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“Managing Florida’s aquifers” will be topic of fall professional conference

For the second year, the American Ground Water Trust is presenting a conference on groundwater management in Florida.This year's event will be on September 21-22 in Orlando.

Selection of presenters and presentations is in progress, but topics covered will include:

• Updates on Florida's Aquifer Storage Recovery projects
• Aquifer Recharge as a feasible antidote to climate change effects
• New USGS Assessment of Floridan Aquifer
• Minimum Flows and Levels: Rule-making and Legislation
• Groundwater management priorities of the State's five Water Management Districts
• How serious is the threat to Florida's groundwater from Oil & Gas well stimulation?
• Does aquifer recharge have a future in managing Everglades environmental flows and water quality issues?

Water managers, engineers, geologists, hydrogeologists, planners, utility operators, water re-use and aquifer recharge consultants, water treatment specialists, water well contractors, groundwater end-users, city & county government, regulatory authorities, environmental NGOs, water attorneys and interested citizens.

More information and online registration »


USGS issues revised framework for hydrogeology of Floridan Aquifer

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USGS scientists have updated the hydrogeologic framework for the Floridan aquifer system that underlies Florida and parts of Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina.

The Floridan aquifer system is the principal source of freshwater for agricultural irrigation, industrial, mining, commercial, and public supply in Florida and southeast Georgia. The extensive underground reservoir currently supplies drinking water to about 10 million people residing across the area as well as 50% of the water that is used for agricultural irrigation in the region.

By describing the hydrologic and geologic setting of an aquifer, a hydrogeologic framework enables appropriate authorities and resource managers to monitor an aquifer more accurately, improving their ability to protect these critical resources and determine the near- and long-term availability of groundwater.

As the first update of the framework for the aquifer in over 30 years, the revision incorporates new borehole data into a detailed conceptual model that describes the major and minor units and zones of the system. Its increased accuracy is made possible by data collected in the intervening years by the USGS; the Geological Surveys of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina; the South Florida, Southwest Florida, St Johns River, Suwannee River, and Northwest Florida Water Management Districts; and numerous other state and local agencies.

The USGS is releasing two reports as part of its current assessment of groundwater availability of the Floridan aquifer system.

The first report documents the revised framework.

The second report provides datasets that describe the surfaces and thicknesses of selected hydrogeologic units of the Floridan aquifer system. The data depict the top and base of the aquifer system, its major and minor hydrogeologic units and zones, geophysical marker horizons, and the altitude of the 10,000-milligram-per-liter total dissolved solids boundary that defines the approximate fresh and saline parts of the aquifer system.

Source: US Geological Survey news release »


9th Annual Nokomis Beach Youth Fishing Tournament set for May 16

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SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources is happy to announce the return of the Nokomis Beach Youth Fishing Tournament, now entering its ninth year.

The event is aimed at children 14 and under, with an entry fee of $1 per child and required parental supervision. You must bring your own fishing rod and reel, but bait is provided. Raffle prizes, refreshments and awards will follow the catch-and-release tournament.

Pre-registration is preferred by calling Laurel Park at 941-486-2753, but registration will also be available the morning of the tournament from 8-8:30 a.m.


WHAT: 9th Annual Nokomis Beach Youth Fishing Tournament
WHEN: Saturday, May 16, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Nokomis Beach, 901 Casey Key Road, Nokomis

For more information about the fishing tournament call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net.


FEMA Flood Map Modernization process continues with submission of appeals

​SARASOTA COUNTY – As part of the on-going FEMA Flood Map Modernization project, Sarasota County and the municipalities are preparing to submit a summary report following a review of the agency's preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The report will include more than 800 comments, six of which will address major concerns. In addition, there will be eight major, scientifically supported appeals.

Sarasota County has been working with its consultant, Amec Foster Wheeler, to conduct the detailed review of all 110 of FEMA's digital maps of the unincorporated county, the cities of Sarasota, Venice and North Port, and the Town of Longboat Key. The appeals are related to specific areas and county-wide concerns and are intended to refine the floodplain mapping and better reflect the community's flood risks. County staff worked with residents and homeowners' groups in the affected areas to discuss the comments and appeals process.

Before the preliminary FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps can be finalized, FEMA is required to review and address all comments and appeals submitted. The comments and appeals are due by April 30, and FEMA anticipates the review period will take between six to eight months.

