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September 2, 2023 Weekly Newsletter

Keeping an Eye on Indian River County's Water Supply: A Local Issue with National Implications

Water is life. A resource we often take for granted, water is becoming increasingly scarce, not just globally but also right here in Indian River County. The National Perspective A recent New York Times article, "Uncharted Waters," paints a concerning picture of America's groundwater supply. Based on data from over 80,000 monitoring stations, the report reveals that groundwater levels have been steadily declining for the past 40 years. In 11% of these monitoring sites, water levels have reached their lowest recorded levels. The implications are far-reaching, affecting agriculture, urban development, and overall sustainability.

Local Concerns in Indian River County

Locally, Indian River County is reaching a critical juncture in terms of water sustainability. The surge in housing development, especially on lands that were previously agricultural, has led to a spike in water demand. This raises concerns that our local water supply may soon be insufficient to meet the growing needs. For insights into how our water system operates, consult this 2010 booklet by our late ally, Debby Ecker. While some of its content is outdated, most of it remains highly relevant.

The Way Forward

Addressing this issue requires a multi-pronged approach:

  1. Policy Review: Local and state governments need to enact stricter regulations on groundwater extraction to ensure long-term sustainability.

  2. Community Awareness: Residents should be educated about water conservation techniques, including the use of drought-resistant plants and low-flow fixtures.

  3. Technological Solutions: Investment in water-saving technologies, such as rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling, should be prioritized.

  4. Collaboration: Building partnerships with environmental organizations, local businesses, and community members will be crucial for pooling resources and expertise.

Water issues are a shared responsibility. We must work together to ensure that Indian River County has a sustainable water future. Your involvement matters, because every drop counts. Expect this topic to come up more and more as we move into the future.


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Editor's Note: When a hurricane sets its sights on Florida, it often dominates our local news coverage. As a result, you'll find that much of the content in this week's newsletter comes from regions beyond our local community. It's a reminder that we're part of a larger, interconnected world, and what happens elsewhere often reverberates back to us.


We can restore Florida waters to their former glory. Stop the state-sanctioned destruction of nature. Sign and support.


Important info about the 17th St. Bridge (Alma Lee Loy Bridge)

As you may have noticed, the 17th St. Bridge was not closed this past week. FDOT pushed back the short bridge closure. It is now set to begin on Thursday, September 6th, and last through Saturday, September 8th. Here is a an article from Vero News with more info.


News Headlines and Articles

Brightline: Will fear become reality? Sheriff concerned about 'callous' railroad message (TCPalm) - Concerns of safety and potential impact of Brightline train service in the area, emphasized by Indian River County's sheriff, Eric Flowers, along with differing opinions among local officials.

In wake of Surfside, condo costs here set to mount (Vero News) - Obligatory inspections and potential repairs of buildings three stories or higher, following the Surfside condo collapse, are expected to lead to increased costs, including special assessments and higher maintenance fees for condominium owners in the area.

Sebastian taps former Leisure Serves director Brian Benton as its new city manager (TCPalm) - Former Leisure Services director Brian Benton has been promoted to city manager of Sebastian, replacing former City Manager Paul Carlisle who resigned after receiving poor evaluations from council members.

This Brutal Summer in 10 Alarming Maps and Graphs (Coastal News Today) - The summer of 2023 has seen record-breaking temperatures worldwide, with July being the hottest month ever recorded, marked by global heat maps and graphs illustrating the intensity of heatwaves and climatic changes, indicating the escalating impact of climate change.

EPA announces new waters rule after Supreme Court decision weakening protections (with news compilation) (Coastal News Today) - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a new rule in response to a Supreme Court decision that could weaken protections for over 60% of U.S. wetlands, with the revised Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule requiring clearer connections between protected wetlands and waterways like oceans and rivers, a move criticized by environmental groups and opponents alike.

You’re doing it wrong: Recycling and other myths about tackling climate change (Washington Post) - Many Americans hold misconceptions about the impact of certain actions on climate change, with a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll showing that while a majority believe their individual actions can reduce climate change effects, they are incorrect in thinking that actions like recycling have a significant impact, while experts highlight the effectiveness of cutting out meat and dairy and flying less as more impactful measures to reduce emissions.

Florida county’s swampy politics lead to bad decision on wetlands (Coastal News Today) - The Manatee County Commission in Florida voted to ease wetland protections in favor of development and pavement, leading to concerns about environmental consequences and conflicts of interest involving local developer Carlos Beruff's influence in the decision-making process.

Hurricane Idalia's Devastating Flooding Puts Florida Under Water: Why Was It So Destructive? (Science Times) - Hurricane Idalia rapidly struck Florida with Category 3 force, leading to widespread destruction including uprooted trees, hotel roof losses, vehicle flooding, and coastal inundation, with the storm's intensification attributed to warm ocean conditions and atmospheric interactions.


Manatee County's decision to gut wetlands protection shows need to elect public officials who'll protect our water resources - and vote out those who put special interests first. Check out this short video from Vote Water.


20 historic Florida hurricanes and where they made landfall in the Sunshine State (Naples News) - The article provides a list of significant hurricanes in Florida since 1926, including their categories and years of occurrence, highlighting the unpredictability of hurricane landfall locations and impacts.

