Environment

Elevated levels of red tide have been detected off the coast of Sarasota, the Florida Department of Health reported on Friday.

The state also received reports of respiratory irritation associated with the algal bloom, a release from the health department in Sarasota said.

Signs warning beachgoers about red tide are being placed at Longboat Key, Bird Key Park, North Lido Beach, Lido Casino, South Lido, Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach, Nokomis Beach and North Jetty Beach.

Toxic water continues to pour out of a leaking phosphate retention pond into Tampa Bay. There is concern the pond could collapse.

Millions of gallons of polluted water have poured into Tampa Bay since the breach was first reported over the weekend.

Supreme Court Rules Against Florida In Water Fight

Apr 1, 2021
EBYABE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

After years of legal battling, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a lawsuit in which Florida argued Georgia has used too much water in a river system shared by the states.

Leak At Phosphate Plant Could Threaten Tampa Bay

Mar 31, 2021

A leak at a troubled phosphate processing plant in Manatee County could threaten Tampa Bay with a repeat of fish kills that happened a decade ago. Controlled releases at the plant began Tuesday afternoon.

Red Tide Connected to Dead Birds

Mar 15, 2021

Recently published research in the Journal of Comparative Pathology associates the dramatic bird die-off of 2018 to the unusual Bisgaard Taxon 40 bacteria.

David “Kip” Ritchey, 31, and Angelique Taylor, 27, are standing in their one-acre farm off of a busy highway just outside of Tallahassee. Their muddied rubber boots are surrounded by rows of budding mustard greens, collard greens and kale.

“There's a lot going on in our space, Ritchey said. "There's an open field of cover crops, a mixture of hairy veg, of rye grass, also oats.”

New home with septic tank
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Jacksonville is spending more than $1 billion to remediate failing and leaking septic tanks in 35 neighborhoods.

Florida lawmakers Friday unveiled a series of bills they say would protect homeowners and businesses from rising seas and flooding brought on by climate change.

The proposals would give tax breaks to homeowners who elevate their homes because of flooding. And around $100 million would be provided to local governments that plan to combat rising seas.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, introduced the bills at the waterfront campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Lawmakers are facing pressure this session to fund environmental projects at the behest of Governor Ron DeSantis. This comes as money is tight due to constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nestle Gets Okay To Bottle Nearly 1M Gallons Of Fla. Water A Day

Feb 24, 2021
Mistoffeles / Wikimedia Commons file photo

Nestle Waters North America will be able to ramp up bottling to nearly 1 million gallons of water a day at a North Florida plant after a permit was approved Tuesday over the objections of opponents who said it will continue degradation of the state’s natural springs and rivers.

Florida Forever Funding Could Be Cut In Half

Feb 3, 2021

Some of the state's main environmental programs are on the chopping block, including Florida Forever, a key fund to acquire conservation land.

Governor Ron DeSantis' proposed budget includes $50 million for the preservation program - half of what it received last year.

Lindsay Cross is with the advocacy group Florida Conservation Voters.

"Investing in our conservation is a way to kind to balance the impacts we see in the environment from new development and new homes and businesses being created," she said.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, red tide was observed in Southwest Florida last week, with low concentrations found in samples from Sarasota County.

No fish kills that were reported last week are suspected to be red tide-related.

Fla. House speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor.
News Service of Florida

Planning work to address flooding from rising sea levels, similar to how the state maps out road and bridge projects for five years, is being considered by the new Republican leaders of the Florida House and Senate.

Local environmental advocates are more optimistic about the future following Saturday’s election results, but there’s still a long road to tangible action on climate change. 

Representatives from local and regional organizations such as Healthy Gulf, 350 Pensacola and Environment Florida held a virtual meeting Monday night to discuss the impacts of the election and what a Biden presidency could mean for climate action. 

The Apalachicola Bay is well-known for its oysters. But over the years as population, agriculture and management practices have led to less water flowing down the river that feeds the bay, the industry has started to collapse. What some might not realize is oysters aren’t the only industry depending on that water.

Kerr-McGee Superfund site
Multistate Environmental Response Trus

The process of cleaning up Jacksonville’s most contaminated superfund site along the St. Johns River and Talleyrand Avenue will begin in November with preliminary construction.

A state task force appointed to advise lawmakers on Florida’s toxic algae problems is considering a toxic algae water quality standard.

Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Apalachicola Bay oysters, sweet and salty mollusks best served raw on the half-shell with a little lemon juice, will be off the menu for up to five years in the latest effort to revive the oyster population in the Franklin County bay.

CHERISSE LAMB

Jacksonville’s Resiliency Committee is being urged to consider turning empty lots and unused properties into green space to protect the city from flooding.

Federal scientists are predicting that this summer’s “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will be larger than average.

Shark fins spread out across a table
Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Palm Coast Republican Sen. Travis Hutson is co-sponsoring a bill to ban the import and export of shark fins.  The proposal made it through a Senate committee unanimously on Tuesday, over the objections of several commercial fishermen who spoke at the meeting.

Rhesus Macaque climbing on a branch in the forest
John Raoux / Associated Press

Rhesus macaque monkeys have been in Florida since the late 1930s, when they were imported from Southeast Asia.

Recent sightings in Jacksonville’s Julington Creek neighborhood and throughout St. Johns County have  put the monkeys in the national spotlight.

Diamondback terrapin turtle resting on the sand
George Heinrich

A University of North Florida professor is leading an effort to petition state wildlife regulators to protect diamondback terrapin turtles along Florida’s coastlines.

Rocks along the coast of St. Augustine Beach
John Raoux / Associated Press

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine) that would establish a statewide Office of Resiliency along with a statewide Sea Level Rise Task Force unanimously passed a House Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon.

Ruben de Rijcke / Wikimedia Commons

Despite the advances made in lowering vehicle emissions since 1990, the amount of pollution generated by vehicles in Jacksonville has gone up 53% over roughly the past three decades.

Environmentalists, State Wrangle Over Conservation Spending

Jul 17, 2019
NORTH FLORIDA LAND TRUST

Florida lawmakers defied a voter-approved constitutional amendment by improperly diverting money intended for land buying and maintenance to cover agency expenses and salaries, attorneys for environmentalists told a three-judge panel at the 1st District Court of Appeal Tuesday.

Yellow Bluff Wildfire
Sky Lebron / Sky Lebron

The dry weather coupled with a heat wave is leading to an increased risk of wildfires.

Man holds "don't frack with our water" sign.
Alex Milan Tracy / Sipa USA via Flickr

A proposal backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to ban “fracking” in Florida appears dead for this legislative session.

Fla. Senate Poised To Back Move Of Law Enforcement Officers From FWC To DEP

Apr 17, 2019
The Florida Senate

A shift of 19 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officers to the Department of Environmental Protection, a change sought by Gov. Ron DeSantis, was teed up Wednesday by the Senate for a final vote.

FWC Says Virus Might Be Killing Turtles In St. Johns Watershed

Mar 28, 2019
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission / Via Flickr

The mysterious die-off of freshwater turtles throughout the massive St. Johns River watershed continues despite an ongoing year-long investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and its partners to determine the cause and prevent damage to the ecosystem with the loss of the species.

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