October 28 Weekly Newsletter
Water Challenges in Indian River County
Indian River County, like much of Florida, is on the precipice of a water crisis. From saltwater intrusion to declining water quality, and to the loss of potentiometric flow—our community's water supply is under threat. Here's what you need to know and how we can collectively address these issues. Saltwater Intrusion Saltwater intrusion is a creeping menace that jeopardizes our freshwater aquifers. This process is often accelerated by over-pumping from wells, pulling saltwater further inland. Reversing saltwater contamination is both costly and challenging, making prevention crucial.
Loss of Potentiometric Flow The problem doesn't stop with saltwater intrusion. The loss of potentiometric flow—the natural movement of groundwater due to differences in water pressure—is a growing concern. Reduced pressure often leads to lowered flow rates from wells, requiring mechanical pumping. This adds to the cost of water extraction and makes our aquifers even more susceptible to saltwater intrusion. Additionally, declining potentiometric levels hinder the natural purification processes within the aquifer. The Risk of Abandoned and Free-Flowing Wells Yet another layer to our water woes is the presence of abandoned and free-flowing artesian wells. These unregulated water sources are far from harmless; they can waste millions of gallons of water daily and pose a significant risk of contamination. The uncontrolled flow from these wells exacerbates the strain on our aquifers, making them more vulnerable to the issues mentioned above. Addressing this problem is a necessary step in our broader strategy for water conservation and quality improvement in Indian River County. Proper well capping and regulation can play a pivotal role in preserving our vital water resources. The St. Johns River Water Management District has an abandoned artesian well plugging program. Learn more here.
A Collective Effort for Sustainable Solutions The challenges we face are complex and interrelated. Each issue compounds the other, underscoring the need for a multi-faceted approach to safeguard our water supply. Proactive measures like better regulation, public education, and inter-agency cooperation are not just desirable—they're essential.
It's a tall order, but together, we can work towards a sustainable water future for Indian River County. As for what you can do today, check out the St. Johns River Water Management District's Water Conservation Page for ideas on how you can conserve water in your personal and professional life.
Support the Right to Clean Water
Let's get it on the ballot so Florida voters can make the Right to Clean Water a REALITY! Print, sign, and send in your petition today! IRNA will be at several events in the next few weeks collecting petitions from attendees and we could use your help! Reach out to Karen Wynn at email@example.com to sign up for a shift!
News Headlines and Articles
County looks to reel in state funds for wish list of lagoon projects (Vero News) - Indian River County aims to secure a portion of $100 million in state grants for its newly developed lagoon plan, which outlines 88 water-quality projects valued at over $200 million to address issues like nutrient pollution, algal blooms, and habitat loss in the Indian River Lagoon.
Home sales and home prices down on Treasure Coast in September (TCPalm) - The Treasure Coast's housing market slowed in September with fewer but quicker sales and lower prices compared to August; rising mortgage rates and low inventory continue to affect affordability.
With billions needed for water projects, Florida needs to get better organized (VoteWater.org) - Florida needs a well-thought-out, multi-year plan to prioritize and fund water projects. This approach aims to tackle water quality issues efficiently. According to a report by Florida Tax Watch, the state should adopt a system similar to how it prioritizes transportation projects. The report emphasizes that better organization is crucial for solving Florida's water problems effectively.
In Florida, Gen Z Activists Step Into the Fight Against Sugarcane Burning (Inside Climate News) - Gen Z activist Christine Louis-Jeune is advocating against sugarcane burning in South Florida through the Sierra Club's Stop the Burn campaign.
Opinion: Don't railroad downtown Vero Beach and motorists by closing another key railroad crossing (TCPalm) - Florida Department of Transportation and Florida East Coast Railway are considering closing the 14th Avenue railroad crossing in Vero Beach in exchange for widening Aviation Boulevard, aiming to prevent motorists' wait times from increasing to 3.5 minutes by 2045 from 1.5 minutes now, but concerns have been raised about the impact on downtown Vero Beach's traffic and neighborhoods, with some advocating for the city and county to remember its history of successfully fighting railroad closures almost 50 years ago.
