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

Water-Related News

Exploring the widespread impacts of ongoing nitrogen pollution

The release of reactive nitrogen into the environment is having severe and ongoing ecosystem, economic, and human health impacts. How can we reduce our nitrogen footprint?

Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients in the environment, but its natural cycling has been significantly altered by human activities, specifically the release of excessive and harmful amounts of nitrogen from various sources including fertilizers, animal and human wastes, fossil fuel combustion, and mining.

Nitrogen Overload: Environmental Degradation, Ramifications, and Economic Costs, a new book recently published by AGU (American Geophysical Union), seeks to improve our understanding of the negative impacts of so much excess reactive nitrogen in the environment.

Visit the link below for a summary of content from the book. In the article the author, Brian G. Katz, a scientist who has spent the past four decades investigating the transport and fate of nitrogen in groundwater, springs, surface waters, and the atmosphere, gives an overview of the main issues.

Beach renourishment slows for Sally, dune addition approved

Beach renourishment on Anna Maria Island ground to a halt in the wake of Hurricane Sally.

The two dredges that pump sand from offshore to the beaches left the open water in the Gulf of Mexico near the island to be harbored Sept. 12 at Port Manatee in Palmetto, as Sally, then a tropical storm, passed through the Gulf more than 175 miles from the island, creating large swells as it headed northwest.

The dredges are part of a $17 million renourishment project piping sand from offshore to the beaches to replenish and prevent further erosion. Beach renourishment began July 8 near 77th Street in Holmes Beach.

“As the seas continue to calm down and the contractor determines the conditions to be safe, they will return the dredge to the sand source and resume beach construction,” Doris Otero, project manager with Aptim of Boca Raton, an environmental engineering company servicing the project, wrote The Islander Sept. 15.

The work resumed Sept. 19 near 17th Street North in Bradenton Beach.

Otero wrote that the storm had minimal impact on the already renourished beaches, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a funding source for the $17 million project, along with the state and Manatee County.

Governor announces $50M in springs funding

On Friday, Sept. 17th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced $50 million for more than 20 statewide springs restoration projects during a press conference in Weeki Wachee.

Among the projects that will be funded are these:

Northwest Florida Water Management District
$1.1 million to extend central sewer service to the Tara Estates neighborhood located north of Marianna, including abandoning septic tanks proximate to the Chipola River.

Southwest Florida Water Management District
A total of more than $8.3 million for projects in Marion County that will help protect Rainbow Springs, including Burkitt Road Septic to Sewer, Northwest Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion, Oak Bend I-75 Water Quality Improvement and the 180th Avenue Package Plant Abatement.

St. Johns River Water Management District
$1.1 million for the Apopka West Reuse Storage Facility and Reclaimed Water Extension project that will provide nearly 3.48 million gallons per day of reclaimed water, benefiting Wekiwa and Rock springs.

Suwannee River Water Management District
A total of more than $2.3 million for the acquisition of more than 3,600 acres of land to protect springs in Columbia County Grasslands (Ichetucknee Springs), Devil’s Ear Springs Recharge (Ginnie Springs Group), Santa Fe Springs and Sawdust Spring (Sawdust and Devil’s Ear springs). The acquisition of these lands will help improve aquifer recharge potential, enhance recreational opportunities and protect native species.

EPA allocates $1M to help USF study harmful algal blooms

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sending $1 million to the University of South Florida to help study methods to control harmful algal blooms (HAB).

The USF study aims to look at “nutrient treatment technologies” to help manage those blooms inside Lake Okeechobee.

On Thursday, the EPA announced nearly $6.5 million in funding for seven different research institutions across the country to help study mitigation efforts.

“Harmful algal blooms are a serious and persistent problem across all 50 states that can have severe impacts on human health, the environment, and the economy,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a release on the grant funds.

Act now to prevent flooding

It's Never Too Early to Plan for Flooding

Flooding is the most costly and repetitive natural disaster affecting Hillsborough County. While residents are typically affected by inland flooding near lakes and in areas with low-lying elevations, flooding along rivers and coastal tidal surge are not uncommon. Flooding can occur anytime and anywhere when heavy or steady rain occurs.

Here are six ways to prepare your property for floods:

  1. Know your flood hazard by obtaining or reviewing the flood map for your area.
  2. Consider flood insurance to help protect you from the financial devastation caused by floods. Flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance.
  3. Stay safe by preparing a disaster response plan for your family and signing up for emergency alerts.
  4. Protect your property by floodproofing or retrofitting to reduce common flood damage.
  5. Build responsibly by always contacting your local building office to obtain required permits prior to doing any type of building or land alterations.
  6. Help protect natural floodplains by reporting illegal dumping or illegal land clearing.

