Chamber-Promoted Study Links Algal Blooms to Septic Tanks

 

Watch Video   Visit Our Water Solutions Page

 

A recent study by Florida Atlantic University points to aging septic tanks as a leading cause of pollution in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary.

On Wednesday, the Florida Chamber of Commerce released the fifth installment of a water education series, touting the new study.

Dr. Brian Lapointe, a professor with the FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, produced the research. Lapointe and Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson debuted the video in the Senate Office Building.

Joining the two were legislators from the algae-afflicted areas, including Sen. Debbie Mayfield and Reps. Gayle Harrel, Larry Lee Jr., Thad Altman and Randy Fine.

Harrel, a Stuart Republican, and Mayfield, a Melbourne Republican, are advancing policies that will address the issues unearthed by the study. Harrel recently introduced HB 339, something she describes as “Legacy 2.0” because it seeks to set aside 7.6 percent of Amendment 1 funding each year to convert septic tanks to sewers. Mayfield introduced an accompanying bill in the Senate, SB 786.

Wilson said anticipated population growth led the Chamber to make Florida water quality a priority.

“If you think about Florida’s future,” Wilson said, “here’s what we know: more people are going to need more water.”

The fact that Florida is adding 1,000 people each day, he continued, means an additional 6 million people will be living in Florida by 2030.

“So, water matters,” Wilson said.

 

Click here to read the complete article at Florida Politics.

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.

Florida Chamber Florida Chamber Congratulates Ernie Marks, New Leader of SFWMD

The Florida Chamber of Commerce congratulates Ernie Marks for being appointed as the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) Executive Director. Marks’ two decades of experience handling natural resource management and Everglades restoration will serve him well in this position, as the SFWMD continues to make long-term, sustainable and science-based water policy to help protect Florida’s natural and economic resources.

Much of Florida’s economic success is attributed to our state’s unique quality of life. As the third most populous state in the country, ensuring Florida remains the best place to live, work, learn and play is a top priority for the Florida Chamber.

At the Florida Chamber, we look forward to working with Ernie Marks, and to continuing our advocacy and education efforts to help protect Florida’s unique water systems and quality of life.

Watch the Florida Chamber’s Securing Florida’s Water Future Videos

There are few issue more important than water. Learn more by watching the Florida Chamber’s series of education videos focused on Indian River Lagoon, the Florida KeysSouthwest Florida and Springs

More Voices Join the Florida Chamber’s Call for Science-Based Water Solutions

Leading water and environmental experts agree – science-based solutions are essential to ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve. Science-based water quality solutions will help secure Florida’s future, and better prepare Florida for the additional six million more Floridians that will call Florida home by 2030. Nat Reed, Former Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and Stetson University’s Clay Henderson share this message in an educational video – Securing Florida’s Water Future: Indian River Lagoon.

Earlier this week, the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce joined the Florida Chamber in calling for science-based water quality solutions over questionable misinformation campaigns espoused on television. Please read Clewiston Chamber Executive Director Hillary Hyslope’s message below discussing this important issue.

Get Involved

Learn more about the Florida Chamber’s efforts to secure Florida’s water future through science-based solutions by clicking here. Join our efforts by contacting Christopher Emmanuel.

Securing Florida’s Water Future: Indian River Lagoon

 

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> VISIT Our Water Solutions Page

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 visitors deserve. Whether it’s the Apalachicola River in Northwest Florida, or our unique springs in Central Florida, the Indian River Lagoon in Southeast Florida, or our treasured Everglades in Southwest Florida, science-based data is key to meeting the challenges Florida faces. Together, with Harbor Branch research scientist Dr. Brian Lapointe, the Florida Chamber is pleased to present this educational video and hope it will spur conversations and collective action to help solve these issues.

Florida Chamber Release First in Series of Educational Water Videos Featuring FAU-Harbor Branch Research Professor Dr. Brian Lapointe

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Sept. 8, 2016) – As part of its ongoing efforts to help secure Florida’s future, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today released the first in a series of educational videos solely focused on ensuring Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and visitors deserve.

Securing Florida’s Water Future: Indian River Lagoon

 

Together, with FAU-Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brian Lapointe, this series of educational videos focuses on science-based water quality solutions– starting first with the Indian River Lagoon.

“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.”

