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November 11, 2023 Weekly Newsletter


Check out the New Native Plant Garden!

The Beach U.S. Post Office on Cardinal Drive in Vero Beach now hosts the county’s third Native Plant Demonstration Garden, courtesy of a partnership between Pelican Island Audubon Society and the IRNA. This garden is a step forward in environmental stewardship.


Volunteers have prepped the site, clearing the old grass, and just last weekend planted some lovely native flora. Soon, the space will flourish with native plants and shrubs, transforming the post office landscape.


So, when you're next at the beachside post office, take a moment to see the progress. It's a community effort in action, turning everyday spaces into examples of sustainability. Keep an eye on this spot; it's set to grow into something beautiful and educational for everyone. And who knows, maybe your own yard or garden could be next!


 

On the Vero Beach and Sebastian City Council Elections


Congratulations to the newly elected and returning city council members in both Vero Beach and Sebastian. In Vero Beach, we extend our best wishes to Mayor John Cotugno and Taylor Dingle on their successful campaigns. Similarly, in Sebastian, we congratulate incumbents Fred Jones, Bob McPartlan, and Christopher Robert Nunn on their reelections. A special acknowledgment also goes out to all candidates who ran but were not elected, for their well-fought campaigns and dedication to our community.


While we celebrate these victories, it's crucial to reflect on the low voter turnout this election cycle. With only a 21.31% participation from eligible voters, it's a reminder of the importance of voting. Your vote is your voice, and it's instrumental in shaping the future of our towns and cities.


We urge everyone to stay engaged and exercise their right to vote in future elections to ensure that all community voices are heard and represented. Here's to working together towards a thriving and environmentally conscious community with our new council members! We’re looking forward to working with you all on important issues.


 

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Your support is more than a donation; it's an investment in education and a cleaner, healthier community. By backing our mission, you're taking a stand for safe, reliable water access. We're grateful for your partnership; we can't do it without you, please donate today. Thank you.


 

Support the Right to Clean Water


Time is of the essence, and your voice is crucial. We must gather all petitions by the month's end to ensure we have December to organize and submit them to the county Supervisors of Elections. This goal is ambitious but entirely achievable—with clean water at stake, we must rally every resource and supporter. We're calling on every Floridian who holds clean water dear to amplify this message: Spread the word far and wide—through your networks of friends, family, and any groups you're part of. Make it clear that the chance to cast a vote for the right to clean water in 2024 is slipping away as 2023 draws to a close. Let's seize this moment and make a lasting difference for our waterways! IRNA is still working hard collecting petitions we could use your help! Reach out to Karen Wynn at kwynn826@gmail.com to sign up for a shift!


 

News Headlines and Articles

One year after Hurricane Nicole: boardwalks, beaches still remain unrepaired (TCPalm) - Hurricane Nicole caused extensive, still unrepaired damage along the Treasure Coast, impacting boardwalks, beaches, and boat ramps, with local governments awaiting federal reimbursements for repairs, while unearthing Native American remains and causing significant erosion.


To no one’s surprise, Vero out of mix for a Brightline station (veronews.com) - IRC, excluded from the Brightline high-speed train station selection process, reflects the community's preference for local well-being over potential economic benefits, following Indian River County's unsuccessful $4 million effort to halt the train's extension.


Brightline trains: What time do they run through your city? TCPalm clocked the crossings (TCPalm) - Brightline runs 30 high-speed trains daily between Orlando and Miami without stops on the Treasure Coast, with TCPalm staff recording crossing times at various points to estimate a complete schedule for the Treasure Coast's 87 intersections.


How ‘Dirty Money’ keeps the powerful in power (votewater.org) - VoteWater's research on the "Dirty Money Project" reveals that political contributions from polluting special interests in the U.S. are more closely tied to power and clout than ideology, with Republicans receiving more at the state level due to their supermajority, and Democrats receiving significant amounts federally due to a more even political split.


Bayer hit with $332 million judgement in trial of man who blames his cancer on decades using Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller (Fortune) - A California jury awarded $332 million to Mike Dennis, who claims his cancer is linked to long-term use of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller, with Bayer, Monsanto's parent company, planning to appeal the verdict and the punitive damages amount.


Author Dan Egan talks with The Texas Tribune about phosphorus overuse and toxic algae blooms (Texas Tribune) - Dan Egan's book "The Devil’s Element: Phosphorus and a World Out of Balance" explores the dual role of phosphorus as a vital fertilizer component and a cause of toxic algae blooms, highlighting the need for sustainable phosphorus usage and management to prevent environmental damage.


 

Craving a touch of yuletide green in the Florida sun? Embrace the holiday spirit with Florida's native evergreens—a perfect way to celebrate the season's joy.



