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

Water-Related News

SWFWMD upgrading structure protecting Lake Tarpon

PALM HARBOR – Hurricane season is just days away, and preparations on many levels are being made just in case a storm heads toward Tampa Bay area counties.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District is updating a water control structure, S-551, on Lake Tarpon's outfall canal.

The structure, which was built in the 1970s, protects saltwater intrusion into Lake Tarpon and flooding during high water events.

“It prevents salt water intrusion, it maintains the fresh water ecology and maintains water levels in Lake Tarpon," said Sammy Huey, a senior professional engineer with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The engineers and construction crews are making repairs to the structure through a method called cathodic protection.

The method works to protect the concrete and rebar, which holds this structure up, from saltwater and corrosion.

“These are the bulk anodes that are going to be installed on the outside of the structure," Huey said. "These are made out of zinc anode metal material."

The metal anodes are installed and they attract the corrosive element in the water, which then corrode the anode and not the rebar.

Residents are reminded that the county is still under a SWFWMD Water Shortage Order

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As the dry edge of the Florida summer continues to prevent some lawns from achieving their lush green, residents are reminded not to turn their sprinklers on for days on end.

Why?

The Water Shortage Order issued by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) due to prolonged drought conditions is still in effect through at least July 1, 2024. Residents still can only water their lawns one day a week. The irrigation restrictions are for all water users in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties.

The restrictions include all lawn and landscape use in Hillsborough County as well as ponds, lakes, streams and well water. The use of reclaimed water for lawns and landscapes is exempt. These restrictions supersede the water-use restrictions under normal, year-round water conservation measures.

Lawns can be watered before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on the allowable day.

Know your watering day:

  • Addresses ending in 0 or 1 water on Monday.
  • Addresses ending with a 2 or 3, on Tuesday.
  • Addresses ending with a 4 or 5, on Wednesday.
  • Addresses ending with a 6 or 7, on Thursday.
  • Addresses ending with an 8 or 9; and common areas with or without street addresses, locations with no addresses, and locations with mixed addresses (such as office complexes and shopping centers) on Friday.

Hillsborough County Code Enforcement enforces the year-round water conservation measures and the SWFWMD's Water Shortage Orders. A violation can result in warnings and penalties starting at $100 and up to $500 for repeated violations. Hillsborough County will continue to issue initial warnings to allow property owners to update their irrigation timers.

Visit Hillsborough County's Water Restrictions Violations and Appeals page to learn more. Suspected violations can be reported online or by calling Hillsborough County's water violations reporting hotline at (813) 224-8993. Hillsborough County Code Enforcement enforces the year-round water conservation measures and the SWFWMD's Water Shortage Orders.

For questions about Hillsborough County's water-use restrictions, call the Water Conservation Team at (813) 663-3295. Visit HCFL.gov/WaterRestrictions for more water-use restriction details. Visit HCFL.gov/WaterConservation for water conservation tips and information.

St. Petersburg mayor leads countywide request for increased federal funding of resilience programs

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ST. PETERSBURG – In coordination with other mayors across Pinellas County, St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch is leading a request to federal appropriators for additional funding and support for environmental resilience programs that support raising homes, hardening infrastructure, and developing long-term strategies to mitigate disasters.

The request emphasizes the need for increased funding for key discretionary grants administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) including the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program (HMGP), Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA).

"I am grateful to my fellow mayors for joining me in this vital request that will benefit Pinellas County residents," said Mayor Welch. "This proposed increase in federal funding would allow St. Petersburg to help more residents make their homes more resilient during seasonal and storm flooding and sea level rise."

The text of the letter can be found HERE. Joining Mayor Welch in this request are: Mayor Ayoub of Safety Harbor, Mayor Brown of Largo, Mayor Gattis of Belleair Beach, Mayor Hendrickson of Redington Shores, Mayor Houseberg of Indian Rocks Beach, Mayor Payne of Treasure Island, Mayor Rector of Clearwater, Mayor Rostek of Madeira Beach, Mayor Saracki of Oldsmar, Mayor Bujalski of Dunedin, Mayor Wilkinson of Belleair, and Mayor Zemaitis of Kenneth City.