The maps were produced using state-of-the-art technology and advanced engineering to increase the quality, reliability and availability of flood hazard maps and data. In addition to providing more accurate and up-to-date flood hazard information, the Map Modernization program enhances community officials' and citizens' decision-making and their ability to manage potential flood risks and other issues locally. The program is a presidential initiative funded by Congress.

Residents and property owners can call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000 for assistance with flood risk concerns.

Learn more about the flood map modernization process »


SBEP Bay Guardian volunteers complete project at Philippi Estate Park

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SARASOTA COUNTY – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) celebrated Earth Day by hosting a Bay Guardian volunteer event at Philippi Estate Park on Saturday, April 18. More than 70 volunteers of all ages removed the air potato, an invasive vine that covers and shades beneficial native plants. The vine grows a large tuber that looks like a hanging potato.

Participating groups included students from high schools throughout Sarasota County from the Community Youth Development Program. Other volunteers included Brookside Middle School students, a girl scout troop, JDubbs Brewery’s Street Team and other local residents. The group collected 2,462 pounds of air potato and prizes were given for the smallest, biggest, weirdest-looking, and most air potatoes collected. The air potato is an invasive vine that covers and shades beneficial native plants. The vine grows a large tuber that looks like a hanging potato. Volunteers enjoyed a picnic lunch following the project.

Please contact Sara Kane to learn more about the project or to get involved as a Bay Guardian volunteer.

Contact Information
Sara Kane, Public Outreach Manager Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, sara@sarasotabay.org
phone: 941-955-8085 .

DOI, EPA, NOAA announce initiative to prepare natural resources for climate change

The focus of the Resilient Land and Waters Initiative will include Southwest Florida

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of the Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today recognized four collaborative landscape partnerships across the country where Federal agencies will focus efforts with partners to conserve and restore important lands and waters and make them more resilient to a changing climate. Building on existing collaborations, these Resilient Lands and Waters partnerships – located in southwest Florida, Hawaii, Washington and the Great Lakes region – will help build resilience in regions vulnerable to climate change and related challenges. They will also showcase the benefits of landscape-scale management approaches and help enhance the carbon storage capacity of these natural areas.

The selected lands and waters face a wide range of climate impacts and other ecological stressors related to climate change, including sea level rise, drought, wildfire, and invasive species. At each location, Federal agencies will work closely with state, tribal, and local partners to prepare for and prevent these and other threats, and ensure that long-term conservation efforts take climate change into account. Additionally, the initiative will focus on conserving coastal wetlands and marine conservation areas, protecting drinking water for urban areas, and providing habitat for wildlife. These collaborative efforts will include the use of existing tools to benefit the entire landscape as well as the development of new tools. For example, in the Great Lakes, partners are developing a coastal wetland prioritization tool that will help determine where restoration efforts are most needed. And in the He’eia watershed on the island of O’ahu, organizations are using NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer to see maps of the potential impacts of sea level rise on the region.

Southwest Florida: The southwest region of Florida includes a number of diverse habitats such as Everglades’ wetlands, coastal mangroves, sea grasses, oyster reefs, and estuary. Home to endangered species like the Florida panther, the region faces threats on multiple fronts – from increasing urbanization and land use changes to invasive species, rising seas, and shifting weather and temperature patterns. Recognizing Southwest Florida as a resilient landscape will tap into the work of the Cooperative Conservation Blueprint for Florida and Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative, which are leading efforts to address these threats, in partnership with Federal and state agencies, private landowners, the Southwest Florida regional planning council and NGOs. The focus of the project is on the creation and use of voluntary and non-regulatory conservation incentives that can be applied to a comprehensive vision of conservation and restoration priorities across Florida.

Read more about the Initiative »


“A Rising Tide Affects Us All”: 2015 Southwest Florida Sea Level Rise Summit

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Register for "A Rising Tide Affects Us All", the 2015 Southwest Florida Sea Level Rise Summit, on Thursday, May 7, 2015, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Florida Gulf Coast University Student Union Ballroom at the Cohen Center, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Lee County, Florida, and the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition. A prominent panel of speakers will cover topics including sea level rise charting, legal and planning challenges to adapting to sea level rise, and proactive solutions to address rising tides.

