An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Seminole County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Bill in legislature would require FDEP to adopt tech to curb algal blooms

A bill that passed its first committee stop today [Nov. 30] would require the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to procure technology capable of removing harmful algae, toxins, and nutrients from water bodies.

The agency has a technology grant program local government entities can sign up for. According to a legislative staff analysis, the program uses short-term solutions to combat algal blooms and nutrient pollution in an attempt to restore Florida's water bodies. AECOM is an infrastructure consulting firm working with two Florida water management districts that received grants from the program.

"The problem that we're seeing is that we're now turning the corner a little bit, and we have more harmful toxic algal blooms throughout the state, and those of us that have been here for most of our lives we've kind of seen this really pick up in the last decade," Dan Levy says. He works for AECOM.

Even non-toxic algal blooms can be a problem. They block out sunlight, killing the plant life animals depend on, which is the main reason why more than 1,000 manatees have died so far this year. However, Levy believes his firm's algae harvesting technology would meet the legislation's criteria.

Herbicide Application on Lake Pickett, 11/30

OCAlerts logo

The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 11/30/2021.

This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage floating plants and emergents throughout the lake.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS: NONE.

There are NO fishing or swimming restrictions.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

UPDATE: Alert extended for Lake Jesup until Dec. 22nd

SANFORD – The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County has identified the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Jesup from a water sample taken on November 22, 2021.

  • This extends the current health alert through December 22, 2021.
  • The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Jesup where algal blooms are present

SANFORD – The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County has identified the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Jesup.

  • This is in response to a water sample taken on October 26, 2021.
  • This extends the current health alert through November 25, 2021.
  • The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Jesup where algal blooms are present.
  • Additional information about blue-green algae and related health precautions was included in the original alert, below.

Original Alert:

SANFORD – The Florida Department of Health in Seminole County has identified the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Jesup. This is in response to a water sample taken on September 29, 2021. This extends the current health alert through October 29. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Jesup where algal blooms are present.. This is in response to a water sample taken on August 10, 2021. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Howell where algal blooms are present.

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.

Lake Jesup Innovative Algae Harvesting Pilot Project Celebration Dec. 17

Harbest Barge

PALATKA – The St. Johns River Water Management District will host a celebration of the Lake Jesup Innovative Algae Harvesting Pilot Project on Dec. 17 to showcase the project’s ability to harvest and remove algae, suspended solids and associated nutrients from Lake Jesup’s waters.

In this latest project, a harvesting unit mounted on a barge is being transported around Lake Jesup so that algae can be harvested at various locations.

The pilot project received a $1.65 million Harmful Algal Bloom Innovate Technology Project Grant through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and began operation in early August. A harvesting unit is mounted on a barge and transported around Lake Jesup so that algae can be harvested at various locations. An innovative dissolved air flotation technology is used to attach microscopic air bubbles to algae and suspended sediment, allowing efficient separation of algal biomass and clarified water. Clarified water returns to the lake while algal biomass is managed/treated at Seminole County’s Yankee Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Learn more about our ongoing work to benefit Lake Jesup at www.sjrwmd.com/projects/#lake-jesup.

Red tide among DeSantis' environmental budget priorities

Gov. Ron DeSantis will ask legislators to consider $960 million in funds for the 2022-23 fiscal year to support resiliency efforts across the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday [Nov. 16] announced his environmental budget priorities for the 2022-23 fiscal year, including $660 million to go toward Everglades restoration and other funds to address the impacts of sea level rise. Speaking in Naples, DeSantis said he will request legislators to approve $960 million toward resiliency efforts.

“We are excited to announce this historic support for Florida’s environment, Everglades restoration, and our water resources," DeSantis said in a news release. "We have seen great results so far, but we are not yet at the finish line.

"It’s nice to see so many coming together to support these initiatives. We will be pushing hard to continue the momentum this legislative session.”

DeSantis said some of the funds will address algal blooms and help local governments — including those across the greater Tampa Bay region — with red tide cleanup, along with helping communities become more resilient against intensified storms and flooding.

The budget breakdown, according to the release:

  • $660 million for Everglades restoration including the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), the EAA Reservoir Project, and the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project.
  • $175 million for targeted water quality improvements
  • $40 million for the Alternative Water Supply Grant Program
  • $50 million for projects to restore Florida’s springs
  • $35 million for increased water quality monitoring and to combat harmful algal blooms including blue-green algae and red tide
  • $3 million to remove invasive Burmese pythons
  • $550 million to increase the resiliency for coastal and inland communities
  • $500 million for the Resilient Florida Grant Program for projects to make communities more resilient to sea level rise, intensified storms and flooding
  • More than $50 million to close the gap in resiliency planning and to protect coral reefs.

“In Florida, our environment is the foundation of everything from our economy to our way of life,” said Mark Rains, state chief science officer.

DeSantis is expected to releas

What Florida can expect from the infrastructure spending bill

Billions of dollars are on their way to Florida as part of the new infrastructure spending bill. Water projects may be the priority, according to a new report card.

Billions of dollars for roads, bridges and internet broadband will be coming to Florida over the next five years. President Joe Biden will sign the infrastructure bill into law Monday.

The trillion-dollar-plus spending plan earmarks money for a list of projects — transportation, public transit, electric vehicle recharging stations, and clean water projects among them.

There was some bipartisan support for the bill, but not among the Florida congressional delegation. Democrats in this state voted for it. Republicans against it.

Gov. Ron DeSantis described the legislation this way Monday: “I think it was a lot of pork-barrel spending from what I can tell.”

One of the Democrats hoping to win DeSantis’s job in next year’s election — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — called the new money a beginning.

“This is a great starting place. Is it ever going to be enough? No, but certainly this is historic in what we can do moving forward,” she said.

Are scientists contaminating their own samples with microfibers?

More than 70% of microplastics found in samples from oceans and rivers could come from the scientists collecting them.

A new paper by Staffordshire University and Rozalia Project, published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, investigates procedural contamination when sampling for microparticles in aquatic environments. The study shows that a significant amount of microplastics and microfibres from scientists' clothing and gear mixes with environmental pollution in the water samples.

Claire Gwinnett, Professor in Forensic and Environmental Science at Staffordshire University, explained: "In the field this can occur due to the dynamic nature of the environment such as wind or weather, actions required to obtain samples and the close-proximity necessary for scientists to procure and secure samples whether in a medium-sized vessel, small boat or sampling from shore. In a mobile lab, this often occurs due to using small, multi-use spaces and similar requirements for scientists to be in close proximity to the samples while processing."