Here you will find FOLA news and events that happened more than a year ago. We will be adding to these as we go along.
SJRWMD approves temporary Apopka discharge limit
PALATKA, Fla., Dec. 14, 2010 -- To reduce the effects of a drought and continue to improve water quality in Lake
Apopka, the St. Johns River Water Management District's Governing Board today approved temporarily eliminating
discharges of water through the Apopka-Beauclair and Burrell locks and dams in Lake County.
The Board approved a five-month test measuring the effect of reducing discharges on lake levels in the Harris Chain and Lake Apopka by reducing the discharge at Apopka-Beauclair from 23 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 0 cfs and changing the minimum discharge at Burrell from 28 cfs to 0 cfs.
Central Florida is in the early stages of a drought and the winter forecast is for lower than average rainfall. Holding more water back in Lake Apopka is expected to keep the lake's level higher than it otherwise would be, which is expect to positively impact water quality.
"This change means that water levels in lakes Apopka, Harris, Eustis, Beauclair and Dora should not fall as low as they would at normal minimum flows," said Dave Walker, District program manager for the Lake Apopka and Upper Ocklawaha River basins. "The flows at Lake Griffin will drop slightly lower than normal, but this will be temporary."
FOLA Public Meeting Well Attended
Winter Garden, FL March, 2010
We had a great meeting last Thursday evening with a real good turn-out. I was elected Grand Poobah again and I want you to know, I will do the best I can but really need your help. I am going to make it as easy as possible and I hope you will respond the best way you can when we need help.
We have been successful in years past because we had solid numbers of people who understood the issues and who respond to the right agency or politician when asked to do so. We have a good reputation with the agencies and we need to keep it. Our membership drive is going very well and we are still getting member renewals.
We probably don’t need to meet every month so I am going to try every other month or special called meetings if we need them. We will not meet this month because we met last Thursday and here are the meeting dates for 2010 for your calendars:
All meetings start at 5:00 P.M. and are held at Oakland Nature Preserve. I will call special meetings if we need them and we will always communicate by email or telephone. If you have issues, don’t hesitate to contact the board. The Advisory Board is invited to all our meetings and I hope you will plan to attend when possible.
Our job is a very important one in this major restoration. You have all heard me say “When we have a biological problem with a political solution, educated, active citizens are critical to the solution.” We need more participation from each of you. We have three openings for board members. Please recommend anyone you know who might serve. We also need to expand our Advisory Board so help us find interested members.
We still have several issues we need to keep in front of the public. Including the outrageous report by Harris Chain Advisory Council, future attempts to withdraw water from the lake, our proposed trail around the lake, duck hunters and many others.
Keep in touch,
PCEC Rally For The Rivers A Big Success
Palatka, FL Feb 17, 2010
The weather was certainly less than inviting but in spite of that we had a very successful Rally. It’s not much of a fundraiser but certainly provides us with an opportunity to interact in a fun and profitable way with our so called opponents. Each year we get more and more cooperation from local businesses, the City of Palatka, and individuals; each year they catch onto a bit more of the vision PCEC has for Putnam County’s future.
We enjoyed a standing room only crowd at the Senate Hearing which ran very smoothly. Comments from the Governor’s DEP Legislative Liaison were glowing regarding the appropriate comments, articulate speakers and the organized civility. Our workshop Friday afternoon was full as was the book signing event on Friday night that premiered “Ditch of Dreams.” Saturday’s event on the Riverfront was moderately attended but turned out a far larger crowd than we expected due to the chilly temperatures. The benefit dinner and entertainment filled the restaurant and lounge to capacity at the Quality Inn and everyone (especially me!) had a terrific time! Sunday on the Ocklawaha was our best effort to date, attracting an estimated 400-500 people. Fifteen boat trips enabled almost 200 visitors to see how manmade ditches compare to the richness of a natural twisting river channel.
