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

Water-Related News

Now you can take your boater safety exam online

News Image

FWC now allows online providers to offer boating safety exam

Access to Florida’s Boater Education Temporary Certificate Program has been expanded, thanks to work done by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to make allowances for online course providers to offer the required courses over the internet.

In August of 2017, the FWC amended Florida Administrative Code 68D-36.108 to allow the temporary certificate exam to be offered in an online version. This change makes it easier and more convenient for both vessel operators and vessel liveries to comply with Florida’s boater education laws, which require liveries to verify that customers born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, have met Florida’s boating safety education requirements before allowing them to rent their vessels.

Online temporary certificate exam providers will create a system that allows 24-hour, seven-day a week accessibility to the exam using tablets, laptops, or other electronic devices. This added convenience will make it easier for both visitors and residents by allowing them to take the test before a vacation to Florida.

Currently, one online boating safety education provider, Boat Ed, has completed the process to offer the exam online. Boat Ed has been a leader and innovator in boating safety education since 1995. Study or learning materials are available on the Boat Ed site to prepare students for the exam, improve their boating knowledge and increase their chances of successfully completing the exam on the first try. The exam costs $3 and study materials are available for an additional charge. A link to the exam can be found at

Prior to this change, paper exams were the only option and were required to be completed and passed by rental vessel operators. The ability for liveries to continue to offer paper exams has not changed with the addition of this online option. Liveries can still purchase and administer the paper exams, as long as their contract and insurance are valid.

The temporary certificate exam is a knowledge check, not a full education course. It cannot be converted into a boater safety identification card that is valid for life. Temporary certificates are not valid in any other state and do not meet boater safety education requirements in other states.

The online exam will be 25 questions, randomly selected from a large pool of questions. The cost for the exam will remain $3. Upon successful completion of the exam, students will be provided an electronic proof of their successful completion and their passing score. A livery will be able to inspect this proof to ensure that a prospective vessel renter has met Florida’s boating safety education requirements.

The new change offers various benefits to liveries:

  • Liveries are not required to contract with any other company to use the online exam.
  • A link that will send customers directly to the online exam can be provided by liveries.
  • Liveries are not required to continue purchasing paper exams from the FWC.
  • The burden of mailing paper tests back to the FWC is removed with the online option.
  • Liveries will be able to provide speedier service to customers who take the exam in advance of renting.

The FWC encourages liveries to transition to the new online exam system to increase accessibility and streamline the testing process for renters interested in enjoying Florida’s beautiful waterways by boat.

Nelson, Rubio call for passage of WRDA bill to address algae crisis

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio have called on Senate leaders to immediately take up and pass legislation aimed at helping mitigate the toxic algae blooms that are plaguing South Florida.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Nelson and Rubio urged the leaders to bring this year’s Water Resources Development Act – which includes funding for a massive reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee designed to store and clean some of the water being released from the lake before it goes into the nearby waterways – to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.

“The EAA Storage Reservoir is a critical piece of the puzzle for ending Lake Okeechobee discharges and the harmful algal blooms they help fuel,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to bring the WRDA bill to the Senate floor as soon as possible so that we can advance this key project.”

Nelson, who has been pushing his colleagues to approve the funding needed for the massive reservoir project known as the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), was able to get the project included in this year’s WRDA bill. Shortly after he and Rubio sent their letter to Senate leaders, Nelson took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to pass the bill as soon as possible.

“Right now, in Florida, we are facing a massive environmental and economic crisis,” Nelson said. “If we don’t act soon, I’m afraid there won’t be much of an environment in South Florida left to save. I urge the majority leader to schedule a vote on the WRDA bill as soon as possible, and I urge my colleagues to support the water resources bill when it comes to the floor of the Senate.”

Commercial fishers ‘wait and see’ on red tide impacts

News Image

Plenty of dead fish washed ashore the first week of August due to red tide, but it didn’t kill commercial fishing in Cortez.

Karen Bell of A.P. Bell Fish Co., at an Aug. 6 Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage meeting, said impacts had been minimal, but it was too early to tell if the toxic algal bloom would slow business.

Bell said red tide killed some inshore fish, predominantly baitfish and mullet, but offshore fishing — mostly grouper and snapper — remained unscathed as of Aug. 6. The biggest impacts on the industry were felt to the south, she added.

