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November 4, 2023 Weekly Newsletter

Election Day is November 7!

On November 7th, Vero Beach and Sebastian will host city council elections – an important day that empowers you to help shape the future of our community. Your vote is a profound expression of your voice, a chance to stand up for what matters to you in Indian River County.

Our local city councils have substantial influence over community policies, which impact our daily lives. From water quality regulations to urban development, their decisions affect us all. This election season, learn more about the candidates by exploring their responses to questions from the IRNA and CWC below. History has shown that every vote counts in IRC, especially in off-year elections where turnout is traditionally low. There have been instances in our county where a few dozen votes would have swung the election results. Your participation can make a real difference!

With a spirited community presence at the polls, we can foster a city council dedicated to our collective values and aspirations. So mark your calendar, spread the word, and let’s come together on November 7th to exercise our democratic right.

Stay informed, stay engaged, and most importantly, make your vote count!


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News Headlines and Articles

Sprinkle less, save more: a waterwise approach (SJRWMD) - Starting on November 5, residents in the St. Johns River Water Management District (That's us in IRC) are encouraged to limit outdoor irrigation to once a week during the cooler months to conserve water, save on water bills, and prevent issues associated with overwatering, as part of efforts to protect water resources and quality in the region. Please do your part and talk to your HOA about this!

Here's what Florida's Legislature should prioritize in 2024 (Vote Water) - The 2024 Legislative Priorities on aim to protect wetlands, oppose bans on fertilizer bans, manage blue-green algae and development, regulate Lake Okeechobee discharges, and stop sugarcane burning, emphasizing proactive clean water advocacy.

Vero Beach wants to redevelop downtown, voters may have a say next November how it's done (TCPalm) - Vero Beach is planning to redevelop its downtown, with options including a new masterplan and increased housing density, and voters may have input on funding methods and other decisions in a future referendum.

Freight train strikes pickup that crashed on tracks after race (Vero News) - In Indian River County, a freight train collided with a pickup truck that had crashed onto the railroad tracks following a race with another truck, with both drivers suspected of being under the influence, and reckless driving citations issued, while a DUI investigation is ongoing.

Brightline trains: How much warning do you get? TCPalm timed it. Here's what we found (TCPalm) - A survey conducted by TCPalm found that when a Brightline train approaches an intersection on the Treasure Coast, the warning time from when the bells, lights, and crossing gates activate until the train arrives ranges from 29 to 44 seconds, with a total wait time at the intersection of about 55 to 70 seconds, and motorists are urged to adhere to safety precautions at railroad crossings.

Brightline trains: How loud are horns compared to FEC? TCPalm used a decibel meter to find out. (TCPalm) - Both FEC and Brightline train horns are equally loud at approximately 118 decibels, with residents along the tracks expressing annoyance at the frequency of 30 Brightline trains passing throughout the day compared to occasional FEC freight trains, and some residents are calling for fewer Brightline trains to alleviate the annoyance.

These days, it’s FL developers who are sneaking in and swiping natural resources from the public (Florida Phoenix) - Thanks to historical advocacy from groups (like the IRNA) and individuals much of this doesn’t happen in IRC. We are lucky to have impact fees here to support our infrastructure and help growth contribute to the community as a whole. It boggles the mind this sort of corruption can happen anywhere in 2023, but here we are.

Food Waste Produces More Than 50% of U.S. Landfill Methane Emissions, EPA Says (EcoWatch) - The EPA reports that over 50% of U.S. landfill methane emissions are generated by food waste, emphasizing the urgent need to reduce food waste and manage its disposal to mitigate its environmental impact. Learn more about composting here.


"Protect Our Paradise" follows Chad Crawford across Florida, unveiling crucial environmental challenges. Each episode reveals a unique aspect of Florida's environment, celebrating the individuals devoted to preserving its wildlife, wild landscapes, and clean waters​​. Check out the series to look into Florida's environmental narrative and meet the stewards of its natural beauty.


Septic Waste Application Site Located Across from Local Schools (Hernando Sun) - A biosolids land application site across from local schools in Hernando County has faced recurring odor complaints and potential non-compliance with the EPA's regulations, emphasizing the need for better waste management practices and odor control measures.

New study shows some parts of Brevard County underwater in 80 years, infrastructure at risk (WESH) - Parts of Brevard County in Florida are at risk of being underwater within the next 80 years due to sea level rise, prompting local efforts to address infrastructure vulnerabilities and enhance resilience in the face of environmental changes.

Deep Dive: Here’s what Big Sugar can do to fix flooding in the Everglades (VoteWater) - High water levels in the central Everglades are causing floods, prompting debates over opening Tamiami Trail floodgates and the need for updated water management strategies, including raising water tables in agricultural areas and urging local landowners to take responsibility for water storage.

The Hurricane Otis Forecast Bust And An Important Lesson (Coastal News Today) - Hurricane Otis exhibited rapid intensification, becoming a Category 5 hurricane much faster than expected, raising questions about the accuracy of the forecast and prompting further study in the research community.

Re-listing manatees as an endangered species is just the beginning | Opinion (Sun-Sentinel) - The call to re-list manatees as endangered is essential, but the primary concern for manatees in Florida should also be addressing widespread water quality degradation caused by various sources, transcending political blame games, and focusing on comprehensive water quality reform.

SFWMD plans above ground reservoir in Highlands County (South Central Florida Life) - The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are progressing plans for the Lake Okeechobee Component A Reservoir (LOCAR), a key element of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), aiming to secure federal funding in the 2024 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). This reservoir will store and manage water north of Lake Okeechobee to benefit the environment and water supply, focusing on reducing extreme high or low water stages in the lake and mitigating water supply cutbacks during droughts.

