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

Water-Related News

Water Atlas program, faculty, Atlas sponsors receive FLMS Awards

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The USF Water Institute was one of five recipients of FLMS Awards of Excellence at the 2017 Florida Lake Management Society symposium in Captiva Island. Former USF Water Institute faculty member Jim Griffin was honored by the Society with its highest award, the Marjorie Carr Award, for lifetime achievement.

The USF Water Institute received the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award, given to individuals or organizations who report on aquatic resource issues, for its use of informatics to publicly disseminate data and supporting, explanatory information related to water resource management.

Dr. Jim Griffin, principal investigator for the Water Atlas program from 2005 until he retired in 2014, received the Marjorie Carr Award, the Florida Lake Management Society’s highest award. It is given for lifetime work on behalf of Florida’s aquatic resources. The award is named in honor of Marjorie Carr who, among other things, organized citizens and brought to an end the proposed Cross Florida Barge Canal.

Other 2017 FLMS award recipients:

Judy Ott received the Edward Deevey, Jr. Award, given to an individual for contributing to our scientific understanding of Florida’s water bodies. Edward Devey was an internationally recognized limnologist and was affiliated with the State Museum of Florida at the time of his death. Judy retired in March after nine years as program scientist for the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.

The Seminole County SERV Program received the Dr. Daniel E. Canfield Jr. Volunteerism Award, given to a volunteer organization or outstanding volunteer for significant contributions to the research, restoration, and/or preservation of our water resources. The award is named after Dr. Daniel Canfield, founder of Florida LAKEWATCH, the pioneering citizen-volunteer water quality monitoring program involving over 1,200 lakes statewide, and now being emulated across the United States. The Seminole Education, Restoration and Volunteer (SERV) Program works to actively restore and educate people on how to protect the waterways and natural areas of Seminole County.

Nia Wellendorf, Environmental Administrator for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, received the FLMS Young Professional Award, presented to a young lake management professional who exhibits exemplary professional accomplishments and a commitment to water resource protection and management of our lakes and watersheds.

Tom Palmer: Problem of water use is not a new issue

To hear some political leaders discuss the increasing challenges of addressing water supply issues lately, you might think this is a relatively recent issue.

It isn’t.

Parker notes that Florida has had worse floods and droughts than some of the events that triggered the formation of Florida’s water management districts.

He added, however, that in the days when Florida’s population was smaller, people could manage to get water somehow and generally had enough sense not to build in flood-prone areas.

Parker made some other points that are relevant to water planning today.

Ground water and surface water are only different sides of the same hydrologic coin and must be managed as a single resource.

Snook released into Philippi Creek for ongoing study of popular sport fish

Mote Marine Laboratory scientists released approximately 450 juvenile snook into Phillippi Creek in Sarasota County on Tuesday, June 13, for ongoing studies of habitat-use patterns of these important sportfish.

The fish were raised at Mote Aquaculture Research Park (MAP) and fitted with PIT tags (passive integrated transponders), which will be detected when the snook swim near solar-powered antenna arrays installed at eight creek-front properties. Study results are intended to help inform resource managers and the community to help support snook populations into the future.

By releasing the fish into Philippi Creek, Mote scientists are examining how much time the fish spend near seawalls without vegetation, seawalls with vegetation or natural shoreline sites. The scientists want to know whether or not snook reside in natural habitats longer or disperse more quickly from seawalls with no vegetation than seawalls with vegetation. One of the goals is to provide this information to homeowners so that they can make fish-friendly decisions with their shorelines.

A major goal of Mote’s Fisheries Ecology & Enhancement Program is developing responsible guidelines to release hatchery-reared snook into the wild to help keep the population sustainable. By understanding what snook need — including quality habitat — Mote scientists are working toward that goal.

Local governments, more or less, tackling effects of climate change

In the future, Holmes Beach City Hall may be reachable only by boat.

Predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show seaside cities gradually taking on water like a weather-worn ship. Granted, these aren’t immediate changes — the median prediction of sea level rise will reach up to 6 feet of water by the year 2100.