Mr. and Mrs. Deam are outstanding spokespersons for FOLA. I would wish for couples like them for each and every conservation group. Their knowledgeable and friendly ways coupled with an outstanding display invite learning.
Having the support of Friends of Lake Apopka and Biosphere helps PCEC stand tall and strong. Words cannot express my gratitude.
Very best regards to you all,
Putnam County Environmental Council
Once again the restoration programs for Lake Apopka are under fire!
The 2009 Annual Report to the Legislature by the Harris Chain of Lakes Restoration Council calls for abolishing almost all of the current restoration projects established by SJRWMD and others and initiation of a number of new strategies. And again, in our opinion, none of these strategies are backed by scientific research or evaluation.
St Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) answers: "We appreciate the opportunity to provide input, but we find it unfortunate that the draft summary persists in making numerous inaccurate and misleading statements that appear to primarily emanate from an inaccurate interpretation of water quality data collected to date through the Harris Chain of Lakes, which includes Lake Apopka." See the SJRWMD Comments on the Harris 2009 Annual Report
FOLA has always insisted on using any scientific data available to design and evaluate any project on the lake. We have supported the scientific staff of St. Johns River Water Management District and reviewed every project initiated, often finding consulting scientists to help. The 2009 Harris Chain report does not include much indication that such review has occurred. See FOLA's Cover Letter and FOLA's Position Paper on the Harris 2009 Annual Report.
The following information was received after publication of our Position Paper and explains justification of distribution of fill.
See Addendum to Position Paper, Number 4
Lake Apopka Update
Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration:
The District and NRCS have completed the easement swap and the NRCS easements at Apopka were vacated by the end of August. Instead of easements at Apopka and Fellsmere, NRCS accepted permanent easements at Orange Creek Restoration Area and Ocklawaha Prairie. Staff are developing work orders and completing permitting to continue infrastructure construction this fiscal year, however regulatory issues dealing with the possibility of cultural resources continue to delay issuance of the USACE permits. Flooding was completed on the Phase 2 property. This is important because data from Phase 2 monitoring is needed for the next biological assessment to flood additional acres.
Lake Apopka Marsh Flow-Way Project:
Because of drawdown of the C-cells for maintenance, flow through the system over the past month has been reduced to about 84 cfs. At present, both C cells are being operated at low flow conditions (< 10 cfs). Of the cells that were in full operation efficiency (percent removal) and mass removal has been low. During the past month, the operating cells have retained 9.5 metric tons suspended solids/day but released 3 kg of TP/day and 46 kg TN/day. This is typical during summer months when water temperatures are high and dissolved oxygen concentrations in water are low relative to other months. Alum systems are now installed to mitigate the short-term release of phosphorus due to the summer release of soluble reactive phosphorus. In mid-August, the center lake concentration of total phosphorus was 98 ppb.
Shad Harvesting on Lake Apopka:
Shad harvesting on Lake Apopka was scheduled to begin on October 1st.
Florida Is Slow to See the Need to Save Water
By ABBY GOODNOUGH, The New York Times
POMPANO BEACH, Fla., June 12, 2009 — Even as a drought and unprecedented water restrictions strip many Florida lawns of their lushness, Mark Harding has few takers for the artificial grass he sells from a showroom here. Inquiries are up, he said, but swapping turf for less thirsty alternatives remains hard for Floridians to get their heads around.
“People are just starting to look at it,” said Mr. Harding, a transplant from Buffalo who admits to having replaced only a piece of his own lawn with the fake stuff. “It’s right in its infancy stage.”
The same might be said for awareness that Florida’s water supply, seemingly endless given the abundance of springs, lakes, canals, aquifers and rainfall, is not.
Many regions have all but depleted their groundwater supply, yet they have barely begun planning new water sources or enforcing conservation measures. Meanwhile, residential water bills in Florida’s urban areas — averaging $32 a month in Miami, for example — have remained much lower than those in many other cities.
