Water Quality Issues

Water Quality Issues

CCA Florida Water Quality and Habitat

July 2018

The current state of water quality on Florida's coasts and in several estuaries is disturbing. Water quality is a high priority for CCA Florida and we are doing everything we can to help through our advocacy efforts as well as habitat restoration. 

Join us in the fight to save our state's resources. Contact your elected leadership and tell them to prioritize the authorization and funding of projects that will help with recovery. 

Click here for an interactive map containing information on South Florida Water Management District Strategic Projects. 

Here's a comprehensive and timely review of projects and our efforts.

1.    CCA Florida supports the funding and completion of all Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP) Foundation projects, such as Kissimmee River restoration and the reconstruction and improvements of the Herbert Hoover Dike, which are necessary elements for systemic Everglades water improvement.

2.  CCA Florida supports authorization and funding of projects involving water storage, treatment, and conveyance south, east, and west of Lake Okeechobee.  This includes the Indian River Lagoon South C-44 Reservoir Project, the Caloosahatchee C-43 Reservoir Project, the completion of the Lake Hicpochee Project, the implementation of the Water Quality Treatment and Demonstration Project on the BOMA property, and the reservoir and associated facilities now planned for land south of Lake Okeechobee on state-owned parcels A-1, A-2, and near-by lands (which is a result of the passage of SB10, which CCA Florida publicly supported during the 2017 Legislative Session).

3.   CCA Florida supports other Central Everglades Planning Process (CEPP) projects, including additional bridging of Tamiami Trail (now under construction), and curtain wall construction in South Miami-Dade County.

4.    CCA Florida also supports currently planned storage and treatment facilities north of Lake Okeechobee, to help insure water flowing into the Lake from the north is no longer contaminated with damaging nutrients.

5.    CCA Florida supported the passage of the Water Resources Development Acts of 2016 and 2018, which authorize several key South Florida water infrastructure projects.

6.    CCA Florida supports the C-111 projects in South Miami-Dade.

7.    CCA Florida was one of few groups who supported South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) efforts to increase water flows into Taylor Slough. This series of projects, now completed, will provide benefits to portions of Florida Bay.  This involved building connections to existing canals, building canal plugs, the reconstruction of a C-31 West canal levee, and other component projects.

8.    CCA Florida continues to encourage and promote better communication between the SFWMD and officials and managers of Everglades National Park.

9.    CCA Florida strongly encourages Everglades National Park officials to use existing structures to facilitate the flow of additional fresh water into Florida Bay.

10. CCA Florida opposes management measures designed for single-species management, to the detriment of Florida’s water quality and marine ecosystems.  In addition to creating even more detrimental problems to the Everglades hydrology, these approaches may endanger human life and property.  CCA supports the Endangered Species Act, but suggests there are better management practices which will produce better systemic results for Florida’s Everglades.

11. CCA Florida actively supports septic tank eradication and sewer conversion throughout the state, and especially in areas bordering estuaries, watersheds, and Florida’s many fresh water springs.

12. CCA Florida continues to promote Best Management Practices for all commercial and residential property owners.

13. CCA Florida continues to promote the use of Amendment 1 funds for everglades restoration and other legally-mandated purposes.  CCA Florida actively supported the passage of Legacy Florida legislation.

14. CCA Florida continues to monitor and, to the extent possible, participate in local initiatives that can possibly help our estuaries, such as the Indian River Lagoon Summit, and Brevard County’s actions to fund various IRL restoration projects through a dedicated and citizen-approved ten-year sales tax.  CCA continues to partner with other advocacy groups and coalitions to improve water conditions in the IRL.

15. CCA continues to endeavor to solve the fresh water deficits in the Apalachicola River, and in Apalachicola Bay.

16. CCA Florida was actively involved in the blocking of further development of the Oslo Boat Ramp in Indian River County, preserving critical seagrass habitat and spawning areas for multiple species of saltwater fish.

17. CCA is working with the St. John’s Riverkeeper and other groups in an attempt to prohibit dumping of biosolids in the St. John’s River basin.  Biosolids is a fancy term to describe massive amounts of human waste and other chemicals and toxins, which are being deposited in sensitive river basins from South Florida Counties, which are leaching into our estuaries.

18. CCA continues to expand its robust habitat restoration programs throughout the state.  CCA continues to partner with other groups to deploy artificial reefs offshore, to install oyster restorations projects, to participate in and fund seagrass and mangrove plantings, and is helping finance shoreline restoration projects in the Mosquito Lagoon and other areas.

19. CCA Florida continues to partner with Tampa Bay Watch and other groups which have helped lead to recovery of seagrasses throughout the Bay.  One such example is the Fantasy Island restoration project, which is now complete.

