Current News Items (within the last 30 days)
King Tide Photo Exhibit Debuts June 6; Display Raises Awareness About Rising Sea Levels
The Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay Estuary Programs have partnered to present "Chasing the Waves: The King TIde Photo Exhibit." The free traveling exhibit will launch Thursday, June 6 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Federal Building in downtown Sarasota at 111 S. Orange Ave. The photos will be on display during June and July before traveling to other venues in Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, and Pinellas Counties.
The goal of the exhibit is to raise awareness about the effects of sea level rise on our shorelines, structures and communities. Images will include winning submissions to the King Tide Photo Contest held last year by SBEP and TBEP. The exhibit will also include photos from the U.S., Australia, and small Pacific Island nations, showing the global impact of rising seas. A rough schedule for the exhibit is:
- Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Sarasota: June – July 2013
- South Florida Museum, Bradenton: September – October 2013
- Sarasota Bay Water Festival, Sarasota: November 2, 2013
- Weedon Island Preserve, St. Petersburg: TBD
- Robinson Preserve, Bradenton: January – February 2014
for updates on exhibit dates and locations.
What are King Tides?
High Five seeks local teams for Sarasota Dragon Boat races this fall
The races will be part of this year's Sarasota Bay Water Festival
SARASOTA – High Five Dragon Boat, LLC is seeking local teams from Sarasota and Manatee County to compete in the fun dragon boat races to be showcased at the 2013 Sarasota Bay Water Festival. The regional event will be held at City Island’s Ken Thompson Park on Saturday, November 2.
High Five provides registered teams with boats, paddles, life vests, a steerperson, and training prior to the event. Training includes practicing the proper paddling techniques and racing etiquette. Each dragon boat is 42-feet in length and coed teams consist of 20 paddlers with a minimum of 8 being female. Participants must be 14-years of age or older. The races involve three race heats during the day on a 350-meter course. Participants can enjoy activities at the Water Festival between the scheduled heats.
“This is a great way for local businesses and other organizations to encourage team-building while promoting their brand,” explained Christine Canevari with High Five. “We already have teams committed from the Tampa Bay area and our goal is to add additional new teams from Sarasota and Manatee County.”
Dragon boat racing is popular worldwide with hundreds of events each year throughout the U.S. and many other nations. Most participants race for fun, but there are also highly-competitive club level teams. The world championship was held in Tampa in 2011. Registration information and helpful guidelines is available at sarasotabaydragonboat.com.
Other highlights for this year’s Water Festival include live music, fine artists selling unique gift items, workshops that promote Bay-friendly living, food trucks and local restaurants, vintage boats, activities for kids, and exhibits promoting recreational boating, fishing, kayaking, paddle board sports, scuba diving, cycling, birding, and other fun activities.
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) is the Presenting Sponsor and HDR, Inc. is the Host Sponsor for 2013. Other sponsors include Sarasota County, Freedom Boat Club, City of Sarasota, Whole Foods Market, Manatee County, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Mote Marine Laboratory, West Coast Inland Management District, Caldwell Trust Company, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Town of Longboat Key, Triple 3 Marketing, City of Bradenton, Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, Save Our Seabirds, Around the Bend Nature Tours, High Five Dragon Boat, Suncoast Waterkeeper, and Sun King Disc Sports.
Festival organizers are seeking additional sponsors and exhibitors. Sponsor donations support the festival and SBEP education and volunteer programs benefiting Sarasota Bay. Details about sponsorship and exhibiting are posted at sarasotabaywaterfestival.com.
