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

Water-Related News

As pollution plagues Florida lakes, state spends millions to manage invasive plants

Florida’s new state budget includes millions for invasive aquatic plant management, like a collective $3.2 million to reduce unwanted vegetation in Lake Tohopekaliga and East Lake Toho in Osceola County. Both those lakes, like most in Central Florida, are polluted enough to fail state and federal water quality standards, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

In fact, Florida ranks first for how many acres of its lakes are classified as “impaired” for swimming and aquatic life: 80%, according to the Environmental Integrity Project.

At Lakes Toho, mercury and high concentrations of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus are polluting the water. At Lake Apopka in Orange County, nitrogen and phosphorus are also a problem, along with pesticides found in fish tissue.

Venice reassures residents about PFAS compounds in drinking water

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The City’s Drinking Water and PFAS

What are PFAS? Per-and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS), also commonly known as “forever chemicals,” are byproducts of the manufacturing processes used to make non-stick items, waterproofing, and stain-resistant products. They are also found in firefighting foam. The major concern is that these compounds are being found in water sources near manufacturing plants and firefighter academies. Medically, exposure to PFAS over long periods of time can increase the risk of thyroid cancer, weaken childhood immunity, and other ailments.

What does this mean for public drinking water systems?

Public water systems will have three years to complete the initial monitoring requirements. They must inform the public of the level of PFAS measured in their drinking water and they must implement solutions to reduce PFAS in their drinking water to levels below the standards within five years. Currently, there are readily available solutions on the market now – granulated activated carbon, ion-exchange, and reverse-osmosis. The City Currently uses Reverse Osmosis to treat your drinking water.

What is the Utilities Department doing regarding PFAS?

The City of Venice is committed to providing meaningful information to address potential concerns to its customers related to PFAS, the forever chemicals. The information provided below is intended to explain some of the important background information needed to understand specific actions the Utilities Department has been taking to address PFAS and other recent news related to PFAS.

In 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) began to consider regulating these compounds in drinking water as part of their required Unregulated Contaminant Testing program. In this program, utilities are required to test their water for groups of contaminants that the EPA is considering creating rules and monitoring levels for. Recently the EPA has passed directives for all municipalities to begin testing cycles for 6 PFAS compounds and have set maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for each. States have the option to accept these levels or to set ones for themselves that are lower and thus more restrictive.

The Venice Utilities Department has been closely monitoring all of these coming changes for years. We tested our drinking water as required during EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR)-3 testing cycle in 2013. We again tested our drinking water going to our customers and the raw water coming into the Water Treatment Plant in 2020 to have updated results to share with customers. During both testing events the levels of PFAS in our drinking and raw water were found to be below detectable limits (BDL). BDL means that the levels of PFAS were below the outside laboratories’ ability to detect any contaminants in the water with currently available technology.

Sarasota County to host public meeting on climate-related flood, storm surge study

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SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County residents are invited to a July 23 public meeting to learn the findings of a study focused on the threat flooding and sea level rise could pose to county assets.

The meeting will showcase highlights from the county’s Vulnerability Assessment and Resilience analysis, a state-funded project to look at public infrastructure and identify possible projects aimed at reducing risks and potential funding avenues.

“By planning for these vulnerabilities, we aim to enhance the resilience of our coastal systems and infrastructure, to safeguard our economy and reduce future costs,” said Sara Kane, sustainability and resilience manager with Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability.

Sarasota County features miles of coastline and waterways that attract and benefit residents, visitors and businesses alike. Officials here, as in many other coastal areas, are working to safeguard these social and economic benefits against the risks posed by flooding, sea level rise, storm surges and other climate-related stressors.

Part of that effort has included completing the vulnerability study, launched in 2023 and funded through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Resilient Florida grant program.

Attendees can join the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. meeting in person or online to learn key study findings, including focus area priorities—such as locations where flooding or storm surge threaten a wide range of buildings and other infrastructure—and explore adaptation strategies. The meeting also will offer information about the Resilient Florida program.

The in-person meeting is set for the Sarasota County Extension office at Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota, with light refreshments available. Learn more and register to attend—in person or online—at www.eventbrite.com/e/916573133917.

For more information, visit Source: Sarasota County »

State of Florida updates stormwater regulations

Governor Ron DeSantis signs updates to Florida stormwater regulations.

Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis signed SB7040 which updates environmental statutes with a number of standards recommended by the Department of Environmental protection.

The signed legislation lays out regulations that developers must comply with. Applicants seeking permits from the state must provide information through designs and plans that meet performance standards as well as meet other requirements under the revised rules.

Applicants must also demonstrate compliance with the rule’s performance standards by providing reasonable assurance through modeling, calculations, and supporting documentation that satisfy the provisions of the revised rules.5

According to an article, the legislation sets new minimum standards for stormwater treatment systems. It requires that they achieve at least an 80% reduction of the average annual post-development total suspended solids load, or a 95% reduction if the proposed project is located within an area with a watershed that contains Outstanding Florida Waters (OWF) or one located upstream.

The bill also clarifies provisions relating to grandfathered projects, or projects that have started before the bill was signed.

The bill also states that entities implementing stormwater best management practices also regulated under different provisions of the law are not subject to duplicate inspections for the same practices, and allows alternative treatment standards for redevelopment projects in areas with impaired waters.

These updated regulations come weeks after DeSantis singed the state budget that cut about $205 million in stormwater, wastewater and sewer projects.