Dear Friends of Florida’s waters:

As we enter into the holiday season, we have a lot to be thankful for and one excellent way show your appreciation is to be a voice for the things we love that cannot speak for themselves.  This could include our springs, rivers, estuaries, lakes, wetlands and coastal waters; it includes the wildlife that lives or dies as we collectively make decisions about their habitat; it includes future generations whose quality of life experiences depend on the choices we make today.

Here is the short list of what lies ahead in this week’s news from the Florida Clean Water Network:

1.  Florida’s water quality standards – DEP’s fake triennial review on December 9. Toxic chemicals that are known to cause serious human health problems (such as cancer) are not on the Environmental Regulation Commission’s calendar next week.  DEP says, “oh we’ll do that next year.”  Well, they have been stalling on these regulations for 20 years. Read more below.

2.  Bad, bad water bill – is on the fast track.  YOUR CALLS ARE NEEDED!!!

3.  Movie nights in Navarre – If you live near Navarre, mark the 2nd Thursday of every month as environmental movie night.

4.  Fracking – Bad fracking bills are moving through committees.  YOUR CALLS ARE NEEDED!!!

5.  Georgia-Pacific/Koch brothers – report on St Johns River decline – Surprise!!! Georgia-Pacific’s 30 mgd toxic discharge to the St Johns River is killing the river.

6.  Sabal Trail pipeline – action alert –

7.  Caloosahatchee monkey business – Florida DEP has endless schemes to avoid enforcing their own rules when it comes to impaired waters around the state.  The Caloosahatchee River and estuary offer a prime example of how DEP tries to confound the public and protect polluters.

Last month we asked if you could afford to help us with some legal expenses that have been piling up from our battle with the Koch brothers and their polluting paper mill in Palatka and also our on-going effort to make Florida adopt pollution limits for toxic chemicals that are being dumped into our rivers and estuaries.  More details on the toxic chemicals in #1 below.  However, I just want to thank everyone who has contributed your hard-earned money to these legal matters.  We are still short about $7,000 for these two cases, but you put a serious dent in our debt, so THANK YOU!!!!  Remember that your contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated!

1.  Florida’s water quality standards – While there are thousands of toxic chemicals in our food, water and air, the US EPA has only done the necessary science (necessary to keep the polluters from undermining their efforts in court) on about 118.  For these relatively few chemicals that are known to cause harm when humans are exposed, the EPA offers some recommended criteria that states can and should adopt according to federal regulations.  For 20 years, Florida Clean Water Network has been pressing FL DEP to adopt criteria/limits on how much of these chemicals can be dumped into our waters by polluters. In the early 90’s Florida adopted some extremely weak criteria for just 36 toxic chemicals. EPA has published reports that demonstrate Florida’s criteria are inadequate.  Yet, we have been unable to get EPA to take a stand.  Recently Florida Clean Water Network and our attorney David Ludder have had discussions with EPA that give us no reason to think they will change their lax attitude toward Florida. Unless EPA takes immediate action to change this situation, legal actions will be taken in the coming weeks.  We’ll keep you posted.

2.  Bad, bad water bill has moved through all of its assigned committees in the Legislature and is ready for a vote when the session starts.  There is a statewide environmental groups letter opposing this legislation.

If this legislation becomes law, it will significantly change Florida water policy – in many detrimental ways and will do nothing to improve our serious water quality problems or protect water supplies.


3. Movie nights in Navarre – We are very happy to announce that FL-CWN will hold monthly environmental film nights in Navarre. We are so fortunate to have a local church, St Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, that has welcomed us to use their meeting hall.  Most months the films will be shown on the second Thursday. We begin the evening with a pot-luck dinner at 5:30 and the movie will start at 6:30.  If you live near Navarre, please join us for a free film about your environment, good food and friendly discussion.  The first film night will be December 10th and there will be appetizers and beverages provided (no pot-luck at the December showing).  The film is Groundswell Rising, which is about fracking in the oil and gas industry.  The doors open at 5:30.  The address is 7810 Navarre Parkway, Navarre.

4.  Fracking – Another House committee approved HB191 this morning in spite of a long list of local governments and the Florida Association of Counties passing resolutions supporting a statewide ban on fracking and/or opposing the parts of the bill that pre-empt local government having any voice in fracking operations and grant secrecy to drillers about the chemicals that are forced deep underground in the search for oil and gas.  You can read the full press release about today’s vote at our website:

Another State House Committee Moves Pro-Fracking Bill Forward


5.  Georgia-Pacific/Koch brothers – report on St Johns River decline – In 2012 the FL-DEP granted Georgia-Pacific paper mill a permit to discharge an unlimited amount of industrial waste into the St Johns River.  The paper mill was already discharging to the river without a valid permit at the time. The permit required that GP conduct biological community monitoring to determine if adverse effects resulted from effluent discharge relocation into the St. Johns River.