“We now face the scarcity, the spending and the spectacle that used to be unique to the arid West,” said Cynthia Barnett, the author of “Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.” But Ms. Barnett and others who study Florida’s water use say that unlike out West, a sense of urgency has not taken hold here, nor have government agencies taken the politically thorny steps some scientists say are necessary.
The South Florida Water Management District, whose political appointees regulate water use in some of the thirstiest counties, is only now considering permanent, year-round watering restrictions. Many cities and homeowner associations still require grass lawns, blocking alternatives like sturdy ground cover, drought-resistant plants or Mr. Harding’s artificial turf.
On Marco Island, near Naples, city officials made a homeowner get rid of $15,000 worth of artificial grass in 2005 on the grounds that it was offensive and might pose environmental risks. (He protested by painting his house with polka dots.) In the Villages, a vast retirement community near Orlando, a resident tried replacing sod with plantings that required less water, only to be rebuffed by the developer.
(Worth noting: Kentucky bluegrass, the soft, archetypal grass of the Northeast and the Midwest, does not grow here. Instead, Florida’s trademark turf is St. Augustine grass, coarse, tough on bare feet and often laid on the ground in strips, not seeded.)
Changing the rules on lawns could be significant, since Florida households — especially those with automatic irrigation systems, which are increasingly common — use up to 75 percent of their water outdoors.
“The most important incentive we can establish is limiting lawn watering,” said Amy Vickers, an engineer and consultant who is helping Orange County rewrite its water conservation ordinance. “It’s reasonable and fair, and something I think we’ve got to learn to live with.”
In Southeast Florida, the restrictions in place since March — twice-a-week watering in some areas, once a week in others — have been erratically enforced. Wellington, a wealthy community in Palm Beach County known for its polo grounds, has issued more than 2,200 water violations. But Miami Beach has issued none.
To date, only the Tampa Bay region has faced a serious water crisis, after Pinellas County pumped too much groundwater from areas to its north in the 1980s. The region built a $158 million seawater desalination plant, but it has been fraught with problems and had to shut down for almost two years.
Other parts of the state are now under pressure to plan similar projects because in 2005, the Legislature required cities and counties to prove they will have enough water for any new development. The law has been a wakeup call for counties like Miami-Dade and Broward, which reuse only a tiny part of their wastewater and flush the rest into the ocean or injection wells deep underground.
In 2004, Miami-Dade asked to add 100 million gallons of water a day over the next two decades to the 346 million gallons a day it already uses. The county appeared shocked by the state’s response last year: that it could not keep tapping the Biscayne Aquifer, its cheap, longtime water source, and must create alternatives. The county is planning to spend $4.5 billion on projects like a high-tech wastewater disinfection plant over the coming decades.
As the prospect of costly water projects looms, so do water wars reminiscent of those that have raged for years in the West.
Orange County, home of Disney World, riled neighbors by requesting an additional 14 million gallons of groundwater a day, a 30 percent increase, over the next two decades. And residents of North Florida were outraged in 2003 when a group of developers urged the transfer of water from that region to the more crowded South Florida.
For now, the state has pledged $60 million a year to help subsidize water projects from the Panhandle to the Keys. Where the rest will come from remains unclear, as does the wisdom of some of the proposed projects. Ms. Vickers said more studies were needed on the safety of treated wastewater, the main alternative source counties are eyeing.
“What are the long-term impacts on health and the environment?” she asked. “I don’t think we know.”
Since rain will keep falling in Florida — even now, after some of the driest months on record, South Florida has started seeing deluges again — cities here may never press conservation to the extent that many of their Western counterparts do, offering homeowners cash for every square foot of turf they tear up and rebates for water-efficient toilets and appliances.
Yet some places are trying. After the 2001 drought, Ms. Barnett said, Sarasota County kept tough water-use rules in place and reduced its per-capita consumption to 90 gallons a day, compared with the state average of 174. Broward County now encourages homeowners to replace grass with native plants that need little water, sending out consultants who have helped remake 1,600 lawns. But it runs into trouble with homeowners’ associations that still require grass.
