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Water-Related News

Water quality roundtable attracts experts from around the Suncoast

SARASOTA – In the wake of a massive red tide outbreak, key stakeholders in the state of water quality in Sarasota Bay met at a roundtable Monday hosted by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.

“Red tide has wreaked havoc on marine life, our waters and the many businesses that rely on Florida’s tourism-based economy,” Buchanan was quoted in a news release.

The Suncoast is currently experiencing severe levels of red tide, which is caused by toxin-producing algae that is extremely deadly to fish and other marine life.

Those in attendance included:

  • Adam Blalock, Deputy Secretary for Ecosystems Restoration, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Dr. Thomas Frazer, Dean of the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida
  • Ed Sherwood, Executive Director, Tampa Bay Estuary Program
  • Dr. Dave Tomasko, Executive Director, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program
  • Dr. Michael Mullan, Executive Director, Roskamp Institute
  • Jeff Sedacca, Advisor, Gulf Shellfish Institute
  • Elliot Falcione, Executive Director, Visit Manatee
  • Erin Duggan, Vice President, Visit Sarasota

Experts: Keeping water nutrient-free key to red tide battle

Don’t feed the algae.

More than 100 people filled the Bradenton Yacht Club dining room in Palmetto July 23 to participate in a scientific forum on the algal blooms plaguing local waters.

The event was coordinated by Suncoast Waterkeeper and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, and notable attendees included Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown, Manatee County administrator Dr. Scott Hopes and six Manatee County commissioners.

Suncoast Waterkeeper chair Joe McClash opened the gathering by stating the forum’s purpose: To inform the public about what can be done to mitigate annual algal blooms that kill wildlife and devastate local economies.

Ed Sherwood and Dr. David Tomasko, executive directors of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, endeavored to answer the question in back-to-back scientific presentations.

What is the proposed Florida Wetlands Protection ballot amendment?

The Florida Wetlands Protection Amendment intends to prohibit the dredging, filling, draining or other degradation of wetlands.

Chuck O’Neal is the Chairman of the Florida Rights of Nature Network and he is chairman of the FL5 DOT Org Political Committee. He says Florida's wetlands are the hydrological kidneys of the state, and that they serve to filter the water that comes into them.

"We really have these free solar-powered water filtration operations going on within the state. They're called wetlands," said O'Neal. "People look at them. And they say, well, that's just a bunch of weeds, they're coming out of water. But they are so critically important to the state. Florida was given, from its creation, the most acreage of any state in the country with natural wetlands."

O’Neal laments that over half of Florida’s wetlands have been dredged and filled for development.

Here’s how you can improve local water quality during red tide

Red tide occurs naturally; however, there are some things that we can do as a community to help make sure it doesn't get worse in our waterways.

SARASOTA – Red tide occurs naturally offshore. But there are some things that we can do to help make sure it doesn't get worse.

Scientists have put together a community playbook for healthy waterways. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation has an interactive look on its website for different ways to reduce nutrients from getting into our waterways.

One of them is fertilizer. When you use too much, and it runs off into our waterways, the nitrogen can feed macroalgae and phytoplankton. That clouds the water where seagrass needs to grow for manatees to eat and fuels algae blooms.

In Sarasota County, fertilizer is widely used on turfgrass like golf courses and athletic fields, lawns and some farms. But you may not even need it if you use reclaimed water.

“If it comes from the city of Sarasota, it’s got low nutrient content, and you may need to fertilize on top of it, but if it comes from Sarasota County or Manatee County, it has enough nutrients in it, you don’t need to fertilize and in fact, you need to be careful about how much water you add,” Dr. David Tomasko said. He is the Executive Director of The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program. He says it’s easy to overdo it.

Water issues plague the Tampa Bay region

From low water pressure in south Hillsborough County caused by rapid development to a massive fish kill in Pinellas County waters caused by Red Tide, and the Piney Point disaster in April where a long dormant phosphate plant dumped nearly 200 millions of gallons of nitrogen-rich wastewater into Tampa Bay, it’s been a rough year for water in the region.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith, who sits on the Tampa Bay Water Board, and Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, a member of the Tampa Bay Estuary Board, joined WMNF MidPoint hosts Janet Scherberger and Rochelle Reback on July 28 to explore the issue. You can listen to the entire discussion here, on the WMNF app or on the WMNF MidPoint podcast.

The Piney Point release was the equivalent of an entire nitrogen load for an entire year in just 10 days, noted Commissioner Justice. That, he said, likely has exacerbated the Red Tide and the fish kill.

“You may not be able to trace the exact nitrogen particle from the Piney Point plant to a dead fish you pick up and analyze, but obviously there’s a connection,” he said.

About 1,700 tons of dead fish have been collected so far.

Justice said Pinellas County has received significant financial help from the state to clean up the coast, and the worst of the outbreak is over.

“It’s nothing like what you saw just a week ago,” he said.

Smith said the water pressure issue in Hillsborough County is due to rapid growth in the area that has strained water supply. The problem will be addressed with new infrastructure, but an initial project won’t come online until 2024 and then another supply project is due in 2028.

“In the interim, we’re in a tricky situation where the demand has grown faster than the supply because of sprawl. Sprawl has been outstripping our infrastructure in several ways. Water is just one of them,” she said.

The water pressure, she noted, doesn’t just impact households, but also fire hydrants, which creates a safety concern.

The problem arose, Smith said, because current models don’t accurately predict water demand created by new developments. She said the county is working on improving those models.

Smith also said the continuing problem of sprawl needs to be addressed at some point.

“We need to do a much better job of planning and smart growth and focusing our growth where the infrastructure is rather than letting it sprawl out where we have to keep playing catch up with the infrastructure,” she said.

Manatee County officials to break ground on 88-acre Washington Park

When complete, Washington Park will be largest community green space in the Palmetto area

MANATEE COUNTY – Manatee County leaders will break ground on the long-awaited Washington Park atop a former borrow pit on 88 acres in Palmetto next week. Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department will host a ceremony to commemorate the start of the project on Wed., July 28 at 3 p.m.

The park, being built in phases, is located at 3011 8th Ave. E., Palmetto. Visitors to the groundbreaking are asked to enter from 8th Ave. E. and follow the signs to the parking area. There will be remarks by elected officials, Port Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff and community partners. Light refreshments will be provided by Stantec.

