Water-Related News

Chicken tests positive for West Nile

Pinellas County Mosquito Control has confirmed a positive test result for West Nile Virus in a sentinel chicken today, Oct. 11, in the Cross Bayou area of St. Petersburg. Technicians are responding with treatment targeting adult mosquitoes and larvae by ground and by air in the area in addition to their ongoing treatment efforts.

Sentinel chickens serve as an early-warning detection system for some mosquito-borne diseases and can signal that disease-carrying mosquitoes are present. This system alerts Mosquito Control to the presence of diseases such as West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Highlands J Virus. There are eight locations in the county where chickens are kept and tested weekly.

Citizens are urged to protect themselves from mosquitoes by staying indoors during the peak hours of mosquito activity at dawn and dusk when possible; using approved mosquito repellants, and ensuring screens and seals are intact around windows and doors.

Residents are also urged to be diligent in ridding their properties of standing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one quarter inch of standing water.

Visit www.pinellascounty.org/resident/mosquito_control.htm to find a mosquito control request form and additional information about stopping mosquitoes. Residents can also contact Pinellas County Mosquito Control at (727) 464-7503 or through the Pinellas County “Doing Things for You” app.

Reclaimed watering restrictions in effect

Pinellas County seasonal reclaimed water restrictions went into effect on Sunday, Oct. 1, and run through Thursday, Nov. 30. Due to supply fluctuation in both the north and south county reclaimed water systems, the restrictions schedule for reclaimed water users will be different for north and south county customers during this period.

Effective Tuesday, Oct. 17, North County reclaimed water customers may only irrigate two days per week based on property address, according to the schedule below:

• Addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, or 8) may water on Tuesday and/or Saturday.
• Addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, or 9) may water on Wednesday and/or Sunday.
• Parcels with mixed or no address, such as common areas associated with a residential subdivision, may water on Wednesday and/or Sunday.
• Watering is prohibited between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on all authorized days.

Because irrigation is entirely prohibited on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, the reclaimed water system will be shut down on these days, as needed. The system will also be shut down from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on all days of operation for supply recovery. Customers should monitor the reclaimed water restrictions website for up-to-date information on shutdowns and schedule changes at www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/reclaim-irrigation.htm.

Customer cooperation in following the two-days-per-week watering schedule is critical as excessive demand may require returning to watering one day per week.

South County reclaimed water customers may irrigate three days per week based on property address according to the following schedule:

• Addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) may water on Tuesday, Thursday and/or Saturday.
• Addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) may water on Wednesday, Friday and/or Sunday.
• Parcels with mixed or no address, such as common areas associated with a residential subdivision, may water on Wednesday, Friday and/or Sunday.
• Lawn irrigation is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on all authorized days.
• Lawn irrigation is also prohibited on Monday.

Pinellas County Utilities reminds customers that reclaimed water is a limited resource due to water usage, fluctuations in weather and capacity of the system. Conservation is necessary to promote adequate supply that is shared by all customers.

Customers are encouraged to follow these restrictions throughout the year to promote a healthy, sustainable Florida lawn and landscape. Utilities advises customers to learn about and apply Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ practices, including watering only when grass and plants start to wilt and, when needed, watering deeply to encourage deep, drought-tolerant root systems.

Utilities customers are also reminded that Pinellas County follows year-round conservation measures allowing irrigation using potable, well, lake or pond water two days per week on assigned days based on house address. To verify watering days, visit www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/water-restrict.htm.

For more information about reclaimed water, visit www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/reclaim-irrigation.htm, or call Pinellas County Utilities Customer Service at (727) 464-4000. Customers are advised to monitor the website, as additional restrictions may be implemented if seasonal rainfall is lower than anticipated and the reclaimed water supply becomes limited.

What will Florida (and its water supply) look like in 2070?

The Florida of 2070 is at a crossroads today.

That’s the conclusion of two reports released late last year by 1000 Friends of Florida, the University of Florida’s GeoPlan Center and the state’s Department of Agriculture. With the state’s population expected to swell to 33.7 million by 2070, almost 15 million more than identified in the 2010 Census, researchers teamed up to look at growth trends and sprawl.

One report, Florida 2070, says if development continues on its current path, more than a third of the state will be paved over by 2070. That means millions of acres of agricultural and natural lands will be lost, to say nothing of the jobs, natural resources and quality-of-life indicators tied to them.

Another report, Water 2070, says almost 15 million new Floridians will overburden an already fragile water supply, with water use projected to more than double by 2070.

King Tide floods Tampa Bay coast

If you didn’t make it to the beach this weekend, it’s likely the beach made it to you, if you live anywhere near the coast.

