Dear friends of Florida’s waters –
I hope that some of you have seen the media coverage of our recent work.  We’ve been busy building a concerted effort to hold the Koch Brothers/Georgia-Pacific accountable for their illegal pollution of Rice Creek and the St Johns River. Actually, there is a lot more than our normal full-plate of issues right now, so here’s a short synopsis and a suggestion of what you can do to help:
1.  FL CWN sends notice to Governor and Cabinet that suit will be filed for better protection of Florida’s submerged lands;
2.  FL CWN sends notice to Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC that they are operating without a permit and a suit will be filed;
3.  Mercury TMDL workshops
4.  Triennial Review workshops
5.  Please help us with our legal expenses!!!
6.  Little water but lots of algae!!!
1.  FL CWN sends notice to Governor and Cabinet that suit will be filed for better protection of Florida’s submerged lands; last week we were joined by the Environmental Youth Council, Neil Armingeon and Karen Ahlers in a notice to the Governor and Cabinet members that they have 15 days to take action or else we will file suit against them at the Florida Supreme Court for better protection of Florida’s submerged lands where pulp and paper mills build pipelines that accompanied by mixing zones.  The immediate concern is the pollution pipe being constructed by Georgia-Pacific across the St Johns River in Palatka.  A Georgia-Pacific company (there are many) got a submerged land easement for the pipe itself, but the easement says nothing about, and doesn’t charge for, the large mixing zones that will be granted with the permit for the discharge.  DEP anticipates granting the paper company at least five mixing zones, including one for chronic toxicity (which includes a major dioxin contamination problem).  The part of the river that includes the mixing zone will be unsuitable for human use and will not support aquatic life either.  The Florida Public Trust Act and the Florida Constitution say that before the Governor and Cabinet give private use to public resources, they must determine that the use is not contrary to the public interest.  If they make this determination, then the public must be compensated fairly.  None of this has happened in the case of Georgia-Pacific’s proposed discharge to the St Johns River, which we are opposed to and do not believe that it could possibly NOT be contrary to public interest.
Go to our new website and read more:  floridacleanwaternetwork.org
IF YOU WANT TO HELP!!!! CONTACT THE GOVERNOR AND CABINET AIDES AND TELL THEM that they need to follow the mandate of the Florida Constitution by requiring pulp and paper companies that are seeking pollution pipelines with mixing zones to seek permission for the taking of our waters.  Here are their names and email addresses:

Governor’s aide: Rachel goodsen Rachel.goodson@eog.myflorida.com

850-717-9239

Attorney General aide: 850/245-0145  rob Johnson rob.johnson@myfloridalegal.com

Comptroller aide – Robert tornillo  Robert.tornillo@myfloridacfo.com

Dept. of Ag aide:  Jim Boxold  jim.boxold@freshfromflorida.com

 

2.  FL CWN sends notice to Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC that they are operating without a permit and a suit will be filed;

On Tuesday of this week we sent Georgia-Pacific Consumer Operations LLC a Notice of Intent to Sue under the Clean Water Act.  The company is operating without a valid permit and has been for almost 5 years.  You can read the full notice at our attorney David Ludder’s website, which is:  http://www.enviro-lawyer.com/GPCO-NOIS.pdf
You can read our full press release at our new website:  floridacleanwaternetwork.org
3.  Mercury TMDL workshops:  
Next week FL DEP will hold several workshops regarding their statewide TMDL for mercury.  The TMDL is required as a result of a lawsuit that was filed and won by Florida Clean Water Network and our members.  We are working on a comment letter and will post it on our website as soon as it is ready.  Here are the dates and locations for the workshops in case some of you can attend:

Southwest & Central

June 4th, 2012  1:30 pm
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Southwest District Main Conference Room.
13051 N Telecom Parkway
Temple Terrace, Florida 33637