The first phase includes a central pavilion, a children’s play area, and a multi-use field. Manatee County Commissioners have committed $2.75 million in Infrastructure Sales Tax dollars and Community Development Block Grant funds to develop the park’s recreational amenities.

The second phase of the project, being spearheaded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will bring 1 million cubic yards of dredged material from Port Manatee over the next decade to fill in 20 acres of a former borrow pit creating a passive park and nature preserve. That project began earlier in 2021 and it will bring a contoured landscape with walking trails for recreation along with stormwater quality improvements. The the Corps project moving infill from the Port will save the County more than $10 million in equivalent costs had the partnership not been realized.

When complete, Washington Park will be the largest recreational community green space in the Palmetto area.

“The residents of Palmetto and District 2 have waited a very long time for this moment and I know people are excited to have Washington Park come to reality,” said District 2 County Commissioner Reggie Bellamy. “I’m so appreciative of the many people who worked diligently for many years to make it a reality.”

"The community has come together to maintain their vision and faith in support of the Washington Park and Preserve," said Dr. Scott Hopes, Manatee County Administrator. "My appreciation goes directly to the community, the Army Corps of Engineers and our Board of County Commissioners who have recognized the value of important partnerships to create what is and will be a beautiful community asset."

The future community park is located north of Palmetto, just east of U.S. 41. In 1957, the Florida Department of Transportation removed dirt from the site to build the U.S. 41 overpass near 29th Street East.

No, there isn’t ‘scientific consensus’ on red tide impact from Piney Point

The governor says it's clear the spill didn’t cause red tide, but researchers say studies are ongoing to determine the extent of the impact.

ST. PETERSBURG – As red tide wreaks havoc in the Bay area, many continue to point the finger at Piney Point and the 215 million gallons of wastewater rich in nutrients known to fuel the toxic algae dumped from the former fertilizer plant into Tampa Bay in April.

Asked about the link, Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested there wasn’t any during a press conference in St. Petersburg last week.

“I think the scientific consensus is clear, it didn't cause the red tide,” DeSantis said of Piney Point. “The red tide was here—I think the biggest impact on Tampa Bay was Elsa, unfortunately.”

THE QUESTION

Is the scientific consensus clear the Piney Point spill did not cause red tide? And what, if anything, does Elsa have to do with it?

THE SOURCES

  • Lisa Krimsky, Water Resource Regional Specialized Agent with the University of Florida
  • Maya Burke, assistant director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program
  • Bob Weisberg, professor of oceanography specializing in harmful algal blooms and spill tracking at the University of South Florida

THE ANSWER

No, the "scientific consensus" isn't clear that Piney Point did not cause red tide. Elsa was a likely contributing factor. Research into the extent of how the discharge from the former fertilizer plant is affecting the water is ongoing.

Hillsborough County offering free fish to combat mosquito problems

Residents will drive home from the giveaway events with a bag of fish — but ones with a diet for mosquito larvae instead of fish flakes.

Hillsborough County Mosquito Management has added another tool in its kit to control the mosquito population this summer.

As the temperature heats up, and summer rains produce more standing water, the county is offering residents fleets of small fish to help combat the growing number of mosquitos we’ll be seeing.

The two-and-a-half-inch, guppy-like eastern mosquito fish is native to Florida and feeds on mosquito eggs and larvae. They start on their mosquito diet when they’re as small as 0.3 inches at birth.

In five more summer drive-thru events, residents can pick up a bag of 10 mosquito fish to take home. All that’s required is a photo ID showing proof of residence in Hillsborough County.

“We only give out 10 fish, but that's so we can give out a lot to every resident and help out as many residents as we can,” said Alexa Patrizio, Hillsborough County Mosquito Management project coordinator. “But they do reproduce so often that by the time that you get your fish home in a month, you should already have about 100 fish in there.”

An adult mosquito fish can eat up to 100 mosquito larvae each day, according to Patrizio, and provides an effective way to curtail mosquito growth without the use of insecticides.

Estuary Program scientists blame Piney Point for during red tide forum

Almost everyone agrees that the discharge of more than 200 million gallons of polluted water from Piney Point in April was necessary to save lives and property after a leak in one of the phosphate plant’s gypsum stack led to a warning of an imminent collapse.

But not everyone agrees that months later, the discharge has led to one of the worse bouts of red tide seen in the waters of Tampa Bay.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, at a news conference on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, downplayed the effects of the discharge while addressing red tide concerns in the St. Pete communities. DeSantis blamed Hurricane Elsa for moving red tide farther north into the bay.

On Friday, scientists from Tampa Bay Estuary and Sarasota Bay Estuary disputed those claims during a community discussion about red tide and water quality in the bays.

Dave Tomasko, director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program said the governor is likely being advised by scientists “we don’t necessarily agree with. Elsa didn’t kill those fish. They were already dead as of the July Fourth weekend and Elsa blew those dead fish toward the shore.”

Ed Sherwood, director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and Tomasko, also pointed out that Tampa Bay waters east of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge rarely experience the effects of red tide. But they are now, and it’s not likely coincidence.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium plans manatee rehab center

Manatee deaths reach all time high in 2021

PINELLAS COUNTY – More manatees have died in the first six months of this year than any other year in Florida’s history. FWC says 841 sea cows have died since January 1.

With red tide concerns growing, scientists and marine biologists worry more manatees could be in danger. Pinellas County leaders say the toxic bloom in Tampa Bay is killing off seagrass at an alarming rate, which manatees need to survive.

In response, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is stepping up to help save the beloved animals.

Red Tide may recede in Tampa Bay but worsen off Pinellas beaches

Toxic algae have devastated local waters, killing immense numbers of fish and other sea life. Some manatees have been found dead, too.

ST. PETERSBURG — The latest Red Tide monitoring shows some improvement within Tampa Bay, officials say, but conditions are worsening for several gulf beaches.

“Our aerial imagery is showing that the bloom has kind of transported out of the mouth over the last few days. Within the bay ... it’s night and day from a week ago,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton. “However the bloom has now moved, it’s off the coast, and it’s expanded, and we’ve seen high bloom concentrations from Longboat Key up essentially to Dunedin and that area.”