Applications now being accepted for FY25 stormwater education funding

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Deadline: 5 p.m., July 16th, 2024

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council is now accepting applications for the FY 2025 Stormwater Outreach and Education Funding opportunity. With financial support from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), this program aims to further public involvement, education, and outreach efforts to improve the quality of stormwater runoff in the Tampa Bay Region. Projects develop and implement creative stormwater outreach initiatives and a variety of educational materials to garner public support and stewardship.

This year’s program funding totals $90,000 with individual award ceilings set at $15,000. To review the FY 2025 Notice of Funding, visit: Stormwater Outreach & Education Funding for Tampa Bay Region – TBRPC. Projects must be located in Pinellas, Hillsborough, or Pasco Counties. Complete project applications must be submitted electronically to alana@tbrpc.org by 5pm on July 16, 2024. Applicants will also be required to present their proposals to the Stormwater Public Education and Outreach Committee on July 23, 2024, at 9:30 AM. The awards will be announced in August 2024.

US Circuit Court of Appeals nixes Florida’s request for a stay in a wetlands permitting fight

Rejecting arguments by Florida and business groups, an appeals court Monday refused to put on hold a U.S. district judge’s ruling in a battle about permitting authority for projects that affect wetlands.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an order that said Florida “has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay” while an appeal of U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss’ ruling plays out. The order did not provide further explanation.

The case, which is closely watched by business and environmental groups, stems from a 2020 decision by the federal government to shift permitting authority to the state for projects that affect wetlands. Moss in February ruled that actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in approving the shift violated the federal Endangered Species Act.

Register now for June 11th TBEP Mini-Grant webinar and Q&A

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Thinking about applying? Register now for the June 11th webinar and Q&A session!

Bay Mini-Grants are competitive awards that fund environmental restoration and education projects in the Tampa Bay watershed with a focus on community-led initiatives. The maximum award is $5,000 per project. Schools, businesses, nonprofits, and many other organizations are eligible to apply.

  • Deadline: Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on September 13, 2024.
  • More Information: Application materials and details can be found at www.tbep.org/bay-mini-grants
  • Webinar: Want to learn more about Bay Mini-Grants, get tips for developing a strong application, and ask questions? Join TBEP for a webinar on June 11 at 5:30 p.m.

Register for Webinar

Manatee County man drops wetlands lawsuit, as law says challenger must pay winner’s legal fees

Friends of the Everglades described the law as a "death knell for smart growth in Florida," and warned "it will effectively end citizen challenges to comprehensive plan amendments."

Despite vocal opposition from members of the community and environmental scientists, the Manatee County commission voted last year to reduce the required size of buffer zones between developed areas and wetlands.

Former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash, who is publisher of the Bradenton Times, said developers were the impetus for the rollback, and the alteration of the county’s comprehensive plan was not in the best interest of the public.

He planned to file a legal challenge with an administrative law judge, but had to abandon it due to a 2023 law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis which said anyone who challenges a county’s comprehensive plan in court would have to pay the legal fees of the prevailing party.

The sponsor of that bill, known as SB 540, St. Petersburg Republican Senator Nick DiCeglie, said it was meant to “level the playing” field between developers and local governments and that those suing should have “skin in the game.”

For McClash, it meant the cost to proceed with the challenge could be on the order of $250,000, according to his own estimates.

Caloosahatchee River discharges and the duration of red tide events

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From Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Director Dave Tomasko:

Earlier this week, I received notification that a manuscript my co-authors and I produced was accepted for publication in the upcoming issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal “Florida Scientist”. The title of the paper is “An evaluation of the relationships between the duration of red tide (Karenia brevis) blooms and watershed nitrogen loads in Southwest Florida (USA)”. My four co-authors include Lenny Landau and Steve Suau (both highly talented and creative local engineers), Dr. Miles Medina (a brilliant statistician) and Jennifer Hecker, the Director of the Coastal and Heartland Estuary Program.

A few years ago, there was a bit more controversy regarding what role – if any – humans have on red tides. While that may have been an appropriate view a few years ago, anyone who currently thinks that humans don’t play a role in red tide events either isn’t familiar with recent studies or is just being stubborn for some reason. Ten or twenty years ago, it was appropriate to be skeptical of such a link, but not over the past few years.

For example, the SBEP’s Technical Library includes this paper, which showed a relationship between the intensification of red tide events and Caloosahatchee River loads, as well as evidence that a substantial amount of nitrogen loads out of the Caloosahatchee can be traced back to nitrogen loads coming into Lake O from the north.

