This week on Florida Matters we talk about what communities are doing to keep from releasing sewage and other contaminants into our local waterways. Part of the problem comes from aging wastewater and stormwater systems. 

Amy Green/WMFE

A $3 million grant program for local governments to clean toxic algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries has been started by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Gov. Rick Scott’s office Monday announced the grant program, which follows his July 9 executive order declaring a state of emergency for Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties because of algae outbreaks.

Amy Green / WMFE

There’s a new draft plan for more water storage north of Lake Okeechobee.

In a memo released to state environmental officials and county health department offices on Thursday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a clarification of when and how local and state officials should perform tests on local water systems.

Flickr Creative Commons

Citizen scientists in Port St. Lucie found microplastics in their major waterways. 

Researchers in Florida received funding from the federal government to restore seagrasses in the Gulf of Mexico. The goal is to protect about 30 acres of the sea floor, and repair about half of that.

David Williams and Alex Massie sat side by side at W.P. Franklin Lock along the Caloosahatchee River, waiting for something to nibble at their fishing lines. They were catching fish to eat, despite high levels of fecal bacteria recently closing down a beach just a few yards from their fishing spot. 

Williams, of Alva, said he's been fishing along the Caloosahatchee for 65 years. He's lived off of the river. And he's not concerned about the high levels of E. Coli in the water. 

"It's just a happening thing," Williams said. "There's nothing you can do about it."

Plastics Widespread in Florida Coastal Waterways

Oct 20, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

New research shows plastic pollution is widespread in Florida’s coastal waters.

Back in November, voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment One, which sets aside millions of dollars for land and water conservation.

This week on Florida Matters, we'll take a look at where exactly that money might go.

A bill that would create a pilot program for state employees to find the least-expensive doctors and hospitals when they need certain elective medical procedures was approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday, the Florida Current reports.

Gov. Rick Scott  says he will ask for $55 million in the 2014-15 budget to protect Florida’s springs, the Florida Current reports. Reaction to his announcement among lawmakers and environmentalists was mostly positive. It’s an increase in funding from last year, the Current reports.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Volunteer lawyers who often represent the poor on health-care matters say the reason given for their firing by the new director of Gulfcoast Legal Services doesn’t hold water, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. 

The reason given was that their work wasn’t covered by malpractice insurance, but the retirees say it was never an issue before.


Environmental groups said they’re unhappy but not surprised that Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill they say favors industry over protecting Florida’s waterways, the Tampa Bay Times reports.   Parts of the law that loosen regulation drew heavy lobbying from developers, phosphate miners and power companies. Environmental groups say their opposition was barely heard, and even a last-ditch plea from former Florida governor and  U.S. Sen.

A Senate panel approved a measure that would block some people who have voluntarily gotten mental health treatment from purchasing a firearm, the News Service of Florida reports. The bill will go to the Senate floor for a vote next.