Gulf waters crept into streets on St. Pete Beach. In some areas, the water levels reached as high as four feet deep

ABC Action News investigated the area of Casablanca Avenue where people, cars, trucks - whoever- was trying to get through was having a tough time.

“I just can’t believe this,” Janis Allwood, who lives less than a mile from the white sands of St. Pete Beach, said.

Man people could be seen wading through the water for fun, others driving cautiously hoping the water didn’t reach too high and into their vehicles.

Lake O hits highest level since 2005, raising concerns its dike could fail

Rainfall from Hurricane Irma has pushed the water level in Lake Okeechobee to its highest point since 2005. Now, with more wet weather in the forecast, nearby residents fear a collapse of the 80-year-old dike around the lake.

As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dumping large volumes of lake water out into coastal estuaries — exactly as it did last year, when those releases caused a massive toxic algae bloom that closed Atlantic coast beaches over the Fourth of July weekend.

Meanwhile, Corps officials have stepped up inspections of the dike to three to four times a week to make sure its continuing leaks don't grow to the point of endangering people living near it.

"We recognize that as the water level continues to rise, there is an increased risk of failure," Corps spokesman John Campbell said.

The dike around the lake is classified as one of the most vulnerable in the nation. The earthen embankment on the south end of the lake is older, and thus more in danger of being breached, he said.

That puts the communities south of the lake — Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay and Clewiston among them — at the greater risk for both property damage and loss of life.

Is development draining Florida’s aquifer system beyond repair?

"Water flow is the lifeblood of the springs, so when you reduce their flow, they start getting sick." —Robert Knight, Florida Springs Institute

The economic benefits of development and the preservation of natural resources are continually being weighed against each other. In a state like Florida, this conversation is often a protracted — even heated — one because so much of the state’s tourism industry is reliant on keeping its beaches, parks and springs as pristine as possible. The boon delivered by tourism also justifies questions about how new construction and expanding agricultural operations could put a dent in one of the state’s biggest revenue streams.

More than 112 million tourists visited Florida last year, a 5.9% increase from 2015, Florida Today reported. Those visitors spent $109 billion and generated 1.4 million jobs.

And some visitors are staying.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced last month that the state had seen the number of private businesses increase by 16.5% since December 2010. While many of the net 75,449 businesses added since then are homegrown, the figure also includes those coming from out of state to set up shop. The growth in the number of businesses in the state is one contributor to its strong population growth currently.

That’s good news and bad news for the state. The good news is that all those new people will need places to live, shop, work, learn, relax and seek medical care, which means a boost for the state's construction industry and its workers. Local and state agencies also get to collect more property, sales and other taxes as a result.

The bad news is that the strain on the state’s aquifer system — the subterranean limestone reservoirs that provide most of the water that Floridians use to drink, bathe and water their lawns — is starting to become evident.

Redington Shores residents opt out of beach renourishment

In the midst of a Town Commission meeting focused on recovery and cleanup after Hurricane Irma, Mayor Bert Adams had some unsettling news for residents.

The town will not be a part of a beach nourishment scheduled for later this year, or for the years leading up to the next beach nourishment, possibly five years away. Not enough residents signed property easement agreements required by Pinellas County's alliance with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps requires beachside residents allow an easement from the erosion control line landward to their seawall. Without the easements, the Corps will not be able to provide replacement sand. This affects not only the property owners who have refused to sign, but also their neighbors when there is not enough continuous beachfront to allow the nourishment work to be done. In the case of Redington Shores, the entire town misses out.

Only four of 30 required agreements were received, Adams said.

"It's done. We're not getting any sand," he said.

Two sentinel chickens test positive for West Nile

Pinellas County Mosquito Control has confirmed a positive test result for West Nile Virus in two sentinel chickens yesterday, Sept. 28, in the Sawgrass Lake and Lake Maggiore areas of St. Petersburg. Technicians are responding with treatment targeting adult mosquitoes and larvae by ground and by air in the area in addition to their ongoing treatment efforts.

Sentinel chickens serve as an early-warning detection system for some mosquito-borne diseases and can signal that disease-carrying mosquitoes are present. This system alerts Mosquito Control to the presence of diseases such as West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Highlands J Virus. There are eight locations in the county where chickens are kept and tested weekly.

Citizens are urged to protect themselves from mosquitoes by staying indoors during the peak hours of mosquito activity at dawn and dusk when possible; using approved mosquito repellants, and ensuring screens and seals are intact around windows and doors.

Residents are also urged to be diligent in ridding their properties of standing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one quarter inch of standing water.

Visit www.pinellascounty.org/resident/mosquito_control.htm to find a mosquito control request form and additional information about stopping mosquitoes. Residents can also contact Pinellas County Mosquito Control at (727) 464-7503 or through the Pinellas County “Doing Things for You” app.