Also in our technical library is this paper, which showed a link between the red tide event in middle Tampa Bay in 2021 and nitrogen loads associated with the releases from the Piney Point facility back in 2021.

So what was unusual about this recent study? Well, we wanted to see if we could develop a robust, predictable and quantifiable relationship between human activities and the duration of red tide events.

Help curb red tide and keep water clean by following fertilizer rules

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Fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorous may not be applied on turfgrass or landscape plants from June 1 to Sept. 30 in Hillsborough County

From June 1 through Sept. 30, it is against the law to use fertilizer that contains nitrogen and/or phosphorus. Hillsborough County's rules on the use of fertilizers containing these nutrients are intended to protect and preserve the cleanliness of local streams, rivers, lakes, and bays. Protecting the county's water reduces the chances of severe algae blooms, such as red tide, from forming. This, in turn, benefits the health of the area's wildlife and residents.

Nitrogen and phosphorous-based fertilizer and red tide

The issues caused by nitrogen and phosphorus-based fertilizers may worsen during summer months when West-Central Florida receives much of its rainfall. It's during this season that deluges of fertilizer-rich water can enter the county's waterways through stormwater and irrigation runoff. This is especially problematic where there are no shoreline plants to consume nutrients.

Excessive algae growth, sometimes in the form of red tide, can occur when certain types of fertilizer mixes with bodies of water. The resulting algae blooms in the water can block sunlight needed for seagrass and other desirable aquatic plants to grow. When aquatic plant growth is reduced, oxygen levels decrease. Lower oxygen levels as well as toxins contained in some algae can cause fish kills.

Large and out-of-control algae blooms can also be harmful to other aquatic animals, including manatees and dolphins. For instance, the neurotoxin produced by red tide can cause manatees to have seizure-like symptoms when inhaled. In severe cases, the animals drown as a result. Furthermore, red tide can induce coughing and sneezing in dolphins, which is similar to the irritation it causes in humans.

Fertilizer ordinance details

The fertilizer ordinance applies to residents, homeowners, HOA common property management, businesses, governmental entities, and companies that apply fertilizer and provide landscape services to non-agricultural property.

Here are some key provisions of Hillsborough County's fertilizer ordinance:

  • Fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorous may not be applied on turfgrass or landscape plants from June 1 through Sept. 30, though the ordinance does not prohibit stores from selling the material during this application blackout
  • Fertilizers containing phosphorous may not be placed on turfgrass or landscape plants at any time unless a soil analysis showing a phosphorous deficiency has been performed by a qualified laboratory
  • Fertilizers containing nitrogen must be at least 50 percent controlled or slow-release
  • Fertilizer may not be applied, spilled, or deposited on any impervious surface. If fertilizer does land on these surfaces, it must be removed and may not be washed, swept, or blown into storm drains, ditches, or water bodies
  • Fertilizers containing nitrogen or phosphorous may not be applied when it is raining, within 36 hours of a predicted rainfall of at least 2 inches, during a flood watch or warning, or when a tropical storm or hurricane looms
  • Fertilizer may not be spread within 10 feet of any surface water or water body

Violation of any of the ordinance's provisions is a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 60 days in jail

Enforcement and violation reporting

The fertilizer ordinance is enforced by Hillsborough County Code Enforcement. Suspected ordinance violations can be reported online.

Further information

More information can be found on the Fertilizer Ordinance and Regulation webpage.

Contact Hillsborough County Extension Service for more information at (813) 744-5519.

Hillsborough County “Drop Savers” poster contest winners announced for 2024

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY – Hillsborough County Water Resources and the City of Tampa Water Department selected the student winners of the 2024 Drop Savers Poster Contest, which helps students understand the importance of conserving vital and limited water resources. In addition, three local winners won at the state level.

Students in grades K-12 were encouraged to create a poster depicting a water conservation idea, in slogan form, drawing form, or both, focusing on the importance of water conservation.  