Bell said she received a call from a Georgia-based buyer looking for mullet who doesn’t normally buy from A.P. Bell, which indicated to her other fish houses were feeling the pinch.

It is, however, the slow season for mullet. Mullet fishing peaks in November and December, when the temperatures cool and the fish spawn.

She also said fishers were reporting they saw fish struggling to breathe at the water’s surface, indicative of red tide symptoms. The bloom attacks their central nervous systems.

“What it hasn’t killed, it ran out of the area as far as fish go,” said fisher Nathan Meschelle.

Meschelle said he went fishing Aug. 6, but after the day on the water produced a light haul, he shifted gears. He contacted Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore to ask if he could work cleaning up fish instead of catching them.

Meschelle said Whitmore contacted the island cities’ mayors and, Aug. 8-9, he worked alongside Anna Maria public works employees scooping rotting carcasses into his fishing skiff.

Florida Sea Grant’s Karl Havens on the causes of red tide

News Image

What is causing Florida's algae crisis?

Editor’s note: Two large-scale algae outbreaks in Florida are killing fish and threatening public health. Along the southwest coast, one of the longest-lasting red tide outbreaks in the state’s history is affecting more than 100 miles of beaches. Meanwhile, blue-green algae blooms are occurring in estuaries on both coasts. Karl Havens, a University of Florida professor and director of the Florida Sea Grant Program, explains what’s driving this two-pronged disaster.

What’s the difference between red tide and blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are called cyanobacteria. Some species of cyanobacteria occur in the ocean, but blooms — extremely high levels that create green surface scums of algae — happen mainly in lakes and rivers, where salinity is low.

Red tides are caused by a type of algae called a dinoflagellate, which also is ubiquitous in lakes, rivers, estuaries and the oceans. But the particular species that causes red tide blooms, which can make water look blood red, occur only in saltwater.

What causes these blooms?

Blooms occur where waters have high concentrations of nutrients — in particular, nitrogen and phosphorus. In Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, very high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are washing into the water from agricultural lands, leaky septic systems and fertilizer runoff.

Red tides form offshore. When ocean currents carry a red tide to the shore it can intensify, especially where there are abundant nutrients to fuel algae growth. This year, after heavy spring rains and because of discharges of water from Lake Okeechobee, river runoff in southwest Florida brought a large amount of nutrients into near-shore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which fueled the large red tide.

Report outlines Florida’s major environmental concerns

News Image

Spoiler alert: Three of the six are about water

A coalition of environmental and other organizations is distributing a sternly worded report to all candidates in Florida for federal and state offices about worsening threats to the state’s natural resources.

On Wednesday, the alliance publicly released “Trouble in Paradise,” an initiative started by Nathaniel Pryor Reed, a conservationist and co-founder of 1,000 Friends of Florida who died recently.

“Tragically, he did not live to see this report to fruition,” Paul Owens, president of 1,000 Friends of Florida, said during a media conference.

To complete Reed’s final initiative, the 1,000 Friends organization partnered with Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Florida Springs Council, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Florida Wildlife Federation, the Howard T. Odom Florida Springs Institute and the League of Women Voters of Florida.

The result is a document intended to educate this state’s potential elected officials about what Owens calls “the greatest challenges facing Florida’s environment.”

Although the organizations are making sure paper or email editions of the report reach candidates in upcoming state and federal elections, Owens said they encourage voters to make sure contenders in local races are also aware of the findings and recommendations.

“These are critical issues at every level of government in Florida,” Owens said.

The study outlines six priorities that the partnership contends need urgent attention as well as specific geographic areas it considers especially endangered, including the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, the Indian River Lagoon, Apalachicola River and Bay and several natural springs.

Throughout the report, the authors call for enforcing environmental protections “already in place,” sufficiently funding agencies responsible for overseeing those duties, appointing “strong and effective” agency leaders and passing legislation “to restore and improve workable programs and address current and future challenges.”

Polk case to move forward: Judge denies motion to dismiss Peace River water fight hearing

Polk County has said that massive withdrawal will impact its long-term plans to increase aquifer recharge in the Peace Creek Basin.

LAKELAND — Polk County’s request for a day in court over a water dispute can move forward after a state judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case.

