Tag Archives: DEP

A Commissioner of Environmental Protection; A New Day, Voting Florida’s Environment a Seat at the Table

Sunrise St. Lucie River 1-29-16, John Whiticar.

A new day could dawn for Florida, should Constitution Revision Commission proposal #24 go on the 2018 ballot. This ballot initiative would allow the electorate to vote for  a “Commissioner of Environmental Protection.”

I sponsored this idea, an idea brought to the CRC’s attention by two speakers during the public hearing process, as well as by public proposal #700012, submitted by Mr. Gamez.

Formally expressed Proposal #24 reads:

“A proposal to amend Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV and create a new section in Article XII of the State Constitution to establish the office of Commissioner of Environmental Protection as a statewide elected officer, to provide duties of the commissioner, and to include the commissioner as a member of the Cabinet.”

Full Proposal #24: (http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024/ProposalText/Filed/HTML)

Why do I support this idea? Because it is my job as a commissioner to get some of the thousands of public ideas before the CRC, and because I believe the “time is now” for the Environment to have a seat at the table with other cabinet positions.

Yes, environmental protection of natural resources must rise to the top of state priorities just as the state’s oldest and number two economic driver, agriculture, has.  Our Natural Resources must be represented in the Florida Cabinet. This year, the Florida Chamber reports that Florida’s population, now at 20,000,000 will reach 26,000,000 by 2030, in just twelve years! It is tourism that is Florida’s number one economic driver. Much of this success  is  based on the beauty and quality of our beaches, rivers, and springs, and natural lands. We all know, growing incidences of algae blooms in lakes, springs, and rivers, some in areas of natural lands,  is not good for tourism.

For best image: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/government/storgchart.aspx

Let’s look at Florida government’s present hierarchy having to do with natural resources and discuss why it should be changed. The state’s present organizational chart shows a Commissioner of Agriculture as a cabinet position just under and to the right the Governor; a Fish and Wildlife Commission, and a  Department of Environmental Protection, as executive agencies under the executive branch of the Governor;  and the Water Management Districts in the lowest tier as  local government. Interestingly, the Water Management Districts are attached by a dotted line to the Department of Environmental Protection noting at “unique relationship.” This is qualified by the following sentence: “Water management districts have individual governing boards but the Department of Environmental Protection may exercise general supervisory authority over water management districts (s. 373.026(7), Florida Statutes).”

The Fish and Wildlife Commission much more independent, but the Water Management Districts are not. Because Water Management Districts levy taxes from citizens as a special district one must be cognizant  so that they not become “arm of the state.” But what would be even worse would be if the Water Management Districts were not answering to the people they tax…

Hmmmm?

It is time to have a “lead agency.” An agency that can answer to the people.

Let’s discuss leadership. Right now there is no clear environmental protection leader. For instance, in my opinion, for a citizen trying to get answers about why our environment is falling apart the Water Management Districts are pointing in one direction; the Department of Water Quality for the Commissioner of Agriculture’s Best Management Practices is pointing in another; and because the present Department of Environmental Protection is at the whim of politics of every new administration; they are weak, and afraid to lead. With every new governor the pendulum swings. The DEP is unable to fulfill its mission as the state’s lead agency of environmental protection.

And all the while our environment keeps falling apart…

On a personal note, for years, here in South Florida, I complained about the demise of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and surrounding environment and pushed for more action on behalf of the South Florida Water Management District.  After years of head nods, I was finally told by a Governing Board member that the District’s number one priority is not water quality, but flood control and that I should be speaking to DEP.

“Why didn’t you tell me that earlier,” I exclaimed.

When I contacted Department of Environmental Protection their response was lackadaisical noting that many entities of the state oversee water quality and environmental issues. For instance, Best Management Practices for Agriculture, and the complicated DEP Basin Management Action Plans/Total Maximal Daily Loads in coordination with the Water Management Districts, and all local governments including cities, counties, villages…

“But who is in charge?” I asked? “The St Lucie River has been labeled “impaired” by your agency since 2002. Why was it allowed to get that bad in the first place and why is it continuing to get worse?”

