovering threatened and endangered species.
CarbonWave: Great Atlantic Sargassum Bloom & Seaweed Products (The Cooldown) - Carbonwave, an innovative startup with locations in the US, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, is turning sargassum seaweed that washes up on Florida's beaches into multiple different assets, including fertilizers, emulsifiers for use in cosmetics, and even a vegan leather alternative.
Lovers of historic Florida buildings can relax. Bill that threatened them is dead (Miami Herald) - A bill that threatened historic preservation in Florida, including Miami Beach's Art Deco district, has been abandoned by its House sponsor after receiving criticism from preservationists and concerned constituents. The bill aimed to end local control of historic preservation and allow property owners and developers to demolish historic buildings in coastal communities.
The Fun at the End of the Newsletter:
In honor of National Paranormal Day this past week: the six most haunted places in Florida. Click here.