Governor approves $32 million in water projects; vetoes total of $27.3 million
TALLAHASSEE – Florida governor Rick Scott used his line-item veto authority to veto $368 million in spending from Florida's 2013-2014 budget, including a number of projects related to wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and water resource protection. These included:
- Bonita Springs ‐ Oak Creek Restoration ‐ Sediment & Exotic Plant Removal, $250,000
- Charlotte County ‐ Regional Reclaimed Water Expansion ‐ Phase 2, $500,000
- DeSoto County ‐ Lettuce Lake/Oak Haven MH Park Utility MCL Water Supply Improvement Projec,t $90,000
- DeSoto County ‐ Lake Suzy Utility Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements, $350,000
- LaBelle ‐ Wastewater Recycle Project, $1,812,500
- Lake County ‐ Umatilla Sewer System, $1,225,000
- Lakeland ‐ Skyview Water and Wastewater System Modification, $3,750,000
- Manatee County ‐ Wastewater Clarifier Retrofit ‐ Southwest Water Reclamation Facility, $1,000,000
- St. Johns River Restoration and Economic Impact Study, $7,000,000
- Tampa ‐ Met West Ditch Stormwater Project, $125,000
For a complete list of the approved and vetoed water projects, see the link below.
Water project vetoed/approved list (prepared by The Florida Current/LobbyTools)
Water projects left off Florida TaxWatch's "turkey" list this year
By Bruce Ritchie
Florida TaxWatch spared local water projects totaling $59.4 million from its list of "turkeys" in Legislature's 2013-14 state budget.
The group each year lists projects that it says were placed in the budget without proper public review and debate. The group says it doesn't condemn the projects but it does request that the governor consider them for vetoes.
In 2011, Scott vetoed more than $600 million of what he described as "special interest earmarks" including $16.5 million in water projects.
Last year, Florida TaxWatch labeled as turkeys 23 local water projects totaling $19 million. Scott eventually vetoed $12.6 million in water projects.
TaxWatch last year also called on the Legislature to establish a review process for water projects and the Legislature did so, said Kurt Wenner, the group's vice president for tax research.
Continued on The Florida Current...
Reservoirs language stripped from federal bill while Florida groups support alternative approach
By Bruce Ritchie
Georgia's U.S. senators have stripped from a bill language apparently supported by Gov. Rick Scott to require congressional approval of water for the Lake Lanier reservoir north of Atlanta.
Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been fighting in federal court over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system since 1990. Cities, farmers and industry upstream depend on the water while Florida says it needs flow to support fish and wildlife in the Apalachicola River and the seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay.
Continued on The Florida Current...
Foundation will direct $356 million from oil spill criminal cases to Florida for natural resource pr
By Bruce Ritchie
Natural resource projects in Florida will receive $356 million from plea agreements in criminal cases involving the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced the establishment of the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund and allocations Monday to five Gulf states. The foundation, created by Congress and overseen by federal agencies, will administer and monitor $2.5 billion provided by plea agreements.
The foundation says on its website that it will consult with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as well as with federal agencies identify projects in Florida.
Applications for projects are being accepted and those that have been submitted for other oil spill funds will automatically be considered, said Doc Kokol, a Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman.
Continued on The Florida Current...
USGS Study: Spring 2012 earliest on record
March 2012 set records for warm temperatures that promoted early leafing and flowering across large areas of the United States. A team of scientists at the USA National Phenology Network, which is sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, have published a study which shows that 2012 was the earliest spring over the 48 U.S. states since 1900 when systematic weather data began to be available for the entire area.
Phenology is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, especially their timing and relationships with weather and climate. Assessing the severity and impacts of such extreme climatic events, either in the past or as they happen, requires consistent indicators of variability and change that can be mapped both nationally and historically.
The USA National Phenology Network provides a suite of "spring indices" based on the accumulated warmth needed to end dormancy and initiate growth in many native and cultivated plants. These complex, evidence-based algorithms can be calculated for any weather station that records daily maximum and minimum temperatures. Spring indices are independently validated using historical observations of leafing and flowering in lilac and honeysuckle nationwide.
The historical trend of spring indices suggests that the 2012 growing season advanced as much as 20-30 days in the East and Midwest from the 1900-2012 long-term mean.
"The results of this study clearly demonstrate the great importance of long-term monitoring of natural processes. A long record allows us to identify patterns of change that we might otherwise miss," said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director.