Red Tide is “pretty extensive” off the beaches, Sutton told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. It is atypical for a toxic bloom to reach as far into the bay as it did this month, but more common in the gulf. In some spots on the western shore, Sutton said, the Red Tide has reached all the way up to the beach, while in other places it may be drifting a mile or so offshore. The bloom is not one unbroken block of algae but pockets that move according to winds, tides and other environmental factors.

Mote scientists use drones to study red tide

SARASOTA — A view from the sky may help form a better picture for those on the ground when it comes to toxic algae.

Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium are studying how drones might help form a more complete, real-time view of red tide.

“This is essentially the same data the satellites give you just on a much finer scale, much more real-time and faster,” said Cody Cole, a staff biologist who is involved in marine operations and red tide research.

Cole explains drones equipped with special sensors first capture pictures, able to cover a large swath in a short time period.

“A satellite might make that one thing a whole pixel whereas I have 212 images within there,” he said showing pictures from a recent flight.

Mote recently launched the drones near Lido Key, flying them for the first time over a red tide bloom, Cole said. Researchers are looking at light wavelengths reflecting out of the water.

Hillsborough commissioner seeks fertilizer ban

The county declined a summertime prohibition of fertilizer use 11 years ago.

In the wake of Red Tide-triggered fish kills in Apollo Beach, Ruskin and other Hillsborough County locations, Commissioner Mariella Smith wants to revisit a proposed fertilizer ban that didn’t pass muster more than a decade ago.

Smith said she will ask the rest of the commission for an ordinance to prohibit application of nitrogen fertilizers across Hillsborough County during Florida’s rainy season. It would be similar to rules already in place in Pinellas County and the city of Tampa.

“This is a way we can join our neighbors around Tampa Bay to work together to reduce polluting fertilizer that is rinsing into the bay with every summer rain,” she said.However, Smith said she would not seek a summertime ban on fertilizer sales that is included in other local ordinances. Under state law, agricultural land would be exempt.

Smith isn’t the only one seeking stronger rules.

Last week, the St. Petersburg City Council urged the Pinellas County Commission to extend its annual fertilizer ban beyond the traditional June 1 to Sept. 30 window.

Pinellas County Health Department advises against swimming in red tide waters

PINELLAS COUNTY – Red Tide is ruining beach days in many parts of the Tampa Bay area, but some people are venturing out on the waterway anyhow. Pinellas County health experts do not recommend swimming in high risks area.

“If it doesn’t look clear, don’t got swimming in it,” said Tom Iovino with the Pinellas County Health Department.

He told 8 On Your Side there are several negative effects of swimming in high concentrated areas.

“We don’t want people swimming where the dead fish are. Part of the reason is that the fine bones in the fish could scratch your skin and could let in marine bacteria and we don’t want that to happen,” Iovino said.

Red Tide can also cause major respiratory issues. According to the FWC, that’s caused by toxins becoming airborne when wave action breaks cells open. The FWC warns that red tide can cause “serious illness” for people who already suffer from severe or chronic respiratory conditions like emphysema or asthma.

“People may have irritation in their respiratory tract: so their nose, their throat, their lungs. If they’re starting to experience that, maybe the best thing to do is get away from the area,” Iovino said.

There’s also several conversations on if the live fish you get from these waterways are safe to eat.

New flood insurance rates maps going into effect in August

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) updated the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for the coastal areas of Pinellas County. The new map will be effective on Aug. 24, 2021.

Pinellas County Floodplain Management encourages property owners to find out if their flood zone or base flood elevation (BFE) is changing. The public can view the pending maps at bit.ly/PinellasPendingMaps.

If the flood zone or BFE for a property changes, the flood insurance rate and the requirement to carry a flood policy may also change. By law, federally regulated or insured mortgage lenders require flood insurance on buildings that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. Standard homeowners, business owners, and renters’ insurance policies typically don’t cover flood damage; consequently, flood insurance for financial protection is an important consideration for everyone subject to flood risks.

Pinellas County Floodplain Management also encourages property owners to contact their flood insurance agent to determine how the new maps will affect their flood insurance premiums and ensure they secure the lowest available rate. Call the National Flood Insurance Program Help Center at 800-427-4661, visit www.floodsmart.gov, or contact a Flood Insurance Advocate at www.pinellascounty.org/flooding/advocates.htm for more information.

State environmental officials tour Tampa Bay, pledge help in fighting Red Tide

They say the state is directing resources for the cleanup, including money and spotter planes. But they maintain that a state of emergency declaration — which some have called for — won't change anything.

The state has been ramping up efforts to combat the unprecedented red tide bloom that is killing untold numbers of fish in Tampa Bay.

This week, the heads of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Department of Environmental Protection met with local officials and toured Tampa Bay. They say the state is directing resources for the cleanup, including money and spotter planes, and no state of emergency declaration — like some have called for — would change anything.

Health News Florida's Steve Newborn talks with Eric Sutton, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Shawn Hamilton, interim director of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Researchers testing new strategy to battle red tide in Sarasota

By mixing clay with seawater and spraying it onto the surface of the water, the particles in the mixture sink and combine with red tide cells.

SARASOTA – As the Tampa Bay area is reeling with the impacts red tide is having on sea life and the environment, researchers are testing a new method to combat the harmful algae bloom.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium scientists are trying to use clay dispersal to remove red tide in parts of Sarasota where its been detected. It's a strategy they say has been used to control other types of harmful algae.

By mixing clay with seawater and spraying it onto the surface of the water, the particles in the mixture sink and combine with red tide cells. The process can kill and bury the cells in the sediment on the seafloor, the aquarium says.

"This is just the first of what we hope will be several upcoming trials of clay flocculation on active blooms in the wild," said Dr. Don Anderson, Senior Scientist at WHOI and Principal Investigator for this Initiative project. “What we learn here will help us better understand how conditions in Florida affect its success and how clay flocculation might be tailored to blooms of Karenia brevis, as well as other species of algae, here and elsewhere in the world.”

The process of clay dispersal is common in drinking water and sewage treatment. Researchers hope to also find out how much clay is needed and whether it not only kills the red tide cells but the toxins they release as well.