The video, Securing Florida’s Water Future: Indian River Lagoon, features the following water and environmental leaders:

  • Clay Henderson, Executive Director, Stetson University Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience
  • Dan Pennington, Planning Analyst, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • Todd Kincaid, PH.D., Hydrogeologist, GeoHydros
  • Donna Rhoden, Public Information Manager, Port St. Lucie Utility
  • Nat Reed, Former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and National Parks
  • Doug Smith, Commissioner, District One, Martin County

“I’ve spent decades studying water quality throughout Florida, including nutrient pollution and harmful algae blooms,” said Dr. Brian Lapointe, FAU-Harbor Branch Research Professor. “This project with the Florida Chamber allows me and my colleagues an opportunity to share this research so the public can better understand how human activities are impacting Florida’s water resources.”

Economies across the state rely on water, an abundant resource in Florida. Water issues affect these areas economically and scientific steps should to be taken to prevent and counteract this side-effect of water pollution, a point Dr. Lapointe stresses in a Bottom Line interview with the Florida Chamber.

For more information, yisit the Florida Chamber’s water solutions page.

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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.

Dr. Brian Lapointe Stresses Scientific Approach to Water Issues

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

Dr. Brian Lapointe, Research Professor, Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Dr. Brian Lapointe is partnering with the Florida Chamber as part of its ongoing educational efforts to help secure Florida’s water future.

“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 paragon shift for me, to take what I’ve learned over 30 years and educate the public about these issues, and they’re big issues.”

Dr. Lapointe says that many of the main sources of pollution are not realized by the public. For example, Dr. Lapointe identifies septic tanks as being a major source of pollution in Florida that people do not 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 were 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.”

The campaign to educate Floridians on Florida water resources and issues, led by the Florida Chamber, FAU Harbor Branch, and Dr. Lapointe, places importance on finding a science-based set of solutions to water quality issues.

“A big issue for Florida is protecting the quality of our water because we have very sensitive resources here that are the attraction for tourists,” said Dr. Lapointe. “The Indian River lagoon… this is a place, clearly, that is being impacted by pollution from the water shed that, obviously, we need to get that system in recovery and use science to do it to protect the economic well being of that region.”

Economies across the state rely on water, an abundant resource in Florida. As Dr. Lapointe mentions, water issues affect these areas economically and scientific steps need to be taken to prevent and counteract this side-effect of water pollution.

 “These things are all doable if we use science to lead the way,” said Dr. Lapointe.

Septic Tank Pollution Threatening Indian River Lagoon

It’s not the most pleasant subject, but human waste from inappropriately located septic tanks is being blamed for polluting many of Florida’s waterways, including the Indian River Lagoon – the most biologically diverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern Hemisphere.

Scientists at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute have found that nitrogen-laden sewage from septic tanks draining into the lagoon is responsible for algae blooms that kill seagrass and marine life.

Recent news stories in Florida Today and the TC Palm’s Treasure Coast Progress & Innovation magazine have raised the issue of problems caused by the estimated 300,000 septic tanks along the lagoon.

Here Are Some of the Key Takeaways:

  • An analysis by Florida Today found septic tanks contribute an estimated 2 million pounds of nitrogen in the lagoon per year.
  • Nitrogen promotes the growth of algae, which suffocates seagrass needed to sustain lagoon life.
    Thousands of the septic tanks near the lagoon are located at homes built before 1983, the cutoff when state law increased septic tank setbacks from the water and the distance between drain fields and the water table.
  • Many of the septic tanks are old and malfunctioning. State health officials estimate up to 10 percent of Florida’s 2.6 million septic tanks are failing.
  • Harbor Branch marine biologist Dr. Brian Lapointe describes sewage nitrogen as “the smoking gun’’ threatening the lagoon.

Risks from septic tanks aren’t unique to the Indian River Lagoon.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports a Proposed Committee Bill by the House State Affairs Committee, as well as SB 552 by Senator Charles Dean (R-Inverness), which require water quality restoration programs to address septic tanks contributing to springs pollution and will benefit all state water ways by focusing resources on cost-effective water quality improvement projects.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Northwest Florida Water Management District recently set aside $11.6 million in state money to fund several projects to remove septic tanks from waterways in the Panhandle.

North of Orlando, the DEP has launched a study of about the impact of septic tanks on the Wekiva River. The state has declared the river and nearby springs polluted with nitrogen and phosphorous.

ICYMI: Below are links to recent articles highlighting septic tank pollution.