Today the response of vegetation to temperature and precipitation can be readily observed across wide areas by Earth-observing satellites at intervals of only a few days. USGS scientist Julio Betancourt, a co-author of the study, noted, "Indicators such as spring indices and satellite-based evaluations of vegetation growth will become essential tools for assessing climate variability and change and their impacts."
Satellite data show that the cumulative effects of the unusually early 2012 spring were most pronounced across the Corn Belt, the western Great Lakes region, and the northeastern U.S.
The beneficial effects of spring's quick start in 2012 were subsequently offset by a late spring frost and summer drought. In fact, the unusually early spring combined with late frosts in April to produce a so-called "false spring" that damaged fruit trees across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions.
The study appears in EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union.
Read the study
USGS Study: Deficit in nation's aquifers accelerating
A new U.S. Geological Survey study documents that the Nation's aquifers are being drawn down at an accelerating rate.
Groundwater Depletion in the United States (1900-2008) comprehensively evaluates long-term cumulative depletion volumes in 40 separate aquifers (distinct underground water storage areas) in the United States, bringing together reliable information from previous references and from new analyses.
"Groundwater is one of the Nation's most important natural resources. It provides drinking water in both rural and urban communities. It supports irrigation and industry, sustains the flow of streams and rivers, and maintains ecosystems," said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. "Because groundwater systems typically respond slowly to human actions, a long-term perspective is vital to manage this valuable resource in sustainable ways."
To outline the scale of groundwater depletion across the country, here are two startling facts drawn from the study's wealth of statistics. First, from 1900 to 2008, the Nation's aquifers, the natural stocks of water found under the land, decreased (were depleted) by more than twice the volume of water found in Lake Erie. Second, groundwater depletion in the U.S. in the years 2000-2008 can explain more than 2 percent of the observed global sea-level rise during that period.
Since 1950, the use of groundwater resources for agricultural, industrial, and municipal purposes has greatly expanded in the United States. When groundwater is withdrawn from subsurface storage faster than it is recharged by precipitation or other water sources, the result is groundwater depletion. The depletion of groundwater has many negative consequences, including land subsidence, reduced well yields, and diminished spring and stream flows.
While the rate of groundwater depletion across the country has increased markedly since about 1950, the maximum rates have occurred during the most recent period of the study (2000–2008), when the depletion rate averaged almost 25 cubic kilometers per year. For comparison, 9.2 cubic kilometers per year is the historical average calculated over the 1900–2008 timespan of the study.
One of the best known and most investigated aquifers in the U.S. is the High Plains (or Ogallala) aquifer. It underlies more than 170,000 square miles of the Nation's midsection and represents the principal source of water for irrigation and drinking in this major agricultural area. Substantial pumping of the High Plains aquifer for irrigation since the 1940s has resulted in large water-table declines that exceed 160 feet in places.
The study shows that, since 2000, depletion of the High Plains aquifer appears to be continuing at a high rate. The depletion during the last 8 years of record (2001–2008, inclusive) is about 32 percent of the cumulative depletion in this aquifer during the entire 20th century. The annual rate of depletion during this recent period averaged about 10.2 cubic kilometers, roughly 2 percent of the volume of water in Lake Erie.
Read the study
Ernst: In Phillippi Creek sewer project, a 'nobody' makes a splash
By Eric Ernst
Who is Mike Scarborough?
Most of us have not asked that question. We're not among the 216 homes known as Area N-3 in the Phillippi Creek sewer project.
When Scarborough poses the question to himself, in a blog, he comes up with a disarming answer: "I'm nobody in particular."
But ask the Sarasota County commissioners who Scarborough is, and they'll say he's the guy who's making them rethink how they'll accomplish the sewer project in his neighborhood, and maybe the next one, as they try to replace 14,000 septic tanks with central sewers.
The experience is a good example of how government is supposed to work.
Continued on HeraldTribune.com
Florida' Senators split on water resources bill
Billions of dollars in port improvements and other water-related infrastructure work received easy approval Wednesday in the U.S. Senate, but Florida’s senators were split.