Year-round water restrictions now in effect

All 16 counties throughout the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s boundaries are now on year-round water conservation measures, with lawn watering limited to twice-per-week unless your city or county has a different schedule or stricter hours. Local governments maintaining once-per-week watering by local ordinance include Hernando, Pasco and Sarasota counties.

Under the District’s year-round measures, even addresses may water on Thursday and/or Sunday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. and odd addresses may water on Wednesday and/or Saturday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

Additional details regarding the watering of new lawns and plants, reclaimed water and other water uses can be found at WaterMatters.org/Restrictions. To learn more about how you can conserve water, please visit WaterMatters.org/Conservation.

Water system maintenance starts Oct. 9

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The method of water treatment for Pinellas County and its wholesale customers will be temporarily modified between Monday, Oct. 9, and Friday, Nov. 3. The routine maintenance measure designed to optimize water quality is the second of two short-term changes from chloramine to chlorine disinfection in 2017.

Pinellas County Utilities water customers, as well as customers in the cities of Clearwater, Pinellas Park and Safety Harbor, will benefit from this program.

The disinfection program is designed to maintain distribution system water quality and minimize the potential for any future problems. There have been no indications of significant bacteriological contamination problems in the system. The water will continue to comply with all federal and state standards for safe drinking water.

Kidney dialysis patients should not be impacted, but should contact their dialysis care provider for more information about chlorine treatment. Fish owners should not be affected if they already have a system in place to remove chloramines, but should contact local pet suppliers with any questions.

Customers may notice a slight difference in the taste and/or odor of the water during this temporary change in treatment.

Chlorine was used as the primary disinfectant in the water for more than 50 years prior to 2002. Pinellas County switched to chloramine in 2002 to ensure compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards. Many communities using chloramine convert back to chlorine for short periods of time to maintain system water quality.

The chlorine maintenance program underscores the county’s strategic goal of protecting and improving the quality of our water.

For more information, please visit the link below or contact Pinellas County Utilities Customer Service at (727) 464-4000.

Vacancy announced on Pinellas Park Water Management District Board of Directors

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Applications are now being accepted for a three-year appointment to the Pinellas Park Water Management District Board of Directors.

The Board was created pursuant to Special Act 75-491, Laws of Florida, as amended by 2001-325, Laws of Florida, which can be found at http://www.ppwmd.com/media/2014/ppwmd-charter.pdf. The Board has the purpose and authority to manage the primary stormwater drainage system within the city of Pinellas Park and surrounding unincorporated areas within the districts’ boundaries.

Meetings of the Pinellas Park Water Management District are held every other month. All regular authority meetings are held on the third Thursday of every other month at 5:30 p.m., at the district office located at 6460 35th St. N., Pinellas Park.

Applicants must be a qualified elector of the district with an outstanding reputation for civic pride, interest, integrity, responsibility and business ability. No person who is an officer or employee of any city or county, in any capacity, except elected officials, shall be appointed as a member of the authority.

Mandatory applications can be found at www.pinellascounty.org/boards and must be received no later than the close of business on Oct. 30, 2017.

The Board of County Commissioners will review all applications and make its selection at an upcoming Board of County Commissioners meeting.

All materials submitted to Pinellas County government are subject to the public records law of the State of Florida.

Pinellas County embarks on $19-million project to pull muck out of Lake Seminole

SEMINOLE — Environmental experts, always concerned about the water quality of Lake Seminole, are assessing how much Hurricane Irma may have stirred up the nearly 1 million cubic yards of muck that lay on the bottom.

"There are so many nutrients stored in those sediments," Pinellas County Environmental Management division director Kelli Levy said. "Every time they get stirred up, it's like releasing fertilizer into the water column that speeds up algal bloom."

This latest concern regarding the 684-acre lake comes two months after Pinellas County commissioners agreed to move forward on a $19 million dredging project, half of which will be paid for by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, that will remove 416 tons of nitrogen and 77 tons of phosphorus from the lake.

While design and permitting are under way, actual dredging is not expected to begin until next August and will not be completed until 2023.

County Commission chairwoman Janet Long, whose history with the lake dates to her tenure as a Seminole City Council member, said she is pleased that a resolution finally is in sight.

"We expect this project will return the lake to a condition where it will support recreational and commercial use,'' Long said.

The county has been wrestling with how to improve the lake's water quality for more than two decades. The seeds of the dilemma were sown in the mid 1940s, when commissioners decided to create a freshwater lake on the arm of Long Bayou that would serve as a source of irrigation for citrus groves as well as for recreation.

"It was doomed from the day it became a lake," Levy said. "We took a saltwater system and converted it into a freshwater system that has no source of water other than rainfall. Basically, we ended up with this big bowl of water sitting on top of muck."