Pam McVety writes in the Tallahassee Democrat: Florida needs leadership and money to implement existing "best in the nation" state water policy. McVety writes "Republicans have hired nonprofessional and fired professional water managers, cut the water budget in the five water management districts, cut land acquisition, tried to weaken dredge-and-fill rules, and further politicized water management. I would say that this is a perfect storm of mismanagement that has helped us fuel the current crisis." She recommends Florida's political leaders consult with Jim Stevenson, Sonny Vergara, Estus Whitfield, Steve Leitman, and Tom Swihart if they want to "help put water management on a sustainable course and get Florida out of its current water mess." ReadWe already know how to protect our state's water.
The Associated Press reports:More dead bottlenose dolphins washed up on Florida’s northeast coast this week. Since July 1st, 936 dolphins have washed ashore between New York and Florida. In an average year the number of dolphins stranded during this time is only 113. ReadDead dolphins wash up on Florida beaches.
The Associated Press reports:The majority of the pilot whales who had become stuck in shallow water in Everglades National Park have moved into deeper water. Read35 pilot whales moving in deeper water.
Tom Swihart writes in the blog Watery Foundation:The Central Florida Water Initiative Regional Water Supply Plan is vague and "remarkably unambitious." ReadEarly and vague template.
In Florida Trend's Bright Ideas for Florida in 2014: State and local governments must take action to protect Florida's waters from over-pumping. The authors support "allowing no net increase in groundwater pumping" by consumptive use permit holders and reviewing “a measure advocated in 1989 by the... Water Resource Commission... (which) recommended collecting a fee from all users based on water used, with credits given for aquifer recharge... and other technologies. Funds from the fee were to go into development of alternative sources of water, reuse systems, protection of recharge areas and incentives for conservation.” Read Water resource sustainability requires planning and action.
In Florida Trend's Bright Ideas for Florida in 2014:Slashing land conservation funding to only 5% of its historic level while attempting to sell "surplus" conservation lands "came across as an environmental insult added to injury." The editorial continues "The state needs a balanced approach to land acquisition and preservation along with a steady funding source for land conservation that's not subject to budgetary maneuvering." The Florida Water and Land Legacy Constitutional Amendment meets this need. ReadBalance land acquisition and preservation.
Dr. Leesa Suoto writes in Florida Today:The deterioration of the Indian River Lagoon, by residential fertilizer use and other causes, has devastated the area's wildlife and impacted residents’ quality of life. "For the past 40 years, the turf-grass industry has quoted science to rationalize its use of chemicals to pollute because the industry is driven by short-term profits,” Suoto writes. She asks the fertilizer industry to "consider the big picture" and stop "confusing the issue in our newspapers and using high-paid lobbyists to influence government officials." The Marine Resource Council, where Suoto is executive director, recently published "Science to Support Fertilizer Controls" to make the case for effective local fertilizer regulations. ReadSustaining the lagoon and our local economy.
Vince Lamb writes in Florida Today:"Why is it hard to get our elected officials to pass ordinances that reduce the use of fertilizer? Is it more important to have dark green lawns than a healthy lagoon?" Lamb calls for more local fertilizer regulations and writes "Another possibility would be a tax on fertilizer to help fund lagoon recovery... Charging polluters to clean up the messes they create seems fair." ReadStrong fertilizer rules, tax on fertilizer urged. The Huffington Post Reports: A pod of short-finned pilot whales has become stuck in shallow waters in Everglades National Park. Scientists speculate that healthy members of the pod are unwilling to leave their stranded pod members. Read thefull story here.
The Ocala Star Banner and Gainesville Sun publish:A fantastic multi-article report on the health, history, future, and politics of Florida's springs. Composed by nearly two dozen journalists, the series includes feature articles on 12 Florida springs and stunning photography. AMustRead -Fragile Springs.