Well, so much for the theory Brightline wasn't planning a Treasure Coast stop. Now what? (TCPalm) - Brightline, despite earlier doubts, is now taking steps to fulfill its promise of establishing a passenger train station on the Treasure Coast, as it has put out a request for proposals from property owners along the rail line interested in hosting a station, aiming for it to be operational by the first quarter of 2028, with the CEO stating that this would likely be the only Treasure Coast station served by Brightline for the foreseeable future.
Oyster fight: The humble sea creature could hold the key to restoring coastal waters. Developers hate it. (Technology Review) - In Delaware, oyster aquaculture faces challenges due to regulatory burdens and opposition from waterfront property owners and recreational users, despite its potential to clean polluted waters and boost the local economy, with only about 7% of available water for farming currently under lease and a declining number of farmers since the program's launch, but there are efforts to overcome these obstacles, including proposed changes in regulations and initiatives to promote oyster farming for environmental restoration and economic growth.
48 gallons of raw sewage spill in Port St. Lucie neighborhood (CBS12) - Approximately 48 gallons of raw sewage spilled in a Port St. Lucie neighborhood due to a broken sewer service line, prompting a response from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
A multi-agency effort is underway to clean up South Florida waterways from derelict vessels that pose hazards for boaters and the environment. On Tuesday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced a joint effort with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County’s Illegal Dumping Unit called "Operation Clean Sweep."
For a more local scoop, Vero News had a story on this topic this week called, "Removal of derelict vessels from lagoon finally gets underway."
From a tropical storm to a category five hurricane in twelve hours: Hurricane Otis makes landfall in Mexico (Washington Post) - Hurricane Otis made landfall near Acapulco, Mexico, as a Category 5 hurricane with 165 mph winds, the strongest storm on record to hit Mexico, and rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just 12 hours due to abnormally warm ocean waters, posing a significant threat with catastrophic damage potential from storm surge, winds, and heavy rainfall, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricanes Now Twice as Likely to Strengthen and Grow, Study Finds (Gizmodo) - Warming ocean temperatures are causing hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean to double their likelihood of rapidly intensifying from small storms to strong Category 3 hurricanes within a day, according to a study published in Scientific Reports, posing increased challenges for preparation and evacuation in the face of such storms as a result of climate change-driven intensification.
A Florida Beach Paradise Needs Millions to Keep Toilets Flushing (Yahoo Finance) - Cape Coral, Florida, is issuing $138 million in municipal bonds to address its urgent need for improved water and sewer systems due to rapid population growth, making it among the top destinations for homebuyers, highlighting the demand for housing in Florida despite concerns about climate change.
Insurance industry in Florida having good 2023 — so far (WPTV) - Florida's insurance industry is experiencing improved profitability in 2023, thanks in part to a relatively quiet hurricane season, but this may not lead to lower premiums for policyholders as insurers need to price for expected risk over time, and legislative reforms are being watched for potential impacts on rates, according to experts.
Florida leaders blame insurance crisis on lawsuits, but evidence is thin (Yahoo News) - Despite claims that lawsuits are responsible for rising property insurance premiums and insurer insolvencies in Florida, there is a lack of concrete evidence supporting this assertion, as litigation has not been identified as the cause of any insurer failure in the past 15 years, and factors such as excessive payouts to affiliates and management issues have been cited instead, raising questions about the true drivers of the state's insurance crisis.
No Calm Before the Storm: U.S. Coastal Communities At Risk Of Becoming Uninsurable As Storm Activity Scares Insurers (Coastal News Today) - The increasing impact of climate change on U.S. coastal regions, with rising sea levels and intensifying tropical storms, is raising concerns that some properties in high-risk communities could become uninsurable, leading to a potential decline in their long-term value as insurance companies exit catastrophe-prone areas, leaving limited coverage options and reliance on government programs like the National Flood Insurance Program.
Condo Wars: After HOA corruption arrests, Florida’s community management industry works to weaken reform bills (Sun-Sentinel) -Efforts to reform condominium and homeowner association laws, prompted by corruption arrests within community associations, resulted in weakened legislation, raising concerns that it may not adequately protect homeowners from abuse and fraud by boards and management companies, despite strong advocacy for reforms by some residents and officials.
