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  • Writer's pictureIRNA

October 7, 2023 Weekly Newsletter


When you flush your toilet, if you're on a sewer system, the wastewater begins its voyage to a treatment plant. Here, it undergoes a rigorous cleaning process, shedding unwanted materials and leaving behind byproducts, one of which is biosolids. These nutrient-rich organic materials are often repurposed as fertilizers for agricultural lands.


However, the use of biosolids is not without its challenges. They can carry traces of contaminants like heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals such as PFAS and PFOS. When applied to land, these pollutants can potentially leach into the soil and waterways, posing risks to both the environment and human health.


Excessive phosphorus, often found in these biosolids, further complicates the matter. While plants need phosphorus for growth, most of Florida’s soil already contain abundant levels of this nutrient. When these biosolids are applied, the surplus phosphorus can wash into streams, which can then lead to the Lagoon, exacerbating water quality issues.


The byproduct issue isn't new. We’ve been grappling with waste disposal long before the advent of modern wastewater treatment. However, innovative solutions are emerging to tackle the biosolid conundrum. One such solution is the Janicki Bioenergy Omniprocessor, or Janicki system, which transforms biosolids into electricity, distilled water, ammonia, and potash, all of which have commercial value. All toxic compounds are processed into these by-products, ensuring they are environmentally safe.


Similar advancements are converting biosolids into valuable materials like biochar or syngas, which can be utilized to enrich soil or as fuel, respectively. These advancements are not just smart waste management—they're steps toward resource recycling.


Recently, Heartland Water Technology showcased a novel method to handle biosolids. By drying them and then using a high-heat process, they're able to reduce volume and convert the material into renewable energy, annihilating harmful compounds in the process. This could be a game-changer in managing biosolids efficiently and addressing contamination concerns.


By recycling biosolids into useful resources, we divert them from landfills or spreading on lands, contributing to a safer environment. None of these alternative methods are perfect, but Florida, particularly Indian River County, has a chance to lead the charge in embracing these cutting-edge technologies to mitigate the adverse effects and algae blooms caused by biosolids. Reach out to elected officials and ask them to do something about the preventable pollution from Biosolids! It's time to encourage our State to invest and support these innovations. They're not just about managing wastewater byproducts; they're about taking strides toward a sustainable and eco-friendly community.


 

Please note that next week, on October 14, we will send a shortened version of our newsletter. We will be back to our usual schedule on October 21.


 

Are you new? Do you want to receive this as an email weekly? If so click here to sign up! We're happy to have you!



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.


 

Don't Miss This Event Next Week!


📅 When: Tuesday, October 10, 5:00 to 6:30 PM (drop in/drop out) 📍 Where: Walking Tree Brewery, 3209 Dodger Rd., Vero Beach (near the airport) 🍻 Enjoy: Award-winning beers, wines, sodas (available for purchase)


Join the Indian River Neighborhood Association for a relaxed evening of conversation and camaraderie at Walking Tree Brewery. Talk with local officials and Sebastian and Vero Beach City Council candidates in an informal setting. We have found this offers everyone attending a chance to discuss pressing issues and get to know each other better. This is a great opportunity to connect with those who are and will be shaping our community.


Feel free to bring a friend or neighbor, everyone is welcome! Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

The Indian River Neighborhood Association (IRNA) and the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County (CWC) are always eager to provide our community with the information they need to make informed decisions. With the upcoming elections for both Sebastian City Council and Vero Beach City Council, we reached out to candidates with a comprehensive questionnaire. The questions addressed key issues from water/lagoon conservation and growth management to future visions for both cities.


For the Vero Beach City Council, we appreciate the complete responses we received from Honey Minuse, Taylor Dingle, and John Cotugno. Their input provides valuable insights into their vision and plans for Vero Beach's future.


For the Sebastian City Council, we received answers from Damian H. Gilliams (Sr.), Sherrie Matthews, and Bob McPartlan. We sincerely thank them for their commitment to transparency and their efforts in addressing our community's concerns. However, we'd like to note that Damien L.“Junior” Gilliams, Fred Jones, and Christopher Robert Nunn did not respond despite several attempts to reach them.


We encourage all eligible voters to read the candidates' answers, which are presented without edits. Their responses can give a clearer picture of their stance on key issues and their vision for the future of our beloved cities. Let their words guide your decisions as you head to the polls, and remember to vote on November 7!


 

Support the Right to Clean Water


With statewide, tangible actions, we can collect and process the number of signatures we need in the time we have left -- but only if we're honest, only if we're courageous, and only if we truly love what we're fighting for. Get involved! 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 kwynn826@gmail.com to sign up for a shift!


