GOV. SCOTT APPLAUDS RESPONSE TO ALGAL BLOOM

moran-indianriver

Photo by John Moran

Thanks to renowned nature photographer and writer John Moran, who has furnished the following press release from Florida’s governor and also for his comments on the release, and his photograph.

Coinciding with John’s comments, we can’t help but note the strong, positive words from our water protective authorities regarding the high value they place on our water resources, and the devastation we view here.  “Stunning gulf” is the year’s  understatement.

It’s probably safe to say that wherever you see caps in the release, is where we find examples of the stunning gulf between words and reality.

I’ve  [John Moran]  also attached a press release from the Governor’s office
expressing his concern for the quality and safety of Florida waters.
Yes, the Governor acknowledges the role of nutrient pollution in the
fish kill but in his release you’ll find no mention of the connection
between our lifestyle choices–notably our collective fertilizer
addiction–and the devastating consequences of our actions. Which
makes this is but the latest example of the stunning gulf between the
governor’s rhetoric and any semblance of meaningful leadership around
water issues.

GOV. SCOTT APPLAUDS AGENCIES CONTINUED WORK TO CLEAN UP
BROWN TIDE IN NORTHERN INDIAN RIVER LAGOON

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today Governor Rick Scott applauded the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Florida Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) and the St. Johns River Water
Management District (SJRWMD) for partnering with other state, regional
and local agencies to assess and respond to the large brown algal
bloom which has recently inundated the Indian River and Banana River
lagoons. While brown algae is typically non-toxic to humans, it can
reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, impacting fish and
other wildlife. Coordinating state agencies are assessing and
responding to algal bloom events, monitoring and analyzing impacts to
wildlife and water quality, and addressing short and longer-term
solutions.

Governor Scott said, “_THE QUALITY AND SAFETY OF FLORIDA’S WATERS IS A TOP PRIORITY FOR OUR STATE._ While this brown tide event is not a
health threat to our families or visitors, we are assessing and
responding to areas that are seeing a loss of fish. I applaud our

state agencies for working together to quickly determine the effects
of this recent event, and we will continue to do all we can to protect
water quality in the Indian River Lagoon.”

Although algal bloom events can be unpredictable, contributing factors
can include weather conditions and excess nutrients in waterways. As
water from Lake Okeechobee does not reach Brevard County through the
Indian River Lagoon, there is no evidence as of now that this bloom is
related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ freshwater discharges
from Lake Okeechobee.

FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley said, “Getting answers to help
address this serious situation is a top priority. We are working
closely with our partners and the local community to better understand
the problem and help develop solutions._ FLORIDA’S NATURAL TREASURES
AND WILDLIFE ARE INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO OUR STATE_ and we will
continue to do all we can to ensure its protection and preservation.”

Interim State Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip said, “While brown
tides are not associated with toxins and do not impact human health
directly, it is important that people do not handle, collect or eat
fish or wildlife found dead or dying. DOH will continue to work with
our partnering agencies to keep local families and visitors safe
during this recovery process.”

DEP Secretary Jon Steverson said, “This algal bloom event reinforces
the need for continued restoration work in the lagoon. _WE ARE
COMMITTED TO WORKING WITH OUR STATE AND LOCAL PARTNERS TO EXPEDITE AND IMPLEMENT PROJECTS THAT WILL IMPROVE WATER QUALITY CONDITIONS, AND ENSURE OUR NATURAL TREASURES ARE SAFE FOR FLORIDA’S FAMILIES AND VISITORS TO ENJOY.”_

SJRWMD Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle said, “It’s only through
collaboration with our communities and partners, like FWC and DEP,
that we can make progress with recovery efforts at the Indian River
Lagoon. Our district is committed to not only helping with immediate
relief in the hardest hit areas, but also by expediting efforts to put
projects in the ground that will offer long-term relief to the
nutrient problem in the lagoon.”

Background on Agency Response:

Local, state and federal agencies will continue to work together to
find answers to the cause of this brown tide and to identify what can
be done in the future to limit or avoid similar events and build on
restoration efforts underway. DEP and SJRWMD have deployed staff and
boats to assist Brevard County with their local recovery and clean-up
efforts, and local DOH offices continue to monitor for human health
impacts and encourage public safety.

Short-term response efforts include:

* FWC is serving as the lead agency for documenting and determining
the cause of fish and wildlife mortality events.
* On March 19, FWC began taking fish and water samples to analyze at
the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.
* Current data and historic analysis indicate fish impacts appear to
be the result of low dissolved oxygen conditions associated with the
brown algae bloom.
* To help them respond to this algal bloom and other wildlife events,
FWC encourages the public to hotline allows the public to report
directly to researchers the locations of fish kills and diseased or
abnormal fish by calling a toll-free hotline at 1-800-636-0511.
* The SJRWMD continues to collect water quality monitoring samples
and track movement and trends in the bloom activity.

* The water management district routinely monitors water quality in
the Indian River Lagoon and its tributaries, collecting and managing
data from 58 sites monthly to provide reliable data about current
water quality conditions.

* To monitor specifically for algae species, the SJRWMD partners with
FWC and the University of Florida to sample and analyze five sites
monthly and provides additional event-driven support when algal blooms
are reported.

* In addition, the district maintains five stations that provide
continuous water quality monitoring, sending the information
electronically to the agency’s headquarters.

In addition to on-the-ground response and monitoring efforts, state
and local agencies are also focusing on longer-term water quality
restoration efforts for Indian River Lagoon. These restoration
projects and management strategies are essential to reducing nitrogen
and phosphorous levels, which will help to decrease the intensity and
duration of algal bloom events.

Long-term restoration efforts include:

* Including the recently signed Florida First budget, the state will
have invested nearly $80 million dollars in projects in Brevard County
to restore the lagoon over a three-year span.

* To address elevated levels of nutrients in the lagoon, in 2013, DEP
adopted three basin management action plans (BMAPs) to implement the
projects and activities necessary to bring the lagoon back to health.
In addition, the Department has adopted the St. Lucie BMAP, which will
also help the Southern Indian River Lagoon. To date, the stakeholders
have achieved all obligations outlined in the BMAPs.

* Several projects have been completed in recent months that will
bring relief to the Indian River Lagoon in time. Recently, SJRWMD
activated large scale stormwater treatment and control projects on the
C-1 Canal and at the Wheeler Stormwater Park.

* DEP and the district are also working to expedite a number of
projects that can help improve the health of the lagoon. Recently,
innovative dispersed water pilot projects have been approved in Indian
River County that are projected to keep thousands of pounds of
nutrients from reaching the lagoon.

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