While doubts about climate change’s effects persist throughout the United States, rising seas, acidic oceans and stronger storms are already being felt on the Gulf Coast.

On the front lines, Gulf Coast leaders know it’s there. But what’s being done to address it?

Stump Pass channel realignment

Englewood, Fla. (June 12, 2017) - The navigational aids in Stump Pass have been relocated to the new channel alignment. The pass will be monitored for any changes and navigational aids will be relocated as necessary. Boaters are asked to use due care when traversing Stump Pass.

Lionfish derby to be held July 7-9 off Sarasota

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Join Mote Marine Laboratory for the fourth annual Sarasota Lionfish Derby, which invites scuba divers to compete for more than $3,500 in cash prizes by netting or spearing lionfish in an effort to control the spread of this invasive species.

The derby will take place from July 7-9 with its home base at Mote, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota, Florida. This derby is the first of four in the 2017 Summer Lionfish Derby Series coordinated by Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). On July 9, approximately six culinary partners will compete to prepare the best lionfish dishes during the derby’s public event at Mote. Details below.

Register for the Sarasota Derby or others in the summer series: www.reef.org/lionfish/derbies.

Mote Marine Laboratory, a world-class marine science institution, will host the Lionfish Derby in cooperation with Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), which helps study and address the lionfish invasion and sanctions official Lionfish Derbies.

Water-Wise Awards: your yard might be a winner

The Community Water-Wise Awards program recognizes individuals and businesses that are committed to conserving our water resources and protecting the environment by using the best in attractive, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ as well as irrigation systems or techniques that minimize water waste. Winning landscapes represent the beauty and resiliency of our natural environment.

To qualify for an award, the landscape must be located in unincorporated areas of Pasco, Pinellas or Hillsborough counties or the cities of New Port Richey, St. Petersburg or Tampa. If your landscape is in one of these areas, complete the entry form. We will review your entry and contact you to schedule an on-site evaluation if your landscape meets the minimum criteria. Past Water-Wise award winning landscapes are not eligible.

MOTE releases loggerhead sea turtle off Lido Key

Mote Marine Laboratory released subadult loggerhead sea turtle "Ms. Marker" Monday, June 5, from Lido Key, following one-and-a-half months of rehabilitative care at Mote’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation.

On April 14, 2017, a couple of anglers found the subadult turtle floating on top of the water and called Mote, which transported the turtle to its Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital.

Upon rescue, Ms. Marker was extremely lethargic and suffered from some neurological issues, which indicated that Florida red tide algae toxins may have affected the turtle. Initial diagnostics showed an elevated glucose level and a low white blood cell count. Mote staff provided excellent care including food, daily fluids and antibiotic therapy to treat the low white blood cell count.

Sarasota County wants you to be storm ready for hurricane season

As Florida enters hurricane season, it's an important time for local residents to take precautions for hazardous weather and ensure their disaster supply kits are complete, according to Sarasota County Emergency Services officials.

Sarasota County is committed to ensuring the safety of community, and officials are calling on you to prepare with them. Knowing your risk, getting prepared, and staying informed are just a few steps you can take to get ready for hurricane season.

Know Your Risk: Hurricane evacuation maps have been updated by the National Hurricane Center since last year. Residents and visitors are encouraged to check the updated maps online to know their zone. Just because you don't see water, doesn't mean you're not at risk for storm surge. The updated hurricane evacuation zones and storm surge maps are available online by visiting the "All Hazards" page on the county's website, scgov.net, by looking under Emergency Services.

Be Prepared: Take action now to be prepared for hurricane season. As the storm approaches, it is often too late to get ready. Make sure your family has an evacuation plan, communications plan and a disaster kit. A disaster kit should have supplies to last each person a minimum of three days. Remember, "The First 72 Are on You," and resources and support may not be available within the first 72 hours of a storm depending on its severity. Stay Informed: Know where to go to get trusted information during a hurricane event. If you haven't signed up already for CodeRED Alerts, Sarasota County strongly encourages residents to do so now. Sign up by visiting scgov.net and looking under Emergency Services for CodeRED registration. Monitor local media stations and Sarasota County Emergency Services Facebook and Twitter pages for hurricane watches and warnings in your area and follow directions of local officials. Residents should also have a battery-operated or hand-crank radio available should the power go out.