Heads up for the November 7 elections! We heard back from several Vero Beach and Sebastian City Council candidates. Honey Minuse, Taylor Dingle, and John Cotugno from Vero Beach shared their thoughts. Damian H. Gilliams (Sr.), Sherrie Matthews, and Bob McPartlan from Sebastian also weighed in. Check out their positions before you vote!
What Happens When Your City’s Water Supply is Compromised? (21st Century Tech) - New Orleans is facing a freshwater challenge due to prolonged drought in the areas that feed freshwater into the Mississippi River, resulting in saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico upstream, prompting the need for federal funding to build a new pipeline for freshwater supply.
21 species removed from endangered list due to extinction, U.S. wildlife officials say (CBS News) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is removing nearly two dozen species from the endangered species list because they are extinct, most of which were listed under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s or 1980s and were found to be very low in numbers or likely already extinct at the time of listing, highlighting the need for conservation efforts to prevent species decline and extinction.
Global Fossil Fuel Demand Will Peak By 2030 Amid ‘Unstoppable’ Shift To Green Energy, IEA Says (Forbes) - Global fossil fuel demand is projected to peak by 2030 as the world transitions towards clean energy sources, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which is urging investors to support renewables and move away from fossil fuels, highlighting the ongoing shift towards electric vehicles and renewable energy, but emphasizing the need for continued investment in fossil fuels to meet demand through the end of the decade.
‘We Are Afraid’: Scientists Issue New Warning As World Enters ‘Uncharted Climate Territory’ (Coastal News Today) - A group of international scientists has issued a stark warning that human activity is driving the planet into a climate crisis, with record climate anomalies in 2023 indicating that up to 6 billion people could face regions that are no longer habitable due to climate impacts, as extreme weather and climate tipping points may arrive sooner than expected.
The World Solved Acid Rain. We Can Also Solve Climate Change (Scientific American) - Lessons from addressing the problem of acid rain, such as the importance of cost-effective technology, evolving climate agreements, and bipartisan support from elected officials, can provide insights into tackling climate change today, offering hope and potential strategies for addressing the current environmental crisis.
New England's $510 million lobster economy reels from near 40% population plunge (Fortune) - The population of young lobsters has decreased by nearly 40% in crucial fishing waters off New England, prompting new restrictions on lobster fishermen to protect the declining lobster population.
This land isn’t for you or me. It’s for the meat industry. (Vox) - An environmental group has sued the federal government for failing to protect turtles from the environmental damage caused by cattle ranching on public land in the American West, highlighting the disruption of ecosystems and pollution caused by cattle grazing, which has led to biodiversity loss and poses environmental challenges.
New Study Finds That the Gulf Stream is Warming and Shifting Closer to Shore (Coastal News Today) - A recent study published in Nature Climate Change reveals that over the past two decades, the Gulf Stream, a crucial ocean current, has warmed faster than the global ocean as a whole and has shifted closer to the coast of the Northeastern United States, impacting weather patterns and coastal fisheries.
What’s Killing the Salmon in Our Urban Streams? A Mystery is Now Solved. (Earthjustice) - A chemical called 6PPD, used in tires since the 1950s to prevent degradation, has been identified as the cause of "urban runoff mortality syndrome," which has been decimating salmon returning to freshwater streams in the Pacific Northwest, leading tribes to petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish regulations prohibiting the use of 6PPD in tires.
West Antarctic ice sheet faces ‘unavoidable’ melting, a warning for sea level rise (Washington Post) - New research indicates that West Antarctic ice shelves are facing "unavoidable" melting due to rapidly warming waters around them, potentially leading to more significant sea level rise than previously predicted, with implications for coastal regions and communities.
Here's how Americans feel about climate change (NPR) - A new national survey by the Pew Research Center reveals that most Americans believe climate change is harming the U.S. today, anticipate worsening climate impacts over their lifetime, and expect climate-driven disasters to intensify in the future, with younger generations expressing more concern and activism on the issue.
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