“Until these older communities change their bylaws,” said Diana Guidry, a Broward County official, “a lot of people will meet resistance.”
Marilyn Barber, whose yard was a carpet of grass when she moved to Broward County a decade ago, replaced all but 10 percent with plants that need watering only once a week. “Just like cars get smaller when gas gets high enough,” Mrs. Barber said, “if water becomes expensive or there isn’t enough of it, people will say, ‘Gee, I really can’t afford to have grass.’ ”
For now — at least in Southeast Florida — that seems unlikely. More than eight inches of rain have fallen so far this month in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, compared with about three inches throughout May.
[On Thursday, the South Florida Water Management District announced it was likely to ease the water restrictions soon.]
Original article published in the New York Times
Recovery Act Funding
Recovery Act Funding to Begin Cleanup, Boost Economy, Create Jobs and Protect Human Health at Clermont, FL
Hazardous Waste Site
$5-$10 million in Recovery Act funds added to cleanup at Tower Chemical Superfund Site
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, (404) 562-8421, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Atlanta, Ga. – April 15, 2009) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced $5-$10 million in new funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for the Tower Chemical Superfund site near Clermont, FL. The money will be used to begin hazardous waste clean-up at the site. It will also jumpstart the local economy by creating jobs in the Clermont area. This Recovery Act funding is part of the $600 million that Congress appropriated to the Federal Superfund remedial program.
“EPA has an answer to these challenging economic times,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Under the Recovery Act, we're getting harmful pollutants and dangerous chemicals out of these communities and putting jobs and investment back in.”
Tower Chemical is a former pesticide formulation facility in a fast-growing area of central Florida. ARRA funds will be used to remediate the soil contamination at the site.
“These funds will allow EPA to begin an aggressive cleanup at the site,” said Stan Meiburg, EPA Acting Regional Administrator in Atlanta. “As a result, the environment will be made cleaner and safer while providing much-needed boost to the local economy through the creation of green jobs during cleanup and by returning the site to productive use.”
The Federal Superfund program was created in 1980 to clean up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites that pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. Superfund sites are often found in industrial areas hardest hit by the recession. Superfund cleanups are major construction projects which employ thousands of workers nationwide. The Superfund program is implementing new or expanded cleanup actions at 50 sites around the country and since it began, the program has completed construction of remedies at more than 1,060 of the 1.596 sites on its National Priorities List.
By starting or speeding up cleanup at Superfund sites, Recovery Act funding is also increasing the speed with which these sites are returned to productive use. When a Superfund site is redeveloped, it can offer significant economic benefits to local communities including future job creation.
President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on February 17, 2009 and has directed the Recovery Act be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability. To that end, the American people can see how every dollar is being invested at www.Recovery.gov.
For more information on the Tower ChemicalSuperfund Site, please visit here...
For more information on the Superfund program, please visit: Superfund
SJRWMD District Governing Board elects 2008-2009 Officers
PALATKA, Fla., Nov. 11, 2008
In a unanimous vote today, the St. Johns River Water Management District's Governing Board elected Susan N. Hughes of Ponte Vedra Beach to serve as Board chairman.
Hughes was appointed to a three-year term for an at-large seat on the District's Governing Board in October 2003 and was reappointed in March 2006 to a four-year term ending March 1, 2010. She was elected vice chairman of the Board in November 2007.
Hughes is chief human resources officer for JEA, a Jacksonville-based water, sewer and electric utility, where she has worked for nearly 23 years. She has a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in public administration from the University of North Florida. She is a registered professional engineer and also is involved in numerous civic and professional organizations.
The Board also elected W. Leonard Wood of Fernandina Beach as vice chairman, Hersey "Herky" Huffman of Enterprise as secretary, and Hans G. Tanzler III of Jacksonville as treasurer.
