Tag Archives: EPA

Why #SupportJoeNegron ‘s EAA Reservoir? Because it Should Have Already Been Built! SLR/IR

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CEPP, 2000.
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“A1” Reservoir was never built but rather the A1 Flow Equalization Basin instead

In my opinion, one should support Senator Negron’s controversial land purchase to build an EAA Reservoir, because the Reservoir should have already been built. It is a project that has been expected for almost two decades.

A summary–

Due to water quality lawsuits against sugarcane growers, during the 1980s and 90s, the State of Florida had to build six Storm Water Treatment Areas to clean runoff water using Everglades Agricultural Area land, taking valuable sugarcane out of production. (Orange shows STAs) Unfortunately, the industry brought this upon itself as for many years its water runoff had been polluting Everglades National Park and Tribal Lands.

.STA

The problem was so bad, that on top of the Stormwater Treatments Areas, Congress appropriated the beginnings of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Yes, “CERP” has a plan for  “EAA Storage.” A Reservoir, to be the heart of clean water flowing south. (See 4 down left of image below)  CERP (https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/cerp.htm)
image-1-8-17-at-3-50-pm

Ev. Restoration.gov:http://141.232.10.32/pm/projects/proj_08_eaa_phase_1.aspx

At the beginning of CERP it was determined that the Reservoir/s were to be built near Stormwater Treatment Areas between the Miami and New River Canals. Although they tried, the SFWMD and ACOE never got very far building the Reservoir/s and, you’ll notice “EAA Storage” is still listed on the ACOE calendar of projects, scheduled to begin in 2021. (http://evergladesrestoration.gov/content/cepp/meetings/012512/Recap_EAA_Reservoirs.pdf)

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This shows an area of the EAA Reservoir/s proposed between the Miami and New River Canals.

“Why?” You might ask, “didn’t the EAA Reservoir/s get built ?”

ACOE’s IDS or Schedule of Projects: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Integrated-Delivery-Schedule/

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Close up of latest ACOE IDS schedule. EAA Storage in white.

The Reservoir/s did not get built because Gov. Charlie Crist’s proposed an idea of US Sugar’s to purchase all of United States Sugar Corporation’s land. This did not work out, induced a halt to the building of the Reservoir, and caused great discord with the Water Management Districts and the state Legislature.  The Great Recession also made the full purchase very difficult.(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/us/08everglades.html)(http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2009-09-11/news/0909100559_1_everglades-restoration-reservoir-construction-reservoir-project)

Then on top of the US Sugar and the Recession situation, a Federal law suit that had been dragging on for years was settled and really changed things for the Reservoir/s. In 2010, Governor Rick Scott, “negotiated” a long-standing EPA law suit agreeing that the state of Florida would build more water quality projects to clean sugarcane runoff in the EAA that continued to destroy fauna and pollute Everglades National Park. This “fix” became known as “Restoration Strategies.”(https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/restoration-strategies)

Restoration Strategies supplanted CERP’s unfinished EAA Reservoir, building a Flow Equalization Basin instead. Mind you, a shallow treatment area is not a true Reservoir.(https://www.northstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/SFWMD-EAA-A-1-Flow-Equalization-Basin.pdf)

Now for one last thing…

Just recently, in December of 2016, Congress authorized CEPP. CEPP consist of  six components of CERP mentioned earlier. One of CEPP’s components is the “EAA Reservoir.” This sounds great, but….

CEPP, if appropriated, will not build a Reservoir but yet another Flow Equalization Basin to be located right next to Restoration Strategy’s “A1 Flow Equalization Basin.” This new Flow Equalization Basin will be called the “The A2.” (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Central-Everglades-Planning-Project/)

So in conclusion, neither Restoration Strategies nor CEPP will provide the Reservoir that was underway before everything changed in 2008, nor will their water come close to adding up to “a Reservoir.”

Supporting Joe Negron’s land purchase of 60,000 acres is the ground work for building a Reservoir that should have already been built!

#SupportJoeNegron

Support the completion of the EAA Reservoir!

(http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article94667592.html)

  • file-page1.jpgThe ACOE has EAA Storage on their construction schedule for 2021. By 2021 the estuaries will surly be dead.file-page1-2

Dr Duane De Freese, Great New Leadership for the IRL National Estuary Program, SLR/IRL

Duane E. De Freese, Ph.D.(Photo Gulf Base article)
Duane E. De Freese, Ph.D. (Photo Gulf Base article.)
IRL near Vero 2013, (Photo JTL and EL)
IRL near Vero 2013, (Photo JTL and EL)

It is not yet official, as the contract must be negotiated, however, word on the river is that “it’s looking good.” Last Friday, Dr Duane E. De Freese was chosen from an outstanding group of candidates to lead us into what has to be a better Indian River Lagoon future.