How humans broke a natural law that governed ocean life for millions of years (Coastal News Today) - Human activity, particularly industrial fishing, has disrupted the long-standing mathematical relationship governing marine life known as the Sheldon spectrum, which balanced the total mass of marine populations as individual sizes varied, with larger marine creatures being disproportionately impacted by overfishing and habitat destruction.

Sheep grazing on solar farms make a greener mix for Dominion Energy ( - Dominion Energy is using sheep grazing on solar farms, including the Puller solar facility, to manage vegetation growth, which helps ensure efficient energy generation and provides an additional income source for farmers like Marcus Gray. FPL has discussed doing this as well at their solar farms and it could be a great way to manage them!

Senator pitches investment in property insurer after voting to limit lawsuits (Orlando Sentinel) - Investors are showing interest in Florida's insurance market due to high premiums and recent legislation limiting lawsuits against insurance companies, with some lawmakers, including Senator Joe Gruters, exploring opportunities to invest in new homeowners insurance companies that promise significant returns on investment.


Did you know that November is Manatee Awareness Month? These gentle giants, often referred to as "sea cows," play an important role in maintaining the ecological balance of our waterways. As temperatures drop, manatees migrate to warmer waters, making it a critical time for us to be vigilant and ensure their safe passage.

Manatees face numerous threats, primarily from habitat loss, watercraft collisions, and pollution. As residents of a county with where Manatees visit, we have a unique opportunity to advocate for and protect these peaceful creatures.

Here's how you can help:

  1. Boat Responsibly: Always adhere to posted speed zone signs in manatee habitats. Be vigilant for their presence, especially in shallow areas.

  2. Maintain Clean Waterways: Reduce pollution by properly disposing of trash and minimizing the use of harmful chemicals that can run off into the water.

  3. Educate and Engage: Learn more about manatees and share this knowledge with your community. Awareness is a key step in conservation.

Let's celebrate Manatee Awareness Month not just in spirit but through actions that make a real difference in protecting these beloved members of our Florida ecosystem.

Together, we can ensure that manatees continue to thrive in our beautiful Indian River County.


A pilot crash-landed in the Florida Everglades and waited on his plane's wing over alligator-infested water for hours until he was rescued (Insider) - A pilot crash-landed in alligator-infested waters in the Florida Everglades, spending hours on the wing of his plane surrounded by dangerous wildlife, eventually being rescued with a hoist from a helicopter, with authorities remarking on his lucky escape from the thick brush.

Toxic 100 Air Polluters Index (2022 Report, Based on 2020 Data) (University of Massachusetts) - The Toxic 100 Air edition ranks companies based on comparative chronic human health risk from air pollutants released or transferred to incinerators in the US in 2020, using RSEI scores, quantity of toxic air releases, and environmental justice factors, with data sources including the US EPA and Corporate Toxics Information Project (CTIP).

Humans are disrupting natural 'salt cycle' on a global scale, new study shows ( - A new scientific review led by University of Maryland reveals that human activities are disrupting Earth's natural "salt cycle," affecting air, soil, and freshwater salinity, which could pose an "existential threat" if current trends continue, with potential consequences for the environment and human health.

Rough Seas Ahead? Supreme Court to Reconsider Chevron Doctrine (Coastal News Today) - The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to reconsider the Chevron doctrine, which dictates courts to defer to a federal agency's reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute delegated by Congress, with a specific focus on whether statutory silence in controversial powers should require agency deference, in the case Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce.

Hitting too close to home: how collapses in Rodanthe foreshadow the future of beachfront properties (Coastal News Today) - A series of beachfront property collapses in Rodanthe, North Carolina, has raised concerns about the impact of rising global ocean temperatures, leading to accelerated sea level rise and beach erosion, with researchers citing a retreat rate of 10-15 feet per year, prompting the exploration of new protection options such as the National Park Service's pilot program to buy and safely remove vulnerable houses.

If You Didn’t Care About Antarctica’s Icy Belly, You Will Now (Wired) - Antarctica's ice sheet grounding line, where it meets the sea, is under threat from rising global temperatures, and new research, including the use of underwater robots like Icefin, is shedding light on the complex dynamics, such as crevasses and subglacial discharge, that could accelerate the melting of Antarctic glaciers and contribute significantly to sea level rise, emphasizing the urgency of reducing carbon emissions to mitigate these effects.

Deadly Explosion off Nigeria Points to Threat From Aging Oil Ships Around the World (Coastal News Today) - The deadly explosion on the Trinity Spirit, an aging oil tanker off the coast of Nigeria, highlights the global threat posed by old tankers and offshore oil platforms, many of which are in a state of disrepair and continue to operate, risking catastrophic accidents and environmental damage.

Whale deaths: Climate change and pollution kill whales, not wind (Coastal News Today) - Claims that offshore wind development is responsible for whale deaths are categorically false, as the surge in whale deaths is primarily caused by ship strikes, entanglement in fishing nets and lines, and plastic pollution, not wind development, according to Greenpeace and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A Guide to Six Greenwashing Terms Big Ag is Bringing to COP28 (DeSmog) - The article outlines the increasing use of greenwashing tactics by major agriculture firms, particularly in the meat and dairy sectors, to influence the COP28 climate summit, emphasizing their role in high emissions and the potential risk these tactics pose to meaningful 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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