For more information on how you and your family can be prepared, visit www.scgov.net/allhazards or call Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.

Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities. View the complete policy at www.scgov.net/ADA/Pages/default.aspx.

Water efficiency in rural areas getting worse, despite improvements in urban centers

A nationwide analysis of water use over the past 30 years finds that there is a disconnect between rural and urban areas, with most urban areas becoming more water efficient and most rural areas becoming less and less efficient over time.

“Understanding water use is becoming increasingly important, given that climate change is likely to have a profound impact on the availability of water supplies,” said Sankar Arumugam, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and lead author of a new study on the work. “This research helps us identify those areas that need the most help, and highlights the types of action that may be best suited to helping those areas.”

The new paper in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, stems from a National Science Foundation-funded, interuniversity research project which focuses on understanding how water sustainability in the United States has changed over the past 30 years because of climate change and population growth.

For this paper, researchers evaluated water use data at the state and county level for the 48 contiguous states. Specifically, the researchers looked at water-use efficiency, measured as per capita consumption, in 5-year increments, from 1985 to 2010.

New Pass Fishing Pier underwater cleanup is a big success!

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Sarasota Bay Watch hosted a cleanup on Saturday June 3, 2017 at Ken Thompson Park in Sarasota and pulled a surprising amount of debris up from the bottom of New Pass. By far the most abundant waste was cast nets coming in at a total of 47!

The City of Sarasota Police Dive Team was an especially valuable partner because they not only provided expert SCUBA divers but also patrolled the area in their boats and kept the divers safe from passing boats. Other partners included the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Marina Jacks, NAUI Green Diver, Scuba Quest dive shop, the City of Sarasota Sustainability Program, Reelcycle, and Aqua Lung.

Scott vetoes spending for citrus canker claims, water projects

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday vetoed $37.4 million to pay for citrus canker judgments along with $15.4 million for local water projects.

Canker is a bacterial disease that blemishes a tree's fruit and can cause it to drop prematurely. To protect Florida's $9 billion dollar citrus industry, more than 16 million trees, including 865,000 residential trees, were destroyed statewide, beginning in 2000.

In his veto letter, Scott said only that he was striking the spending for citrus judgments for Broward and Lee counties because of "ongoing litigation."

Overall, Scott vetoed $410 million from the $82 billion budget. A special session is scheduled for next week to provide funding from the vetoes for education, economic development and the Visit Florida tourism marketing agency.

Less rain in Sarasota means more restrictions on water use

Despite the recent rain, the Southwest Florida Water Management District is restricting water use in the area starting today.

Lawn watering will be limited to once a week, down from the prior twice-a-week permission, until Aug. 1.

Residents can water lawns before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m., per the new regulations, and only on specific days of the week based on their addresses.

Public information officer Susanna Martinez Tarokh said the restrictions went into effect because, technically, the area is in a drought.

Hydrologists with Swiftmud, as the organization is typically known, said there has only been 10 inches of rainfall since Jan. 1 in the 16-county coverage area.

In typical years there is 22.5 inches of rain by June — leaving the region 12.5 inches short for 2017, Martinez Tarokh said.

The tighter regulations could be lifted sooner than the Aug. 1 deadline — pending more rainfall.

USGS study Finds 28 types of cyanobacteria in Florida algal bloom

A new U.S. Geological Survey study that looked at the extensive harmful algal bloom that plagued Florida last year found far more types of cyanobacteria present than previously known.

Twenty-eight species of cyanobacteria were identified in the extensive bloom, which occurred in the summer of 2016 in southern Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie Canal and River, and the Caloosahatchee River. As the guacamole like sludge created by the bloom began to stick together, it formed a thick, floating mat that coated river and coastal waters and shorelines – affecting tourism, killing fish, and in some cases, making people sick.