Over the years, I have met Dr Duane at Harbor Branch IRL Symposiums and at the Marine Resources Council in Melbourne. I do not know him well, but he always struck me as someone “super cool,” a surfer….someone in the science and business of water… Someone with a smile, an opinion, very smart, politically savvy, not afraid to ask questions, charismatic, with leadership skills, and a person who genuinely cares about the Indian River Lagoon and its creatures.

I think he is a great choice, and I hope the contract is negotiated.

Links about Dr. D.:

Gulf Base: (http://www.gulfbase.org/person/view.php?uid=ddefreese)

Florida Today: (http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2015/08/07/indian-river-lagoon-council-considers-new-director/31306791/)

Hydro-Tech: (http://www.hydropro-tech.com/index.html)

The Indian River Lagoon is one of 28 estuaries nation wide that is in the National Estuary Program. The National Estuary Program was created by the 1987 through amendments  to the Clean Water Act.  Grants are provided to states where governors identify/identified nationally significant estuaries that are threatened by pollution, land development, or overuse. (Sound like home?!)

The National Estuary Program is designed to encourage local communities to take responsibility for managing their own estuaries. Each NEP is made up of representatives from federal, state and local government agencies responsible for managing the estuary’s resources, as well as members of the community — citizens, business leaders, educators, and researchers. These stakeholders work together to identify problems in the estuary, develop specific actions to address those problems, and create and implement a formal management plan to restore and protect the estuary. The Indian River Lagoon program was set up in 1987 and evolved to be mostly overseen by the St John’s River Water Management District. With the new structure that has been emerging  since 2013, the program will still be supported and affiliated with the Water Management Districts but more independent through leadership of the five counties and now cities along the lagoon that have chosen to participate. (SJRWMD) 

"Dr Duane"
“Dr Duane  De Freese ” our new leader for the IRL!

The bottom line is that especially after the crash and burn of the lagoon in 2013, the IRL NEP  is remaking itself,  and will be more able to lobby for funds. This is great, nonetheless, my message all along has been that there is a currency other than money, information. The sharing and caring of organizations and government officials along the lagoon to me is even more important than the money as people are usually divided by money rather than united, especially when competing for it…If the people aren’t bound by a “common good,” things fall apart.

Recent seagrass loss in the central and northern IRL. This came to a head the same time the S IRL was toxic from releases from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. A tipping point...
Recent seagrass loss in the central and northern IRL from the 2011-2013 super-bloom and brown tide. This came to a head the same time the SLR/SIRL was toxic due to discharges from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. A tipping point for the entire lagoon and the IRL NEP.

Thus new leadership must unify the “love of our lagoon” not just “turning dirt and getting projects.” I think Dr Duane De Freese can achieve this!

I am providing links below that give insight into the National Estuary Program (NEP) and a list of the 28 estuaries that are part of the program through the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA).

Thank  you to my dear friend Ann Benedetti of the St Johns River Water Management District who alerted me to this good news, and a huge kudos to the Indian River Lagoon County Collaborative members who have led us to this horizon of hope: Martin County, Commissioner Ed Fielding (Chairman) St. Lucie County, Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky Indian River County, Commissioner Peter D. O’Bryan Brevard County, Commissioner Chuck Nelson; and Volusia County, Commissioner Joshua Wagner.

Most of all, congratulations Dr De Freeze! —“The world is our oyster!!!” 🙂

IRL near Vero/Sebastian 2013. (JTL and  EL)
IRL near Vero/Sebastian 2013. (JTL and EL)

LIST OF NEP PARTICIPANTS IN US

Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program
Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program
Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program
Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program
Casco Bay Estuary Partnership
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program
Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program
Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
Delaware Center for the Inland Bays
Galveston Bay Estuary Program
Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program
Long Island Sound Study
Maryland Coastal Bays Program
Massachusetts Bays Program
Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
Morro Bay National Estuary Program
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program
Peconic Estuary Program
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
Puget Sound Partnership
San Francisco Estuary Partnership
San Juan Bay Estuary Partnership
Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission
Sarasota Bay Estuary Program
Tampa Bay Estuary Program
Tillamook Estuaries Partnership

EPA NEPs:(http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/nep/index.cfm) (http://www.epa.gov/owow/estuaries/nep_home.html)

SJRWMD:(http://floridaswater.com/indianriverlagoon/)

IRL County Collaborative:(http://ap3server.martin.fl.us/web_docs/adm/web/aid_IRL_Collaboratives/aid_Documents_and_Correspondence/RJetton.pdf)

Understanding Point and Non-Point Pollution, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides "run-off" crops during a rain storm. This is an example of non-point pollution. Lynda Betts, United States Dept. of Agriculture. (Photo, public domain.)
Fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides “run-off” crops into a canal during a rain storm. This is an example of “non-point pollution.” Lynda Betts, United States Dept. of Agriculture. (Photo, public domain.)