Again I asked, ” Who is in charge?”

There was silence…

I thought to myself,  “No wonder the Department of Environmental Protection is sometimes  referred to as the agency of “Don’t Expect Protection.” No wonder every year more of the state’s waters are reported as “impaired.” No wonder D.E.P., Agriculture, and the Water Districts collude to extend the Basin Management Action Plan deadlines instead of getting more serious about the detrimental ramifications of non-point pollution for the people.

Enough is enough. The time is now to give voters the opportunity to vote for a  Commissioner of Environmental  Protection and finally have a seat at the table.

This homemade chart shows a Commissioner of Environmental Protection being created from the present Dept. of En. Pro.

Proposal #24

The commissioner of environmental protection shall have
   63  supervision of matters pertaining to environmental protection
   64  that the Department of Environmental Protection or its successor
   65  agency and water management districts are required or authorized
   66  by law to implement and administer.

Full text:  (http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024/ProposalText/Filed/HTML)

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Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner; *this proposal will go before the Executive Committee sometime in December or January. If it gets through that committee it will have to make it through both General Provisions and Ethics and Elections.  You can support or voice concerns about this proposal by first writing the Executive here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/EX/

Follow here: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024 

Find all committees here:http://flcrc.gov/Committees

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

Links:

Commissioner of Agriculture/Dept of WQ: Best Management Practices: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Business-Services/Water/Agricultural-Best-Management-Practices

Department of Environmental Protection: https://floridadep.gov

Florida’s Water Management Districts: https://floridadep.gov/water-policy/water-policy/content/water-management-district

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission: http://myfwc.com

Florida Chamber Water: (http://www.flchamber.com/advocacy/issues/water-solutions/)

Florida Chamber Tourism: (Tourism:http://www.flchamber.com/advocacy/issues/tourism/)

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Recent pictures of our Florida environment  that are NOT  good for tourist!

Alan Youngblood, Florida Springs, -when too much water is taken from the aquifer by permitted users it affects the health of Florida’s springs, 2013.
St Lucie River, toxic algae bloom brought into river from discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Best Management Practices and Basin Management Action Plans are not working fast enough. Tourism suffered in Martin County by millions of dollars in lost revenue and health issues for local citizens. 2016, JTL
Algae pouring in from Lake Okeechobee to St Lucie River at S-80—this water comes mostly  from polluted Central Florida waters; obviously DEP’s environmental protection is not working. 2016.

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Learn about:

THE FLORIDA CABINET

http://cabinet.myflorida.com

In 1998 the Constitutional Revision Commission proposed a rewrite of Article IV, Section IV of the Florida Constitution that reduced the Florida Cabinet from six elected officials to three. Effective January 7, 2003, the Florida Cabinet consists of the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer and the Commissioner of Agriculture. The Cabinet offices of Secretary of State and Commissioner of Education became appointed offices and their respective agencies became the responsibility of the Governor. The revised constitution also created a new State Board of Education with seven members appointed by the Governor to oversee the Department of Education. The Cabinet offices of Treasurer and Comptroller were merged into the new position of Chief Financial Officer who serves as agency head for the newly created Department of Financial Services.

 

Florida, The Greatest Real Estate Development in the World, Unless…SLR/IRL

This 1925 Florida News Real Estate Investor’s Guide, reminds us exactly how developers saw Florida in 1925, “as the greatest real estate development in the world!”

Sure, Florida remains perhaps “the greatest real estate development in the world,” unless of course, our waters are, “now and then,” filled with toxic algae.

Let’s hope that the Florida Memory Project’s future timeline will not reflect that our generation allowed the destruction of the greatest real estate market in the world because we thought we had more time that we really did…

https://www.floridamemory.com/exhibits/timeline/

Department of Environmental Protection: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/bmap.htm

Florida Department of Agriculture, Best Management Practices: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Business-Services/Water/Agricultural-Best-Management-Practices

Florida Water Management Districts: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/watman/

Community gets primer on toxic algae | Clay Today, 8-30-17
http://www.claytodayonline.com/stories/community-gets-primer-on-toxic-algae,8268

JTL 9-1-17

Drowning in Our Own Human-Excrement-Fertilizer, SLR/IRL

Public image, human waste to biosolids-fertilizer, 2017

Today is June 1st, the beginning of the fertilizer ban in Martin County, especially Sewall’s Point that goes through November.

