Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 

A state of water--Florida from space.

Florida is still reeling from a disastrous 2018 in which south Florida waterways suffered a double whammy of blue green algae and red tide.  Meanwhile, here in the panhandle the powerful Hurricane Michael caused historic damage and highlighted continued weaknesses in our sewage infrastructure. Now, the Florida legislature has just convened, and we’re pushing for them to help right the many wrongs of failed policies on water and growth that defined the Sunshine State last year.

If there was a silver lining at all in last year’s epic crisis of blue green algae and red tide, it’s that it happened in an election year. As such, candidates for office made plenty of promises to fix the problems of water pollution—especially the nutrient pollution and water management issues that caused the crisis.

Some...

 

Image by com77380 on Pixabay

The following is a blog written by Emily N. Donahoe, Legal Intern, from George Washington University Law School Gulf Recovery Network. The first blog in this series can be found here

On December 11, 2018, the Trump Administration published a proposed revision to the 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) Rule, which many are calling the “Dirty Water Rule”. The proposed revision sharply reduces Clean Water Act (CWA) authority over rain-dependent (ephemeral) waters and isolated waters separated by man-made or natural barriers.

The CWA’s objective is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” By stripping protections from rain-dependent waters and isolated waters, the Dirty Water Rule is jeopardizing this core purpose of the CWA.

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Pearl Resolutions Map
Counties and Parishes (shaded) opposed to "One Lake" Project

Last summer the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood Control and Drainage District published its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Feasibility Study for Pearl River Flood Control featuring the “One Lake” alternative as its preferred plan for addressing Pearl River flooding in Jackson. Ranked by cost from greatest to least, the order of alternatives was: floodplain buyouts, levee improvements, lake dredging, and finally the “no action” alternative. Comments were due on September 6th and a final EIS is being prepared now for publication sometime in 2019. The pathway to approval of that final document leads through the Washington D.C. office of the Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works.

A recent press release highlighted the costs to replace nine road bridges over the Pearl River in and around Jackson if the One Lake dredging project proceeds.  The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) pointed out in its official comment letter to the...

 

The following is a blog written by Emily N. Donahoe, Legal Intern, from George Washington University Law School Gulf Recovery Network.

On December 11, 2018, the Trump Administration submitted a proposal to drastically revise the Obama-era 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) Rule. What is WOTUS? And why does this revision to the 2015 WOTUS Rule matter?

Background

The term “WOTUS” stems from the Clean Water Act (CWA), which has the stated objective “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” Since the Act’s creation in 1972, there has been continued confusion about which waters qualify as a “water of the United States” and allow federal authority over. This question was initially left to the Supreme Court in...

 

Along the shores of Florida's St. Joseph Bay, where the Coastal Barrier Resources System helps to protect the area from unwise development while also saving taxpayer money.

 

A bit of bipartisanship snuck into the holiday season, and thousands of acres of dunes, seagrass beds, and other coastal habitat in Florida is all the better for it. On Friday, December 21, 2018, President Trump signed into law H.R. 5787—the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act of 2018. Out of 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 Senators, only one nay vote was cast.

The bill helps to protect coastal areas along the Florida Gulf coast and beyond, using modern mapping techniques that correct and expand the boundaries of the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS). The CBRS consists of hundreds of undeveloped coastal areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts where Federal taxpayer funds may not be used to subsidize development due to the risky and environmentally-sensitive nature of those areas. That means no artificially-cheap Federal flood insurance, beach nourishment...

 

The United States Senate on December 17 passed S. 1520, “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017.” Kendall Dix, fisheries organizer of Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), released the following statement in response to today’s Senate floor vote.

“From the beginning, GRN’s position has been that any update to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), our nation’s landmark fisheries law, should have been done in a comprehensive reauthorization bill.

While we are disappointed that the Senate rushed to take action during the lame duck session, the state of the bill is in better shape now than when it first came out of committee. Many of the poison pills were left on the cutting room floor, but we still have much work to do in the 116th Congress to pass a full reauthorization bill that would actually improve and strengthen the law.

GRN...

 

Localized flooding Uptown, New Orleans

Flood Less New Orleans is committed to engaging and mobilizing a variety of constituencies—including low-income communities and communities of color—to persuade the City of New Orleans to strategize and implement new measures that will help New Orleans flood less.

2018 has been a record year for green infrastructure and stormwater management in the Greater New Orleans area. The new city administration is making it a priority to grow the effort.  In fact, the New Orleans Data Center assesses the water economy as potentially one of our fastest growing economic drivers.  How do we grow our workforce and local businesses to serve our water economy needs and lead the world in green infrastructure? We are working with our partner, Launch NOLA  to grow jobs and partner with small family businesses that fill the need. Watch this short video below to find out how.

 

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Woody goldenrod blooms along the dunes at Deer Lake State Park in the Florida panhandle. The area is part of the Coastal Barrier Resources System.

 

The House of Representatives actually got something right. In an age of growing frustration at political divisions that create legislative gridlock, the House did something that most citizens say they want more of: They passed a bipartisan bill. Even better—it’s one that’s good for our environment and the Gulf of Mexico.

In this case, H.R. 5787--the Strengthening Coastal Communities Act-- passed by a landslide vote of 375 – 1. The bill helps to protect coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico and beyond, using modern mapping techniques to correct and expand the boundaries of the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS). The CBRS consists of hundreds of undeveloped coastal areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts where federal taxpayer funds may not be used to subsidize development due to the risky and environmentally-sensitive nature of those areas.

The program has...

 

Senior Policy Director Matt Rota recently penned an op-ed for The Advocate about the red tide off the coast of Florida. Read about how the crisis in Florida is connected to the Dead Zone in Louisiana and the federal government's failure to do anything about it

 

Families enjoy a fall day at the beach on Santa Rosa Island at Pensacola Beach, FL.

 

Imagine showing up for a day at the beach and being told that you’re on private property and have to leave. That’s what’s happening on Gulf beaches in the Florida panhandle, where the public’s ability to simply dip their toes into the waters of the Gulf is at risk.

The flashpoint in all of this is along a little 26 mile stretch of panhandle coast in Walton County just east of Destin. As the beaches got busier in recent years, Gulf front property owners began to put out ropes and no trespassing signs to keep people off the beaches behind their homes.

Some of these beach areas are indeed privately owned, but the public has never been restricted from freely using them until very recently. That fact has allowed other communities in Florida to establish what is called customary...

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Recent Posts

Florida is still reeling from a disastrous 2018 in which south Florida waterways suffered a...
Written by Christian Wagley
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
The following is a blog written by Emily N. Donahoe, Legal Intern, from George Washington...
Written by Guest Blogger
Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Last summer the Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood Control and Drainage District published its Draft...
Written by Andrew Whitehurst
Wednesday, 06 February 2019
The following is a blog written by Emily N. Donahoe, Legal Intern, from George Washington...
Written by Guest Blogger
Thursday, 10 January 2019
A bit of bipartisanship snuck into the holiday season, and thousands of acres of dunes,...
Written by Christian Wagley
Tuesday, 08 January 2019
The United States Senate on December 17 passed S. 1520, “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act...
Written by Kendall Dix
Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Flood Less New Orleans is committed to engaging and mobilizing a variety of constituencies—including low-income...
Written by Harry Lowenburg
Tuesday, 18 December 2018

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