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Three Corners Plans, Lake O Update, and much more

March 9, 2024 Weekly Newsletter


Vero Beach's Waterfront To Get a Makeover:

Exciting Plans for Three Corners

Years of dreams and discussions are finally turning into reality for Vero Beach! The city has its pick of exciting proposals to transform the Three Corners waterfront area. After residents gave the green light in 2020, the stage is set to turn this prime location into a buzzing community hub.


Developers haven't held back. Clearpath of Bloomington, Indiana; Edgewater Group of Fort Lauderdale; Suda, Cred Capital, Madison Marquette of Pompano Beach; and Vista Blue Vero Beach Resort & Spa of Vero Beach have all brought their ideas to the table. (Click the links of the Developers to see their proposal.)


Each plan promises a mix of fun, business, and relaxation, but they offer their own spin on how to work with the Big Blue power plant. From Clearpath's massive $500 million waterfront village idea to Vista Blue's charming $86 million old Florida-meets-the-Caribbean vibe, there's something for everyone to get excited about.


Vero Beach is on the edge of its seat as the city gets closer to choosing the winning plan. The Three Corners project is about more than just development; it's a chance to shape the future of this special place, making it even better for residents and visitors alike.


The decision will be a big one, setting the tone for Vero Beach for years to come. This project is all about making the waterfront a place to live, play, and celebrate the best this city has to offer. Stay tuned!


 

Tune in next week when we'll provide in-depth coverage of the chaotic final week of the legislative session. We'll also analyze the highlights of the 2024 session and discuss what to expect in the future.


 

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Together, we're weaving a tapestry of positive change, stitching a brighter future for Indian River County. Your support is the thread that binds us, making our vision a reality. Every contribution, big or small, is an investment in our collective well-being. Thank you for being a vital part of the movement.



 

The Environmental Impact of Lake Okeechobee Discharges


The influx of freshwater into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers has led to dramatic shifts in water quality, affecting the clarity, salinity, and overall health of these vital water bodies. These discharges, fueled by an unusually wet El Niño season, are needed, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, to lower the lake's water level ahead of the rainy season and prevent flooding. However, this action has severe consequences for the delicate ecosystems of the estuaries.


Environmental Impacts of Lake Okeechobee Discharges

  • Degradation of Estuarine Ecosystems: The influx of freshwater from Lake Okeechobee disrupts the natural salinity balance of the estuaries, harming sensitive organisms like oysters, seagrasses, and other species that are vital to these ecosystems.

  • Potential for Harmful Algal Blooms: While there aren't significant blooms forming now, the nutrient-rich lake water increases the risk of toxic blue-green algae blooms and can worsen existing red tide events in the Gulf of Mexico. These blooms threaten marine life and human health.

  • Economic Losses: Severe algal blooms could cost coastal communities billions of dollars in lost revenue and put thousands of jobs associated with tourism and fishing at risk.


The Discharges Continue


Despite strong opposition from environmental groups, the Lake Okeechobee discharges are likely to continue due to above-average rainfall. The Army Corps maintains that managing the lake level is crucial for public safety and flood prevention. Environmental advocates are closely monitoring the situation and urging the Army Corps to prioritize the health of the estuaries.


The Urgent Need for Solutions


The ongoing Lake Okeechobee discharges highlight the long-standing need for more effective water management practices in Florida. Solutions include:

  • Storage and Treatment of Excess Water: Creating more storage capacity north of the lake to hold excess water, combined with advanced water treatment systems, can reduce the need for harmful discharges.

  • Everglades Restoration: Completing Everglades restoration projects will re-establish the natural southerly water flow, relieving pressure on Lake Okeechobee and revitalizing the estuaries.

  • Land Conservation: Preserving lands within the watershed could help filter pollutants and retain water, reducing the burden on the lake.


The health of Florida's environment and economy depends on finding a sustainable solution to the Lake Okeechobee problem. More as it develops.


 

Vero Beach-Sebastian: Neighbors demand change; westbound cars backed up 3 miles to A1A (TCPalm) - Residents of Wabasso are demanding changes to the intersection of County Road 510 and U.S. 1 due to severe traffic congestion, and a flyover is being considered as a potential solution to accommodate future population growth.


DEP detected no toxic algae in the St. Lucie River Feb. 29 (TCPalm) - Despite visual sightings of green streaks in the St. Lucie River, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) found no toxic algae during testing on February 29th.


Some islanders critical of A1A ‘improvements’ (Vero News) - Some island residents are unhappy with the completed A1A improvement project, arguing that it has made the road more dangerous for pedestrians and motorists while also decreasing its aesthetic appeal.


In short term, airport parking won’t always be a Breeze (Vero News) - Due to Breeze Airways' popularity and limited airport facilities, the Vero Beach Regional Airport currently experiences parking shortages when multiple flights overlap, creating a frustrating and potentially unsafe experience for travelers.


Deep Dive: If we build a reservoir north of Lake O, who gets the water? (VoteWater.org) - The proposed reservoir north of Lake Okeechobee sparks debate over who should get the water, with the Seminole Tribe, environmental groups, and the agricultural industry all laying claim to the much-needed resource.


Brightline officially announces Stuart railroad station at future site (TCPalm) - Brightline has officially announced the location of its first Treasure Coast railroad station, a 2.5-acre site at 500 Southeast Flagler Avenue in downtown Stuart.


Short-term vacation rental bill barely passes House (Florida Politics) - The Florida House narrowly passed a bill that would establish new regulations for short-term vacation rentals, but critics argue it doesn't provide enough power to local governments to address issues like party houses and safety concerns.


 

Contrary to popular belief, widespread concern about climate change exists. Recent research indicates that 86 percent of people surveyed internationally agree that individuals within their countries should make efforts to combat global warming. Furthermore, 89 percent believe their governments should take stronger action. These results are derived from a comprehensive survey of over 130,000 individuals across 125 countries.