Admission is free, but space is limited. Reserve your seats at http://flcoastalandocean.org/events/southwest-florida-sea-level-rise-summit/.


2015 AWRA scholarship and educational grant applications now being accepted

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AWRA Florida has a mission to support education through the Rosanne Clementi Education Program and awards scholarships and grants to pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, environmental education centers, high school seniors, and undergraduate and graduate college or university students.

The J.B. Butler Science Grant is awarded to pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers and/or environmental education centers to aid in water resources education. Each year, approximately five $500 grants are awarded.

The William V. Storch Award is given to graduate and/or undergraduate college or university students to support educational activities. There are two $1,500 awards available each year.

The Sanford N. Young Scholarship is designed to provide funding for at least one $2,000 scholarship each year. It is available to both graduate and undergraduate college or university students.

The High School Scholarship is given to Florida high school seniors who have an intent to pursue academic studies at a Florida college or university. At least one $1,000 scholarship is available each year.

Click here for more information and to download application forms and instructions. All applications must be complete and submitted electronically as one pdf document to awra@awraflorida.org.


Sarasota Bay Estuary Program announces two Blue Dolphin Award winners

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SARASOTA – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) has announced the newest winners of Blue Dolphin Awards. The unique award acknowledges local champions of Sarasota Bay. Sherri Swanson and Scott and Virginia Lloyd-Jones will be joining eight other individuals and groups that have been honored with Blue Dolphin Awards since 2012.

Sherri Swanson works as a senior environmental scientist for HDR Engineering, Inc. She’s being recognized for her volunteer support of the Sarasota Bay Water Festival, the region’s largest public event focused on the welfare and recreational amenities of Sarasota Bay. The third water festival was held in November at Ken Thompson Park in Sarasota. Sherri is also a member of the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).

Scott and Virginia Lloyd-Jones are retirees from Sun City Center being recognized for their ongoing volunteer support of the award-winning SBEP Bay Guardians Program. The couple has participated in numerous volunteer outings throughout Manatee and Sarasota County. The Bay Guardians are the largest volunteer organization in the region focused on area projects that benefit Sarasota Bay.

The SBEP Blue Dolphin Awards were launched in 2012. Prior winners include: Martha B. King Middle School in Bradenton, Jack Merriam, the former environmental manager for Sarasota County, AMI Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, Raindrop Cisterns, a company focused on rainwater harvesting, Charles Edwards, a retired biomedical researcher and long-term volunteer with the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee, Denise and Don Elliott with Sunbow Bay Condo Association on Anna Maria Island, Lee Fox formerly with Save Our Seabirds, Inc., and Sean Russell representing the nonprofit Stow It Don’t Throw It Project.

Contact Information
Sara Kane, Public Outreach Manager Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, sara@sarasotabay.org
phone: 941-955-8085 .

Register for this Saturday's volunteer event at Robinson Preserve

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This event is being sponsored by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources, and Around the Bend Nature Tours.

Volunteers will be filling bags with material to create new habitat for oysters and fish. Oyster beds represent a unique and valuable component of the Sarasota Bay ecosystem. They provide structural habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates. Oysters are also valued for their ability to improve water quality through their prolific filtering capacity. This is also a great opportunity to check out the new Preserve.

In order to participate you MUST wear appropriate footwear—closed toed shoes are required. We also recommend long-sleeved shirts and pants.

This event is suitable for ages 6 and up.

Please wear hat, sunscreen, and close-toed shoes, which are required (old tennis shoes work great), clothes that can get dirty, and work gloves. Please bring a reusable water bottle to help reduce our plastic pollution. We strongly suggest carpooling.

Since this is a larger event and we are partnering with Tampa Bay Estuary Program we will not be giving out Bay Guardian t-shirts, please wear yours if you have one.

WHAT: Oyster Bagging Volunteer Event
WHERE: 1704 99th Street Northwest, Bradenton, FL 34209
WHEN: Saturday, May 2nd, 2015, 9:00am-12:00pm

Catered lunch will be provided for all volunteers after the event is done!

Questions? Contact Camille Boffa at: info@sarasotabay.org, 941-955-8085.

RSVP Required — Click here to register »


Please join Mote Marine to celebrate a lifetime of inspiration

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Swimming with sharks. Blazing trails for women in science. Inspiring new generations of ocean lovers. Founding a world-class marine laboratory. These are but a few of the many accomplishments of Dr. Eugenie Clark, who founded Mote Marine Laboratory in Southwest Florida.

