An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Hurricane storm surge threatens thousands of Sarasota-Manatee homes

The two-county region ranks No. 8 among U.S. metro areas for vulnerable residences.

Nearly 374,000 residences in Southwest Florida are threatened by hurricane storm surge, with a potential rebuilding cost surpassing $77 billion.

For the fifth consecutive year, Sarasota-Manatee ranked eighth among major U.S. metro areas for storm surge risk, according to a study released on Thursday by real estate database CoreLogic.

As the 2020 hurricane season begins on Monday, Florida remains the state with the most homes at risk from a storm surge and with the highest reconstruction cost in the country.

Some 7.36 million homes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts sit in danger from hurricane-driven waves.

SWFWMD “Splash! Grants” bring water education to students

The Splash! school grant program provides up to $3,000* per school to enhance student knowledge of freshwater resources issues. Public and charter school teachers of grades K-12 are eligible to apply. 

As the school year comes to a close, so does another successful season of the District’s Splash! school grant program. This year the District awarded 65 Splash! grants to K-12 educators to help enhance and support water education activities. In total the grants engaged more than 20,000 students and adults.

For many educators, the Splash! grant program enables them to give students hands-on experiences that otherwise would not occur. This may include a field study at a local waterway, building and maintaining a water-conserving garden, conducting a water conservation outreach campaign and more.

In providing feedback on this year’s grant, one teacher at South Sumter Middle School stressed the importance of receiving grant funds.

“The Splash! grant is an integral part of my curricular goals each year since other funding is unavailable. It is only through programs like Splash! that I can dedicate the time and effort to educate our students on ways to protect and conserve water resources in our state.”

Applications for the 2019-2020 school year will be available in July and are due August 31, 2019. No exceptions will be made.

The District is grateful to be able to provide support to educators through the Splash! grant program, helping to inform and inspire our future decision makers and leaders. To learn more about the Splash! grant program click here.

*Grants are awarded based on available funding.

Parts of Robinson Preserve to close as expansion project resumes May 26th

MANATEE COUNTY – Work is set to resume on the final construction phases at Manatee County's popular Robinson Preserve Expansion. The Parks and Natural Resources Department will oversee habitat restoration on 135 acres located at the expansion area of Manatee County’s most popular natural preserve.

Public access will be closed to the construction area but all other trails into Robinson Preserve will remain open to the public, including the grounds of the Mosaic Center for Nature, Exploration, Science and Technology (the NEST). [Please check the Parks Closures page to see if the NEST itself is open.]

The $2.8 million restoration project will begin May 26 and last approximately seven months. During the project, heavy equipment will be used to enhance fisheries habitat, and install native plants. Crews will also use the closure time to construct new pavilions, restrooms, kayak storage tubes, benches and trailside shade structures. The habitat restoration project, partially funded with BP Oil Spill dollars, is designed to local fisheries, and restore native habitats. The project is being funded through a combination of grants including a $1.5 million contribution from National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a result of the Deep Water Horizon/BP Oil spill. The remaining $500,000 comes from the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Manatee public beach parking time limits lifted, Bayfront Park reopened

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (May 12, 2020) – Social distancing requirements will remain but parking limits will be lifted at Manatee County's public beach parking beginning tomorrow, May 13.

County Commissioners today approved another weekly update on the County's reopening plan by County Administrator Cheri Coryea that calls for enhanced presence along popular beach areas for crowd control from Manatee Sheriff's Office on weekends until July 12. Sheriff's Office reinforcement will also to help the County's municipal partners on with parking, crowds and traffic enforcement. Residents should not park in the right of ways along Bradenton and Coquina Beaches. Some parking areas near the County's utility construction projects along Bradenton Beach will remain closed for safety.

As part of today's action, Commissioners approved extending for seven days the local state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parking at public beaches will no longer be restricted to two hours beginning tomorrow. The County's popular Bayfront Park inside the City of Anna Maria, will also reopen tomorrow. Greer Island, a popular stop for local boaters near Longboat Key, will remain temporarily closed.

Coryea noted that all of the County's reopening actions align with federal social distancing guidelines and with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's Safe. Smart. Step-By-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery and within an Executive Order which extends Florida's state of emergency by 60 days into July.

Study eyes red tide’s effects on humans

SARASOTA — A new study into the neurological effects of red tide on humans could lead to a simple test to determine if an illness is caused by the deadly algae’s brevetoxins.

A significant red tide bloom was visible from the air over Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, and parts of Sarasota Bay on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. The Herald-Tribune flew over the barrier islands to investigate the harmful algal bloom in a Heli Aviation helicopter. Dead fish speckled the discolored water near Bradenton Beach. [Herald-Tribune staff photo / Carlos R. Munoz]

Nearly a dozen researchers from the Roskamp Institute in Sarasota have begun a study with a $400,000 federal grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to advance their work on brain health.

The nonprofit group has studied the causes and potential cures for neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, multiple sclerosis and Gulf War Illness. Their work has led to novel treatments clinically tested in Europe and the U.S.

Sargassum seaweed could return to Florida’s beaches in coming weeks

A burgeoning field of burdensome sargassum is making its way from the eastern Caribbean to South Florida with researchers estimating an early July arrival depending on winds and current.

The bloom of brown macroalgae is not expected to be the deep onslaught experienced in the record-breaking year of 2018, but a University of South Florida forecast is calling for an amount similar to 2015 — an above-average year that saw Palm Beach County beaches blanketed well into December.

Chuanmin Hu, a University of South Florida oceanography professor who publishes a monthly sargassum forecast based on satellite observations, said the floating rainforest could reach the Florida Straits next month. From there, it would hitch a ride in the Gulf Stream current north.