 

News Headlines and Articles

Rude awakening as state disallows bed-tax increase (Vero News) - The state of Florida disallowed Indian River County's planned bed tax increase, which would have raised revenue for beach restoration. This decision means the county will miss out on over $1 million in funding for environmental efforts.


Rowdy element making weekend trouble beachside (Vero News) - The considerable growth in the Vero Beach area has led to recurring issues of rowdiness, vandalism, and crime, with the influx of non-residents causing problems primarily associated with late-night activities, resulting in concerns among local merchants and residents.


Spate of A1A projects driving motorists nuts (Vero News) - Numerous ongoing construction projects along Highway A1A, from Indian River Shores to the 17th Street causeway, have created significant traffic disruptions and challenges for motorists in the area, leading to frustration and delays.


Weekend storms brought 5.32 inches of rain to Vero Beach (Vero News) - Heavy rainfall, amounting to 5.32 inches last weekend, due to a stalled front caused flooding in Vero Beach and other coastal areas. It was a wet one!


Bringing Back our Coastal Wetlands (ArcGIS StoryMaps) - An interactive presentation on how Coastal wetlands provide vital ecosystem services such as wildlife habitat, water quality improvement, and storm buffer protection, but they are at risk due to past human activities and rising sea levels, making their restoration imperative for the resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems.


Get the Muck Out of Here (The Rivers Coalition) - The Rivers Coalition advocates for the removal of muck from the St. Lucie river and estuary as a crucial step in addressing harmful algae blooms and improving water quality in the region.


New construction and rising sea levels expected to worsen flooding in Florida, hydrologists say (WPTV) - The worsening flooding on the Treasure Coast is attributed to a combination of new construction and rising sea levels, with drainage systems associated with development and the removal of water-absorbing vegetation and soil contributing to the problem, according to hydrologist Chris Konrad of the U.S. Geological Survey.


High-speed Brightline era begins here with not-so-high speeds, little fanfare (Vero News) - The introduction of high-speed Brightline rail service between South Florida and Orlando had a low-key start in Indian River County, with trains passing through Vero Beach without major disruptions, but concerns about safety and potential accidents involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists have been raised as service frequency increases.


Pedestrian dies after being struck by Brightline train headed to Orlando (TCPalm) - A 25-year-old man died after being struck by a Brightline train in St. Lucie County, with evidence suggesting the possibility of suicide, highlighting ongoing concerns about train fatalities involving the Brightline service.


Vehicles disabled on Brightline, freight tracks force road, railway closures in Vero Beach (TCPalm) - Railways and roadways in Vero Beach experienced closures twice in one day due to vehicles becoming disabled or stranded on the tracks, marking the first such incidents reported to freight carrier and Brightline since the high-speed passenger train began operating in the Treasure Coast on September 22.


Brightline to double train service between South Florida and Miami next week (TCPalm) - Brightline is set to double its train service, running 30 trains daily between Miami and Orlando starting on October 9, with 15 daily departures from each city, marking a significant expansion of its operations just two weeks after launching its South Florida-to-Orlando route.


 

The Fall issue of Naturalist magazine is available now! Download your free copy to learn about this past beach nesting season, land conservation wins, Audubon chapter activities, and more.


 

Sebastian septic-to-sewer conversions could cost up to $23,000 per property (TCPalm) - The city of Sebastian is planning to work with the County to upgrade its waste disposal by 2030 by converting septic systems to sewer systems, which could cost property owners between $5,000 and $23,000 per property, with efforts being made to reduce these costs through state grant money.


Huge development could reshape Fort Pierce Inlet on South Hutchinson Island, see details (TCPalm) - A massive development called "Boardwalk On The Inlet" is being proposed for South Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce, featuring hotels, condominiums, restaurants, an event center, retail shops, and approximately 1,000 parking spaces, with the potential inclusion of a Brightline train station and various economic benefits, although it's still in the conceptual planning stage and subject to public input and regulatory considerations.


State Of Florida Targets Abandoned, Damaged Boats (Tampa FP) - Florida wildlife officials are seeking $7 million from the Legislature for a derelict-vessel removal program to expedite the process of removing abandoned and storm-damaged boats from state waters, with plans to also request lawmakers to approve a shorter notice period for owners to address damaged and abandoned boats.


Baby manatee rescued by FWC in Broward County (NBC-2) - The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rescued a manatee calf separated from its mother near Pompano Beach and transported it to SeaWorld in Orlando for care.