There are many types of pollution that affect the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon but two words you will hear over and over are “point” and “non-point pollution.” These are important words to understand especially today as we fight to save our rivers.

Point pollution is basically pollution that you can pin-point coming out of a “pipe.” Point pollution is associated with industry. For instance, a waster water treatment plant that has a pipe releasing into the river is point pollution. In the late 1800s and early 1900s some residences, businesses and industries just let their pollution and or sewage go directly into the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. Yuk!

This practice improved with the advent of sewer systems, septic and organized cities but there were/are still direct pipes releasing very unclean water until very recently. Recognizing the impacts of discharges from wastewater treatment plants, the Florida Legislature passed the Indian River Act (Chapter 90-262) in 1990 requiring waste water treatment plants to cease discharging their effluent, somewhat processed poop,  into the lagoon. Because it was easy to pinpoint exactly where these industrial wastewater points are/were located, it is fairly easy to regulate them.

The lagoon and we have befitted from the Indian River Act 90-262 but we still have problems.

Non-point pollution, unlike point source pollution,  is pollution that is hard to pin-point because it is coming from “everywhere.” On average it rains 50 inches each year along the Treasure Coast. Highways, parking lots, people’s yards, leaky septic tanks, and agriculture all combine to create a cocktail of oils, heavy metals, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, viruses, bacteria and other pollutants that run from flowing rain water into area canals and then straight into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

To complicate things more, cities and counties can regulate residential  applications (for instance many have recently passed strict fertilizer ordinance outlawing the use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer application during rainy season,) but cities are not allowed  to regulate agriculture even if is located in their city or county.

Agriculture is exempt from such laws. Agriculture is regulated and overseen by the Florida Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture recognizing the need to abate fertilizer and chemical runoff does promote “best management practices,” helping farmers work to lower phosphorus and nitrogen runoff but this is voluntary and not required. Most farmers do comply but it is not easy to judge and measure so agriculture runoff continues to significantly add to river pollution across our nation and state as we know from our C-44 canal that dumps mostly agriculture basin runoff into our rivers.

You will often hear people say, “We must stop pollution at the source!” This is a good idea and our state and federal agencies are doing it with point source pollution but not with non-point source pollution.

Perhaps one day every yard and every agriculture field will have to take a portion of their land to hold rain runoff so the pollutants seep into the earth before they go to our waterways? Perhaps one day the Department of Environmental Protection and the US Environmental Protection Agencies will become more hard-core rather than coming up with programs like TMDLs and BMP–Total Maximum Daily Loads for phosphorus and nitrogen and Basin Management Action Plans, because although those will help over time, like 30 years, we don’t seem to have a lot of time left.

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Point Source Pollution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_source_pollution)
Non Point Pollution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonpoint_source_pollution)
Best Management Practices (http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/agriculture/bmps.html)
TMDL/BMAPS FDEP (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl/)
IRL Study Guide, pg. 11 Point/Non Point Pollution: (http://t.co/LqUx4eqxS1)

A Report on the MRC’s “Lagoon Action Assembly” for the Indian River Lagoon

FIT In Melbourne is where the Marine Resources Lagoon Action Assembly was held.
FIT-Florida Tech, in Melbourne, is where the Marine Resources Council’s “Lagoon Action Assembly” was held. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014)

From what I understand, there had not been a “lagoon assembly” for seventeen years. The last assembly had been the genesis of the Indian River Lagoon’s National Estuary Program, NEP,  that is linked to the US Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA).

NEP/See IRL link)  (http://www.epa.gov/owow/estuaries/nep_home.html)

The IRL NEP, over the years, became linked and partially funded by the St Johns River Water Management District. Just recently there is gossip of “change” and major positions in the NEP have been “rearranged.”

Article: NEP Structure/Funding Changes: (http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20140515/NEWS/140519632?p=all&tc=p)

In all honestly, this change was not discussed much at the IRL Assembly this past weekend, but it will affect the assembly either  way.

Thank you  to the Marine Resources Council, MRC, located in Melbourne, Brevard County, three counties north of Martin, also along the lagoon, who decided to take on the challenge of organizing the “IRL Action Assembly” for 2014. Dr Leesa Souto oversaw this enormous goal involving up to 100 delegates.