The Polk Regional Water Cooperative, Fort Meade and Wauchula asked an administrative law judge earlier this summer to hear the case after it appeared the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) would allow a 50-year permit to more than double the amount of water the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Authority could withdraw.

In response to Manasota’s and Swiftmud’s attempt to dismiss the case, Francine Ffolkes, an administrative law judge in Tallahassee, wrote that “the petitioners (Polk County) essentially allege that their present water supply planning activities could be affected by issuance of the water use permit to the (Manasota) Authority.”

“The Petitioners’ allegations, taken as true, do not constitute pure speculation or conjecture,” Ffolkes wrote.

Ffolkes wrote in her order that in reviewing the motion to dismiss, she must assume that the allegations in the petitions are true.

Manatee County looks to new solutions to clean impacts from red tide

News Image

Visit for updates and a list of fishermen offering services to homeowners

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (Aug. 14, 2018) – County Commissioners today discussed how the County can assist private homeowners clear waterways, inlets and canals of sea life killed by the red tide outbreak.

Manatee County does not have a marine fleet to remove fish in smaller canals, and waterways, nor can County crews go onto private property to haul dead sea life to the landfill. So County leaders aim to connect local fisherman willing to assist with the homeowners who need their canals cleared.

Beginning tomorrow Manatee County will make roll off dumpsters available at Bayfront Park on Anna Maria Island and at three County-owned boat ramps: Coquina North, Coquina South and Kingfish boat ramps. Private homeowners can either haul dead fish and debris from red tide without having to pay County landfill tipping fees or they may contract with local fishermen willing to do the work.

Fishermen who want to contract their services with local homeowners or homeowner associations, may provide their contact information to the County's Citizen Action Center at (941) 742-5800. The County will post those business names and numbers on the County's red tide website, Private homeowners can check the site from time to time to get a current list of fishermen to do the job.

Commissioners and County staff also said they will work with state and federal leaders to obtain funding for other local impacts from this year's outbreak.

Department directors from the County's Property Management, Parks and Natural Resources and Public Safety departments all gave updates on the coordinated effort to keep public beaches and boat ramps clear of marine animals killed by red tide.

Those efforts include constant beach cleaning during daylight hours, relying on inmate labor from the Manatee and DeSoto sheriffs' offices and hiring temporary work to help the cleanup effort, said Charlie Bishop, Property Management Director.

The County is posting regular updates on the cleanup effort at

Algae monitor sponsored by NASA installed in Lake Okeechobee

Satellite images tell us every few days how an algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee — the source of blooms in the St. Lucie River — has been growing and shrinking over the summer.

Now there's a device in the middle of the lake that will give us updates every hour.

On Thursday, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce installed a SeaPRISM on a platform in the middle of Lake Okeechobee.

The sensor developed by NASA can look into the lake every hour and, by the color of the water, determine how much blue-green algae it contains.

More:TCPalm's complete coverage of water issues

The idea is for real-time data from the SeaPRISM (Photometer Revision for Incident Surface Measurements) to be relayed to NASA and be available to researchers (and the public) on the agency's Aeronet website within a couple of hours.

The hourly data will help scientists figure out how algae blooms develop and why their size fluctuates from from week to week, month to month and year to year. That information will help them predict when algae will bloom in the lake, and that could help water managers prevent blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

Mote Marine researchers racing against clock to study red tide

SARASOTA COUNTY - Researchers are racing against the clock to find solutions to this red tide crisis. For Dr. Tracy Fanara, the pressure has been relentless.

“I think that everybody feels a lot of pressure because this is a public health issue,” said Dr. Fanara.

She and her fellow researchers are in the thick of this crisis every day, and she constantly hears from people desperate for answers.

"It’s heartbreaking to hear how affected they are by this naturally occurring phenomenon and I want to find a way to protect them,” said Fanara.

It’s all hands on deck at Mote Marine Lab.

Scientists have been using interns, volunteers, even information from the public to respond to this crisis.

Researchers are employing a wide variety of tests. They're studying organisms that can eat red tide. Others are studying water treatment technologies, while fellow scientists are discovering how storms impact red tide.

They want to find out what's causing this algae bloom to intensify, and what kind of methods can stop it.

