We pay a lot of attention to the Everglades restoration and perhaps not enough attention to other important restoration projects in Florida, like the Indian River Lagoon and the Kissimmee River. This Orlando Sentinel article reminds us the Kissimmee River restoration is ongoing, and points out that studying the river’s inhabitants is a good way to assess pollution in the river. The restoration project will cost more than a half-billion dollars and take until at least 2012, the article says.
Image from Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Ocklawaha River will be used to meet the needs of some central Florida counties, but not as many as originally proposed, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. Lake, Marion and Putnam counties will take water from the Ocklawaha, but not also Orange, Volusia or Seminole as originally planned. The article says, however, the same amount of water will still be pulled from the river: up to 90 million gallons per day when flow allows. But one Marion County commissioner claimed the decision as a “half victory,” as with fewer counties taking water from the river will make it easier to discuss how to protect the river, the article says.
The Ocklawaha River’s water is being divvied up among central Florida water utilities, even though Marion County — where the Ocklawaha mainly flows — had said other counties needed to leave the river alone. County commissioners had expressed concern that the river and Marion County’s other water sources like famed Silver Springs were being “sacrificed” because other counties had allowed too much population growth before checking whether there was enough water for all of the people.
Recently, many water utilities are looking for ways to provide water for a thirsty population, and especially now during a period of low rainfall, it seems water conservation is more important than ever.
The Myakka River is officially designated by the state of Florida as Wild and Scenic, but only for 34 miles. That could change if a new bill passes, making the entire Myakka River Wild and Scenic, the Bradenton Herald reports. The Wild and Scenic designation helps preserve the river’s ecology. Read the article to find out when public hearings on this designation are scheduled.
For the past week and a half where I live, it’s been raining hard except for maybe two days. Even so, all this rain hasn’t been enough to help Lake Okeechobee, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Lake O remains at a historic low.
That’s really something considering Lake Manatee and the Manatee River overflowed, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The dammed lake got so high that water managers had to release water into the river.
Seems the rain somehow avoided Lake O?
With less than two months left of our rainy season (hint: it’s the same as hurricane season), many water managers are shaking their heads about Florida’s drought. The dry conditions are visible at the Green Swamp, which is the headwaters for four major rivers, and as the St. Petersburg Times reports, “If the water levels in the Green Swamp are low this late in the rainy season, it foretells a parched spring. It means more water restrictions, more dry lawns, more wildfires.” The article predicts another fight over water.
If you’ve been in the Disney area, it’s very possible you’ve crossed over what could soon be a new ecotourism destination: Shingle Creek. The proposed Shingle Creek Recreation Preserve is the buzz in Osceola County, where $4M was spent to preserve property, an Orlando Sentinel article reports. Still, it could be years before the plans become reality: hiking trails, paddling, camping, an education center and more right in the midst of other busy tourism attractions. Not bad for a little body of water that’s part of the system of headwaters of the Everglades, huh?
Photo from South Florida Water Management District
Freshwater animals and plants near the mouth of the St. Johns River could die off if central Florida is allowed to pull water from the river to keep up with the population growth there, a Jacksonville Times-Union article says. If the St. Johns Water Management District and water utilities allow it, up to 262 millions gallons per day could be pulled from the St. Johns River, the article says. Salt water from the Atlantic Ocean would probably creep farther into the river, meaning more shrimp but fewer crabs, and more dredging to keep the busy Jacksonville-area shipping lanes open. It would also mean a higher price for central Florida water customers to pay, as treating the river water would be more expensive.
The water district says it’s just a 4.9% reduction in flow, and if plans go forward, construction to pull the water from the river would start in 2009.
However, scientists and groups like St. Johns Riverkeeper are concerned about the overall effect on the river and the whole idea of “trying to harness nature.” And Marion County commissioners recently butted heads with the water district over use of the Ocklawaha (a St. Johns River tributary) to provide water for the region, saying, “The Ocklawaha River should not become the sacrificial lamb of irresponsible growth.”
Tapping into rivers and other sources of water for a broad region isn’t a new idea. Not that long ago, a group of South Florida business types suggested diverting water from northern and central Florida to their area, pulling water from what they saw as a water-rich area to a highly populated part of the state. That idea was shot down, but may not be entirely dead.
We’ll just have to wait to see how this one goes.
Photo from St. Johns Riverkeeper