I was invited to attended the meeting and I thought I would give a short summary of my experience.

So, I went up Thursday evening to the “Lagoon House,” the home of the Marine Resources Council; there were introductions, and the primary speaker was Wayne Mills who spoke on the history and present of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Although the US’ largest estuary, Chesapeake Bay, remains terribly polluted, they are making calculable progress and have even been sued by the state of Florida and others because the foundation’s research is leading the way in limiting agricultural and other pollution into waterbodies, a frightening and expensive prospect for the states.

The following day, we met at Florida Tech, on a beautiful campus and a beautiful day. We gathered in the old lecture hall like students, under the eye of the periodic table, and listened to speakers: Virginia Barker, Brevard conservation; Dr Grant Gilmore, fish studies/habitats; Adam Schaefer, sickness in IRL dolphins, HBOI ; Dr Leesa Souto, MRC; Dr Charles Jacoby, seagrass loss, SJRWMD; Robert Weaver, FIT inlets/flushing; and Dr John Trefry, general lagoon health demise. Their presentations were excellent and disturbing.  The most interesting new piece of information for me came from Ms Barker’s statistics on how much groundwater goes into and affects the IRL along with surface water runoff. According to Ms Baker, groundwater holds pollutants that build up from the land, like fertilizers and septic seepage, and often tremendous amounts of salt. She says most canals are cut so deep in Brevard County that the groundwater is constantly “pulled up” and flowing back into the IRL.

Then they split us into groups. In my “A Group” were Dr Edie Widder, ORCA;  Matt Thorton, Syngenta; Ed Garland, SJRWMD communication; Jeff Beals, FFWC/SJRWMD; Tim Zorc, IRC Commissioner; Dr Jan Landsberg, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission; Mike Merrifield, Wild Ocean Seafood Market, Titusville; and Carol Nobel, Cocoa Beach, Brevard County.

Classic “Dr George” from FIT was our facilitator and  two young and “wanting to please”  students were our scribes. We sat in a circle facing each other, tasks with “saving the lagoon.”

The group was led through a series of questions and then we had to address two of four topics: septic tanks; drainage canals; agricultural lands; and residential lands. After excruciating conversation, we addressed two topics: septic and ag lands. We wrote our outcomes on large pieces of paper to share with the other nine groups later on. This took two days and we also dealt with more questions and concepts. It was overwhelming and the task makes one realize the difficulty of the situation.

MRC IMG_4368

When we all reconvened in the lecture room we read each others sheets and voted on which ones we would support. At this point the MRC is compiling these goals and will summarize and prioritize consensus actions for the assembly.

I don’t know if the assembly will be able to save the IRL but I sure they will provide direction. Every time I attend these type of meetings I meet wonderful people, people who want to save the lagoon as much as I do from different backgrounds and areas than myself.

I really liked and learned from the people in my group.  As usual,  I felt like the “Good Lord and Universe” were on my side in that Dr Jan Landsberg was in my group.

Dr Landsberg is THE  person who has overseen the marine mammals deaths of manatees for the IRL and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. She operates out of St Pete. Speaking to her at lunch I learned how low their funding is and how they have been dealing with the 150 plus dead, bleeding from the nose and eyes, manatees that have come into their agency in the past year mostly from Brevard County.

“The seagrass is completely gone, right? ” I asked.” Why are the manatees still up here? What are they eating?”

Jan replied, ” they are eating drift algae and some of that algae is toxic…”

“Gulp.”

Also, at lunch I learned from Dr Eddie Widder that once a waterbody is “seeded” with toxic algae it is forever there, in the sediments and soils. It never goes away. You could lessen it by removing muck but the seeds/spores will always be somewhere. She also mentioned, while eating her salad, that the pharmaceuticals people take also end up in the lagoon…

“Pass the ketchup, please.”

Mike Merrifeld, Titusville, who runs a seafood business told me he had seen my photos of the southern lagoon debacle last year, and “his” fishermen believe the pollution went up the Gulf Stream from the St Lucie Inlet and has majorly affecting fishing/shrimping productivity in the Brevard area. I believe him.

“I’m not really hungry anymore….”

So in the end, we must join together and force the US EPA and the FL DEP to do their job. And we too must do everything we can ourselves to save the IRL. Because one thing is for sure, “we are killing it.”

With the hope of the Chesapeake Bay model, goals from the Action Assembly and an infuriated public, our policy makers can no longer hide and must rise to create policy that many will not like, but of which all will benefit, in that our grandchildren, just might be able to fish and swim, or see a manatee or dolphin, in a beautiful Indian River Lagoon.

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Marine Resources Council: (http://www.mrcirl.org)