The Water Resources Development Act passed on a 83-14 vote. Sen. Bill Nelson voted in favor of the bill, while Sen. Marco Rubio voted against the measure.
Continued on the Tampa Bay Business Journal online...
Register now for 7th Symposium on Harmful Algae
Students, established HAB researchers and policy makers, managers and scientists from NGO, academic institutions, and local, state and federal agencies are invited to participate in the 7th Symposium on Harmful Algae in the U.S., in Sarasota. Everyone who works on HAB issues should attend the only national conference focused exclusively on HABs. Whether your focus is freshwater or saltwater, microalgae or macroalgae, basic research or policy and management, this conference is relevant to your work.
Important Dates & Info
- Early registration and abstract submission closes at midnight EDT May 24. Please make sure all co-authors have reviewed your abstract prior to submission.
- Your abstract WILL NOT be reviewed if you are not registered for the meeting by May 24.
- Registration ends Sept. 6.
- The Symposium will be held at the Hyatt Regency, Sarasota. Book your room early to guarantee the special conference rate of $132 per night for non-government employees or $87 per night for government employees.
- While Symposium registration ends Sept. 6, you may still book your hotel at the special rate if rooms are still available through Sept. 27.
County encourages residents to have fun this summer and skip lawn maintenance
Sarasota County officials are encouraging residents to get out and enjoy living in paradise this summer and skip some of the yard work!|
This summer county officials are urging residents to protect the bay by not using fertilizer products containing nitrogen and phosphorus. Stormwater washes excess fertilizer into storm drains, transporting the nitrogen and phosphorus into the bay. Nitrogen and phosphorus can fuel excessive growth of algae, which smother natural vegetation. Nitrogen and phosphorus can also cause invasive weeds to flourish, changing Florida's natural plant communities.
"People should be able to enjoy their summer by heading to the beach, going fishing or boating," said Sarasota County Environmental Specialist Amanda Dominguez. "No one wants to be doing yard work in the summer and the great news is you don't need to use fertilizer in order to have a healthy yard."
Beginning June 1 through Sept. 30, no fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorous may be used on lawns or
plants in unincorporated Sarasota County. Homeowners should follow these tips to maintain a healthy lawn while protecting the bay:
For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net keyword search "fertilizer."
mow grass as high as possible with a mulching mower
don't over-water turf and plants
install a soil moisture sensor to determine when to water
keep fertilizer at least 10 feet from any water's edge
create a low-maintenance zone of landscape plants near the water's edge to prevent fertilizer runoff
Learn more about Sarasota County's fertilizer ordinance
Florida Geological Survey receives national grant to map in NE Florida
Grant will increase knowledge of geology, which helps improve land-use planning in northeastern area of Florida
TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Geological Survey has been awarded $193,183 by the U.S Geological Survey to produce a detailed geologic map of a portion of northeast Florida. The STATEMAP grant is the fourth-highest award amount distributed nationwide this year for work that will begin in September and is expected to be publicly available for digital download by December 2014.
“The funding provided by the USGS allows us to produce a geologic map in support of the societal, economic and scientific welfare needs of Florida,” said STATEMAP Project Manager Rick Green. “Our goal is to make these findings readily available and accessible to the public.”
The benefits of this type of mapping include a more comprehensive understanding of the distribution of rock, mineral and groundwater resources, including vulnerability of aquifers to contamination. These maps are also important in providing shallow subsurface geological information that can be used in understanding sinkholes and other geologic hazards.
The mapping effort involves extensive field work over a 12 month period, including visits to accessible rock and sediment exposures in mines and other excavated areas, as well as natural exposures in rivers, streams, sinkholes and springs. To better understand the underlying geologic units, project staff inspect rock and sediment samples from hundreds of wells, including new wells drilled in support of the project to fill data gaps. Extensive data management and map making in a geographic information system platform is also involved.
