Water retention in front of Winter Haven Chamber building  
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DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Polk and Sumter counties of Florida

   

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February 2002 Newsletter Articles

Water Policy Committee Makes Good Recommendations
The Florida House Learning Center - Sustainable Living for a Future that Works
Report Littering & Illegal Dumping in Polk County
Polk County Environmental Lands News
Senate Energy Bill

Water Policy Committee Makes Good Recommendations

Six months and several trees worth of paper later, the Polk County Water Policy Advisory Committee's task is complete. I had doubts as recently as the November newsletter, that the committee on which I served, would make meaningful recommendations......but it turns out - we have! Now it's up to our county commissioners to endorse the policies that could play an important role in charting the future of Polk's water resources.

Highlights of the policy recommendations are:

  • Employ or designate a competent expert to represent Polk County's water interests.
  • Engage in planning and coordination necessary to retain and enhance Polk's water resources as allocations shift (i.e. agriculture to residential, etc.) and hydrologic restoration occurs.
  • Investigate areas and methods for surface water storage and aquifer recharge including increased lake levels and restorationof historic flood plains, wetlands, reservoirs, and Aquifer Storage and Recovery.
  • Identify specific methods and opportunities to utilize state-assisted purchase of lands, conservation easements, private cooperation, etc. to store Polk's surface waters and support efforts to maximize protection of high recharge lands.
  • Investigate the feasibility of obtaining consumptive use permits for environmental purposes to protect Polk County's water resources (i.e. Kissingen Springs, creeks near Cone Ranch wellfield and Hillsborough headwaters).
  • Determine optimal flows and levels that could be used as future goals for Polk's lakes, wetlands and aquifers.
  • Oppose through aggressive participation, the issuance of new withdrawal permits that will have a negative impact on Polk County's water resources.
  • Modify the Land Development Code to increase stormwater retention and treatment from current levels and to require stormwater retention and treatment on redevelopment projects.
  • Examine the Land Development Code and existing regulations for possible modifications to reduce residential usage.
  • Implement appropriate "inverted block" rate structures for various users to discourage excess water use.

Some additional "action" items that are recommended:

  • Seek enforcement of "local sources first" legislation.
  • Polk County should not provide drainage enhancements to people who manage agricultural lands or build in flood plains.

Suggested funding sources outside of the usual suspects are the creation of a county stormwater utility fee and tapping the old mined lands trust fund.

The recommendations of the Water Policy Committee will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners in a workshop in the Board chambers at 1:30 pm on Friday, February 22nd.
...Marian Ryan

The South Lake Howard Project is not only a walking/running park but a retention pond designed to be attractive while cleaning stormwater from the JanPhyl development.

The South Lake Howard Project is not only a walking/running park but a retention pond designed to be attractive while cleaning stormwater from the JanPhyl development. Copyright © 2003, Richard Coleman, All Rights Reserved

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The Florida House Learning Center
Sustainable Living for a Future that Works

The Florida House Learning Center in Sarasota was the destination of ten of the Polk Sierra Group's members on Saturday, January 5th. The Florida House offers self-guided tours of a model home and landscape featuring environmentally friendly materials and methods. It teaches citizens ways to conserve our resources by demonstrating: energy efficiency, water conservation, healthy house concepts, and recycled products. The landscape is a "Model Florida Yard" featuring: native plants, edible landscaping, micro-irrigation systems, composting, drought-tolerant landscaping, reduction of chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides, and reduction of detrimental runoff into bays and waterways.

Located on the campus of Sarasota County Technical Institute at the northwest corner of Beneva and Proctor Roads in Sarasota, the Florida House is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon and Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. –– 4:00 p.m. Sponsored by Sarasota County Government and University of Florida Extension, admission is free. Virtual tours are available at keyword: Florida House Learning Center or http://sarasota.extension.ufl.edu.
...Florida House Learning Center, edited by Rachelle Selser

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Report Littering & Illegal Dumping in Polk County

Illegal dumping and littering has been a continuing environmental problem in Polk County. Keep Polk County Beautiful and the Sheriff's Office have joined forces to combat the problem, but are relying on citizens for assistance.

"Litter Trooper Reports" are available from county offices for your use in reporting littering or dumping, or you can make note of the following information to mail, fax or e-mail the data.

List the offender’s vehicle tag number, the location of the incident, the date, time, vehicle type & make & other information that is relevent. List whether the violator is male, female, driver or passenger. List the action reported: littering, illegal dumping or an uncovered load. Provide your name, address and phone number.

Mail reports to: Keep Polk County Beautiful, Inc., 1252 Golfview Ave., Bartow, FL 33830, 863-533-8423. Fax the reports to 863-533-0049, or e-mail kpcbeautiful@yahoo.com.
...Marian Ryan

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Polk County Environmental Lands News

Polk County has made environmental lands purchases in two areas since December. 159 acres were acquired northeast of Lake Lowery as part of the Lake Lowery project. The properties, which host sawgrass marshes and wetlands, were acquired for water resource protection and to assist in the preservation of a wildlife corridor through the eastern side of the Green Swamp. Acquisition cost was shared by the Florida Communities Trust grant program.

Two tracts totaling 206 acres were acquired by the County in the Marion Creek Basin. One of the tracts is near the mouth of the creek which flows from Lake Marion to Lake Hatchineha. These sites are particularly beautiful and a future canoe launch will allow people to explore this relatively pristine blackwater creek.

Circle B-Bar Reserve - There will be a public meeting to discuss the future management plan for the 1,267 acre reserve on Lake Hancock on February 12th. The meeting will begin at 6:30pm in the auditorium (Room LLC2188) at the Polk Community/USF campus on Winter Lake Road just east of U.S. 98.

The Crooked Lake Prairie Grand Opening will be held on Saturday March 2nd. Watch newspapers for the times and events or call Polk County Natural Resources at 534-7377.

Check out the Polk County Environmental Lands Web Page! Log onto www.polk-county.net under Natural Resources and get information, photos and locations of our environmental lands.
...Marian Ryan

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Senate Energy Bill

National Sierra's first priority in 2002 is the Senate energy bill; it may be voted on as early as Feb. 15th. The energy debate will swirl around the bill introduced in December by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman. This National Energy Security Bill, S. 1766, is a huge improvement over the plan proposed by President Bush and the bill passed by the House of Representatives in August. The Daschle bill is on the right track because it recognizes that our energy policy must protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other special places, plus help curb global warming and reduce America's oil dependence. The bill creates a strong framework to accomplish these key things, and move us to a cleaner, safer, more secure energy future.

However, some key elements have been left blank, to be filled in later. For example, the bill calls for improvements in automobile fuel economy, but doesn't say how much of an improvement should be made. We need to make sure that there is a loud chorus of support for a Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard of 40 mpg for cars, light trucks and SUVs by 2010. Another fill-in-the-blank deals with tax subsidies for new energy technologies. We need to make sure our tax dollars support clean, renewable technologies like solar and wind power, and don't subsidize nuclear power or so-called "clean coal," which is anything but. The Senate bill calls for 10 percent of our electricity to be provided by new renewable energy sources by 2020, but studies by the Union of Concerned Scientists show that we can achieve 20 percent.

Senator John Kerry in late January introduced a bill which Sierra praises because it covers some of these issues. But Washington needs to hear from us. Please take a minute to write, call, or e-mail Senators Graham and Nelson urging them to support passage of a strong energy bill.
...Activist Desk, National Sierra

   

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Water retention in front of Winter Haven Chamber building

 

masthead picture: Water retention in front of Winter Haven Chamber building , published with permission
Copyright © 2003, Richard Coleman, All Rights Reserved

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