A state representative from Gainesville filed a bill that could raise awareness about the quality of Florida’s waterways. HB 393 Public Bathing Places was filed by Democratic Rep. Yvonne Hinson of District 20 with SB 604 Safe Waterways Act by Democratic Sen. Lori Berman of District 31 and is now awaiting committee review.
If passed, the legislation would require the Department of Health to create water quality testing procedures and schedules, post proper signage for contaminated bodies of water and redefine public bathing areas to include fresh, salt and brackish water used for swimming, diving or bathing.
“We’re trying to target areas where human beings tend to swim; but where human beings tend to swim, marine life tends to swim too, '' Hinson said. “We've had difficulty getting the current legislature to acknowledge climate change, which is one of the factors of what's happening to our water.”
The bills are identical and were written with the assistance of the Calusa Waterkeepers, a nonprofit organization focused on protecting Florida’s coastal waterways. State and county departments routinely test water quality, but there are inconsistencies in signage and alerting the public, specifically inland, according to Berman.
“Nearly a million acres of estuaries and 9,000 miles of rivers and streams in the state of Florida are verified impaired for fecal indicator bacteria,” Berman said. “Thirty-five percent of the verified impaired bodies have been on the impaired list for at least eight years.”
While Berman and Hinson said they are concerned about water quality, local officials have varying opinions about the legislation’s environmental impact for Alachua County. Lake Wauburg, one of the county’s three public bathing areas, has previously closed and issued warnings due to elevated levels of E. coli.
“I anticipate maybe one to possibly two more places that we might have to review results and issue advisories,” said Anthony Dennis, Alachua County’s environmental health director. “If there's a situation where we have to issue an advisory, is that gonna make the environment any better?”
Hinson and Berman said the signage would likely be inexpensive to enact and could increase awareness about issues of contamination, something Dennis and Greg Owen, a Senior Planner within the water resources division at the Alachua County Department of Environmental Protection, agree with.
“If it brings attention to areas that are lacking or susceptible to bacteria contamination, I could see it as being a good thing for raising that awareness,” Owen said.
Berman said she hopes that with enough notification, the public will become alarmed and motivate local departments to take action in addressing the sources of contamination.
Both bills are awaiting review, and Hinson and Berman must lobby committee chairs to include their respective bills in upcoming meeting agendas. In order to be presented to the governor, bills must pass through three committees and both houses of Florida’s Legislature.
Because the bills are identical, only one needs to be signed by Gov. DeSantis in order to become a law, but updates and edits to one bill must be reflected in the other.
On Nov. 3, the Senate referred Berman’s bill to the Environment and Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Appropriations committees and on Nov. 5, the House referred Hinson’s bill to the Professions & Public Health Subcommittee, Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and Health & Human Services Committee.
The bills are expected to be voted on when the committees meet for session in January.
A Roseate Spoonbill flew over our heads as our group of about 20 assembled in the parking lot of the High Island Bird Sanctuary in Texas. We caught our breath. Welcome to SEJ 2022, the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference.
Ocean plastics that don’t end up asphyxiating an albatross or entangling an elephant seal eventually break down into microplastics, which penetrate every branch of the food web and are nearly impossible to remove from the environment.One thing everyone agrees on is that we need to stop the flow of plastic into the ocean.
“Proven solutions that will reduce US plastic waste and pollution already exist and can be swiftly enacted. The success of single-use plastic bans, water refilling stations, and reusable food and dish ware can be extended nationwide.”
The world’s birds, described as the planet’s “canaries in the coalmine”, are disappearing in large numbers as the colossal impact of humanity on the Earth grows, a global review has found.
Rather than addressing the root cause of America's litter problem – the fact that there was much more disposable packaging after World War Two – their advertising campaigns focused on the bad behaviour of some consumers, he says. "Images and feelings were being manipulated by corporations to put the onus on the individual."
The research focused on microbial meat as it had been produced at industrial scale for 20 years and was already available, said Dr Isabelle Weindl, also at PIK. “Even accounting for the sugar as feedstock, microbial protein requires much less agricultural land compared [with] ruminant meat.” Previous studies have shown the protein quality of microbial meat is equivalent to beef but it requires 90% less land and water and produces 80% less greenhouse gas emissions.
We stopped commercially hunting whales, and the mass slaughter of bison. We no longer clearcut old-growth redwoods, or use explosives on prairie dog towns, or build massive dams on wild salmon rivers. We no longer kill egrets and herons to adorn women’s hats with their feathers. So why shoot and trap wolves, God’s dog, the forebear of all our beloved domestic dogs?
Outlawing grass is perhaps the most dramatic effort yet to conserve water in the Southwest, where decades of growth and 20 years of drought made worse by a warming climate have led to dwindling supplies from the Colorado River, which serves Nevada and six other states, Native American tribes and Mexico.
This is a worldwide public health threat. It’s very frustrating when you step back and you look at the science that has gotten even clearer over the years about how dangerous these chemicals are and how widespread their use is. The companies knew that if they put these chemicals out into the world they were going to get into our water, into our soil, into the wildlife, into us, yet they did it anyway. And now, after making billions of dollars for decades, those same companies are fighting any responsibility and trying to shift the cost of cleaning this mess up on to all of us.
Our team is always growing.
Become a partner, volunteer, sponsor, or intern today.
Let us know how you would like to get involved!