It was Mr Gary Roderick who worked for Martin County that first taught me about Biosolids, or “fertilizer” made from all of our human waste. It was Gary who taught me about the business of spreading this on the lands, the state basically paying farmers to do so, and how no matter how hard we all worked, no matter a reservoir and water sent south or not, the truth of the matter is that  we just keep over-nutrifying and polluting the land and thus our waters  just as fast as we can try to fix them.

On Sunday , May 27th, 2017 TCPalm ran an article by Lucas Daprile, part of an outstanding series they are doing on this issues. The article begins: “The state plans to allow a massive farm (Sunbreak Farms) on the St Lucie/Indian River County line to annually fertilize its cornfields with 80,000 tons of compost comprised of one-fourth treated human waste.”

Chances are the Department of Environmental Protection will approve this because “it’s safe”…as they have for decades.

This waste-made-fertilizer should be shipped and sold to areas outside of the state that do not have the nutrient issues we do in here Florida –not spread in watersheds that drain into Lake Okeechobee and the Indian River Lagoon.

Drowning in our human excrement? You’ve got to be kidding me.

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St Lucie County Commission Meeting on this issue “Sunbreak Farm’s Permit”

6pm, June 6th, 2017, 23000 Virginia Ave, 3rd Floor, Ft Pierce, Florida

 

Useful links/and some articles where Gary Roderick is quoted:

Nutrient Pollution in waterways: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutrient_pollution

http://digital.ecomagazine.com/publication/?i=327714#{“issue_id”:327714,”view”:”contentsBrowser”} – September 2016 – Just scroll down to the Toxic Algae article…..

http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/2016/05/20/sludge-also-sickening-lagoon/83874988/

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article95442427.html

http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/investigations/2017/02/07/biosolids-pollute-florida-watersheds/97443714/

……Latest TCPalm series:

http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/investigations/2017/04/26/bill-gates-foundation-backs-janicki-bioenergy/99452498/

http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/investigations/2017/04/26/human-waste-dumped-near-florida-springs-video/99166202/

http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/investigations/2017/04/26/biosolids-disposal-solutions/99744306/

References to understand biosolid production and distribution and effects on water and the environment:

http://www.synagro.com

https://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/biosolids.html

https://fwrj.com/techarticles/0611%20tech4.pdf

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss634

https://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wastewater/dom/docs/BiosolidsFlorida-2013-Summary.pdf

“Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the United States generate approximately
7 million dry tons of biosolids each year. Since biosolids are rich in plant nutrients, farmers, landscapers, and homeowners use about 50 percent of the annual production of biosolids as fertilizer for plants. Biosolids must meet standards for nutrient, metal, and pathogen content before it can be used to fertilize plants and to improve the quality of soil. Because a variety of pharmaceuticals and other household chemicals have been found in the wastewater discharged from WWTPs, questions have been raised about the presence of these chemicals in biosolids. To help answer the questions the scientists purchased or obtained nine different commercially or publicly available biosolids and analyzed them for 87 organic chemicals found in cleaners, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and other products.” USGS

Toxic Algae bloom washes up along the shoreline, St Lucie River, Riverside Drive, Stuart, Florida. (Photo Jenny Flaugh, 7-13)

Previous blog on this subject:https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/biosolid-distribution-south-florida/

Flight Over the St Lucie Inlet Shows Rain Plume is NOT a Lake O Plume, SLR/IRL


Link to flight video 5-7-17: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtzSmGVy790

IMG_0049.JPG
5-7-17: Hutchinson Island along the Atlantic Ocean and confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, blue waters, seagrass not yet revived from 2013 and 2016 Lake O discharges. Photo Ed Lippisch
​My husband’s flight yesterday over the Atlantic Ocean, St Lucie Inlet, and St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is beautiful. But look carefully and you will see a light-colored brownish plume at the mouth of the St Luice Inlet entering the ocean. Finally after months of drought, it has begun raining. And when it rains… (mind you C-44 connecting the St Lucie River to Lake Okeechobee is closed now)  the re-directed run-off of waters from canals C-23, and C-24 of course still flow into our St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon.