A hurricane may be only way to get rid of red tide, expert says

A major weather system could disperse and push the toxic bloom away from the shore.

SARASOTA — The invasion of toxic red tide on Southwest Florida beaches that has slaughtered marine life and sickened humans shows no signs of retreat anytime soon, experts say.

The killer menace, which has turned the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico into a soft-drink brown hue and transformed pristine white sand beaches into ghastly graveyards of rotting sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and whale sharks in recent weeks, doesn’t look like it will loosen its grip on the area, scientists say. There is a “but” in the grim forecast, said Vincent Lovko, a staff scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, an independent research institution in Sarasota that has studied Florida red tide for decades.

A major weather system — such as a hurricane — could potentially rid Southwest Florida of the persistent bloom, which began last October and killed an undetermined amount of marine life, while causing beachgoers to cough, sneeze and experience other respiratory or eye irritation. Sarasota County alone estimates it has removed more than 66 tons of decomposing fish from its beaches since Aug. 1, while the Town of Longboat Key estimates it has cleared 5.22 tons of decaying sea life from its shoreline.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports it has received complaints of respiratory irritation spanning from Manatee to Collier counties.

Red tide causes ‘thousands’ of fish kills on Manatee County’s coast

This past weekend, beachgoers on Anna Maria Island in Manatee County witnessed thousands of dead fish and other marine life wash ashore from red tide poisoning.

On Wednesday, there wasn't really evidence of the massive fish kill that happened on Holmes Beach just a few days before, but there was a lingering odor of dead fish.

And there were clues on the beach: scattered fish bits left after seagulls picked the carcasses apart. And yet, tourists like Carl Bear still walked the shoreline. He was there when red tide hit this area, and saw it all.

"It looked like blood was rolling up on the waves. We saw dead fish-- thousands-- can't count 'em." He said. "It's just so bad, and eels, and all kinds of different size of fishes."

Bear is from Pennsylvania and has been vacationing here every summer for the last eight years.

"This is the first year we ever had any trouble down here," he said.

Manatee officials have been keeping beaches on Anna Maria Island mostly clear of dead fish, but beachgoers were still coughing from the toxic red tide bloom on Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach on Wednesday, August 8.

Bear and his family avoided red tide that day by traveling north to Pinellas County's Fort De Soto, but at a resort just about a mile south, they're finding not all visitors are willing to stick around.

Cory Huffman manages the Bungalow Beach Resort. She said in the past 20 years that she’s worked there, they’ve maybe only had a cancellation or two due to red tide.

Fishery biologist to talk red tide

Ryan Rindone will speak at Salt Pines on Aug. 14th, from 6 to 8 pm

The Red Tide algae bloom outbreak that now rapidly spreads along the Gulf Coast has turned into a major concern for environmentalists.

With the lingering bloom reaching Anna Maria Island last week, leaving dead fish covering the beach, many wonder if Tampa Bay is next? A report on Sunday noted some dead crabs and fish had washed up on shore near Bayshore Boulevard and Bay to Bay Boulevard.

As concerns about Red Tide grow, Salt Pines will host Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council biologist Ryan Rindone to discuss its impact on Florida’s waters, animals and people on Tuesday (Aug 14) from 6 to 8 p.m. The Hyde Park Village sporting life clothing store is located at 1503 W Swann Ave.

Rindone could not say whether it will reach Tampa since Red Tide can bloom in any body of salt water, but he aims to educate residents in case they are faced with it.

"It doesn’t do any good to worry about it right now because we don’t know where it’s going to go, but we should be cautious about it" he said. "It’s possible the Red Tide can come up in Tampa Bay, but anywhere the water is too fresh like the Hillsborough River, we won’t see it there. If it’s going to appear, it’ll be off the beach before it moves out to the bay."

The bloom has moved steadily north over the past several weeks and could impact Pinellas County. It’s a rising worry for tourists and local beach lovers. Tampa’s tourist officials also are paying close attention.

Mote scientists to test new method to mitigate red tide

News Image

Mote Marine Laboratory scientists will field-test a newly developed method for mitigating Florida red tide — elevated concentrations of toxic Karenia brevis algae — in the closed end of a canal in Boca Grande on Tuesday.