The other Board members are Douglas C. Bournique of Vero Beach, Michael Ertel of Oviedo, David G. Graham (outgoing chairman) of Jacksonville, Arlen N. Jumper of Fort McCoy, and Ann T. Moore of Bunnell.
Board members, who meet monthly, are responsible for setting the policies for the District's operation. They are appointed by the governor to four-year terms and serve without pay.
Water Management District Set to Issue Water Withdrawal Permit
The St. Johns River Water Manage District has issued a notice of intention to issue the controversial water withdrawal permit to the City of Apopka. This permit will allow the City to withdraw up to 5 million gallons per day from Lake Apopka. The vote will come in the regular meeting of the SJRWMD Board of Governors on May 8 at 1:00 P.M. at the Palatka headquarters.
The Friends of Lake Apopka have continued to object to any surface water withdrawals because of the potential impact on the long-term restoration of the lake and the north shore marshes. The lake is a shallow lake under normal circumstances and the drainage basin is relatively small, making any lowering of the lake levels a critical problem. Another concern about this permit relates to the future needs of other local governments for surface water. The City of Minneola has already expressed an interest in withdrawing up to 20 million gallons a day from the lake.
While the City of Apopka permit allows an average of 5 million gallons per day (1825 million gallons per year), they are allowed to take up to 12.5 millions per day with a limit of 325.5 million gallons per month.
Because the alternative for using surface water is to use precious groundwater, FOLA has suggested a compromise proposal which includes construction of storage ponds in the north shore to collect stormwater for use when needed.
In a letter to the District, Jim Thomas has summarized FOLA’s objections and urged the District to focus attention on conservation projects, storage capabilities and re-distribution of existing re-use water such as that from the Conserve II project. The letter also made it clear that we should not consider any surface water uses because of the impacts on aquatic systems. (The District has already mandated major withdrawals from St. Johns River and the Oklawaha).
This is the beginning of a major water war Thomas stated, and we need firm, science-based policies in place to preserve our aquatic systems. Concerned citizens are urged to write letters of objection to Kirby Green, Executive Director, SJRWMD, PO Box 1429, Palatka, FL 32178-1429, to sign petitions that will be forwarded to the Board of Governors (petitions available at fola.org), and to attend the meeting in Palatka on May 8.
FOLA is proud to present the online FOLA Archive of historical documents
that have been saved over the years regarding the decline and restoration of
Lake Apopka. This is a work in progress of scanning to text and PDF files,
creating and uploading to a searchable online database and storing the
original material in indexed binders. (See story on Home page)
All documents in the index are available at the Oakland Nature Preserve Museum while only the highlighted ones are currently online.
Colorful Guests Visit Lake Apopka
May 31, 2010 (Click photo to enlarge)
by Rick and Tammy Polland
We had some unexpected guests over the Memorial Day 2010 weekend and they decided to stay.
These Black Bellied Whistling Ducks moved into the box we put in place last year to provide a home for Wood Ducks at our home in Oakland on Lake Apopka.
These Black Bellied Whistling Ducks moved into the box we put in place last year to provide a home for Wood Ducks at our home in Oakland on Lake Apopka.
Our tenants show up in the morning and early evening. They make a sweet low whistle and seem to be very affectionate toward each other.
We continue our stake-out of the box and hope to see ducklings!
Article and photos by Stephanie Berry
In early April I noticed a jon boat cruising the shoreline behind our house on the South shore of Lake Apopka. When they stopped in my neighbor's "backyard", curiosity compelled me to ask what they were doing.
They were employees of the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Department doing a survey of bass to be found in Lake Apopka. When asked how the survey was going, they stated they had caught 12 - 13 in our area alone. I asked them to wait while I ran for the camera so I could get a picture of the seven plus pound bass they were weighing and about to release.