The local winners of the contest, which was open to all Hillsborough County Public Schools and private K-12 students, are the following: 

Division 1 (Kindergarten-1st Grade):
    First: Fnu Ifrah Mariam, West Tampa Elementary
    Second: Jaden Ou, Chiles Elementary
    Third: Shrineel Patil, Clark Elementary  

Division 2 (2nd-3rd Grade):
    First: Gabriel Angeli, Lowry Elementary
    Second: Sarah Justus, Citrus Park Elementary
    Third: Samaira Danduri, Pride Elementary  

Division 3 (4th-5th Grade):
    First: Suah Kim, Chiles Elementary
    Second: Ashwika Shetty, Pride Elementary
    Third: Arav Dange, Boyette Springs Elementary

Division 4 (6th-8th Grade):
    First: Samara Ortiz, Foundation Christian Academy
    Second: Jherika Hughes, Progress Village Middle
    Third: Adithi Injeti, Farnell Middle

Division 5 (9th-12th Grade):
    First: Madison Douglas, East Bay High
    Second: Alyssa Simmonds, Hillsborough Virtual High School
    Third: Aashita Rai, Alonso High

The Hillsborough County School Board will recognize the first, second, and third place Drop Savers Water Conservation Poster contest winners at its 5:30 p.m. May 14 regular school board meeting. The first-place winners at the public schools will be awarded a pizza party for the classroom, Florida state park prize, and the student and their classroom will receive reusable water bottles imprinted with the design of the student's winning poster.

The entries for each of the local first-place winners were submitted to the state competition sponsored by the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association. Three Hillsborough County students were recognized. Gabriel Angeli won first place in the state second division. Suah Kim won first place in the state third division. And Samara Ortiz won third place in the state fourth division. The winners at the state contest won a plaque, calendar with their poster, gift cards, certificate, tote bags, and a water conservation kit.

Learn more about the Drop Savers Poster Contest and see the winning entries from this year and previous contests.

Annual Update of Pinellas County Local Mitigation Strategy plan complete

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Pinellas County and most of its municipal partners participate in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS). Submittal of this annual report to the Board of County Commissioners is a program requirement.

Pinellas County, its municipal partners and other stakeholders have updated this year’s Pinellas County Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS). The LMS is updated annually according to criteria set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM). County governments and municipalities are required to participate to be eligible for federal hazard mitigation grants.

The purpose of the LMS is to identify and reduce the impact of hazards such as flooding, sea level rise and storm surge in the community. The LMS establishes a process to identify potential hazards and vulnerabilities. It sets goals and establishes specific actions or remedies to reduce the risk and impact of natural or manmade hazards to people, buildings, infrastructure and the environment. The LMS also serves as the County and many municipalities’ floodplain management plan.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management has previously recognized Pinellas County’s LMS as among those in the top tier of the state.

The County’s hazard mitigation efforts underscore a component of its strategic plan, ensuring public health, safety and welfare by providing planning, coordination, prevention and protective services to ensure a safe and secure community. The public can learn more about the LMS plan, annual reports and provide feedback by visiting www.pinellaslms.org.

Pinellas County opens new self-serve sandbag site at Solid Waste Complex

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Pinellas County opened its first self-service sandbag pickup site for residents of the unincorporated county today in north St. Petersburg.

The site is centrally located next door to the Pinellas County Household Hazardous Waste facility at 2855 109th Ave N., St. Petersburg, and will be open year-round Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The self-service site allows residents to pick up free, prefilled sandbags well before a storm threat and without having to wait in a long line. The County encourages residents to prepare for storms early as sandbag sites may not be available right before a storm.

In addition to the self-service site, the County and municipal partners are hosting five free emergency preparedness events leading up to Hurricane Season where residents can pick up sandbags and learn about other critical activities to focus on right before a storm. The event schedule and other information about sandbags and other flood barriers can be found at pinellas.gov/sandbags.

Pinellas County reminds residents that sandbags are only recommended for protection from up to 15 inches of flooding. Sandbags won’t stop water completely, but they can reduce the amount of water entering your home. They will not protect against waves or storm surge associated with larger storms.

Residents can pick up 10 sandbags at the new self-service site and/or at any of the free sandbag events. It takes about 10 sandbags to protect one doorway.

Florida's outdated urban drainage systems cause more flooding, but there' a natural solution

In the 1900s, swamps and low-lying areas were drained to create more space for development and farming.

Florida has a lot of altered drainage networks, like ditches and canals, but at a recent resiliency summit in Clearwater, it became clear that these are increasingly becoming obsolete and can actually make flooding worse.

