An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

SWFWMD MFL workshop for Hillsborough’s Lake Alice Oct. 24th

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center located at 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum and guidance levels for Lake Alice, located in Hillsborough County.

During the workshop, District staff will present the technical basis for the proposed minimum levels for Lake Alice. Minimum levels are established to protect lakes and wetlands and the minimum level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment.

What will Florida (and its water supply) look like in 2070?

The Florida of 2070 is at a crossroads today.

That’s the conclusion of two reports released late last year by 1000 Friends of Florida, the University of Florida’s GeoPlan Center and the state’s Department of Agriculture. With the state’s population expected to swell to 33.7 million by 2070, almost 15 million more than identified in the 2010 Census, researchers teamed up to look at growth trends and sprawl.

One report, Florida 2070, says if development continues on its current path, more than a third of the state will be paved over by 2070. That means millions of acres of agricultural and natural lands will be lost, to say nothing of the jobs, natural resources and quality-of-life indicators tied to them.

Another report, Water 2070, says almost 15 million new Floridians will overburden an already fragile water supply, with water use projected to more than double by 2070.

King Tide floods Tampa Bay coast

If you didn’t make it to the beach this weekend, it’s likely the beach made it to you, if you live anywhere near the coast.

Gulf waters crept into streets on St. Pete Beach. In some areas, the water levels reached as high as four feet deep

ABC Action News investigated the area of Casablanca Avenue where people, cars, trucks - whoever- was trying to get through was having a tough time.

“I just can’t believe this,” Janis Allwood, who lives less than a mile from the white sands of St. Pete Beach, said.

Man people could be seen wading through the water for fun, others driving cautiously hoping the water didn’t reach too high and into their vehicles.

Mixed-use development approved in Parrish area with drainage woes

PARRISH — A 1,155-acre agricultural property that is mostly a dying orange grove could, by the year 2036, become fully built out as another mixed-use development in rapidly growing Parrish.

On Thursday, the Manatee County Commission voted 6-1 in favor of a development plan for Parrish Lakes.

Property owner Claude Melli’s Brandon-based FLM Inc. submitted the proposal for the site south of Moccasin Wallow Road, north of Erie Road and about three-quarters of a mile east of Interstate 75. The development could eventually consist of 3,300 homes, 400,000 square feet of retail space and 50,000 square feet of offices.

The requested residential density of three homes per acre is half of what the developer could request under the county’s comprehensive land use plan.

Lake O hits highest level since 2005, raising concerns its dike could fail

Rainfall from Hurricane Irma has pushed the water level in Lake Okeechobee to its highest point since 2005. Now, with more wet weather in the forecast, nearby residents fear a collapse of the 80-year-old dike around the lake.

As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dumping large volumes of lake water out into coastal estuaries — exactly as it did last year, when those releases caused a massive toxic algae bloom that closed Atlantic coast beaches over the Fourth of July weekend.

Meanwhile, Corps officials have stepped up inspections of the dike to three to four times a week to make sure its continuing leaks don't grow to the point of endangering people living near it.

"We recognize that as the water level continues to rise, there is an increased risk of failure," Corps spokesman John Campbell said.

The dike around the lake is classified as one of the most vulnerable in the nation. The earthen embankment on the south end of the lake is older, and thus more in danger of being breached, he said.

That puts the communities south of the lake — Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay and Clewiston among them — at the greater risk for both property damage and loss of life.

Is development draining Florida’s aquifer system beyond repair?

"Water flow is the lifeblood of the springs, so when you reduce their flow, they start getting sick." —Robert Knight, Florida Springs Institute

The economic benefits of development and the preservation of natural resources are continually being weighed against each other. In a state like Florida, this conversation is often a protracted — even heated — one because so much of the state’s tourism industry is reliant on keeping its beaches, parks and springs as pristine as possible. The boon delivered by tourism also justifies questions about how new construction and expanding agricultural operations could put a dent in one of the state’s biggest revenue streams.

More than 112 million tourists visited Florida last year, a 5.9% increase from 2015, Florida Today reported. Those visitors spent $109 billion and generated 1.4 million jobs.

And some visitors are staying.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced last month that the state had seen the number of private businesses increase by 16.5% since December 2010. While many of the net 75,449 businesses added since then are homegrown, the figure also includes those coming from out of state to set up shop. The growth in the number of businesses in the state is one contributor to its strong population growth currently.

That’s good news and bad news for the state. The good news is that all those new people will need places to live, shop, work, learn, relax and seek medical care, which means a boost for the state's construction industry and its workers. Local and state agencies also get to collect more property, sales and other taxes as a result.

The bad news is that the strain on the state’s aquifer system — the subterranean limestone reservoirs that provide most of the water that Floridians use to drink, bathe and water their lawns — is starting to become evident.

Year-round water restrictions now in effect

All 16 counties throughout the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s boundaries are now on year-round water conservation measures, with lawn watering limited to twice-per-week unless your city or county has a different schedule or stricter hours. Local governments maintaining once-per-week watering by local ordinance include Hernando, Pasco and Sarasota counties.

Under the District’s year-round measures, even addresses may water on Thursday and/or Sunday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. and odd addresses may water on Wednesday and/or Saturday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

Additional details regarding the watering of new lawns and plants, reclaimed water and other water uses can be found at WaterMatters.org/Restrictions. To learn more about how you can conserve water, please visit WaterMatters.org/Conservation.

Lake Grady fish kill due to pre-Irma draining

Hurricane Irma caused fish kills in many Florida lakes, some due to temperature inversions that robbed the water of oxygen. Lake Grady has suffered a fish kill that apparently resulted from a different cause: draining of the lake prior to Hurricane Irma to prevent flooding of adjacent properties. The incident has been reported to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) fish kill hotline, which reported it to the USF Water Institute. FWC does not clean up fish kills. That is the responsibility of the lake owner, which may be a city, county, or private landowners.

A good article about the issue of public vs. private ponds/lakes can be found in a recent issue of Florida Water Resources Journal. The article begins on page 38.

The FWC Fish Kill hotline is 1-800-636-0511, or visit FWC’s website.