Latest Florida Chamber of Commerce Water Education Video Highlights Kissimmee River and Science-Based Research Solutions To Securing Florida’s Water Future

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (April 17, 2018) – Building on efforts to secure Florida’s water future, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today is releasing the latest in a series of water education videos that demonstrate the importance of following science-based research solutions.

Securing Florida’s Water Future: Kissimmee River features research produced by Florida Atlantic University – Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brian LaPointe. The Kissimmee River basin extends south from Orlando to Lake Okeechobee and encompasses thousands of square miles.

 

“Drainage projects, along with other human activities, have altered the quantity and quality of water flowing south to Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades and the downstream estuaries,” said Dr. Brian LaPointe, Research Professor at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. “This video series allows us to share information on the Kissimmee River restoration, as well as other strategies that are underway to protect these important water resources for future generations.”

Securing Florida’s Water Future: Kissimmee River features water and environmental leaders, including:

  • Jeff Couch,S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Paul Gray, Ph.D., Okeechobee Science Coordinator, Audubon Florida
  • David Childs, Partner, Hopping, Green & Sams, P.A.
  • Ernie Barnett, Executive Director, Florida Land Council
  • Drew Bartlett, Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Bob Butler, Butler Oaks Farm

 

The Kissimmee River once meandered for 103 miles from Orlando to Lake Okeechobee. Following severe flooding in 1947, Congress authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to deepen, straighten and widen it.

Did You Know?

  • The Kissimmee Channelization Project destroyed much of the floodplain-dependent ecosystem, and had downstream impacts on water quality in Lake Okeechobee.
  • The Kissimmee Restoration Project will return flow to 44 miles of the historic channel and restore about 40 square miles of the river/floodplain ecosystem.
  • The watershed is also a highly urbanized developing area, and the very north end –closer to the Orlando area – a lot of communities are on septic tank systems. That remains one of the larger challenges, this source of nitrogen and phosphorus that leaches into waterways from septic tank systems.

 

“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, there are few issues more important than water,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “With six million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based data is key to meeting the challenges Florida faces.”

 

This is the Seventh in a Series of Water Research Education Videos. The Series Includes:

  • Kissimmee River & Tributaries North of Lake Okeechobee
  • St. Lucie Estuary
  • Springs
  • Southwest Florida
  • The Florida Keys
  • Indian River Lagoon

Click here to view the complete series or visit www.FloridaChamber.com/WaterVideos.

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber of Commerce Unveils Latest Water Research Educational Video

Video Addresses Discharges from Kissimmee River & Tributaries North of Lake Okeechobee and Science-Based Water Solutions

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (February 8, 2018) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today released its sixth in a series of water research educational videos further demonstrating why following science-based research is important to securing Florida’s water future. The latest video addresses discharges from the Kissimmee River and other tributaries north of Lake Okeechobee, and the science-based solutions that policy makers are considering to mitigate these problems in the future.

 

The educational video highlights research produced by Florida Atlantic University – Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brian LaPointe.

“I’ve spent my career studying water quality throughout the state of Florida, and this educational collaboration sheds light on the high water levels and alga blooms that followed the unusually heavy rainfalls in the winter and spring of 2016,” said Dr. LaPointe.

 

According to Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, there are few issues more important than water. “With six million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based solutions are the only way to ensure Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and our visitors deserve,” Wilson said.

Lake Okeechobee is the second largest lake in the continental United States. World-class fishing has helped spur tourism around the lake in recent decades. The lake is fed by the Kissimmee River and northern tributaries, which drain nutrient-rich fresh water from a 5,000-square mile basin extending south from Orlando.

The Latest Research Educational Video Includes Interviews With Environmental Leaders, Including:

  • Drew Bartlett, Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Ernie Barnett, Executive Director, Florida Land Council
  • Paul Gray, Ph.D., Okeechobee Science Coordinator, Audubon Florida
  • Scott Martin, Professional Angler and TV Host
  • Larry Wright and Tom Mann, Jr., Professional Bass Fishing Guide
  • Mary Ann Martin, Roland Martin’s Marina and Fishing Resort

 

This is the Sixth in a Series of Water Research Educational Videos. Previous Videos Include:

  •  St. Lucie Estuary
  • Springs
  • Southwest Florida
  • The Florida Keys
  • Indian River Lagoon

 

Click here to see the complete series, or visit www.FloridaChamber.com/WaterVideos.