The culprit causing the bloom was a well-known species of cyanobacteria called Microcystis aeruginosa. However, water samples collected by state and federal agencies before and during the disruptive bloom on Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee waterway were analyzed by the USGS and found to contain 27 other species of cyanobacteria.

New research vessel to impact marine research across Florida

With the crack of two bottles of champagne and the blessing from a local priest, Florida’s newest research vessel, the R/V W.T. Hogarth, was christened and launched for the first-time Tuesday May 23, 2017.

The 78-foot vessel, named after William T. Hogarth, Ph.D, the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s former director and the former dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, will be used to support research efforts by USF, as well as more than two dozen institutions and agencies across Florida.

Legislators worked hard to keep the contract local, and challenged Duckworth Steel Boats of Tarpon Springs with designing and building the ship.

“It was a little different than anything else we’ve worked on, but it means a lot to me because I like to see that the oceans are being taking care of,” said Junior Duckworth, owner of Duckworth Steel Boats.

This fall, the W.T. Hogarth will replace the nearly 50-year old R/V Bellows, by joining the FIO’s academic fleet with an inaugural voyage, undertaking a circumnavigation of Florida’s coast.

Fertilizer restricted season starts June 1

Sarasota County is reminding the community to skip using nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer on your lawn and landscape from June 1 through Sept. 30, as part of fertilizer restricted season.

Enacted in 2007, the restriction protects water quality and natural habitats in creeks, lakes, and marine waters that receive runoff from our stormwater system by reducing the nutrients in stormwater.

According to Sarasota County Environmental Protection Division Supervisor Laura Ammeson, the runoff of nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, contribute to poor water quality. Excessive or improper use of fertilizer in landscapes is a significant source of excess nutrients to local waterways. This excess of nutrients can result in algal blooms and other undesirable conditions.

"Our water resources are one of the reasons that Sarasota County is such a special place to live, so we want to keep the bay blue, not green," added Ammeson.

Sarasota County suggests using iron, manganese, and magnesium to keep your lawn green. In addition, if you keep your grass clippings on your lawn, it will provide fifty percent of the nitrogen your lawn needs and reduce your maintenance activity. Another tip is to keep your grass a little taller than usual, as taller grass develops deeper roots and helps your lawn withstand heat and dry spells.

To learn more about fertilizer restricted season, or for more tips on how to keep the county's waterways healthy, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.

Modified Phase III water shortage restrictions

On Tuesday, May 23, 2017 The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board voted to increase water restrictions throughout the region. The Modified Phase III water shortage affects counties throughout the District’s boundaries including Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter.

Effective Date and Areas

  • The District’s Modified Phase III water shortage restrictions are in effect June 5, 2017 through August 1, 2017, except where stricter measures have been imposed by local governments.
  • These measures currently apply to all of Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties; the portions of Charlotte, Highlands, Lake, Levy, Marion, Polk, and Sumter, within the District’s jurisdiction; and Gasparilla Island (including the portion in Lee County) except as noted below.
  • Some local governments, such as St. Petersburg, have local ordinances with special watering times.
  • Some local governments, such as Sarasota County and Dunedin, have local ordinances with special one-day-per-week schedules.
  • Ocala and most of unincorporated Marion County follows the St. Johns River Water Management District’s water restrictions; however, the City of Dunnellon and The Villages remain under the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s water restrictions.
  • Unincorporated Levy County follows the Suwannee River Water Management District.
  • These restrictions apply to the use of wells and surface sources such as ponds, rivers and canals, in addition to utility-supplied water.

Pace of sea-level rise has tripled since 1990, new study shows

Virtually all 2.5 million Miami-Dade residents live on land that's less than ten feet above sea level. In terms of real-estate assets vulnerable to flooding, Miami is the second most exposed city on Earth, behind only Guangzhou, China. And Miami is basically the poster child for the effects of climate change, because the city has already begun flooding on sunny days.

But now a new study shows the seas are actually rising three times faster as they were in the 1990s.