In February, Dr. Clark — "Genie" to her many friends and colleagues and "The Shark Lady" to the world — died at age 92 surrounded by family and friends. Genie's career spanned nearly 75 years of groundbreaking marine research focused on sharks and other fishes. She was also a teacher and a writer and always willing to share her love of the underwater world with others.

On May 4 — her birthday — Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium will host a special memorial for Mote's Shark Lady. Please join us this celebration of the life of a very special woman.

  • When: 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 4
  • Who: The public is welcome. RSVP is required.
  • Where: Mote Marine Laboratory's Sea Cinema, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla., 34236
  • RSVP required: mote.org/memorialrsvp

Read: More about her life and achievements

Remember: Share your thoughts, photos and memories of Dr. Clark by emailing rememberingdrclark@mote.org. Messages and photos will be shared with Dr. Clark's family and the public. If you send photos, please include caption information and any photo credits. Memorial: In lieu of flowers, you can honor Dr. Clark's life and legacy through the Dr. Eugenie Clark Memorial Research Endowment Fund at the Lab she founded online at www.mote.org/geniememorialfund

RSVP For the Event »


Survey a chance to give input on future of Sarasota County's parks and preserves

SARASOTA COUNTY – Residents still have a chance to have their say about the future of parks, preserves and recreation services in Sarasota County over the next five, 10 and 20 years.

In addition to public workshops, focus groups and citizen interviews, Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources is conducting a Community Interest and Opinion Survey to better understand our residents' priorities for parks, beach areas, trails, preserves, sports and recreation facilities, programs and services within the community.

The survey is part of a larger effort to develop a Master Plan that will provide a framework for enhancing the parks system, and community input is crucial.

The survey can be taken online at www.scgov.net/ParkProjects. It will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

"The time you invest in completing this survey will aid us in taking a resident-driven approach to making decisions that will enrich the future of our community and positively affect the lives of its residents" said Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Carolyn Brown.

For more information or questions about the survey, contact Tricia Wisner at (941) 861-5000.


Blackburn Point Park grand opening celebration set for April 29

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​SARASOTA COUNTY – The community is invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Blackburn Point Park additions on April 29, to celebrate the improvement and expansion of the park's amenities.

Blackburn Point Park has a long and rich history of serving the community, from the Native Americans who used its shore to secure food and resources, to the fishing industry that thrived there in the early 1900's, to the people who flock to the park each year to enjoy all of the wonderful modern recreational opportunities.

The new park additions will only enhance what has historically been a valuable piece of Sarasota County's past. And now, with the unveiling of all the exciting new additions, Blackburn Point Park is poised to continue that tradition for future generations.

Blackburn Point Park also plays a critical part in Sarasota County's county-wide rowing program, allowing for visiting rowing teams from around the globe to train on-site and experience Sarasota County's beautiful waterways. Teams are expected to utilize the facility while practicing for the 2017 World Rowing Championships, which will be held at Nathan Benderson Park.

New features at Blackburn Point Park include:

  • Rowing dock, rowing ramp, motorized boat ramp, and docks
  • Two restrooms
  • Parking for 56 boat trailers
  • A boardwalk with pavilion over the water
  • Fishing pier and covered picnic shelter areas
  • Improved fenced boat storage and staging/wash area for visiting rowing teams
  • Trails meandering throughout the park
  • Maintenance barn area
  • Low impact development stormwater treatment system with pervious paving and bio-swales
  • Native landscaping
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new additions at Blackburn Point Park, located at 800 Blackburn Point Rd, Osprey, 34229, is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, April 29.

For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.

More about Blackburn Point Park »


“Watery” curriculum guide available for teachers

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The Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education (NIE) program is a cooperative effort between schools and the Times to promote the use of newspapers in print and electronic form as educational resources. Their educational resources fall into the category of informational text. Informational text is a type of nonfiction text. The primary purpose of informational text is to convey information about the natural or social world.

The NIE program's most recent offering is a 16-page curriculum supplement, “Answers on Tap”, containing information about water resources in the Tampa Bay area. It teaches middle school-aged students about water sources, safe drinking water, surface water pollutant sources, water conservation steps indoors and out, potable water delivery methods, water treatment, water resource management careers, and agencies responsible for regulating water resources in the Tampa Bay area.