The method uses ozone to destroy the algae and its toxins inside a special system that releases no ozone into the environment and restores oxygen that is often deficient in Florida red tide areas, Mote said Thursday. The technology is designed for areas of limited size and tidal flow, such as dead-end canals and small embayments, where Florida red tide algae, their toxins, and resulting dead fish can accumulate.

The test is set for Tuesday morning and will be led by Mote Senior Scientist Richard Pierce.

Mote’s ozone treatment system was developed and patented, and is currently used, to remove Florida red tide cells and toxins from seawater entering Mote Aquarium and Mote’s animal hospitals on City Island in Sarasota.

Who will pay for water main break on Manatee Avenue West?

BRADENTON — It was nothing short of a miracle that Manatee Avenue West was only shut down for three days, as opposed to the expected two weeks initially thought after a Frontier Communications contractor bored through a 10-inch water main on Aug. 2.

Public Works Director Jim McLellan said there was a lot more to the accident than what appeared initially. McLellan said when the drill hit the line, which was about 13 feet under Manatee Avenue, the drill went through the pipe, causing pressurized water to erupt out of both ends.

The subsequent damage was not only to the street. McLellan said it also took out the two electrical boxes that operate the traffic signals at Ninth and 10th streets west along Manatee Avenue. The city was able to keep one light operating via generator and the second by connecting into the electrical outlet normally used for Christmas decorations.

The contractor, MCI, will ultimately be responsible for the cost of the ongoing repair. Tenth Street West remains closed at Manatee Avenue and McLellan said he hopes to get that intersection reopened by next week.

SWFWMD performing prescribed burns in August and September in Manatee County

Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s wildfire emergency last year. That’s why the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns in August and September at the Edward W. Chance Reserve - Gilley Creek Tract (Gilley Creek) and Coker Prairie Tract in Manatee County.

Gilley Creek is located between State Road 62 and 64, east of County Road 675. Coker Prairie is located south of State Road 64. Both properties are southeast of Parrish. Approximately 200 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Reducing overgrown plants, which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires
  • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants
  • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat
  • Maintaining access for public recreation
  • The District conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year. Visit the link below to watch a video that explains why igniting prescribed burns now prepares lands for the next wildfire season.

Manatee County to use oysters in fight against red tide

MANATEE COUNTY – As red tide continues to ravage the region, Manatee County commissioners are enlisting some help to fight back. They're using oysters and clams.

The mollusks eat red tide and filter out the water.

Red tide is a toxic algae bloom that kills fish, causes respiratory problems and scares off beach goers.

This bloom has lasted for 10 months and no one knows when it will end.

"It’s just really upsetting when you see all the fish and the marine life just washed ashore,” said County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino.

“It’s horrific. What is going on in our waterways,” said commissioner Betsy Benac.

On Tuesday, the Manatee County Commission announced an expanded partnership with a nonprofit called "START," or Solutions To Avoid Red Tide.

The county is providing more than $2 million of BP oil spill money to place new oyster and clam beds in the waters in and around Manatee County.

"They live for 30 years, that's a long time to be working in the bay, and yes they do eat red tide and they are very unsusceptible to its effects,” said START chairman Sandy Gilbert.

This area used to be filled with oyster beds. Officials say back in the 1800s, the Manatee River was nicknamed "Oyster River." However, the massive oyster beds were eventually removed for food or as cheap fill to create roads.

Mote Marine Laboratory is working to solve red tide riddles

News Image

Communities affected by the current Florida red tide are asking great questions — in particular, what more can be done to address this challenging harmful algal bloom (HAB) and better protect public health and quality of life?

Mote Marine Laboratory — an independent research institution that has studied Florida red tide for decades in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and numerous other partners — is working hard to answer that question with multiple scientific studies advancing this summer.

For months, several southwest Florida communities have been experiencing effects from elevated concentrations of the Florida red tide algae, Karenia brevis, which have persisted in the Gulf of Mexico since November 2017. Toxins from the bloom have caused large-scale fish kills, sickened or killed some large marine species and caused beachgoers to cough, sneeze and experience other respiratory or eye irritation, sometimes causing them to avoid the affected shoreline areas.

These impacts drive Mote scientists to find solutions. Mote is advancing innovative research with the ultimate goals of: improved rapid assessment and modeling for HAB forecasting; prevention, control and mitigation of HAB impacts; public health protection; and expansion of local community outreach and engagement.