Even more compelling, the study discovered that people globally tend to underestimate the level of support for climate action held by others. For instance, 69 percent of participants expressed a willingness to contribute 1 percent of their monthly income towards climate solutions, yet they estimated that only 43 percent of the population would agree. This discrepancy likely stems from the general lack of public discourse surrounding climate change.


This misperception can create feelings of hopelessness and discouragement; however, these findings underscore a significant majority in favor of climate action. "This suggests that we can shift the conversation and concentrate on the most effective ways to leverage this widespread commitment to address the challenges of climate change," the study's authors conveyed to Carbon Brief. This knowledge also implies that initiating conversations about climate solutions is likely to generate significant interest.


 

New Save Manatees Postage Stamp to be Issued on Manatee Appreciation Day (WebWire) - The U.S. Postal Service will issue a new Save Manatees postage stamp on Manatee Appreciation Day (March 27th, 2024) to raise awareness for the vulnerable marine mammals.


Avoid seaweed blobs, red tides on Florida beaches this spring with our water quality maps (Yahoo News) - Florida beaches can be impacted by harmful red tide algae blooms (causing dead fish and respiratory irritation) and sargassum seaweed blobs, so it's wise to check water quality maps before heading to the beach.


FWC cites 18 boaters during 3-day manatee protection patrol in Caloosahatchee (WINK News) - During a three-day patrol of the Caloosahatchee River, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission cited 18 boaters and issued 37 warnings for violating manatee protection zones.


In Florida, Skyrocketing Insurance Rates Test Resolve of Homeowners in Risky Areas (Inside Climate News) - Skyrocketing insurance rates in Florida, fueled by climate-driven disasters and other factors, are testing homeowners' resolve to stay in high-risk areas and could lead to a decline in property values and population migration.


Florida allocates millions in funding for technology to fight toxic algae: 'A critical component of our multi-faceted approach to protecting water quality' (Yahoo News) - Florida is allocating $10 million to fund innovative technologies that combat toxic algae blooms, a growing threat to the state's waterways and ecosystem.


Sprinkle list: Last-minute earmark adds $10M more for Indiantown water treatment plant (Florida Politics) - Florida lawmakers added a last-minute $10 million earmark to provide a total of $22.5 million in state funding for upgrades to the water treatment and distribution center in Indiantown.


 

Ditch the Landfill, Grow Amazing Plants:

Innovative Composting for City Dwellers


Imagine a thriving herb garden on your balcony… or lush tomato plants flourishing in a corner of your studio apartment. The secret? Innovative composting methods that are revolutionizing urban gardening. No more bulky piles or unpleasant smells – these techniques make composting clean and convenient!


Take vermicomposting: "red-wiggler" worms transform kitchen scraps into super-rich fertilizer within compact bins. Or try a compost tumbler – a sealed, user-friendly container (perfect for small patios) that speeds up the process while keeping pests at bay.


Let's squash that "compost is smelly" myth! Stylish countertop compost pails and a simple trick like freezing scraps will keep your kitchen fresh. By embracing these methods, you're not just feeding your plants – you're slashing waste, fighting climate change, and creating a greener community.


Ready to dive in? Tons of resources and DIY guides are out there, making sustainable gardening accessible to everyone, no backyard needed! Start here.


 

Under pressure from activist investors, big brands agree to report and reduce plastics use (Grist) - Under pressure from activist investors, major companies like Disney, Hormel, and Choice Hotels are making voluntary commitments to measure, report, and reduce their plastic use, signaling a growing awareness of the financial and reputational risks posed by plastic pollution.


If You Care About Politics and the Environment, Don't Underestimate Art | Opinion (Newsweek) - Art can play a powerful role in raising awareness and inspiring action on issues like climate change, demonstrating the importance of creative expression in engaging the public and bridging divides.


Herbivores, displaced by ocean warming, threaten subtropical seagrass meadows (ScienceDaily) - Ocean warming is increasing the range of tropical herbivores into subtropical regions, threatening seagrass meadows that are less resilient to grazing due to lower productivity from reduced sunlight availability.


US Cities Could Be Capturing Billions of Gallons of Water Per Day (Mother Jones) - A new report highlights the enormous potential of urban stormwater capture as a water source, with US cities generating an estimated 53 billion gallons per day, and provides a call for smarter stormwater infrastructure and "sponge city" techniques.


The Biden Administration is Spending Its ‘Climate Smart’ Funding in the Wrong Places, According to New Analyses (Inside Climate News) - The Biden administration's efforts to combat climate change through agricultural practices are critiqued for misallocating billions in funding to programs that may not yield the intended environmental benefits and could, in some instances, exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions.


Harmful ‘Forever Chemicals’ Removed from Water with New Electrocatalysis Method (Environmental News Network) - Researchers at the University of Rochester have devised an innovative electrochemical method using laser-generated nanomaterials from nonprecious metals to effectively remove hazardous "forever chemicals" from water.


Assessing the resilience of stormwater ponds under climate change: A case study on Grace Lake, Florida, unveiling flood control and water quality implications (ScienceDirect) - A case study on Grace Lake, Florida, using integrated hydrological models and multi-model ensembles, examines stormwater ponds' effectiveness in flood control and water quality under future climate scenarios, revealing potential impacts and guiding sustainable water management practices.


Key advance toward removing common herbicide from groundwater (ScienceDaily) - An Oregon State University-led team developed a metal-organic framework capable of fully removing and decomposing the widespread herbicide glyphosate from water, offering a promising solution to herbicide contamination without producing toxic byproducts.


 

Check out this video of a swimmer getting a hug from a manatee!


 

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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