For more information about NIE, visit tampabay.com/nie or call 800-333-7505, ext. 8138. Follow NIE on Twitter at Twitter.com/TBTimesNIE. For additional copies of this NIE publication, email ordernie@tampabay.com.

Answers on Tap

It all begins with a raindrop. But after that raindrop falls from the sky, where does it go? It depends on where that raindrop lands. Tampa Bay Water, the regional wholesale drinking water utility, takes that raindrop — and millions more — from three different sources and blends them together. Those sources are groundwater, surface water and desalinated seawater. Tampa Bay Water is the only water utility in the United States to take advantage of these three sources of water combined.

To order this educational publication, e-mail ordernie@tampabay.com. Please include your name, name and address of your school, the grade that you teach and phone number. You can also download a PDF of the publication, by clicking on the link below.

Download/view ”Answers on Tap“ »


Multiple satellite eyes to track algal threat to U.S. freshwater

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Four federal agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey have joined forces in an effort to transform satellite data into vital information to protect the American public from freshwater contaminated by harmful algal blooms.

The $3.6 million research project is a collaborative effort among NASA, NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and USGS. Using methods and technology established to analyze ocean color satellite data, scientists from the four agencies will work to develop an early warning indicator for toxic and nuisance algal blooms in freshwater systems and build an information distribution system to expedite public health advisories.

Algal blooms are a worldwide environmental problem causing human and animal health risks, fish kills, and noxious taste and odor in drinking water. In the United States, the cost of freshwater degraded by harmful algal blooms is estimated at $64 million annually. In August 2014, officials in Toledo, Ohio, banned the use of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents after it was contaminated by an algal bloom in Lake Erie.

“Harmful algal blooms have emerged as a significant public health and economic issue that requires extensive scientific investigation,” said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. “USGS uses converging lines of evidence from ground to space to assess changes in water quantity and quality, ecosystems, natural hazards, and environmental health issues important to the nation.”

Ocean color satellite data are currently available to scientists, but are not routinely processed and produced in formats that help state and local environmental and water quality managers. Through this project, satellite data on harmful algal blooms developed by the partner agencies will be converted to a format that stakeholders can use through mobile devices and web portals.

US Geological Survey news release continues...


Volunteers needed for 2015 Seagrass Survey in Sarasota Bay

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Seagrass stewards, your help is needed!

Below you will find all of the information you need to participate as a Sarasota Environmental Aquatics (SEA) Team volunteer in the 2015 Sarasota County Seagrass Survey.

The theme for this year's event is: Seagrass: The Lawn that Doesn't Need Fertilizer, focusing on how stormwater runoff and pollution affect seagrass species. Residual fertilizer that’s used on lawns can enter our bays and waterbodies as stormwater runoff. The increase in nutrients, such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus, can result in algae blooms. Algae can attach to seagrass blades and drift in clumps, blocking necessary sunlight from reaching seagrasses. 

The Sarasota County Seagrass Survey is a citizen science event that celebrates Sarasota County’s commitment to its water resources and focuses on increasing awareness of the economic and environmental value of seagrass habitat. Volunteers and staff will take to the waters around Sarasota Bay to count and identify seagrass species, in an effort to collect data for the County’s Seagrass Monitoring Program.  

This fun, family-friendly, hands-on event will include on-site training for all participants and data collectors, followed by a free volunteer appreciation luncheon.

We need the help of our local community members, including: snorkelers, waders, kayakers, boaters, and paddle boarders.

Need more information? Feel free to contact the event coordinator: 941-650-1089 or amelton@scgov.net.

All of the event information can also be found at: http://www.scgov.net, keyword search: Seagrass

Event-Related Resources (*Liability Form and Field Book will be provided to Volunteers at event sign-in station)

Event Flyer  •  Event Site Map  •  Liability Form*  •  Seagrass Survey Field Book*

Visit the Seagrass Page on the Sarasota Water Atlas to learn more about seagrasses and their importance to our coastal environment.

Learn More about this event, and register online »

Contact Information
Ashley Melton, Environmental Specialist II, Sarasota County Government, amelton@scgov.net, Public Utilities - Stormwater, Sarasota, FL. 34240
phone: (941) 650-1089.
An Edition of wateratlas.org
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