These canals organized and built during the 1950s and 60s are part of the Central and South Florida Flood Project that the Army Corp built following the hurricane and extensive south Florida flooding of 1949. The run-off waters from these canals and the local watershed are what you see in today’s video.

As damaging as C-23 and C-24 are (they too must be reworked and redirected) they are not the damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee that throw the St Lucie over the brink as in 2013 and especially 2016 when toxic algae covered extensive portions of the entire St Lucie.

(Photo mosaic from 2016 shows various photos by Dr Scott Kuhns, Rebecca Fatzinger, (wildlife)  JTL/Ed Lippisch, pilot Dave Stone and others.)

In spite of the light brown plume, the short video flight from Jensen to Peck’s Lake shows blue waters near the inlet and mouth of the estuary as it should be, not black water. If Governor Scott does not veto the budget, the reservoir in years to come will help offset the Lake Okeechobee destruction and open the way to truly “send the water south.” #ThankyouJoeNegron

This is very exciting, but believe me, this is no time to let down your guard, as the fight for control of Florida’s waters has really just begun.

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Reef system off Sailfish point is covered in black water, sediment, and nutrient pollution when Lake O is discharging. Here after months of drought, and finally some rains we can see the reefs. 5-7-17, Photo Ed Lippisch
Map SFWMD showing canals and basins. Note S-308 or structure s-308 at Lake O and S-80 down the C-44 canal AKA the St Lucie Canal. Both of these structures have to open to allow water to flow into the C-44 canal to the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon. All canals are destructive to the St Lucie/IRL yet it is C-44’s Lake O that puts the St Lucie system in complete and total overload.
DEP C-23:http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf

DEP C-24: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf

DEP C-44 St Lucie Canal connected to Lake O: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf

photo 1 EF reservoir
Slide 1. (Dr Thomas Van Lent, Everglades Foundation, 2015) Reservoir will be located below #1, A-2 area.

Looking Out for Ourselves, Landsat Satellite Photos of Lake O’s Algae Blooms, SLR/IRL

 

FullSizeRender
Landsat satellite photo of Lake Okeechobee 7-26-16.

I believe in not being dependent on the federal or state government, but what recently happened along the St Lucie River is ridiculous…

In the months following the June 29th, 2016 “State of Emergency”and toxic algae bloom invasion of the St Lucie River, one thing is clear. Our federal and state governments did not look out for Martin County’s best interests, instead knowlingly discharging toxic algae from the lake into the communities along the St Lucie River— with out so much as “public-peep”— until real tragedy and helath risks had struck. Then suddenly, it was like: “Oh my, where did all this algae come from?”

Well, it happened knowingly because the state and federal government (ACOE/SFWMD/ DEP/ Florida Dept of Health) knew Lake Okeechobee was not “popping” here and there with a few algae blooms as is often the case, but rather was”covered in the stuff.”

By July 2nd commonly distributed government satellite images, like the one above, were showing over 200 square miles of algae bloom that obviously had to grow over time to attain such prominance.

Anyway…the least “they” could have done was to have given the public fair warning to be careful and ready as is standard operating proceedure during a drought when wild-fire conditions are present.

But they did not.

Instead, the Department of Environmental Protection quietly took its tests, reporting to the District and the Army Corp– at their leisure— the few results they attained…They should have warned the county government of more than a bloom here and there. They should have told everyone that a dangerous situation was getting ready to occur. But they did not. Maybe they thought it wouldn’t  happen? I doubt it. This is true negligence considering the first duty of government is health, saftey and welfare of the people it levies taxes from…

Thus today, I am sharing a brief exchange between my very technically-savvy brother, attorney, Todd Thurlow, and me, from earlier this week. Todd’s shared images will help us look out for ourselves. Thankfully, the recent Landsat satellite images of Lake Okeechobee, for now, look much clearer of algae than just a few months ago.