They were quite pleased at the health and the size of all the bass they had caught
New Water Quality Report Documents Lake Apopka Recovery
This March 2010 analysis of water quality changes in Lake Apopka over the past 20+ years just reinforces FOLA’s commitment to science-based programs. Please read here...
Conservation of Reuse Water
This proposal by FOLA board member Jim Hawley addresses Apopka's water reuse problems and offers a possible solution. Please read here...
Comments on SJRWMD Technical Staff Report for Lake Apopka Reclaimed Water Supplement (102497)
Our Technical Review Chairman Jim Hawley itemizes FOLA's stand on SJRWMD report. Please read here...
Water Withdrawal - FOLA opposes any withdrawal of water from Lake Apopka for use outside the basin. Print our PETITION opposing this project, sign and send to us to present to St Johns Water Management District (SJRWMD) .
St Petersburg Times 2007
Florida has more wetlands than any other state but Alaska. They stop floods, clean up water pollution, and replenish drinking supplies. Yet despite government promises, they are disappearing.
See this excellent Special Report on Vanishing Wetlands and some history of mitigation banking.
This is a LARGE file with HiRez graphics! It will take a while to load, but it's worth waiting for.
Sunshine Bass For Lake Apopka !
FWC March 2008
Hello! My name is Marty Hale and I am the fisheries administrator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Freshwater Fisheries for the 12-county Northeast Region. While I have been in this position for only seven months, I have served the FWC for 27 years as a freshwater fisheries biologist working on the St. Johns River and the Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes.
One of my roles as fisheries administrator is to try to improve and increase freshwater fishing opportunities in this region, which includes Orange and Lake counties. I recognize that the Friends of Lake Apopka is much more aware of Apopka’s rich fishing history, its decline, and recent improvements than I am, so please allow me to explain what the Division of Freshwater Fisheries is currently hoping to accomplish on Lake Apopka
Adequate public access to water bodies is critical if we want to increase fishing opportunities. The city boat ramp in Montverde on the west side of the lake is in an excellent location because the deeper water there will allow access to the lake even during low-water periods. However, the ramp and parking area needs to be improved. With that in mind, we have encouraged city officials to apply for grant money through the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section.
A very popular fishery for sunshine bass existed in the 1980’s and early 1990’s near Gourd Neck Springs with anglers catching over 8,000 sunshine bass in a three-month period. We plan to bring this fishery back and have requested that our hatcheries produce and stock 600,000 sunshine bass this year. If all goes well with stocking, survival and growth of these fish, anglers should be harvesting sunshine bass by 2010.
Another way to improve fishing besides stocking is to help bring anglers and fish together, and one of the best methods to do this is with fish attractors. We have received the permits necessary to put two quarter-acre fish attractors in Lake Apopka, which will be located on the west side of the lake just south of Smith Island. We hope these attractors will concentrate popular game fish like black crappie and largemouth bass, which should also attract more anglers.
These are challenging and exciting times regarding the future of Lake Apopka. The FWC is committed to making fishing better, not just on Lake Apopka but on the entire Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes, and is taking steps to do that. I plan to attend your annual meeting on April 3rd and hope to meet as many members then as possible.
Thank you for this opportunity to share our goals with you to make fishing better.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
ONP and FOLA Booths At Magnolia Park Bluegrass Festival Well Attended
Saturday, May 5th, 2007
Thanks to Frank Merritt and John and Nancy Deam for bringing and setting up the tents and displays, and to Darla Miller, Shari Wardlaw, Greg & Larry Harford, Jim Peterson, Don Hickman, Krista Compton and John and Nancy Deam for helping to man the booths during this event. We had a lot of interest in the preserve and expect many new visitors as a result.
At the FOLA booth, we had a LOT of interest in the proposed water withdrawal from Lake Apopka and got many more signatures on our petitions to the SJRWMD asking for alternative solutions.
A big thanks also to Harriet and Buddy Turner from Jacksonville Beach FL and Mary and Ron Jones from Atlantic Beach FL for their help with taking down and packing up at the end.