Florida DEP launches ‘One Water Florida’ campaign promoting recycled water

TALLAHASSEE – On July 16th the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the launch of the One Water Florida Campaign to inform Floridians on the use of recycled water in the state to meet the growing demand for water. This campaign was designed in coordination with the state’s five water management districts, WateReuse Florida, the Potable Reuse Commission, the American Water Works Association Florida Section, the Florida Water Environment Association, The Nature Conservancy and the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.

“Our water supply in Florida is not endless, and reusing water relieves pressure on Florida’s water resources and ecosystems,” said DEP Interim Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “This is one component of the state’s water supply planning to safely and sustainably diversify our water resources while protecting our precious environment.”

Florida is growing at a record pace with nearly 1,000 people moving to the state daily as well as an average of 350,000 people visiting the state each day. It is estimated that 1 billion gallons per day of additional water will be needed by 2040. Florida’s aquifers, lakes and springs cannot sustain the demand for water, and expanding the use of recycled water is an essential way to safely ensure there is plenty of water to meet the demand.

Potable reuse is highly treated recycled water from various sources that can be used for drinking, cooking and bathing. Purification uses proven technology to ensure the water is safe, with recycled water meeting all stringent state and federal drinking water standards. A variety of recycled water projects have been safely and successfully implemented throughout the United States, around the globe and even in outer space.

As part of the campaign, a new webpage has been launched to inform Floridians on recycled water as a future water source in the state. The website features:

  • Fact sheets and frequently asked questions.
  • Information on experts working with recycled water.
  • An interactive map highlighting recycled water projects around the state, country and world.
  • Additional resources such as research, presentations, videos and online publications.

Learn more about recycled water at OneWaterFlorida.org.

County activates reporting tool for Red Tide cleanup requests

Pinellas County has activated an online tool for reporting large numbers of dead fish due to Red Tide. The tool is for all areas of the county except the City of St. Petersburg, which has its own reporting portal.

To access the County tool, go to www.pinellascounty.org/redtide and click on “Pinellas County Red Tide Reporter.” From there, click on “Submit a Report” to add the location, type of problem, comments, contact information and photos. Location information can be provided by either typing in an address or creating a point on the map.

“This simple tool speeds up the response to clean up large quantities of dead fish,” said Pinellas County Public Works director Kelli Hammer Levy.

Citizens are asked to report only dead fish numbering in the hundreds or thousands that are found in the open water or on public property. For smaller quantities and on private property, residents can dispose of them through their regular trash or in a designated dumpster. Dumpster locations are shown at www.pinellascounty.org/redtide.

Residents are still encouraged to report fish kills to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). FWC conducts important monitoring of the impacts of K brevis on various species. Fish kills can be reported to FWC through the FWC Reporter app, by calling 800-636-0511 or by submitting a report online.

Red Tide remains present in low to high concentrations along the beaches from Fort De Soto Park to Honeymoon Island, as well as within the Intracoastal Waterway and Tampa Bay. The County’s contractor now has 16 vessels conducting cleanup. Through Thursday, 902 tons of Red Tide-related debris had been removed.

Registration open for 2021 Florida Waters Stewardship Program

FWSP logo

Pinellas County Extension is excited to announce registration is now open for Class V of the Florida Waters Stewardship Program 2021!

This will be the 5th year that Extension is offering the program and the first year it will be offered in the morning. The past four years the program took place in the evenings, but this year the time is being changed in order to reach those who couldn’t make evenings work.

Classes will start August 25th and meet every other week (in-person) from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays.

Instructor Lara Milligan will use expert presentations, online explorations, experiential learning, field experience in watershed science, and communication skills training to foster in participants a greater understanding of these interactions and to provide the tools necessary to become stewards of our water resources.

During this seven-session course, participants will travel to locations across Pinellas County to explore the natural beauty, learn about emerging water issues, and meet with local experts.

Participants will also plan and implement an individual (or group) stewardship project that makes a difference in the community, attend a relevant stakeholder meeting and explore online resources to learn more about water between class sessions.

You can find out more details and register on the Pinellas County Extension Eventbrite website at: https://bit.ly/FWSP2021.

The cost of the course is $89.00. If the cost of the program will prevent you from participating, please complete a scholarship application. Application deadline is Friday, August 13th.

Please share this flyer with friends, family, or coworkers who may be interested in taking the course.

FWC and DEP host Red Tide roundtable

ST. PETERSBURG – Today, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Executive Director Eric Sutton and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Interim Secretary Shawn Hamilton joined affected stakeholders to discuss Florida’s multifaceted efforts to combat red tide.

During the roundtable, hosted at the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, DEP highlighted funding it is allocating to bolster local response efforts mitigating the impacts of red tide in the greater Tampa Bay area.

In response to this red tide event, the state has been engaged with stakeholders and is in the process of executing grant agreements with Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Hillsborough County residents warned to beware of Red Tide health risks

Red tide has made its way into Tampa Bay.

Residents are urged to take precautions to minimize health-related effects of the naturally occurring algae that periodically affects coastal waterways and beaches.

Red tide, the cause of which remains somewhat mysterious, can irritate eyes, noses, and throats. Exposure to airborne particles of the microscopic algae can cause coughing and sneezing. Symptoms are more severe among people with respiratory conditions such as asthma.

Florida's Department of Health recommends:

  • Don't touch or swim near dead fish.
  • Wear shoes to prevent injuries from stepping on fish carcasses.
  • Keep pets away from water, sea spray, and dead fish affected by red tide.
  • Don't harvest or eat shellfish in affected areas where they normally are considered safe to consume.
  • When possible, stay away from water bodies and beaches where red tide or fish killed by the toxic algae is present.

Generally, any encounter with red tide is an unpleasant experience best avoided. Symptoms usually subside or go away entirely when a person enters an air-conditioned building or leaves an area affected by the toxin.

Here's a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission map showing water in and around Tampa Bay where researchers have collected samples of red tide, and the samples' severity. The Commission has an online fact sheet with information about red tide and its effects.

Hillsborough County is monitoring local beaches and nature preserves adjacent to Tampa Bay for any red tide effects. It also is coordinating with other public agencies.

There have been sightings of dead fish washing ashore in areas around Tampa Bay, including in Hillsborough County. The County will dispose of dead fish that wash up on county-owned beaches but not on private property.