The link below the exchange will allow you see the satellite images of the lake over time, dates are also present:

Jacqui

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7-27-16 Email exchange:

Jacqui: Do the satellite images show any more algae in the lake? J

Todd: I might see some in the southwest quadrant but not definitive. As mentioned before, unfortunately, Landsat 7 has a broken instrument that causes the black lines on the image.

Todd

7-26-16:
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/index.html#LE70150412016208EDC01%2520-%2520Crop.jpg)

Full Resolution:
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/LE70150412016208EDC01%20-%20Crop.jpg)

Lake Event 2016, “Worse than a Third World Country,” May-SLR/IRL

Front page Stuart News 5-27-16
Front page Stuart News 5-27-16 by Tyler Treadway.
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Today I have posted pictures from the front page of the Stuart News, and I am also providing Dr Gary Goforth’s “Lake Event Update” for May 2016. This report gives an update on nutrient, sediment, and polluting fresh water loads into the St Lucie Estuary from Lake  Okeechobee.  Numbers from Lake O are at/or close to “Lost Summer “2013 levels now.

Today, the ACOE reports Lake Okeechobee at 14.38 feet – a very high level going into hurricane/rainy season beginning June 1st.

(http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml )

Thus the Army Corp of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District, with the knowledge of other state agencies and entities such as the Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Legislature, and the Governor will be opening the flood gates to begin releasing more water from the lake today.

Cyanobacteria of toxic levels (as determined by the World Health Organization) is now reported in the lake and canals leading to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This is a fresh water bloom and as the estuary becomes more fresh from lake releases the bloom will be able to survive throughout the river and estuary.  I do not understand how this is legal in spite of the safety issues of the dike. The federal government in cooperation with our state government is knowingly releasing toxic algae into our waterways –Worse than a third world country.

Jacqui

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CONDITIONS REPORT, DR GARY GOFORTH

SLR/IRL conditions report, Dr Gary Goforth 5-26-16 http://garygoforth.net
With poor water quality conditions in the Lake, the nutrient and sediment loads to the River/Estuary have already exceeded the 2013 Lake event. Feeding the bloom …

Since January 30, 2016:
Nitrogen – more than 1.6 million pounds
Phosphorus – more than 190,000 pounds
Sediment – more than 34 million pounds

Average flow – more than a billion gallons per day …

 

(Please click on slides to enlarge.)

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Update-Flows South and Comparisons to Previous Lake Events, 2-24-16 SLR/IRL

Dr Gary Goforth has been kind enough to update his “Flows South Comparison”report. I posted his previous one just this week on 2-22-16. His most recent comparison is included below in slide format. Please click on the slides to enlarge and view information.

The numbers are staggering.

At this point, more than 171,000 acre feet (55.99 billion gallons) of Lake Okeechobee water (blackwater) has been dumped to the river/estuary during just the first 26 days of the 2016 Lake releases; this is equal to 41% of the entire 2013 releases and 16% of the 1997/98 El Nino event. …

We are in for a very difficult, long year of discharges for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon; and they have more than likely “just begun.” We must remain updated, educated, and vocal —and documenting–take photos share what you see. Last night I was told there are dead fish in the area of Sailfish Marina. If you see such a thing take a photo and post it or send it to me with location etc….(jthurlow@me.com) Also continue contacting our state and federal partners and advocating that land be purchased south of the lake to offset these type of events. We shall and are turning this Titanic.

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SUMMARY SLIDES:

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Dr Gary Goforth: http://www.garygoforth.net

JTL blog 2-22-16: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2016/02/22/summary-of-lake-releases-for-2016-compared-to-2013-and-the-last-big-el-nino-event-1997-1998-slrirl/

DEP report 2-25-16 : http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLDEP/bulletins/1389c24