An original plan of study (POS) was developed by Georgia-Pacific Palatka to assess biological communities in the Lower St. Johns River (LSJR) as a function of proposed discharge relocation. This POS was approved by FLDEP and required that multiple biological communities across trophic levels be assessed including plankton, periphyton, epiphytic algae, submerged aquatic vegetation, macroinvertebrates, and fish communities both 2 years pre and post discharge relocation.

In reading the report, it is obvious that the study was designed to be inconclusive, but even where it seems obvious that the evidence shows adverse effects in the river from the new toxic discharge, the author tries to downplay the role that the 30 mgd of industrial waste plays in the decline in water quality. Essentially every adverse effect was excused for one reason or another.  Most importantly, the author claims that no further monitoring will be required. Not surprising when GP designed the report and a GP scientist wrote the report. Here are some quotes from the findings in the report:

a) “There was a general increase in mean Chlorophyll a post discharge relocation at all mainstream sites. These data would predict or suggest a likely increase in phytoplankton post discharge.

b) Phycoerythrin is a protein found in marine cyanobacteria and red algae. In marine species such as Synechococcus spp., phycoerythrin is the dominant accessory pigment. Similar to chlorophyll a, phycoerythrin fluorescence can be used to accurately determine cyanobacteria presence, and analyzing phycoerythrin concentrations is essential for detecting, quantifying, and monitoring the cyanobacteria contribution of marine species.

When phycoerythrin concentrations in mainstream sites were evaluated for differences due to distance from the point of discharge, all zones indicated a significant increase in phycoerythrin concentration basin-wide. These data would predict or suggest a likely increase in marine cyanobacteria post discharge.

c) In general, chlorophyll a concentrations indicate that the St. Johns River is a eutrophic to hyper eutrophic basin and these values are consistent across seasons and years. This pattern holds true for both phycocyanin (freshwater cyanobacteria) and phycoerythrin (marine cyanobacteria) as well. Results indicate that chlorophyll a concentrations and phycoerythrin levels were generally elevated post discharge relocation.

d) Mean phytoplankton abundance was first assessed for annual differences across the 2-year pre and post discharge relocation periods. Mean phytoplankton abundance results are presented for each year pre and post as well as the 2-year means pre and post discharge relocation. Results indicate a clear decrease in mean phytoplankton abundance post discharge as compared to both pre discharge years. These data suggest a “potential effect” of discharge relocation . . .

e) Results indicate a significant decrease in macroinvertebrate diversity post discharge relocation. The decrease in diversity was present at both years post and these effects may be potentially “adverse” since they meet of exceed the FLDEP criteria of a 25% or greater decrease. In addition, a decrease in diversity would normally be generally accepted as a “potential adverse effect” for a population or community.

f) In general, these analyses indicate macroinvertebrate abundance in channel zones decreased significantly post discharge relocation. However, this effect was generally basin-wide: across all sites within the 10 km north and south of the discharge site which does not indicate a dose dependent response to discharge, but rather an effect that may be due to other water quality differences such as the increased rainfall that was documented in this POS for the post discharge years. However, it is also possible that discharge exposure occurs across all sites within this 20km range, as the flow is both north and south daily and responses may be threshold effects rather than dose dependent response effects. While additional monitoring with sites further north and south of this 20km range may better elucidate if a relationship exists between the differences observed and discharge the current results do not require additional monitoring.”

6.  Sabal Trail pipeline – action alert from Gulf Restoration Network. The Sabal Trail Pipeline is in the permitting stage right now and is a threat to our springs and public safety.  Please go to the following link for the action alert on this issue and take this opportunity to have your voice heard:

Thank you for taking the time to read this, make your calls and send the emails.  AND thank you again for helping with our legal expenses.

For All of Florida’s Waters,

Linda Young, Executive Director

Florida Clean Water Network

P.O. Box 5124
Navarre, FL  32566

About the Author

Linda Young has been the executive director of the Clean Water Network of Florida since 1994. From 1989 to 1997, she founded and published a monthly statewide environmental newspaper. Over the past twenty three years, she has co-founded some of the most long-lasting and effective environmental organizations in the Southeast, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Gulf Coast Environmental Defense and C.A.T.E. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Southern Oregon University and a M.A. in Political Science/Campaign Management from the University of West Florida.

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