Join Mote scientists for a web video chat on Florida red tide research and response efforts. Details will be available on Mote’s website Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. The web chat is tentatively expected to take place later in that week. Please check here for updates and registration:

Here is how Mote is addressing Florida red tide, from essential and extensive monitoring efforts to new mitigation and control studies launched within the past few years.

Lingering Red Tide bloom moves north, killing fish near mouth of Tampa Bay

ANNA MARIA ISLAND — A Red Tide algae bloom that has already been called the worst in a decade spread north over the weekend, reaching this Manatee County community near the mouth of Tampa Bay.

On Monday, clumps of dead fish floated amid the mangroves lining the approach to the Cortez Road bridge to Anna Maria Island, southeast of Egmont Key. Meanwhile at Holmes Beach, another community on Anna Maria, the police appealed via Facebook for volunteers to help them clean up the dead sea life that was washing ashore, offering to provide "masks, gloves and a trash grabber ... to anyone who would like to help."

No one knows for sure when, or if, the bloom will reach Pinellas County’s famous beaches. The latest forecast from University of South Florida scientists appears to show the bloom moving north over the next four days — but also shows it being pushed back out to sea by wind and currents.

A blue-green algae bloom that has been plaguing Lake Okeechobee and the rivers on either side of it has made national news and become an issue in the state’s political races. But in the meantime, a lingering Red Tide outbreak along about 120 miles of the gulf coast has also been taking a a growing toll on both the state’s environment and its tourism economy.

The Red Tide bloom began back in November, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute spokeswoman Michelle Kerr. By hitting the nine-month mark, it’s now the longest Red Tide outbreak in a decade, she said. The longest one on record lasted 17 months between 2004 and 2006, she said.

Check out this online tool to see how sea level-rise will impact your flood risk

Here’s a fun online gadget for a sobering task: is a web site created by the nonprofit First Street Foundation to help users visualize how rising sea levels are expected to affect your risk of flooding — not only now, but up to 15 years in the future.

And, yes, it gets worse.

With, the First Street Foundation created an interactive map for Florida showing flood risks from both tidal flooding and a Category 1 and Category 3 hurricane this year, in 2023, 2028 and 2033. The data comes from the United States Geologic Survey and county governments, historic tide gauge readings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, storm surge predictions from the National Weather Service and NOAA, sea level rise predictions from the United States Army Corps Of Engineers and property details from state and county government offices.

The result is that it’s easy to find your home or business and see what you might expect — a foot of flooding? 2 feet? more? — in various combinations of bad storms, high tides and deteriorating conditions.


Source: Tampa Bay Times.

DeSoto County Commission denies Mosaic's rezoning request for phosphate mining

ARCADIA – After two days and 11 hours of hearings, DeSoto County Commissioners voted 4 to 1, denying Mosaic's request to rezone 14,000 acres between State Road 72 and State Road 70 in Arcadia from Agricultural land to Phosphate Mining Industrial land.

"True satisfaction would be they shut down their mines in the state of Florida," said Lee Richardson, a Charlotte County resident opposed to Mosaic. "They figure out a new way to do this type of mining and leave our water districts alone."

Back in 2016, Mosaic made national headlines after a huge sinkhole at their Mulberry location dumped 215-million gallons of what the company says was slightly radioactive water into the aquifer. Commissioners heard from more than a hundred residents from Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Charlotte counties who are opposed to this. People who spoke out against it had some major concerns, especially since the land in question is right up against some waterways including Horse Creek.

Tampa Bay Estuary Program Mini-Grant webinar Aug. 22nd

News Image

Do you have a great idea to protect and restore Tampa Bay? Now is your chance!

Bay Mini-Grants are a competitive awards program funded by sales of the Tampa Bay Estuary specialty license plate. Individual awards of up to $5,000 are available to community groups for projects that help to improve Tampa Bay.

This year, TBEP is also offering one additional award of up to $10,000 for a hands-on, waterfront habitat restoration project. Examples include shoreline plantings, installation of oyster domes, or the creation of a living shoreline. Project must involve community volunteers.

