Eleanor K. Sommer

As she approached 60 years old, Eleanor K. Sommer decided to dump her nine-to-five job and embark on an adventure. Rather than retire, she chose to attend graduate school and turn her 40 years of writing, editing, and publishing experience into an environmental journalism career. Her first effort on this path has been to enroll in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Florida. Having previously eschewed the snow-covered hills of northwest New Jersey, Ms. Sommer had fled to the Florida sunshine to attend the University of South Florida in 1970. Subsequently, worked as a reporter and editor, and eventually published a monthly business magazine. She moved to Gainesville in 1994 and settled on 10 acres of “real” Florida near Paynes Prairie with her husband and 100-pound yellow Lab.

Drought Forecast

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hotter-than-normal temperatures are expected through October over most of the contiguous 48 U.S. states, with below-average precipitation for Midwest areas already hit by the worst drought in a half century, government forecasters said on Thursday.

Read more at: www.chicagotribune.com

Texas Water Woes: Lessons for Florida?

The punishing seven-year drought of the 1950s in Texas brought about the modern era of water planning. But the drought of 2011 was the hottest, driest 12 months on record there. Though only a handful of towns saw their water sources dry up last summer, it got so bad that cities, industries and farmers began to think the unthinkable: Would they run out of water?

Read more at: www.npr.org

Silver Springs Photographer Bruce Mozert to Show Historic Photos

Don’t miss this one of kind presentation by world famous underwater photographer, Bruce Mozert who has been photographing Silver Springs since 1938. The presentation, which begins at 10 a.m., is part of Splash for our Springs! The day-long activities begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 30, at Ray Wayside Park boat ramp in Ocala, FL, and include music, a flotilla, and networking. Bring your own lunch or refreshments.

Read more at: wateractionteam.org

Rain Soaks Most of Florida

Parts of Florida have gotten as much as 13 inches of rain in 24 hours and nearly twice that in 48 hours as Tropical Storm Debby stalls off the coast near the Panhandle. The slow-moving storm, while dumping much needed rain on drought-stricken north and central Florida, is also wrecking havoc as it produces storm surge along the coasts and spawns tornadoes around the state. The storm is expected to move slowly across the state during the week.

Florida, the Sunshine State, continues to be the thoroughly sodden state, thanks to torrential rains from slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby. On Monday, Debby spawned an area of intense thunderstorms that blew up over the Florida Panhandle, just east of Apalachicola.

Read more at: classic.wunderground.com

Florida Conservation Coalition Calls Floridians to Action

Although the day began with the threat of rain that never materialized, more than 1400 people showed up at Silver River State Park today to join former Fla. Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and other leaders of the Florida Conservation Coalition in a call to action to protect Florida’s water resources.

Silver River State Park

Eleanor K. Sommer

Participants at the Florida Conservation Coalition Forum, Silver River State Park near Ocala in Florida.

The day included talks, educational sessions, hikes to the river, and music by Whitey Markle and the Swamprooters. Participants also had the opportunity to learn about Florida’s springs and the Floridan aquifer from a contingent of nonprofit organizations that lined the edges of the big tent where speakers presented short talks, shared memories, and urged citizens to contact elected officials regarding Florida’s dwindling water supplies.

Gov. Graham

Eleanor K. Sommer

Former Fla. Gov. Bob Graham delivers the message about Florida's dwindling water resources.

Sen. Graham began the program by telling the audience about his family’s history in the state of Florida and his first memories of the springs. Florida’s environment, he said, is the state’s most important economic asset.

Speaker Charles Lee of the Florida Audubon Society asked the audience to identify the most wasteful use of water in the state. He then pulled out a square of turf grass to emphasize his point: unnecessary landscape irrigation.

Lee also talked about the decline of flow rates in Florida’s waterways using Silver River as an example. Since 2000, Lee told the audience, the flow rate of the Silver Springs, which feeds the Silver River, flow has dropped from 800 cubic feet per second to 250 cubic feet per second.

If that rate continues he said, the springs could disappear within two to 12 years depending on whether you use aggressive or conservative measurements based on historical flow rates.

Lee also suggested that something is wrong with the rainfall calculations in the state. He said, for instance, that the Withlacoochee River has gone dry four times in the last 80 years: in 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2012, indicating rainfall has significantly changed in the last decade.

“Unfortunately, the water management districts are still plugging into their computer models that Florida is getting 60 inches of rainfall a year. Guess what? We’re not getting 60 inches a year,” he said.

The districts must calculate rainfall measurements and manage water accordingly, which Lee said will necessitate rolling back some existing consumptive use permits that are in existence now and failing to grant futures ones.

Lee admitted such action is a “tough call.” But he said “the reality is that the future of Florida’s economic growth is dependent on water resources.”

New York Times Features Plight of Florida Springs

Note: The last official state springs count by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was 1040!

SILVER SPRINGS, Fla. – Of Florida’s 700 artesian springs, Silver Springs shimmered the brightest. Its fresh water was so translucent that the white sand and tiny shells at the bottom glistened, giving the river and springs a beautiful blue tint from above. Glass-bottomed boats grew famous here as did underwater photography.

Read more at: www.nytimes.com

Upcoming Water Meetings in Florida

Saturday June 23
Stand Up for Silver Springs and Florida’s Waters
Sponsored by the Florida Conservation Coalition
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Silver River State Park, Ocala FL

Concerned Florida residents and organizations will gather on Saturday to learn about imperiled waterways and how they can be protected.The FCC was founded by former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (D) and other organizations in 2011 to campaign for the protection and sustainable management of Florida’s natural environment and water resources. Former Fla. Gov. Graham will speak at the event with former state Sen. Lee Constantine (R). Other guest speakers include Bob Knight, Jim Stevenson, and John Moran. Whitey Markle and the Swamprooters will provide live music.

Monday June 25
First meeting of north Florida water supply stakeholder representatives
North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership
6 p.m.
St. Johns District’s Governing Board Room, 4049 Reid St., Palatka FL

The stakeholder committee is an advisory body that will offer viewpoints of stakeholder groups with the St. Johns River and Suwannee River water management districts and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help address the region’s water supply issues. The partnership was established by the Suwannee River Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, and DEP as an initiative to protect natural resources and ensure cost-effective and sustainable water supplies in north Florida. The initiative seeks to improve program coordination and communication among water managers, local governments, concerned individuals and other stakeholders by working together to protect the shared resources of the Floridan aquifer system.

Thursday June 28
Central Florida Water Initiative Open House
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Lakefront Marina Building,
1104 Lakeshore Blvd. St. Cloud FL

The public is invited to an information session to learn more about the Central Florida Water Initiative and how to become involved in the planning process. The information session will be an informal, open-house format with no formal presentation.

The Central Florida Water Initiative is a collaboration of agencies that address water issues in southern Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, and Seminole counties.

The St. Johns River Water Management District is part of the initiative, which is focused on water resource planning, development and management for the central Florida region. Other participating agencies are the South Florida and Southwest Florida water management districts, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and regional water utilities.

Maude Barlow Speaks Out On Water Issues

Maude Barlow fires off observations and offers an opinion about the state of water and how RIO+20 has failed once again to adequately address water availability in the world. Barlow is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, chair of the board of Food and Water Watch, as well as an international best-selling author and was featured in a documentary based on her book Water on the Table.

Gandhi said it best when he said, “the Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not enough to satisfy every man’s greed.”

Read more at: www.alternet.org