Using a new satellite technique, the study in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that before 1990, the ocean was rising at a rate of roughly 1.1 millimeter per year. From 1990 to 2012, however, that rate spiked to 3.1 millimeters per year. Though that rate might still seem small, even a rise of a few millimeters worldwide can lead to increased flooding events or more deadly storm surges at an alarming pace.

Importantly, the study's authors claim the new data — first reported by the Washington Post — shows that scientists had previously underestimated how fast the oceans were rising before 1990, before widespread satellite data was available.

Stone crab rebound continues as catch nears 3 million pounds

CORTEZ — The end of stone crab season today marks the second year of a rebound with a harvest of about 3 million pounds of claws valued at $30 million.

“This year, the preliminary data through April was that we’re approaching 2.5 million pounds,” said Ryan Gandy, a research scientist with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in St. Petersburg. “So we’re on track for this season to be pretty close to last year.”

That estimate surprised Karen Bell at the A.P. Bell Fish Company in Cortez. “I think we had a better year this year,” she said. “This was a good year. It was pretty steady. One of the holidays, we didn’t have much — Christmas or New Year’s, I forget which one.”

Bell expects a Monday rush of stone crab fans at her Star Fish Company Dockside Restaurant. “We’re about to do the last batch of stone crab chowder,” she said. “We only do it in season.”

The Florida stone crab season runs from Oct. 15 to May 15. Crabbers string traps up and down the Gulf Coast. When they pull crabs from a trap, they break off the claws, which grow back, and then toss the crabs back into the water.

Bell remembers several lean years for stone crabs. In 2012-13, the catch was 2.1 million pounds. In 2013-14, it fell to a low of 1.9 million pounds. In 2014-15, that number rose to 2.2 million pounds. Last year, it was 3.1 million pounds worth $33.4 million.

Siesta Beach tops Dr. Beach's rankings of best locations in America

Three beaches in Florida made it on a highly coveted list of the top 10 in America this year, ranked by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach."

Siesta Beach in Sarasota took the No. 1 spot while Caladesi Island State Park in Pinellas County landed at No. 7. Grayton Beach State Park in the Panhandle came in at No 4.

Siesta Beach, won the top spot for the second time for its "finest, whitest sand in the world," and its "clear, clean waters along this gently-sloping beach-face" which make it ideal for swimming, according to a press release.

As "Dr. Beach," Leatherman has selected the top 10 beaches every year since 1991. Leatherman, a geoscientist and coastal ecologist at Florida International University, evaluates each beach on more than 50 criteria, including water, sand quality, safety and management. Leatherman's list is internationally known and among the most prestigious awards a beach destination can win, tourism officials say.

Once a beach or destination is ranked No. 1 on Dr. Beach's top lists, it couldn't win it again until Leatherman changed the rules last year. Fort De Soto was No. 1 in 2005. Caladesi Island State Park was named the No. 1 in 2008.

Fertilizer restricted season starts June 1

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SARASOTA COUNTY - Sarasota County is reminding the community to skip using nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer on your lawn and landscape from June 1 through Sept. 30, as part of fertilizer restricted season.

Enacted in 2007, the restriction protects water quality and natural habitats in creeks, lakes, and marine waters that receive runoff from our stormwater system by reducing the nutrients in stormwater.

According to Sarasota County Environmental Protection Division Supervisor Laura Ammeson, the runoff of nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, contribute to poor water quality. Excessive or improper use of fertilizer in landscapes is a significant source of excess nutrients to local waterways. This excess of nutrients can result in algal blooms and other undesirable conditions.

"Our water resources are one of the reasons that Sarasota County is such a special place to live, so we want to keep the bay blue, not green," added Ammeson.

Sarasota County suggests using iron, manganese, and magnesium to keep your lawn green. In addition, if you keep your grass clippings on your lawn, it will provide fifty percent of the nitrogen your lawn needs and reduce your maintenance activity. Another tip is to keep your grass a little taller than usual, as taller grass develops deeper roots and helps your lawn withstand heat and dry spells.

To learn more about fertilizer restricted season, or for more tips on how to keep the county's waterways healthy, visit the link below.