There are 80,000 linear miles of stream channels in Florida, and almost two-thirds of those are ditches and canals.

These water systems were originally put in to drain parts of the state for development.

But John Kiefer, an environmental engineer with Black & Veatch who moderated a panel discussion on the subject at the Regional Resiliency Summit, said these are not stable.

"They require perennial maintenance, otherwise they erode — sometimes catastrophically, sometimes chronically," Kiefer told the audience in one of the breakout rooms at the Hilton Clearwater Beach.

He said the eroding sediment could plug up openings, compounding the flooding that's already increasing from climate change.

Along with sea level rise, warmer temperatures cause more water to evaporate from the land and oceans, creating more frequent and heavier rain events.

Kiefer also said altering the landscape causes problems for wildlife, so some fish don't have access to proper water bodies, for instance.

"So, what is the cure? Well, the cure can follow a gradient from near to natural solutions to highly engineered ones," Kiefer said.

These systems can be re-patterned so they process water and sediment more naturally.

Take Sarasota County's Phillippi Creek Watershed, for example.

Kiefer said 95 of the 100 miles of canals there are eligible for this kind of restoration, but a project like this could cost $2 million per mile.

How Tampa’s water district is preparing for hurricane season flooding

Hurricane season starts June 1. And water district officials are planning to rebuild a water control structure that helps keeps the Hillsborough River from flooding during major storms. It's a key feature protecting much of Tampa.

Jerry Mallams stands in front of the concrete and steel structure. It's part of the Tampa Bypass Canal, which diverts overflows from the Hillsborough River. He's operations bureau chief at the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The above video was taken two years ago by the water district when the floodgates were opened.

It's part of a system set up after Hurricane Donna devastated Tampa and Temple Terrace in 1960. But as they near a ripe old age, the structure's steel floodgates and lift gates will have to be rebuilt.

“(The) city of Tampa is built all around that river. So there's a lot of urbanization nestled up very, very close to this river,” he said. “So when this river comes out of its banks, it can cause a lot of damage, not only to residential but to industry, commercial, very quickly, as well as all the associated infrastructure, the roads, the power lines and all of that.”

Mallams said the structure was activated in 2017 when Hurricane Irma struck. Water was diverted around the city of Tampa for a month. About three billion gallons a day were diverted through this structure, minimizing flooding in Tampa and Temple Terrace. He said it has the capacity to move around 17 billion gallons a day.

Pasco County Utilities announces new reclaimed water schedule

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As western Florida’s drought conditions continue, Pasco County Utilities urges reclaimed water customers to voluntarily limit watering to once a week. We encourage you to follow the newly implemented irrigation schedule for reclaimed water irrigation customers.

“The lack of rainfall is straining Pasco’s reclaimed water supply and conservation is key to maximizing our supply,” says Pasco County Utilities Director David Allen. “By switching to once-a-week irrigation, more reclaimed water customers will be able to irrigate and maintain their landscapes, as well.”

Beginning May 15, 2024, and until further notice, you should reset your irrigation controllers to the new one-day-per-week watering schedule. It’s important to water only between Midnight and 8 a.m., only on your new designated day and only once on that day.

New Reclaimed Water Schedule

If your house number ends in:     Water on this day only:
    0-1     Monday
    2-3     Tuesday
    4-5     Wednesday
    6-7     Thursday
    8-9     Friday
    Mixed address or no address     Friday


Year-round irrigation for potable, well and surface water customers remains in place in Pasco County between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Anyone needing assistance with resetting their irrigation controller should email SaveH2O@MyPasco.net. Additional tips for outdoor water conservation and efficiency are available at bit.ly/PascoLawn. Visit PascoCountyUtilities.com for more information about Pasco County Utilities services.

2025 Bay Mini-Grant applications now being accepted

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The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is now accepting Bay Mini-Grant applications for 2025 projects!

Bay Mini-Grants are competitive awards that fund environmental restoration and education projects in the Tampa Bay watershed with a focus on community-led initiatives. The maximum award is $5,000 per project. Schools, businesses, nonprofits, and many other organizations are eligible to apply.

  • Deadline: Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on September 13, 2024.
  • More Information: Application materials and details can be found at www.tbep.org/bay-mini-grants
  • Webinar: Want to learn more about Bay Mini-Grants, get tips for developing a strong application, and ask questions? Join TBEP for a webinar on June 11 at 5:30 p.m.