 

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Florida Chamber of Commerce Unveils 5th Educational Video On Science-Based Water Research Solutions

To Secure Florida’s Water Future, Follow the Science

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (November 8, 2017) – The Florida Chamber of Commerce today unveiled its fifth in a series of water education videos which further demonstrates why following science-based research is important to securing Florida’s water future. The latest educational research video provides additional proof that septic tank problems are detrimentally impacting Florida’s water systems.

The educational video highlights research produced by Florida Atlantic University–Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brian Lapointe, and sheds light on the algae blooms on the St. Lucie Estuary that followed unusually heavy rainfall in the winter and spring of 2016.

“In the research I have conducted on behalf of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, the science points directly to human pollution as the number one cause of what’s imperiling our state’s local water sources,” said Dr. Lapointe. “The leading cause of this pollution are aging septic tanks, which are leaking into the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary.”

The educational research video addresses the role of Lake Okeechobee and local basin discharges, and the science-based solutions that policy makers are considering to mitigate this problem in the future. Specifically, the educational research video points to local basin discharges and septic tank pollution as detrimentally impacting the quality of water in the St. Lucie Estuary.

“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, there are few issues more important than water. With six million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based solutions are the only way to ensure Florida’s water future is sustainable, and provides the quality of life Floridians and our visitors deserve,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

 

The educational research video, Securing Florida’s Water Future: St. Lucie Estuary features the following water and environmental leaders:

  • Deborah Drum, Ecosystem Restoration and Management, Engineering Department, Martin County
  • Ernie Barnett, Florida Land Council
  • Drew Bartlett, Deputy Secretary of Water, Department of Environmental Protection
  • Scott Martin, Professional Angler
  • Doug Smith, Martin County Commissioner

On the research video, Drew Bartlett, Deputy Secretary of Water for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection says:

“The reason we know that septic systems are an issue for the St. Lucie Estuary is because we’ve monitored tracers, so we’ve looked for sucralose, this artificial sweetener, and we measured it and we know there’s a human source. And we’ve done the North Fork and the South Fork of the St. Lucie Estuary and we’ve seen sucralose throughout there, so we know that human waste water, septic tanks being very probable, is a source for all of these excess pollutants.”

Representative Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) has introduced HB 339 that calls for septic to sewage conversions, and Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) is also advancing policy to support this effort in the Florida Senate.

“The Indian River Lagoon is the most bio-diverse estuary in our country and is one of our most treasured natural resources.  It has been ravaged by harmful algae blooms, run-off and water pollution. Legacy Florida 2.0 will provide a dedicated and reliable funding source to address this problem. Septic to sewer conversion is a key component and will help preserve the IRL’s beauty for future generations,” said Representative Harrell.

 

“The Indian River Lagoon is one of the most valued economic and environmental assets in Florida. It provides over $7 billion dollars in revenue and inhabits approximately 4,000 different species. I am proud to work alongside Representative Harrell in passing this good bill to help save our lagoon,” said Senator Mayfield.

 

“Science based data is the key to meeting the challenges Florida faces, and the Florida Chamber is pleased to support the policy behind these proposals,” Wilson said.

 

The complete series of videos on securing Florida’s water future are available at www.FloridaChamber.com/WaterVideos.

 

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.

Securing Florida’s Water Future, Together

July 8, 2016

WATCH: President and CEO Mark Wilson meets with local business leaders to talk algae solutions.

 

One hundred years ago, the biggest threat facing Florida’s economy was a parasite – the cattle tick. Times were dire – the entire state was under federal quarantine and the very safety and security of Florida’s economic core were in danger of collapse.

Much has changed in the last century. With 20 million-plus residents, Florida is now the third most populous state in the country, and our economy is thriving. In fact, if Florida was a country, we’d be the 16th largest economy in the world.

Much of Florida’s economic success is attributed to our state’s unique quality of life. From the Panhandle’s white sandy beaches to the distinctive natural resources of the Keys, ensuring Florida remains the best place to live, work, learn and play has been a top priority for the Florida Chamber for the last 100 years. We’ve long championed long-term, sustainable water policy—science-based water policy – to protect Florida’s natural and economic resources for the future.

In fact, it’s why – for more than 30 years – the Florida Chamber Foundation has hosted a continuing education summer school to focus specifically on Florida’s fragile environment. We believe, providing resources like the Florida Chamber’s Environmental Permitting Summer School highlights science-based research and best management practices to help ensure communities across Florida grow smarter.  Environmental experts from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nature Conservancy, local and state environmental leaders and more make a point of attending annually.

Recently, I walked along the edges of the Indian River Lagoon and witnessed first-hand the blue green algae that is impacting families and job creators in Florida’s Treasure Coast. Shortly after that tour, I sat down with business leaders from the Stuart are in Martin County to learn more about the algae and its impact on their businesses. It’s a message I also shared with CNBC and WPBF 25.