New model to benefit Districts’ joint work (SJRWMD) - The St. Johns River and Southwest Florida water management districts are jointly developing a new groundwater model called the Central Springs Model to quantify the effects of current and future groundwater withdrawals on water resources in north-central Florida, with a draft version expected to be ready for review in October and public comments accepted until November 13, 2023.


Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition legislative priorities. (BIRLC) - Read the Legislative Priorities of the Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coaliton here.


Friends of the Everglades State Legislative Priorities: 2024 (Everglades.org) - Read the Legislative Priorities of the Friends of the Everglades here.


Public Water Utilities Warn Congress: Cuts to Clean Water State Revolving Fund Will Derail Water Infrastructure Projects Across The Country (Informed Infrastructure) - Public water utility executives from Florida, along with business and environmental experts, warned Congress about the adverse effects of deep cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRF) on local infrastructure projects across the country, emphasizing the rising financial and operational challenges faced by clean water utilities, and the proposed budget cuts' impact on sustainability and meeting clean water objectives.


Orange County is updating its wetlands protections (WMFE) - Orange County commissioners received an update on proposed changes to the county's Wetland Conservation Areas Ordinance, which aims to update and clarify regulations and includes tiered permitting for development projects impacting wetlands.


These Florida lawmakers oppose fertilizer giant Mosaic’s ‘radioactive roads’ (Tampa Bay Times) - At least 30 state and local lawmakers have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to deny Mosaic's application to use phosphogypsum, a mildly radioactive byproduct of phosphate manufacturing, in road construction at its New Wales plant in Mulberry, Florida, citing concerns about potential health hazards and environmental impact.


 

Your front yard creates the first impression for visitors and it’s your “welcome home” after a long day. Follow these tips to make your front yard as inviting as possible!


Find more curb appeal tips on UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions click here!


 

Get ready for the fight over fertilizer (VoteWater) - The 2023 Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis have authorized a $250,000 study by the University of Florida to review the effectiveness of fertilizer bans, specifically comparing rainy season blackout periods/bans to dry season bans, which could potentially lead to a permanent ban on fertilizer bans, resulting in dirtier water; however, some argue that the study has flaws and that summertime bans are essential to curtail nutrient pollution in waterways.


Florida's coastal homes may lose value as climate-fueled storms intensify insurance risk (Coastal News Today) - Climate-fueled disasters and rising insurance costs in Florida may cause coastal homes to lose up to 40% of their value in the next 30 years, potentially leading to further gentrification and migration of high-income buyers to coastal regions.


Florida’s population boom drives bigger hurricane losses, despite tougher building codes (Coastal News Today) - Florida's population growth along the coast is undermining the benefits of strict building codes in reducing hurricane damage, leading to higher wind-storm insurance costs in the state, according to a report by Swiss Re, which suggests that strengthening building codes alone has been insufficient to compensate for expected losses from population-driven property value growth during hurricanes.


How to Choose a Bird-Friendly Coffee (Audubon) - When choosing bird-friendly coffee, consider looking for beans that are certified shade-grown with seals like "Rainforest Alliance Certified" or "Bird Friendly," opt for relationship coffee roasters that support smallholder coffee communities, and if unsure, choose arabica beans over robusta for their better compatibility with bird-friendly farming practices.


September shattered global heat record — and by a record margin (Washington Post) - September saw a record-breaking global temperature increase, surpassing the previous September record by more than half a degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit), with an average temperature nearly 1 degree Celsius (1.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above 1991-2020 levels, indicating an acceleration in the warming trend driven by human-caused climate change and the El Niño climate pattern.


How can we make the great outdoors more accessible to all? (Vox) - There are challenges to making the outdoors more accessible to all, including issues such as the cost of outdoor gear, entry fees, and the lack of representation and inclusivity in outdoor activities, while emphasizing the importance of local exploration and alternative ways to connect with nature beyond traditional outdoor pursuits.


New Orleans may not have clean drinking water in a month due to saltwater intrusion (Axios) - New Orleans is facing a major threat to its drinking water supply due to saltwater intrusion from the Mississippi River, with more than 1.2 million people expected to have unsafe drinking water by late October, leading to concerns about the impact on public health and infrastructure.


Deep sea mining: Is anybody listening? (Coastal News Today) - Deep sea mining, particularly its underwater noise emissions, is raising concerns about its potential to disrupt marine ecosystems, harm species, and necessitates comprehensive research on its environmental impacts before commercial mining proceeds.


 

The Evening Sun, Hanover, Pennsylvania, September 9, 1948


 

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