Pinellas receives $75K grant to evaluate flood risks

Pinellas County is one of the 33 communities in Florida that has been selected for grant funding under the State of Florida’s Florida Resilient Coastlines Program for the Financial Year 2020/2021. Pinellas County will utilize the $75,000 grant for a proposed project that would identify and evaluate resilience-based policies in the Coastal Management Element of its Comprehensive Plan that address flood risks.

The grant-funded project will help the County achieve compliance with Florida’s Peril of Flood state statute. Additionally, the project will also evaluate policies with the County’s current Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan, which assists our community’s ability to quickly and successfully redevelop following a major disaster. The project will also identify the local community’s vulnerabilities that need to be addressed well in advance of a major disaster in order to ensure a speedy and well-thought out, post-disaster recovery.

The project will involve public workshops and outreach through social media, website, and the Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) Storymap, in addition to coordination with various departments, Pinellas County’s municipalities, and other stakeholders that are identified through the planning process.

The State of Florida provides grant funding to promote community-resiliency planning and supports projects that address risks associated with floods, other disasters and changing coastal conditions.

The time-frame for the grant is from Aug. 31, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

Business owners along Kennedy Blvd. fed up with continuous flooding

TAMPA — As any person who lives in Tampa Bay knows, when it rains, it pours. And if you live near Kennedy Blvd, it often floods.

Business owners along the major road are fed up with the flooding, and they want it fixed.

“Every time there’s a little rain, we have to pray that we don’t get flooded,” said Giancarlo Giusti, the owner of Modulo, a design studio at the corner of Rome Ave. and North A St. in Tampa.

Giusti has got hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment inside his warehouse.

“Welding machines, laser colors, water jets, so every time it rains a little bit, for two hours, three hours, we get the water up to four inches inside the space here and we feel like we’re gonna lose our business,” said Giusti.

Pinellas receives $75,000 grant to identify and evaluate flood risks

Pinellas County is one of the 33 communities in Florida that has been selected for grant funding under the State of Florida’s Florida Resilient Coastlines Program for the Financial Year 2020/2021. Pinellas County will utilize the $75,000 grant for a proposed project that would identify and evaluate resilience-based policies in the Coastal Management Element of its Comprehensive Plan that address flood risks.

The grant-funded project will help the County achieve compliance with Florida’s Peril of Flood state statute. Additionally, the project will also evaluate policies with the County’s current Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan, which assists our community’s ability to quickly and successfully redevelop following a major disaster. The project will also identify the local community’s vulnerabilities that need to be addressed well in advance of a major disaster in order to ensure a speedy and well-thought out, post-disaster recovery.

The project will involve public workshops and outreach through social media, website, and the Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) Storymap, in addition to coordination with various departments, Pinellas County’s municipalities, and other stakeholders that are identified through the planning process.

The State of Florida provides grant funding to promote community-resiliency planning and supports projects that address risks associated with floods, other disasters and changing coastal conditions.

The time-frame for the grant is from Aug. 31, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

FWC funds grant to study airborne red tide toxins

DAVIE — Two University of Florida scientists are the recipients of a $200,000 grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They will use that money over the next 10 months to develop the methodology leading to a device that detects and measures the amount of toxins in the air from red tides.

Red tide events are a type of harmful algal bloom (HABs) caused by the species Karenia brevis that produces poisons dubbed brevetoxins. These red tide occurrences are progressively impacting the health of humans, marine life, and other wildlife. Research also shows that the frequency of red tide occurrences imposes economic consequences on a variety of markets and industries.

When these brevetoxins begin to mix in the air in an aerosolized form, they cause a range of harmful health symptoms including breathing difficulties, chest pain, nausea, skin and eye irritation when they are present in or near the waters. These brevetoxins can kill fish, shellfish, and marine mammals as well.

More than 1 million gallons of partially treated sewage released into Manatee River

More than 1 million gallons of partially treated sewage was released into the Manatee River on Tuesday, the state reported.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, filters at a water treatment plant at 1800 First St. W. became clogged at about 2 p.m. The system was bypassed for cleaning and normal operations resumed at about 6 p.m.

Roughly 1.1 million gallons of partially treated wastewater were released into the Manatee River, the state said. Water samples are being taken.