This work is conducted under the STATEMAP component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, which serves to create a national geologic database that is accessible to the public. The STATEMAP Advisory Council, which is comprised of geologists and engineers in Florida, prioritized the St. Augustine quadrangle as the primary focus for this year’s work.
The approximately 2,000 square mile area was approved due to its location adjacent to current project mapping underway in the Daytona Beach area, as well as an additional project being conducted along the northeast coast of Florida funded by the National Park Service and Florida Geological Survey. This will allow the Florida Geological Survey to maximize its resources and expand upon existing data.
Since its inception in 1994, this component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program has funded more than $4.6 million in support of mapping to benefit Florida’s residents and environment, covering an area of more than 13,000 square miles.
Data gathered by the STATEMAP program is also used by other agencies in Florida. The Florida Department of Transportation used information from mapped STATEMAP projects for an assessment of strategic aggregate reserves in the state and to develop a better understanding of the geology in support of projects, such as the Florida Future Corridors program.
The maps are published annually and released in segments online.
Source: Florida DEP news release
Decades-old nitrate found to affect stream water quality
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologic researchers have found that the movement of nitrate through groundwater to streams can take decades to occur. This long lag time means that changes in the use of nitrogen-based fertilizer (the typical source of nitrate) — whether the change is initiation, adjustment, or cessation — may take decades to be fully observed in streams, according to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Water quality experts have been noting in recent years that nitrate trends in streams and rivers do not match their expectations based on reduced regional use of nitrogen-based fertilizer. The long travel times of groundwater discharge, like those documented in this study, have previously been suggested as the likely factor responsible for these observations.
"This study provides direct evidence that nitrate can take decades to travel from recharge at the land surface to discharge in streams," said Jerad Bales, acting USGS Associate Director for Water. "This is an important finding because long travel times will delay direct observation of the full effect of nutrient management strategies on stream quality."
Rivers and streams are fed by both groundwater held in underground aquifers and surface water from precipitation runoff. In low streamflow conditions, groundwater sources take a larger role.
In this study, USGS scientists closely examined surface and ground waters at seven study sites from across the nation to determine the portion of stream nitrate derived from groundwater. They found that most of the nitrate observed in streams located in groundwater-dominated watersheds was derived from groundwater sources. To determine the time it takes groundwater to reach a stream in a groundwater-dominated watershed, an age dating tracer study was conducted in the Tomorrow River in central Wisconsin. The findings indicated that decades-old nitrate-laden water was currently discharging to this stream. Consequently, base flow nitrate concentrations in this stream may be sustained for decades to come, regardless of current and future practices.
The slow release of groundwater nitrate to streams may also affect the water quality of large rivers. For example, increases in nitrate concentrations during low and moderate flows in large rivers in the Mississippi River Basin have been observed to be greater than or comparable to increases in nitrate concentrations during high flows. (See USGS website, Nitrate in the Mississippi River and its tributaries, 1980 to 2008.) These findings also suggest that increasing nitrate concentrations in groundwater are having a substantial effect on nitrate concentrations in rivers and nitrate transport to the Gulf of Mexico. Because nitrate moves slowly through groundwater to rivers, the full effect of management strategies designed to reduce nitrate movement to these rivers may not be seen for many years.
Learn more about the nitrate study on USGS.gov
Bay Guardian volunteers plant 3,500 plants at Perico Preserve
SARASOTA – A group of 49 adult and student Bay Guardian volunteers with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) planted 3,500 Florida native plants at a shoreline area on Perico Preserve Saturday, May 4. The plants were donated by Manatee County Natural Resources and FWC Redfish Hatchery at Port Manatee. Other project partners included Around the Bend Nature Tours and Martha B. King Middle School in Bradenton. King Middle School was honored with an SBEP Blue Dolphin Award in 2012 to acknowledge the school’s commitment to supporting local environmental projects.