Register for Webinar

Governor announces investments in Wildlife Corridor, red tide mitigation

For the second day in a row, DeSantis focused on environmental investments.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation to boost red tide research and direct funding toward expanding Florida’s Wildlife Corridor.

“With the investments we’re getting, we’re on our way to linking these areas so that we can promote safe and stabilized species movements,” DeSantis said.

The Governor signed the legislation in Naples, a region Senate President Kathleen Passidomo represents. Environmental investments had been chief priorities for Passidomo during the past two Legislative Sessions.

DeSantis at the event stressed the need to preserve Florida’s environment for future generations to enjoy. The announcements Tuesday came a day after DeSantis also promised a $1.5 billion investment in Everglades restoration and other water improvement projects.

In fighting red tide algal blooms, DeSantis signed mitigation legislation (HB 1565) extending a partnership between the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and More Marine Laboratory in Sarasota to study prevention and mitigation technologies.

Polk County Dept. of Health issues Health Alerts for multiple lakes

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April 25, 2024

POLK COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health in Polk County (DOH-Polk) has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Conine - at Lucerne Park Rd Boat Ramp, Lake Conine – Boat Ramp, Lake Gibson – West, Scott Lake - West, and Tiger Lake - Center.

This is in response to water samples taken on April 2, 2024, April 10, 2024, April 15, 2024, April 16, 2024, and January 24, 2024.

The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Conine - at Lucerne Park Rd Boat Ramp, Lake Conine – Boat Ramp, Lake Gibson – West, Scott Lake - West, and Tiger Lake - Center.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish to appropriate temperature.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.
For updates, please visit the FDEP Algal Bloom Dashboard.

Pasco County renews Health Alert for blue-green algae in Lake Blanton

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April 23, 2024

PASCO COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Blanton Lake.

This is in response to a water sample taken on April 18, 2024.

The public should exercise caution in and around Blanton Lake.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.
For updates, visit the FDEP Algal Bloom Dashboard.

Hillsborough County Dept. of Health renews Health Alert for Lake Thonotosassa

FDOH logo

April 19, 2024

THONOTOSASSA – The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough (DOH-Hillsborough) has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Thonotosassa Lake.

This is in response to a water sample taken on April 17, 2024.

The public should exercise caution in and around Thonotosassa Lake.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water. Throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.
For updates, please visit the FDEP Algal Bloom Dashboard.

PFAS Regulation Update: Tampa Bay Water Addresses EPA’s New Standards

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CLEARWATER – The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates public drinking water, issued its final regulations for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are man-made compounds that have been widely used in the manufacturing of clothing, sealants and stains, furniture fabrics, Teflon™-coated products, food packaging, and other materials since the 1940s. Tampa Bay Water has followed EPA’s progress in developing limits for PFAS and has been working to address these expected regulations.

Since July 2023, Tampa Bay Water has been testing the regional drinking water supply for the six regulated PFAS, alongside its member utilities, during EPA’s nationwide study. The regional utility has completed three of four quarters of testing. Results from the first three quarters of testing show that one of Tampa Bay Water’s regional delivery locations is slightly above the new limit for one PFAS: PFOS. Results are posted on the utility’s website at tampabaywater.org/pfas.

“It’s not uncommon to find low levels of PFAS in drinking water because they are slow to break down when they enter our environment,” said Steve Fleischacker, water quality services senior manager for Tampa Bay Water. “As consumers use and discard products that contain PFAS, they can enter our environment, including drinking water sources.”

In 2023, Tampa Bay Water completed a study on the effectiveness of treatment technologies that address total organic carbon. These treatment technologies are recommended by EPA to address PFAS and other constituents of emerging concern. The study provides a framework for using technologies recognized by EPA as the most effective for treating PFAS.

EPA’s new regulations are based on annual averages and Tampa Bay Water is scheduled to complete the year of testing needed to determine annual averages this summer. Annual average data combined with EPA’s final regulations allow Tampa Bay Water staff to make treatment recommendations to its board of directors later this year.

“The picture is now clearer with EPA’s final regulations,” said Fleischacker. “When you’re dealing with the public water supply and the quality of the water we deliver, it’s not guesswork. We make decisions and recommendations based on science and data.”