If there are dead fish on your private property that you wish to dispose of immediately, it is advised that you double-bag the dead fish using gloves and wearing a mask and dispose of them in the gray garbage cart.

Collected dead fish that have been double-bagged can also be taken to the South County Community Collection Center at 13000 U.S. 41 in Gibsonton from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday for proper disposal. Residents must show a valid photo ID. Disposed dead fish will not count against annual residential disposal limits. Commercial businesses are not permitted to dispose of dead fish at this site.

Pinellas Red Tide Update 7/14: 676 tons of fish removed

Local governments in Pinellas have now removed around 676 tons of dead fish and marine life from area waterways as very high levels of Red Tide persist within Tampa Bay.

Pinellas County contractors and the City of St. Petersburg collected around 124 tons of fish on Sunday and Monday and another 62.5 tons Tuesday from Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway.

A large-scale operation to remove fish before they enter estuaries and canals continues this week.

Red Tide in some parts of Tampa Bay in the past few days tested at ten to 17 times the concentration considered “high,” which can cause significant respiratory issues in people and fish kills.

Concentrations along Pinellas beaches on Tuesday ranged from medium to high with the exception of Fred Howard Park, but impacts vary from day to day. Beaches remain open and areas with lower levels of Red Tide are safe to visit, however, higher concentrations can cause health effects, especially for people with underlying respiratory issues.

Locals and visitors can find the latest respiratory forecast and Red Tide conditions at BeachesUpdate.com.

Red Tide Health Advisory

Those visiting beaches or waterfront areas should follow the recent Red Tide Advisory from the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas:

  • Do not swim around dead fish.
  • If you have chronic respiratory problems, be careful and consider staying away from affected areas as Red Tide can affect your breathing.
  • Do not harvest or eat molluscan shellfish and distressed or dead fish from areas affected by Red Tide. If fish are healthy, rinse fillets with tap or bottled water and throw out the guts.
  • Keep pets away from water, sea foam and dead sea life.
  • Residents living in beach areas are advised to close windows and run the air conditioner (making sure that the A/C filter is maintained according to manufacturer's specifications).
  • If outdoors, residents may choose to wear paper filter masks, especially if onshore winds are blowing.

Updated: Fish Kill Reporting Information

City of St. Petersburg: City residents may report fish kills through the See Click Fix app for the quickest response: https://www.stpete.org/action_center. A map of dumpster locations for disposal of dead fish can be found here.

Other Pinellas Waterways: County contractors are actively working in areas with the largest reported fish kills. Residents can report fish kills to FWC through the FWC Reporter app, by calling 800-636-0511 or by submitting a report online. Residents who find dead fish near their boat dock can retrieve them with a skimmer and dispose of them with their regular trash or call their local municipality for additional guidance.

Check the latest Red Tide impacts:

Red Tide can cause respiratory irritation in higher concentrations, especially when the wind is blowing onshore. Pinellas County contributes to the Red Tide Respiratory Forecast tool for anyone considering a beach visit. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater maintains a beach status dashboard that also includes this information at www.beachesupdate.com. The location and severity of Red Tide impacts is influenced by the direction of the wind and tides and may change from one day to the next – check these sites when planning a beach trip for the latest information.

Tampa Bay Water Seeks Public Input on Potential South Hillsborough Wellfield

CLEARWATER – Tampa Bay Water is considering a new wellfield in southern Hillsborough County to meet growing water needs and wants residents’ feedback. Residents can learn about the project by watching a video at tampabaywater.org/shw, and then provide their input through a brief online survey.

The Tampa Bay region will need 10-20 million gallons of new water per day for 2028-2038 to meet the needs of its growing population. Tampa Bay Water, the region’s wholesale water utility, is investigating several options to fulfill that need, including a new 7.5-million-gallon per day wellfield in south Hillsborough County using groundwater withdrawal credits from the County’s South Hillsborough Aquifer Recharge Project, or SHARP.

Public input is an important consideration for any new project the utility undertakes.

“Your voice counts,” said Brandon Moore, public communications manager for Tampa Bay Water. “The 15 minutes you spend watching the video and answering the survey provides us valuable feedback we can share with the project team and will inform our board as they make their decisions on the next water projects.”

Tampa Bay Water will also hold a virtual public meeting on the potential new wellfield Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. to speak with residents live. The video gives residents the opportunity to learn about the project at their leisure and prepare questions ahead of the meeting. Pre-registration is required to attend the meeting. To register, visit tampabaywater.org/shw.

Tampa Bay Water’s board of directors will consider public input, along with results from ongoing feasibility studies, when selecting the region's next water supply project in December 2022.

‘Sunny day’ high-tide flooding may soon affect much of Florida’s coast

St. Petersburg faces the highest long-term projection of flooding days of any of the 15 cities in Florida cited by the report.

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows coastal communities across the country saw record-setting high-tide flooding last year.

Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA's National Ocean Service, said the eastern Gulf of Mexico — including Florida — saw nine flood days last year. That's a 600% increase since the year 2000.

LeBouef says it's only going to get worse.

"For the first time in human history, the infrastructure we build must be designed and constructed with future conditions in mind," she said. "And along the coast, that means high-tide flooding conditions in mind."

Here are some of the report's findings:

  • St. Petersburg faces the highest long-term projection of flooding days of any of the 15 cities in Florida cited by the report. St. Petersburg saw two to three days of high-tide flooding in 2020. That number is projected to increase to 15 to 85 days in 2050.
  • Clearwater saw four to six high-tide flood days in 2020. That is projected to increase to 10 to 55 days in 2050.
  • Miami saw three to six days in 2020, and is projected to jump to between 10 to 55 days in 2050.
  • Cape Canaveral saw seven to 12 days in 2020, and is expected to increase to between 20 to 65 days in 2050.

"As sea level rise continues, damaging floods that decades ago happened only during a storm are now happening more regularly, even without severe weather such as during a full moon, tide or with a change in wind and currents," LeBouef said.

St. Pete’s sewer system held its own against Elsa

Historically, it’s been the system that overflowed.

ST. PETERSBURG – The numbers are in and it looks like all that money spent on improving St. Petersburg‘s sewer system is paying off.