UCF Researchers Developing Models to Predict Storm Surges

In a study published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, researchers developed models to predict extreme changes in sea level by linking storm surges to large-scale climate variability that is related to changes in atmospheric pressure and the sea surface temperature, such as El Niño.

El Niño is a periodic warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean between Asia and South America that can affect weather around the globe.

FDACS launches “Florida Wastewater Treatment Plant Energy Program”

Last week, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) launched the Florida Wastewater Treatment Plant Energy Program, a $2 million grant program to upgrade publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants with energy-efficient technology.

This new grant initiative was developed by the FDACS Office of Energy based on the findings of their study entitled “Mapping the Energy Landscape of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants in the State of Florida.”

This recently completed study provides a baseline on energy efficiency and renewable energy measures and practices at water and wastewater treatment plants in Florida, and recommendations on how to reduce energy use and operating costs. The study found that Florida’s wastewater treatment plants could save annually 26,763,827 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 6,354 tons of carbon dioxide through energy efficiency improvements.

Public feedback sought on beach renourishment in Manatee County

An architect of the beach renourishment project is looking for public feedback.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, is considering minor design enhancements to increase resiliency for it’s beach renourishment project, which began in July at 76th Street in Holmes Beach and will run through October and end at Longboat Pass.

A “supplemental environmental assessment” will consider public comment on a variety of design modifications, including dune construction, vegetation, sand fencing and pedestrian and vehicle access, adding to the renourishment project, according to an Aug. 24 release from the Corps.

Public comment is sought either by email at SAJ-Dune-Comments@usace.army.mil or by traditional mail to: Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, Attn: Ms. Angie Dunn, 701 San Marco Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32207.

People can visit www.saj.usace.army.mil/ManateeShoreProtection to review the SEA. Comments must be received by Sept. 23.

For more information about Corps projects, visit www.saj.usace.army.mil.

Discarded gloves and masks pose a threat to Tampa Bay waterways

Litter is already an issue, but now people are tossing used gloves and masks on the ground, too.

TAMPA — Masks are required in schools and businesses across Tampa Bay to stop the spread of COVID-19. Some people go even further to protect themselves, donning plastic gloves to avoid touching anything that may be contaminated.

Now, what's being used as personal protection from the coronavirus is threatening the health of our environment in Tampa Bay. There's been an increase in personal protective equipment pollution, with used gloves and masks scattered in parking lots and dropped in the streets.

"Walking around, it doesn't take much time to see a discarded glove or mask," said Joe Whalen, Communication and Outreach at the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. Whalen says all of this PPE litter is detrimental to the health of Tampa's waterways.

"A lot of these pieces of equipment, depending on what they're made of may contain plastic and that contributes to a growing microplastics issue," said Whalen. Microplastics are already an issue in Tampa Bay. The harm is that microplastics have a negative effect on wildlife and native flora. Those negative effects can travel up the marine food web, in turn affecting humans.

Bradenton City Council joins horse debate

BRADENTON – The horseback riding operations along the Palma Sola Causeway on Manatee Avenue West are again under scrutiny, this time by Bradenton City Council members.

During an Aug. 19 emergency meeting, council members voted unanimously to have City Attorney Scott Rudacille look into what the city can do to help mitigate issues caused by the riding operations. Issues discussed include the damage to seagrass, which could potentially lead to erosion and cause damage to the roadway, pollution from animal excrement and safety hazards from having so many horses on the side of the road in an area where families come to relax on the beach.

The same issues were discussed the week before in a Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity meeting when two Palma Sola Bay residents, Robert Lombardo and Clif Gaus spoke. The two also appeared at the Bradenton City Council meeting.

Manatee County opens Canopy Zone at Robinson Preserve

MANATEE COUNTY – An exciting new Canopy Zone feature is now open at Manatee County’s Robinson Preserve, allowing visitors to experience nature from a fresh perspective while exploring amidst the treetops.

Situated at the edge of the historic Reasoner Tract at Robinson Preserve South, the Canopy Zone is nestled among century-old botanical giants that once formed the test plot for Royal Palm Nurseries. Follow the boardwalk as it extends past the Mosaic Center for Nature, Exploration, Science and Technology (the NEST) and find yourself climbing among the limbs and leaves

The project was designed by Stantec Engineering and built by Tandem Construction, taking inspiration from the natural elements surrounding it. Thanks to careful planning, the Canopy Zone was built amongst the existing trees, allowing for a densely shaded environment and a cool experience to combat the summer heat. The boardwalk features LED lighting allowing it to be used for staff-guided evening programs for the public and permitted special events.