Chris Curry reports in the Daily Commercial:Water management district governing boards have become dominated by development, business, and agricultural interests under Governor Rick Scott. During Scott’s Administration the districts' budgets have been slashed, key staff have been fired, and regulations have been changed to favor water consumers and polluters. Subsequently, the districts are less able to protect our springs, at the time they need protecting most. Saying that "water management districts do not have the funding or enforcement tools to make significant strides in saving the springs," State Senator David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) has drafted springs protection legislation for the 2014 session. "If we don't do it now," said Simmons, "I think we will be so far behind, it will be many generations before we catch up, and it will be a lot of economic pain on all of us." ReadA big shift in water districts.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam writes in Florida Context:Florida's farmers, utilities, and residents should be applauded for adopting water conservation measures. However, Putnam writes, "Conservation and reuse alone will not be enough. The next step must be to explore sources of water that won't deplete... Drought proof water supplies, like seawater desalination should be more aggressively pursued." He concludes "A sustainable vision for Florida's future will require a more comprehensive, long-term water policy and a mechanism to fund it." ReadKeeping Florida's water flowing.
The Ocala Star Banner Editorial Board writes:Following the release of the Star Banner’s excellent Fragile Springs series the Board writes "What is frustrating is while environmentalists, scientists, native residents and longtime springs visitors are in agreement about the steady demise of our springs and what ails them, state water managers and other presumed public watchdogs brush aside the over pumping and crisis theory." The board calls the ambitious legislation currently being drafted by State Senator David Simmons "good news." ReadThe springs crisis.
The Ocala Star Banner and Gainesville Sun publish:A spectacular multi-article report on the health, history, and future of Florida's springs. Stories include feature articles on 12 Florida springs and stunning photography. ReadFragile Springs.
The Tampa Bay Tribune Editorial Board writes: The Florida Water and Land Legacy Constitutional Amendment would protect Florida's economy and environment. The board writes "A reduction (in land conservation funding) was understandable when the economy... hit the skids, but even as the economy rebounds... lawmakers refuse to invest in protecting the natural resources that underpin the state's appeal. Indeed some myopic lawmakers want to virtually eliminate... land purchases." The editorial concludes "With the Water and Land Conservation Amendment, citizens can free conservation from political considerations and ensure future generation can enjoy our state's natural beauty." ReadProtecting the economy and land.
Dan Dewitt reports in the Tampa Bay Times: Laurie Trenholm, a professor of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida, appeared last week before the Hernando County Commission where she thanked the commission for not placing restrictions on residential fertilizer use during summer months. Trenholm and other researchers have been criticized for accepting funding from the turf grass industry which opposes stringent fertilizer regulations. Readthefull story here.
Florida House Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli writes in the Orlando Sentinel: Policymakers should take a comprehensive approach to protecting Florida's water supply, give water management districts more flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, and invest in short-term and long-term solutions. Crisafulli writes "It is imperative we have a comprehensive plan in place to protect water quality and access for all Floridians, not just today, but for generations to come." ReadWater-management policy essential to Florida's future.
Scott Maxwell writes in the Orlando Sentinel: Florida needs to prevent pollution at the source, not just pay to restore already damaged areas. Maxwell writes "Big business in Florida has been playing you for fools and sticking you with the bill. And I'm sick of it. Sick of watching lawmakers raid already meager environmental coffers and sick of reading stories about fouled springs, fish kills and flooding dangers - when these things could have been prevented for dimes on the dollar... This, my friends, is the sucker's way: the Florida way." ReadOn environment, shorgsightedness costs Florida big.
Aaron DeSlatte reports in the Orlando Sentinel: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam calls for "a more equitable allocation toward water projects scattered throughout the state because of the unique challenges of those areas." ReadPutnam makes state's water woes a priority.
Ron Cunningham writes in the Gainesville Sun: In recent years Florida's elected representatives have been poor stewards of tax dollars and the environment, necessitating the Florida Water and Land Legacy Constitutional Amendment. Cunningham writes "That's why it'll be up to voters next year to impose some level of adult supervision over the Legislature's future use and abuse of Documentary Stamp Tax funds." ReadVoters should have chance to invest in state's natural legacy.
Tom Swihart writes on the Watery Foundation blog: Swihart provides a useful list of alterations to Florida's rivers. ReadHurt rivers.