“Our sewer system did great,” said St. Petersburg Public Works Administrator Claud Tankersley.

Tankersley was overflowing with pride after the city sewer system held its own against hurricane Elsa. Historically, it’s been the system that overflowed.

“We positioned all of the necessary emergency generators, we had 24-hour coverage during the storm, using three different shifts,” he said.

Six years ago, heavy rains forced St. Pete to release nearly 100-million gallons of surplus sewer water into local waterways.

After Hurricane Irma, they pumped another 15.5 million gallons underground.

All of that led the city to enter into an agreement with the state, which required St. Petersburg to spend more than $300 million to finally fix its sewage system.

Last week’s storm wasn’t the toughest test the new infrastructure will likely face. For example, the high tide during Elsa was a full foot below the one created by Tropical Storm Eta 8-months earlier, said Tankersley.

Pinellas County increases red tide response, dead fish removal

Largest fish kills were in St. Pete

PINELLAS COUNTY — Pinellas County says it's increasing the response to red tide as medium to high concentrations of the harmful algal bloom continue in the Tampa Bay area and Gulf beaches.

The county says public works crews and contractors are assisting with the removal of dead fish.

The largest fish kills have been reported in St. Petersburg, where 25,000 dead fish have been collected.

Over the weekend, DOH-Pinellas alerted the public of the red tide bloom and the symptoms that can happen from the toxins in the air. The National Weather Service has also issued an advisory due to the red tide.

“Red Tide is having an impact on our bay and beaches right now, but Pinellas County is working around the clock to lessen its effects on residents and visitors by removing dead fish and sharing the latest information on where the bloom is concentrated,” said Public Works Director Kelli Hammer Levy.

Expert: Elsa did not wash away red tide in Tampa Bay, could have made it worse

Parts of St. Petersburg are seeing some of the highest concentrations of red tide. More than 110 tons of dead sea life have been picked up so far there.

ST. PETERSBURG — Many people in the Tampa Bay area were hoping Hurricane Elsa would help churn up the pockets of red tide and push the dead fish and algae blooms offshore.

Now, almost one week later it appears the storm was no help at all.

"It certainly doesn’t seem like, as we had all had our fingers crossed, that Tropical Storm Elsa helped the red tide situation, it certainly didn’t flush it out of Tampa Bay," said Dr. Lisa Krimsky, a Regional Water Resources Extension Agent with the University of Florida IFAS Extension.

Although Krimsky says we don't have official confirmation of what the exact impact was from Elsa, she suspects it might have gotten worse in some areas.

"It’s possible in certain areas, it did make it worse but recognizing that it’s very patchy within Tampa Bay," added Krimsky who underscored the tendency red tide has to be concentrated in one area and nonexistent not too far away.

Elsa takes out sea turtle nests on Anna Maria Island

Elsa took a toll on Anna Maria Island’s sea turtle nests as the storm passed July 6-7 in the Gulf of Mexico.

Turtle nests on AMI faced destructive waves, according to the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch (AMITW) and Shorebird Monitoring team.

AMITW is a nonprofit that collects data on sea turtle and shorebird nesting habits.

After the storm — which moved up the Gulf of Mexico as a category 1 hurricane but was downgraded to a tropical storm as it passed the island overnight July 7— AMITW volunteer Pete Gross reported 53 nests were washed away by waves and 131 nests were washed over by waves.

Gross said nests that were washed over likely would hatch.

A fraction of the nests that were washed away also will hatch.

Additionally, some sea turtle eggs were found rolling in the surf, said executive director of AMITW Suzi Fox.

The eggs found in the surf will not hatch, as they are water permeable.

“Once they roll to the water, the likelihood of them hatching is zero,” Fox said.

No Red Tide relief in sight as dead fish overwhelm St. Petersburg

A toxic algal bloom is plaguing Tampa Bay and befouling St. Petersburg’s shores. It could stick around for a while.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Sunshine City and its sparkling waterfront parks have become the center of Tampa Bay’s Red Tide crisis.

Rafts of dead fish are washing ashore more quickly than crews can gather the carcasses. Workers have picked up 477 tons of dead marine life from the coastline in recent weeks, according to Mayor Rick Kriseman. That accounts for the overwhelming majority of more than 600 tons picked up across Pinellas County.

Scientists continue to detect high levels of Red Tide through much of the bay, with no sign of immediate relief on the horizon.

“It’s here. It’s bad. And there’s not much we can do other than make sure we’re all communicating well,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Director Eric Sutton told the Tampa Bay Times. “There’s no signs that necessarily it’s going to be coming to an end soon, but I’ve learned enough not to try to predict Red Tide either.”

NASA: Moon ‘wobble’ will cause dramatic increases in coastal flooding

A "wobble" in the moon's orbit will combine with rising sea levels due to the Earth's warming to bring "a decade of dramatic increases" in high-tide coastal floods across the U.S. in the 2030s, NASA warns in a new study.

Why it matters: Low-lying areas near sea level already increasingly at risk from flooding will see their situation "only get worse," per a statement from NASA administrator Bill Nelson.

"The combination of the Moon's gravitational pull, rising sea levels, and climate change will continue to exacerbate coastal flooding on our coastlines and across the world."
— Nelson

Of note: Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii and the lead author of the study, published this month in Nature Climate Change, said high-tide floods involve less water than hurricane storm surges.

But "if it floods 10 or 15 times a month, a business can't keep operating with its parking lot under water," Thompson said.

"People lose their jobs because they can’t get to work," he added "Seeping cesspools become a public health issue."

The big picture: Scientists have known about wobbles in the orbit of the moon, which takes 18.6 years to complete, since 1728.

Tampa, St. Pete didn’t flood or spill sewage in Elsa like they used to during storms. Why?

Tampa Bay’s largest cities have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into hardening their sewer and stormwater systems. It appears to be paying off.

TAMPA – Remember the summers of 2015 and 2016? They were wet — and nasty — in Tampa Bay.

Three weeks of daily rain in 2015 and Tropical Storm Colin and Hurricane Hermine the following year ended up with Tampa and Boca Ciega bays, the Hillsborough River and city streets on both sides of the bay being polluted with sewage and floodwaters.

