Thursday, December 13, 2018

North Port seeks action on Red Tide from Ron DeSantis

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, North Port became the first municipality in Florida to proactively seek to bring back a stormwater rule that, if enacted, could significantly reduce nutrients returning to our estuaries and bays -- and therefore potentially reducing the strength of Red Tide Events.

The City Commission adopted Resolution 2018-R-34 which asks Governor DeSantis to take action upon taking office to bring an unused stormwater rule back to go through a public hearing and vetting process and then adoption by the Legislature.

The Resolution was drawn up for the Board's consideration by Hands Along the Water, an advocacy group, and by Stephen Suau, a Sarasota County stormwater expert.

Steve Suau speaking in North Port
The Board adopted the Resolution Tuesday with just one word change -- to clarify that the request is timed to seek Gov. DeSantis's action when he assumes office. In addition to sending the Resolution to the new Governor, the City unanimously voted to forward to the Florida League of Cities, as well as to the Boards of Sarasota and Charlotte Counties, and to each city within those counties.

A powerpoint presented by Suau during the November 27 North Port meeting was included along with the Resolution in the agenda item. It can be seen here, and presents the basic argument as to why the state's Dept of Environmental Protection should bring the stormwater rule off the shelf in order to reduce nitrogen running into coastal waters. The rule was set to go into effect in 2010, but was shelved by Rick Scott as soon as he took office.

That meeting was also when members of Hands Along the Water presented their case for the need to take action against the causes of Red Tide, which has been stronger and more broadly lethal than seen here previously.

Essentially the new rule will use new technology to double the amount of nutrients removed from stormwater ponds. The state has been presuming that 80% - 85% of nitrogen from fertilizers is taken out of stormwater, when in fact under existing methods, it's only 40%-45%.

The proponents of this action say the causes of Red Tide are multiple, and many additional actions will be needed, but this is one that state scientists had researched and studied for 10 years. See the timeline below for more background

Perhaps the time for advanced stormwater treatment has finally arrived.


1977 to present: (past 50 years): Red tide abundance and duration increases
1997 to present: Nitrogen concentrations in Sarasota and Lemon Bays increase
1995 to 2010: Current regulations presume 80% effectiveness of pond reduction, but
studies revealed that stormwater ponds reduce nitrogen runoff by only 40-45% effective
2000 to 2010: Florida conducts 10-year research and monitoring,
drafts Stormwater Rule and Advanced Stormwater Treatment Design Manual.  
2011: Incoming administration cancels Stormwater Rule and Manual
2018: Proven Stormwater Harvesting and Recycling Technology exists now
  • Quantifiable
  • Can be used within existing pond footprint
  • Can produce revenue 

2019 and Beyond: Hit the Restart Button: Resolve to ask the new DeSantis administration to reinitiate the Advanced Stormwater Treatment Rule public hearing and adoption process.

Members of Hands Along the Water

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