Record heat could be planting hurricane time bomb in Gulf, storm experts say (Coastal News Today) - The heat dome causing record-breaking temperatures and drought in south Louisiana has led to "ridiculously warm" waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico, creating the potential for rapid intensification of tropical storms approaching the state's coastline, with sea surface temperatures well above normal, aided by the presence of the "loop current" that can lead to rapid intensification of storms crossing it due to warm Gulf Stream water.

A Guide to Identifying Florida Water Birds (Hummingbirds Plus) - Florida offers a diverse range of water bird species for birdwatchers to explore in various natural habitats, from egrets to herons, and this comprehensive guide provides insights into their behavior, physical traits, habitats, and popular birdwatching locations such as Everglades National Park and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Beaches are changing because of climate change - green thinking is needed to save them (Coastal News Today) - Climate change is putting sandy coastlines at risk due to erosion, impacting biodiversity, carbon storage, agriculture, and tourism; a more effective and cost-efficient approach is to view coastal landforms as "green infrastructure," allowing natural features like beaches and sand dunes to stabilize land surfaces, reduce erosion, provide ecosystem services, and mitigate coastal hazards, but this approach requires recognizing the dynamic nature of coastlines and considering them as integrated systems, tailored to their unique characteristics and contributions to resilience.

Paper and bamboo straws contain PFAS chemicals more often than plastic straws do, study finds (NBC News) - Some paper and bamboo straws contain PFAS chemicals, also known as "forever chemicals," which can resist stains, grease, and water, posing potential health and environmental risks, with previous research detecting PFAS in various types of cookware and packaging; experts recommend considering stainless steel straws as a preferable alternative due to their safety and durability, but acknowledge the challenges of widespread adoption.

How one Florida city beat its stigma as a stinky town (Florida Phoenix) - Jacksonville overcame its reputation as a smelly city by confronting industrial pollution through investigative journalism, public outcry, and political leadership.

Factory farming is fuelling a ‘silent pandemic’. Here’s what we can do about it (Euronews) - Industrial food systems, including factory farming, are contributing to the increased risk of pandemics due to zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and the spread of viruses and bacteria; antimicrobial resistance is driven by overuse of antibiotics in livestock, with potential for contaminated meat to spread resistant infections to humans, making better animal husbandry and more sustainable farming practices crucial for reducing pandemic risks.

The heroic effort to save Florida’s coral reef from extreme ocean heat (PennLive) - Scientists and volunteers have launched an unprecedented effort to save Florida's coral reefs from the effects of extreme ocean heat, with initiatives like removing harmful algae, relocating corals to cooler waters, and training divers to identify and report bleached and diseased corals as part of emergency responses to the ongoing marine heat wave, aiming to protect and rebuild the resilient coral reef for the future.



There’s a Vast Source of Clean Energy Beneath Our Feet. And a Race to Tap It (New York Times) - Efforts are underway to tap into geothermal energy sources using drilling techniques inspired by the fracking boom, aiming to harness Earth's heat as a renewable power source to displace fossil fuels and combat climate change, with companies like Fervo Energy and Eavor using innovative methods such as fracturing dry, hot rock to create artificial geothermal reservoirs and building large underground radiators to tap into the abundant heat beneath the surface, potentially revolutionizing the clean energy landscape.

A Pennsylvania study suggests links between fracking and asthma, lymphoma in children (ABC News) - A University of Pittsburgh study funded by taxpayers suggests potential links between fracking and health problems, revealing that children living closer to natural gas wells in western Pennsylvania had an increased chance of developing a rare form of cancer (lymphoma), while nearby residents of all ages had an elevated likelihood of severe asthma reactions; however, the researchers noted that the studies weren't designed to definitively determine whether drilling caused the health issues and instead explored associations based on proximity to gas wells, and the findings were released during a public meeting discussing the results, sparking concerns about the health impact of gas drilling expansion.

A Sneak Peek at MAD Architects’ Adventurous One River North Project in Colorado (5280) - MAD Architects' One River North project in Denver is a 16-story tower designed to look cracked open, showcasing a plant-filled fantasy landscape inspired by Colorado's nature, embodying biophilic design principles and offering 187 lease residences with private terraces, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a strong connection to the outdoors.

No anomalies detected in fish samples after Fukushima water release (Kyodo News) - Initial fish samples taken near the Fukushima nuclear plant's discharged treated radioactive water show no detectable amount of tritium, with ongoing daily sampling planned for analysis over a month, and seawater samples within a 50 km radius also collected for further evaluation.

Texas judge rules as unconstitutional a law that erodes city regulations in favor of state control (AP News) - While framed as a partisan battle, this ruling is a significant win for home rule over state preemption. Local communities elect their leaders to govern based on the will of the residents, not to simply follow directives from state-level politicians. Though the case may appear to center on a political tug-of-war, it has broader implications, touching on issues like environmental protections and growth management—topics that have also led to local ordinances in Florida.

Unprecedented Alabama oyster restoration effort: ‘This is the big one’ (Coastal News Today) - A significant and unprecedented oyster habitat restoration effort involving the Alabama Wildlife Federation, private companies, and foundations is underway in Alabama, aiming to restore 77 acres of oyster habitat in Mobile Bay with privately funded limestone as cultch, recognizing the vital role of oysters in maintaining water quality and the coastal ecosystem.



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