Five years later, weeks of heavy rain and Tropical Storm Elsa dumped prolonged gushing rain over the bay area, but the results were quite different.

Neither Tampa or St. Petersburg had any sewage incidents during Elsa. Nor did either flood-prone city have major issues with streets being closed down because of high water.

“We had no overflows with Elsa. Zero. In large part due to improvements we’ve made since 2016,” said Brad Baird, Tampa’s deputy administrator for infrastructure.

Five years ago, Tampa had problems with pump stations losing power and causing overflows. The city also had problems with outdated pump stations and aging pipes.

 

Pinellas DOH alerts public of red tide bloom along Pinellas coastal beaches

PINELLAS COUNTY — The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is alerting the public of a red tide bloom along Pinellas coastal beaches.

The DOH-Pinellas said some people may have mild and short-lived respiratory symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation similar to cold symptoms. Some individuals with breathing problems such as asthma might experience more severe symptoms.

Usually, symptoms go away when a person leaves the area or goes indoors.

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Health officials are recommending that people who are experiencing those symptoms to stay away from beach areas and go into an air-conditioned space.

Tierra Verde’s Grand Canal needs major dredging. Who will pay for it?

As nearby residents grow frustrated with the deteriorating canal, a patchwork of state and federal approvals could put off the sand dredging until 2023.

The Tierra Verde Grand Canal is filling up with sand.

The water flow has slowed in the waterway snaking along the marina, condos and private homes that make up the quiet community. A gated community built along the water now has a private beach that has sprouted since 2018. For years, residents along the canal have called on the county to speed up a dredging process that would clear it of sand. The dredging itself would take about three months.

But the timeline for the project may take until 2023, Kelli Levy, Pinellas County’s public works director said during Thursday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

A flurry of state regulations, funding sources and feasibility studies makes the process long and complicated — there are more than a dozen checkpoints before the county can apply for state and federal permits, which then could take 13 months to process.

“I’ve heard a lot about ‘can we hurry this up’” said Levy. “And we can to a point. But there are a lot of permitting hurdles to dredging out a new project like this.”

Two sawfish tagged in Tampa Bay area!

There’s an extremely exciting update to the 2018 Bay Soundings article titled “Endangered Sawfish Slowly Return to Tampa Bay.” That article highlighted the five endangered smalltooth sawfish (an endangered species) reported near Tampa Bay in locations ranging from Anna Maria and the Manatee River to Honeymoon Island. They were mostly young adults or larger juveniles, indicating that the bay was not yet supporting a breeding population of smalltooth sawfish.

Well, now we have newborn sawfish in the area too!

St. Pete crews collect more than 6 tons of dead fish as red tide continues

The dead fish may have been brought to shore by Tropical Storm Elsa.

St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin announced Thursday afternoon the city has collected more than 10,000 dead fish along the shoreline and waterways in the past week — that’s six tons.

“This cleanup impacts our level of service in other areas, but we recognize the importance,” Tomalin wrote in a tweet. “As fish continue to wash up, we’ll continue our efforts.”

The cleanup comes as red tide ravages areas of the Pinellas County coast — the most recent status update provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission showed that Pinellas County had the highest concentrations of the algae that causes red tide in the state, with high levels around St. Pete’s coastal area.

The status update also details reports of fish kills in the waterways of Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, as well as potential respiratory irritation caused by the algae bloom in Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

It remains unclear if Tropical Storm Elsa helped or hindered this year’s red tide bloom, according to the Tampa Bay Times. But, it did seem to move dead fish closer to shorelines.

Pinellas County, FWC resume monitoring Red Tide in local waters

July 8, 2021 – Pinellas County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) continue to monitor concentrations of Red Tide detected in waters around Pinellas County following Tropical Storm Elsa.

Tropical Storm Elsa prevented testing on Wednesday. Pinellas County water quality testing on Thursday showed:

  • Very low levels of Red Tide at Fred Howard Park and Honeymoon Island
  • Medium levels of Red Tide at Clearwater Beach, Sand Key, Indian Rocks, and Madeira Beach
  • High levels of Red Tide at Treasure Island and Pass-a-Grille
  • Medium levels of Red Tide at Fort DeSoto

There are no beach closures for Pinellas County beaches at this time and the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County has not issued any beach warnings. A flight today revealed patchy areas along the Gulf coast and within Boca Ciega Bay. Satellite imagery shows a red tide bloom along the St. Petersburg coastline and within Boca Ciega Bay.

Red Tide can cause respiratory irritation in higher concentrations, especially when the wind is blowing onshore. Pinellas County contributes to the Red Tide Respiratory Forecast tool for anyone considering a beach visit. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater maintains a beach status dashboard that also includes this information at www.beachesupdate.com.

Fish kills have been reported in St. Petersburg and areas of the Intra-Coastal Waterway. Residents can report fish kills to FWC through the FWC Reporter app, by calling 800-636-0511 or by submitting a report online. Residents who find dead fish near their boat dock can retrieve them with a skimmer and dispose of them with their regular trash or call their local municipality for additional guidance.

Occurrences of Red Tide in the Gulf of Mexico have been documented for centuries, but blooms can be worsened by excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous. Residents are reminded that fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus cannot be used or sold through Sept. 30, and phosphorus cannot be used any time of year unless a soil test confirms that it is needed.

TBRPC receives Resilient Coastline Program grant

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council has received a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to develop coordinated shoreline planning across the region. The project will convene local governments and municipalities and business and environmental stakeholders to create a policy guide for installation, permitting, maintenance of shoreline protection strategies as storm intensity and future sea level rise are projected to increase.

The project is part of the Resilient Coastlines Initiative created by Gov. Ron DeSantis through the new Resilient Florida Program. With this initiative, local communities can join together in planning efforts and share technical assistance for a coordinated approach to Florida’s coastal and inland resiliency.

“Florida Resilient Coastlines Program is excited to support the Tampa Bay shoreline project that brings local stakeholders together to develop recommendations that increase resilience, especially those that emphasize nature-based features” said Whitney Gray, Florida Resilient Coastlines Administrator. “DEP supports regional collaborations which encourage consistency and coordination across jurisdictions to improve community resilience. The project also aligns well with the directives of the new legislation to improve Florida’s coastal and inland resiliency signed by Governor DeSantis last month.”