 

'Their silence is killing people': Residents want health warnings about sugar-cane fires (Palm Beach Post) - Residents and activists in Palm Beach County protested outside the Department of Health, demanding warnings about the health impacts of smoke from sugarcane fires, which have been linked to respiratory issues and premature deaths in nearby communities.


Some houses are being built to stand up to hurricanes and sharply cut emissions, too (AP News) - Developers are constructing hurricane-resistant and environmentally friendly homes, integrating features like snugly fitted solar panels and preserved wetlands, to both withstand extreme weather and reduce carbon emissions.


Is dredging up Indian River Lagoon muck the best bang for the buck? (Coastal News Today) - The dredging of the Indian River Lagoon, particularly in the Grand Canal area, raises questions about the effectiveness of such environmental efforts and their impact on water quality, despite the significant investment of $27 million in the project, as some residents express concerns about the lack of visible wildlife and unforeseen challenges, while scientists continue to study the environmental benefits of lagoon dredging.


Okeechobee County to receive $10.2 million in FDEP grants (southcentralfloridalife.com) - Okeechobee County is set to receive $10.2 million in grants from the FDEP Resilient Florida Program for flood protection and stormwater improvements in several residential areas and the Nubbin Slough area, without requiring matching funds from the county.


From research to lawsuits, nonprofit defends local waterways (Your Observer) - Suncoast Waterkeeper, a nonprofit environmental group in Florida, is actively working to protect and restore local waterways including Sarasota Bay and the Manatee River, through legal action against illegal activities, monitoring water quality, and advocating for better environmental policies.


Sewer rates soar as private companies buy up local water systems (Missouri Independent) - Pennsylvania's "fair market value" law, allowing private companies to buy local water systems at higher prices, has led to significant sewer rate increases for residents, with critics arguing this privatization prioritizes profit over the public's right to affordable water.


 

Free-flowing artesian wells can waste millions of gallons of water each day. The district has a program to help stop this waste of water. See an overview or visit our website at www.sjrwmd.com/education/abandoned-wells.


 

Commission digs deeply into stinky problem of septic tanks (Miami Today News) - This is a statewide issue, and Miami has a lot of septic tanks! Miami-Dade County Commissioners, frustrated with the lack of progress in addressing septic tank issues, have created a new program offering financial assistance for residents to connect to sewer systems, aiming to improve environmental health and address the widespread problem of failing septic tanks.


Michigan Farm Is Cautionary Tale of PFAS Contamination and Sewage Sludge Fertilizer (DTNPF) - The widespread issue of PFAS contamination in the U.S., particularly in states like Michigan and Maine, is causing significant problems for farmers, with contaminated water and land leading to unusable produce and livestock, and the lack of clear regulatory standards exacerbating the crisis.


Court tosses EPA ban on pesticide linked to brain damage in kids (The Hill) - A federal appeals court has overturned the EPA's ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, citing the need for the agency to more thoroughly assess if there are any safe uses for it in agriculture.


Who is eating all the fish? The number of overfished stocks has tripled over the past 50 years, as fishing fleets push further afield to feed their growing populations. (SMH) - Global marine fish stocks are critically overfished, largely due to extensive and often illegal fishing practices by international fleets, especially from China, threatening ocean ecosystems and the livelihoods of small coastal fishing communities.


Commentary: The ocean of yesterday is not the ocean of tomorrow (Coastal News Today) - The unprecedented algae bloom in the Gulf of Maine highlights the urgent need for enhanced ocean data collection and analysis to adapt to the changing marine environment, emphasizing the impact of climate change on oceanic conditions and the importance of collaborative efforts for effective adaptation and mitigation strategies.


From wastewater to drinking water? Polk County launches pilot program to increase water production (WFLA) - Polk County has launched a $2.5 million pilot program to treat wastewater to drinking water standards, aiming to address limited water sources and future needs.


Why it's so hard to stop building homes in places at risk from climate (Coastal News Today) - The dilemma facing many U.S. communities is whether to build homes in areas at risk from climate change, a decision complicated by the need for housing, local economic reliance on property taxes, and the increasing frequency of climate-related disasters causing extensive damage and loss of life.


China releases methane plan as hopes rise for new climate agreement with US (The Guardian) - China's publication of a methane reduction plan indicates potential progress towards a new climate agreement with the U.S., building on their joint commitment at Cop26 and paving the way for further collaboration on climate change ahead of COP28. Despite challenges, such as differing approaches to coal use and methane emission targets, the renewed dialogues between U.S. and Chinese climate envoys suggest an opportunity for significant climate action.


 

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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