For more information, please contact CCA at H20@ccaflorida.org.

in mid-July, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued letter issuing a 180-day moratorium on sewage sludge application at Pressley Ranch adjacent to Blue Cypress Lake while they conduct a more in depth study. Read below for the full letter:

Letter to Mr. Hacht1 copy

Right now approximately 90 percent of Lake Okeechobee is covered in harmful blue-green algae.  Against this sobering backdrop, and in the wake of a damaging volume of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee in recent months, we share a small amount of good news for the Everglades and our estuaries from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).  The Corps recently completed raising the L-29 Canal from an elevation of 7.5 feet to 8.0 feet.  According to the Corps, raising the water level in this canal will increase flows under the one-mile Tamiami Trail bridge built by the Corps, and make it possible to move more water south from Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA-3) which sits north of the canal. One of the major objectives of this project is to create more storage for the excess water coming from Lake Okeechobee, thereby giving some relief to the relentless discharges to the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River. "This is a significant accomplishment that has been years in the making," said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander. 

In an effort to move more water south, the Corps has altered their operation schedule to allow for higher water levels in WCA-2A into the fall of 2018, and finished the most critical components of the North Detention Area of the C-111 South Dade project in Miami-Dade County.  "Storing more water in Conservation Area 2 helps reduce inflows into Conservation Area 3," said Kirk.  "As we work to improve outflows from Conservation Area 3, the reduced inflows set conditions that a recession in the water level could take place, creating some additional storage for future wet season rains." 

While this is far from a solution and we have a long way to go, we applaud any action that creates additional storage and water flow south of Lake Okeechobee. 
With almost continuous rain in South Florida since mid-May, estimates throughout the region have reached double digits. The negative effects of increased fresh water and nutrient laden runoff are severe. And we understand the loss to our waterways and fisheries.

The St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries will now endure further destructive discharges from Lake Okeechobee, while other areas will continue to drain runoff into the Everglades Protection Area, filling the Everglades beyond capacity.

Typically, the estuaries East and West of Lake Okeechobee are a stable mixture of freshwater from the upstream forks and tributaries and saltwater from the associated saltwater influences.  With these recent basin discharges, estuaries are on the extreme low end of acceptable salinities.  For annual data on water quality, see Southwest Florida’s RECON real-time and historical data.

The waters and habitats that make Florida the “fishing capital of the world”, sustain our growth and support our multi-billion-dollar economy are suffering, and at CCA, we continue to support habitat projects on the west coast of Florida and around the state that restore lost ecological resilience and enhance water quality.  In the last three years alone, CCA has contributed over 15 tons of oyster shells for restoration projects on the west coast, supported and leveraged over $150,000 in restoration funding and provided a large number of volunteers for these projects.

The water management system in South Florida has been designed to provide flood protection and water supply, but it is obviously beyond the limits of the land and sea’s ecological well-being.  Red Tide outbreaks that originated far offshore have been exacerbated by increased nutrient loading and are taking a toll on our recreational fisheries as well as our tourism industry. 

While Ride Tide continues to be studied and researched by experts, there isn’t a solution.  But we all want to do something to help.  And here’s how. Volunteerto assist researchers by collecting water samples in suspected harmful algal bloom areas.  Water samples from all coastal Florida counties, especially in the southwest and along the east coast, are needed and the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) pays for all sampling supplies and shipping costs.

Join together with your fellow anglers and Floridians and let’s work toward solutions, together.

On June 6, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the 2018 Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA). The vote was 408 to 2. This legislation is important for Florida since it includes authorization for a large water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee on state-owned lands. Florida had previously passed its own legislation authorizing the reservoir during its 2017 legislative session.

 Water Resource legislation is usually tackled by Congress every couple of years, although the pattern of recent water bills has been somewhat irregular. These legislative acts typically authorize multiple Army Corps of Engineer infrastructure projects around the country, and also serve additional purposes for maintenance, upgrades, and improvements for existing water-related assets.

Read more: U.S. House Passes 2018 Water Resources Development Act

The United States Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in the Florida versus Georgia water usage lawsuit beginning this week. The case centers around Florida's efforts to mandate a statewide water usage cap for the state of Georgia in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin. Previously, as CCA Florida has reported to its members, a U.S. Supreme Court Special Master held that Florida failed to establish proposed usage remedies would be effective in providing relief to the Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a major manager of impoundments along the Chattahoochee River, was not a party to the lawsuit. The legal action represents the most recent battle in the long-running “water wars” among the Southeastern states over the Apalachicola-Flint-Chattahoochee River Basin. The state of Alabama has typically sided with Florida on the matter.

The 2018 high court calendar also includes hearing arguments in a similar case involving Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, in which Texas is arguing that New Mexico is in violation of the Rio Grande Compact by diverting water before it reaches Texas. Both cases will be reviewed by the Court after rulings by a Special Master, and require the Justices to determine whether to uphold or modify those decisions.

We're continuing to monitor all issues involving the Apalachicola River, given the importance fresh water inputs from the river have on multiple marine resources and habitat in Apalachicola Bay and a large portion of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Correct salinity balances are crucial in Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf for several species of marine animals, from oysters and blue crabs to red drum and tarpon.

Join CCA Banner

Donate to CCA Florida

Click Here to Make a Donation

Join CCA Banner