Bay Guardian volunteers did a planting previously at Perico Preserve in October 2012. Perico Preserve is the newest preserve in Manatee County. The 176-acre property was originally farmland and the extensive mangrove fringe is currently undergoing restoration to become another natural habitat within Manatee County’s coastal preserve system. Plans include the construction of a lagoon to support seagrass growth and a bird rookery island. During construction, public access is only permitted through sneak peek tours hosted by Manatee County Natural Resources or volunteer workdays.
The recent planting at Perico Preserve was the fourth Bay Guardian volunteer outing this year. Prior outings were held at Baywalk Creek near New College of Florida, Jiggs Landing in Manatee County, and Bowlees Creek Island Bird Sanctuary near the mouth of Bowlees Creek.
The Bay Guardians are the largest and most active volunteer organization in the region focused on the welfare of Sarasota Bay. Hundreds of local volunteers invest thousands of hours each year supporting projects focused on planting Florida native plants and removing exotic plants as well as trash and debris. The SBEP manages the volunteer program in partnership with Around the Bend Nature Tours. New volunteers receive a blue tee shirt featuring the Bay Guardians logo. The SBEP also provides a picnic lunch following the morning project.
Join the Bay Guardians for a single project or as an ongoing commitment. Local civic, school, scout, and church groups interested in volunteering can contact Stephanie Sherman with the SBEP.
Volunteer with the Bay Guardians
Sherri Swanson joins the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee
SARASOTA – Sherri Swanson was approved for membership by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) on Monday. Sherri has worked as a Senior Environmental Scientist for HDR since 2006. HDR is a global employee-owned firm providing architecture, engineering, environmental, and construction related services. She worked previously as a Project Scientist for Sarasota County from 2003 to 2006. Sherri lives in Sarasota with her husband Andy.
The 28-member CAC provides public input to support SBEP planning and promotes the SBEP mission and its various programs in Sarasota and Manatee County. Current members include parents, grandparents, educators, former elected representatives, business owners, scientists, environmental advocates, ecologists, realtors, and engineers.
Sherri is close to completing a Masters of Art Degree in Global Sustainability with a focus on Water from the University of South Florida. She completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental, Soil and Water Science from the University of Arkansas in 2000. Sherri is a Certified Professional Wetland Scientist. She’s also the sustainability manager with the Sarasota Bay Water Festival and a key volunteer leader. HDR is the Host Sponsor of the festival for 2013.
Learn more about the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee
Register now for Sister Keys Clean Up on May 11th
Join the 5th Annual Sister Keys Clean Up on Saturday, May 11. You can register online (link below) or sign up the day of the event starting at 8:00 am at the Mar Vista Dockside restaurant, 760 Broadway Street, Longboat Key. Participants limited to 75.
The Clean Up starts at 9:00 am and ends at 11:30 am with a complimentary lunch following at the Mar Vista Dockside restaurant. NOTE: the boat ramp adjacent to the Mar Vista will be closed for repairs.
Purpose of event: To clean trash from the Sister Keys, the largest undeveloped islands from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor. The Sister Keys are Sarasota Bay Watch "Adopted Islands".
What to bring: Sunscreen, insect repellent, hat, gloves, glasses, water shoes. Kayaks and boats are welcome! No boat? Sign on as a crew member!
Participants without a boat or kayak will get a ride to the Sister Keys aboard the Kathleen D, a sailing catamaran. Bags will be provided for trash pick up and the Town of Longboat Key will collect the trash. By car, park on the streets in Longboat Key Village where parking is allowed. Please try not to park in the restaurant parking lot and please park considerately in the village.
For questions about the event, please call 941-918-2700 or 941-232-2363.
Up to 375 USGS flood gauges to turn off because of fund cuts
Just in time for the spring flood season, the federal sequester is threatening to shut off funding for hundreds of stream gauges used by the U.S. Geological Survey to predict and monitor flood levels across the country.
"The USGS will discontinue operation of up to 375 stream gauges nationwide due to budget cuts as a result of sequestration," the USGS notes on its website. Additional stream gauges may be affected if USGS partners at state and local agencies reduce their funding support.