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council will convene the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition members and partners to discuss priorities and develop the policy guide, which will support local plans and updates.

“This project will help develop regionally consistent rules and more efficient permitting on these complex shoreline improvement projects,” said Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano. “We see a need for consistent code and uniform recommendations on seawall heights and other factors that support resilient shorelines.”

The guide will include policy recommendations and model language for private and public shorelines along rivers and coastal areas that are influenced by tides. The recommended language will define a hierarchy of shoreline policies and principles to support resilient adaptation and habitat preservation and restoration.

Elsa adds 9 million gallons of stormwater to Piney Point pools

MANATEE COUNTY — With Tuesday night's heavy storm, the Piney Point phosphate facility gained over over 9 million gallons of stormwater in its pools.

“Leading up to hurricane season, we were working to get enough water out to accommodate the rainfall,” said Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes.

Hopes says Piney Point has been continually pumping the facility's stormwater into the county's stormwater system, in an effort to prevent another leak.

“We are continually testing to make sure the only water in our stormwater system is just stormwater, not Piney Point processed water,” said Hopes.

Even though stormwater is cleaner than the water that was dumped out back in April, environmentalists say it still causes issues for the Bay.

Local experts: TS Elsa may or may not impact red tide

PINELLAS COUNTY — Now that tropical storm Elsa has come and gone, the big question for many in the Bay area is what that means for Red Tide.

“A lot of us are asking the very same question that you all are asking,” said Maya Burke.

Burke is the Assistant Director of the Tampa Bay Estuary program. She said one of two things could happen due to Elsa.

“Rainfall from [storms] oftentimes contains lots of nutrients that can further fuel algae blooms,” she said. “Then there’s also the possibility that this sort of breaks things up pushing red tide out.”

Pasco stormwater utility fee expected to stay the same

The Pasco County Commission has decided that the county’s stormwater utility fees will remain unchanged for the 2021 fiscal year.

The current rate is $95 per equivalent residential unit — which is based on an average amount of impervious area of 2,890 square feet for a single-family home, according to agenda background materials.

County staff recommended that the ERU rate and square footage remain the same for the 2021 tax year, and commissioners signaled their approval, without discussion, during their June 22 meeting.

The public hearing for the Annual Stormwater Management Utility System Rate Resolution is scheduled for 9 a.m., on Sept. 14, in the board room at the Historic Pasco County Courthouse, at 37918 Meridian Ave., in Dade City. At the hearing, the board must adopt a final rate resolution. It can reduce the fee, but cannot increase it, at that hearing.

FWC: Thousands of dead fish near Snell Island likely caused by red tide

SAINT PETERSBURG — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says red tide is likely to blame for massive fish kills around Snell Island in St. Pete.

"It's just unbelievable," said Greg Dunn who lives on the Island. "I looked out and I thought what are all those white dots out on the water, and the smell hit me right off the bat."

Behind his home that sits on the Pinellas County side of Tampa Bay, there were thousands of dead fish.

"It's a tragedy and I’ve seen dolphins coming through and eating the dead fish," said Dunn.

EPA revokes use of phosphate waste products in road beds

Several environmental advocacy groups sued last year to overturn the waiver, which would have allowed the use of the slightly radioactive waste in road construction.

The Biden administration has withdrawn a previous approval of the use of phosphogypsum - the toxic byproduct of phosphate mining - in road beds.

This means the mountains of phosphate waste peppering Florida's landscape will remain.

The decision overturns a Trump-era move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow use of the byproducts of fertilizer production. It was the first and only proposed alternative use of the slightly radioactive waste, now stored in two dozen mountainous "gypstacks" around the Tampa Bay region that can reach 50 stories high.

"The idea that we could possibly keep people and the environment safe from radioactive material, which then could become dispersed throughout the environment - as opposed to being kept in stacks - there's no foundation for that assumption," said Jaclyn Lopez with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Hers is one of the environmental advocacy groups that sued last year to overturn the waiver, which meant that it never went into effect. That lawsuit is now moot.

"Our preference would be that the industry stops making this radioactive waste," Lopez said, "and in the meantime we keep it in the stacks, so at least we know where it is, and we can keep the companies that create the waste financially responsible for them, and continue to better regulate this industry that seems to have a pretty poor track record of protecting the environment from its activities."

Industry advocates have said use in road beds would be one way to whittle down gypstacks, which have caused several environmental catastrophes in recent years. One, at Piney Point in Manatee County, allowed more than 200 million gallons of wastewater stored there to flow into Tampa Bay earlier this year.

Florida has one billion tons of radioactive phosphogypsum in two dozen stacks, including Piney Point. That nutrient-rich water has been blamed for algae blooms, and possibly exacerbating the affects of red tide.

The waiver had been requested by the Fertilizer Institute, which represents manufacturers and suppliers, including phosphate miners. But since only the miners construct gypstacks, the institute couldn't give the EPA enough information that the use in road base would be safe.

Here's an excerpt from the ruling:

Under Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations, EPA may approve a request for a specific use of phosphogypsum if it is determined that the proposed use is at least as protective of human health as placement in a stack. Upon review, EPA found that The Fertilizer Institute’s request did not provide all the information required for a complete request under these regulations. The EPA withdrew the approval for this reason. The decision was effective immediately, and phosphogypsum remains prohibited from use in road construction.

Piney Point being prepared for gusty winds, rain from Tropical Storm Elsa

Additional pumps and generators are being brought in to safeguard against potential power outages.

MANATEE COUNTY — As Tropical Storm Elsa heads toward Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is keeping a close eye on storm preparations at the former Piney Point phosphate processing plant.

DEP officials are overseeing operations at the site that drew national attention after millions of gallons of wastewater were discharged into Tampa Bay earlier this year.

HRK Holdings, the owner of the since-abandoned phosphogypsum stack, has staff working to secure heavy equipment and adjusting water management levels in the ponds to ensure the site can endure strong winds and heavy rainfall, according to a news release.

Additional pumps and generators are also being incorporated to safeguard against potential power outages.

Approximately 215 million gallons are still held within the NGS-South compartment, according to DEP. State inspectors say pond level readings are expected to fluctuate due to a host of factors, including rainfall, water management activities and wind/associated waves in the pond.