While there was indeed an algae problem, the tourists the national media claimed were all gone where walking on the beaches and filling up the hotels, and enjoying the natural surroundings. And, while business leaders in the community shared their frustration of some lost business, they also shared their sense of urgency to spread the word the region is open for business.

At the Florida Chamber, we share in the frustration blue green algae has created, and we continue our long-standing commitment to seek real solutions to help provide relief.

In fact, as part of our ongoing efforts to help secure Florida’s water future, the Florida Chamber has been working with one of the world’s foremost experts on water science. Dr. Brian Lapointe, Research Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute has presented at the Florida Chamber’s Annual Meeting, appeared on our television program Bottom Line, and is helping us educate businesses and employees on the real causes – and solutions – to Florida’s water challenges.

With six million more residents expected to call Florida home by 2030, and our state’s water demand expected to increase by 20 percent by 2030, strong, science-based water quality standards will continue to play a vital role in Florida’s economy and quality of life.

While we should look at several possible solutions, one of the most promising and effective is septic tank conversions. Dr. Lapointe has extensive experience in water quality research in South Florida and the Caribbean region. His latest scientific research shows that septic tank sewage nitrogen is one of the threats to Florida’s waterways, including the Indian River Lagoon.

Over the years, Dr. Lapointe’s research has led to greater nutrient removal from sewage effluents in Monroe County, his long-term water quality monitoring at Looe Key reef in the Florida Keys represents the longest low-level nutrient record for a coral reef anywhere in the world.

While it may have been the cattle tick that brought Florida’s business community together 100 years ago and created the Florida Chamber of Commerce to protect the economic wellbeing of our state, protecting Florida’s water bodies and unique quality of life are vital to Florida’s future economy.

We’re proud to stand up for Florida families and job creators to do everything we can to ensure our economy is not only vibrant, but that it’s sustainable.

 

Florida Chamber and FAU Research Professor Announce Education Partnership to Help Secure Florida’s Water Future

 “To secure Florida’s water future, we really have to follow science; science has to lead the way.”

– Dr. Brian Lapointe

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 28, 2016) – As part of its ongoing efforts to help secure Florida’s water future, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today announces an educational partnership with Dr. Brian Lapointe, Research Professor at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

With six million more residents expected to call Florida home by 2030, and our state’s water demand expected to increase by 20 percent by 2030, strong, science-based water quality standards will continue to play a vital role in Florida’s economy and quality of life.

During the recently completed legislative session, lawmakers passed – and Governor Rick Scott signed into law – comprehensive and sustainable Florida Chamber-backed water policy. Further building on those efforts, the Florida Chamber’s water education campaign will help strengthen public awareness by educating employers and employees on how septic tank pollution threatens local waterways.

“Dr. Lapointe’s scientific research shows that septic tank sewage nitrogen is a smoking gun that threatens many of Florida’s waterways, including the Indian River Lagoon,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “At the Florida Chamber, we remain committed to Florida’s environment, and look forward to sharing Dr. Lapointe’s research and further securing Florida’s water future.”

Dr. Lapointe has extensive experience in water quality research in South Florida and the Caribbean region. His research has led to greater nutrient removal from sewage effluents in Monroe County, his long-term water quality monitoring at Looe Key reef in the Florida Keys represents the longest low-level nutrient record for a coral reef anywhere in the world.

Dr. Lapointe’s work in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in the 1990s, which utilized stable nitrogen isotopes to “fingerprint” nitrogen sources, was the first to demonstrate the importance of agricultural nitrogen from mainland sources to development of algal blooms in the Keys.

“I’ve been studying issues surrounding marine pollution and various land-based sources that contribute to the problems we’re seeing around the state,” said Dr. Lapointe. “This is a whole new paradigm shift for me, to take what I’ve learned over 30 years and educate the public about these issues, and they’re big issues.”

In a recent edition of  The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line public affairs program, Dr. Lapointe explains that many of the main sources of pollution are not realized by the public. For example, septic tanks are a major source of pollution in Florida that people do not often recognize as harmful.

“We have so many opinions around the state as to the various factors that may be causing things like the brown tide in the Indian River Lagoon, or the problems we’re seeing in the St. Lucie estuary or Florida Bay,” said Dr. Lapointe. “But, it really comes back to not using political or expedient solutions to these problems, which can often times make the problems worse. It is really looking at cause and effect and we really need to use the best science available to find out the causes of these problems.”

 

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.