A free grant writing webinar will be offered on August 22, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. Please email Misty Cladas or call (727) 893-2765 for details and to sign up for the webinar.

The deadline to apply for a 2018-2019 TBEP Mini-Grant is Sept. 15th, 2018.

Find out what's new in the 2018-2019 Mini-Grants »

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program's Mini-Grant program is funded by sales of its specialty license plate "Tarpon Tag". Find out how to get yours here!

Palmer: Keep an eye on local water issues

When I began covering water issues 40 years ago, the conventional wisdom in Polk County was that someday Tampa would launch a “water raid” on Polk County.

It wasn’t irrational. Utilities in the Tampa Bay area had already done that in Pasco County and had dibs on water from springs farther north as they engaged in lengthy legal battles among themselves over water allocations.

Tampa Bay utilities finally worked out their differences and later backed off from a plan to develop a giant wellfield at the edge of Polk County, which threatened to diminish Polk’s well system.

Then came the Orlando area with a proposed well permit that potentially could cause the same effect on the other side of Polk County.

Polk officials were ready to go to court to challenge the permit.

Gov. Jeb Bush stepped in and stopped another regional water war before it got started. Instead, he told everyone to work together.

That eventually resulted in the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI), an organized plan to figure out how much water was left, how much everyone needed, and how to come up with a plan to make up the projected deficits everyone faced unless they decide to slow down the development wave that created the demand for more water.

Now comes the conflict with the Peace River Manasota Water Supply Authority (PRMWSA).

The regional utility applied for a permit last fall to double the amount of water it could pump from the Peace River, the culmination of its own regional water planning efforts to deal with projected growth in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties while avoiding impacts on the already stressed aquifer.

Somehow the folks at the Polk Regional Water Supply Authority, which also were working on their own plan as an outgrowth of the CFWI project, didn’t know about the downstream permit request until a few months ago.

No Swim Advisory issued for Palma Sola beach

MANATEE COUNTY (July 27th) – A No Swim Advisory was issued for the Palma Sola Beach South access after high levels of fecal bacteria were found in the water, according to The Florida Department of Health in Manatee County.

Recent samplings of the waters on the south side of the causeway detected high levels of enterococci bacteria, which is known to cause human disease, infections or rashes. The presence of enterococci bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution often caused by stormwater runoff, pets, wildlife or human sewage.

Beachgoers are warned not to bathe at this park. Health officials said other Manatee County beaches are not under this advisory.

The advisory will be lifted once re-sampling indicates it's safe.

Click here for updates from the Florida Department of Health.

Get ready for the 2018 Great Scallop Search – and Clam Jam!

News Image


This year is Sarasota Bay Watch's 10th annual Great Scallop Search! In a addition to gathering data on our local scallop population we will also be celebrating our successful summer of clam releases by inviting the public to help us distribute an additional 40,000 clams!

When: August 25th 8:30am Scallop Search — Lunch to follow

Purpose of event: Help to monitor annually the number of scallops in Sarasota Bay waters and support scientists at the Florida Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) and distribute adult southern hardshell clams to improve the bay population.

What to bring: Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses, mask, snorkel, fins and water shoes.

Reservations are required to participate in the event. Space is limited, Boats limited to 50, kayaks welcome! No boat? Sign on as a crew member and you will be placed on a boat, space permitting. Participants will be equipped and trained on how to search for scallops in seagrass.

To participate please sign up using the link below.

Longboat Key to prepare sea level rise action plan

Longboat Key has hired consultants to assist the town in preparing for the potential effects of sea level rise.

Town staff have been working with consultants from Aptim Environmental & Infrastructure Inc. since July 9 to assess the town’s infrastructure in the first step of a four-phase process that town leaders hope will lead to a series of steps to prepare the island.

“The ideal outcome would be realistic, reasonable and implementable adaptation strategies that make sense for the town, based on a practical projection of sea level rise,” said Isaac Brownman, public works director.

Longboat isn’t the only one making such preparations. The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council has formed the Tampa Bay Resiliency Coalition to address sea level rise in the region in a similar way, and Manatee County is a partner.

Sea levels rise an average of one-eighth of an inch per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The idea to look a bit deeper at how sea level rise will affect the town originated from many sources, Brownman said, including Town Commission meetings, conversations with the public and comments from now-retired staff members.