USGS is quick to point out, though, they won't take out of service the gauges now being used to monitor the heavy floods soaking the Midwest. Robert Mason, deputy chief of the USGS Office of Surface Water, says the USGS plans to prioritize those gauges that are used by the National Weather Service for forecasting, so that the impact of the cuts is minimized.
In all, a total of 682 gauges have some level of funding issues (some of the gauges may not be shut off entirely). The USGS, which operates about 95% of the gauges, is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Continued in USA Today online...
Warm Mineral Springs' rebirth
By Eric Ernst
At Warm Mineral Springs, "Water is the real deal".
NORTH PORT – Cypress Lending called Gene Vaccaro in 2009 to inspect one of their delinquent accounts. The national company, based in Dallas, knew of Vaccaro's work with distressed properties, and management wanted to know what they'd have on their hands if they foreclosed a property called Warm Mineral Springs.
So, Vaccaro and his wife, Elaine, threw their swimsuits and towels in the car and headed from Naples to North Port.
What they found at the springs shocked them, he says. Employees were smoking behind the counter. Yellow tape encircled the restrooms, which were out of order. The gift shop was empty. The cafe was closed. (“Thank God it was closed,” he says.) Small waterways at the entrance were clogged with algae. The fountains did not run. Rusted-out handrails led bathers to the spring-fed sinkhole.
Continued at HeraldTribune.com...
Legislators prepare for potential ‘fracking’ in Florida
By Mary Ellen Klas and Curtis Morgan
TALLAHASSEE – No one knows if Florida is going to be the next frontier for the new generation of oil and gas drilling known as fracking, but state legislators say — just in case — it’s time to write rules to require disclosure of the controversial technology.
The Florida House on Wednesday is expected to pass a bill that will require companies to disclose what chemicals they use when they explore for oil and gas using the controversial extraction process.
Fracking uses hydraulic fracturing technology to inject water, sand and chemicals underground to create fractures in rock formations. Oil and gas is released through the fissures and is captured by wells, built at the sites. Environmentalists warn that the chemical makeup of the fluid that is pumped into the ground could contaminate groundwater and release harmful pollutants, such as methane, into the air.
Continued in the Bradenton Herald online...
Coast Guard Auxiliary will demo boating safety at spring nautical expo
At the West Marine Nautical Expo on May 4th and 5th, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will conduct a demonstration of on-the-water assistance procedures, utilizing one boat acting as distressed and the other responding to help. The boat assistance drill will take place on the water at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. A speaker will provide a description of the interaction between the distressed boat and the USCG responder boat.
This demonstration will show the proper steps that a boater in distress should take when the Coast Guard responds. Two types of tow for the distressed boat will be demonstrated. The correct way to tow from either the stern or onside will be shown and described. The USCG Auxiliary will also demonstrate the proper use of flares and other visual distress signals and the proper selection and wearing of personal flotation devices (PFDs or life vests). Free annual vessel examinations will be conducted at a location in the marina or you can arrange for the inspection at another time and at your boat's location. Boaters can sign up to attend the ABS (About Boating Safety) course conducted monthly by the USCG Auxiliary. If you are new to boating or if family or friends need a basic boating course this is the one to take!
The West Marine Nautical Expo will be held at Regatta Point Marina, 1005 Riverside Drive, in Palmetto.
More information about the West Marine Nautical Expo
New College invites public to free film about seal level rise
The Island President
a film by John Shenk
WEDU's Community Cinema takes Sea Level Rise out of the headlines and makes it personal. President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives is a man with a bigger problem than any other world leader has ever faced — the literal survival of his country and everyone in it. After bringing democracy to the Maldives, he must now ensure that his tiny country doesn’t disappear under rising sea-levels.
WHEN: April 30th at 6:30 pm, followed by discussion
WHERE: The Mildred Sainer Pavilion at New College of Florida. 5313 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota
WHO: Presented by ITVS, Community Cinema, WEDU, and New College of Florida
RSVP: Free, but seating is limited.
Make your reservation