Southeast & Central

June 5th, 2012  1:30 pm
Florida Department of Environmental Protection,
Southeast District Public Meeting Room
400 North Congress Avenue, Suite 200
West Palm Beach, Florida, 33401

Northeast & Central

June 6th, 2012  1:30 pm
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Northeast District
7825 Baymeadows Way, Suite B200
Jacksonville, Florida 32256

Northwest

June 7th, 2012  1:00 pm
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Northwest District Conference Room 502
160 W Government Street
Pensacola, Florida 32502

Tallahassee

June 11th 2012  1:30 pm
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Bob Martinez Center, Room 609
2600 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

4.  Triennial Review Workshops – 

Recently DEP held several public meetings regarding the Triennial Review of Florida’s Water Quality Standards.  There are several issues on the table this time including:  dissolved oxygen criteria, human-health based toxics criteria, and beach renourishment rules.  The human-health based toxics criteria is being developed because of about 20 years of pushing DEP and more recently a petition that we sent to the US EPA to force EPA to take action in lieu of the state’s.  DEP doesn’t want EPA to set the new toxic chemical criteria, so they are taking another stab at it.  As you might imagine, the state’s approach is very pro-polluter and will actually weaken some of our current drinking water protections.  I know that’s hard to believe but their proposal will double the amount of benzene that can be in your drinking water for instance.  This is happening, according to DEP, because their rules are set to give the best protection to overweight, white adult males.  Children, women, minorities and poor people are provided little or no protection by DEP’s state cancer lottery.  If you are an over-weight, white, adult male and you lose the cancer-lottery by eating a few bites of fish every week, then you may take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.  DEP expects 180,000 over-weight, white, adult males to die for each toxic chemical in Florida’s waters. That’s 10% of Florida’s population.  If you are in one of the other categories of Floridians (children, women, non-white men, women and children, etc.) well, your chances of being selected in Florida’s cancer-lottery are a lot higher.
There’s a lot more about DEP’s proposed limits on toxic chemicals that will make your blood boil.  I’ll write more later and will post our first comment letter on our website soon.  I can almost predict that this will end up in federal court in the near future.
5.  Please help us with our legal expenses!!!

Many of you have been sending your memberships and even additional donations to help with our expenses.  THANK YOU!!!! All of your contributions are important and are so appreciated.  Filing lawsuits is almost the only way to make Florida lawmakers pay attention to the law anymore.  I wish there were other ways to defend our springs, streams, lakes and estuaries but we have elected a band of thugs to run our state and they are having a feeding frenzy on our resources.  If you can help us with our legal expenses, please drop a check in the mail right away.  These legal actions are EXPENSIVE and we rely on your donations to keep us afloat.  You can send your check to Clean Water Network of FL, P.O. Box 5124, Navarre, FL  32566.  Thank you in advance for your help and for caring about Florida’s waters and the animals that depend on them for their very existence.
6.  Little water but lots of algae!!!
As everyone knows, our state is in a severe drought and the condition of our waters is as bad or worse than they have ever been.  Health departments from Alachua and Lee Counties have issued advisories to stay out of local rivers.  The Santa Fe, a beautiful spring fed river that should flow into the Suwannee is choked with toxic algae.  The Caloosahatchee River is once again loaded with toxic algae and is unsafe to touch, smell, etc.  The newspapers around the state have been doing a good job of covering these problems and there have been great editorials daily across the state.  Yet, our politicians and their political lackeys at the Water Management Districts and DEP act as if there is not problem at all.  DEP is totally focused on weakening its rules and getting rid of conscientious employees and can’t be bothered with algae and dead fish.
If you have time to contact your local elected officials, state representatives and/or the Governor’s office, please let them know that we expect them to at least pretend they care.  To keep granting Consumptive Use Permits to huge new developments and businesses like the cattle CAFO planned for Marion County, etc. is criminal.  They must stop!!!! Our aquifers are dangerously low and our surface waters are disappearing daily.  Please speak out and get involved on your local level.

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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