Wednesday, June 3

Gov Crist Unfortunately Signs Senate Bill 360

Gov. Crist had built a solid environmental record. He championed the U.S. Sugar buyout to help restore the Everglades, and he proposed Florida's first renewable energy standards. He tarnished that record Monday by signing what the Legislature named the "Community Renewal Act" but what more accurately should be called the "No Growth Management Act."

Supporters say that Senate Bill 360 will improve the state's growth management efforts by removing unnecessary restrictions in urban areas. But the bill creates a ridiculous definition of "urban area." Tiny towns, such as 400-person Briny Breezes, qualify. So would rural areas along State Road 7. In all, eight counties and 245 cities qualify, including all cities in Palm Beach County along with Stuart, Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie on the Treasure Coast.

In urban areas, developers no longer will have to show that adequate roads exist to serve their projects. Large proposals no longer will have to meet rigorous Development of Regional Impact standards.

The loss of control over development will make it much harder to protect paradise. And does anyone blame Florida's economic woes on building too little? Since the Growth Management Act passed in 1985, Florida has added 7 million people.

IT IS NOW UP TO OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO PROTECT US FROM THIS BILL. They can choose to not enforce this through one of the loopholes in the bill, but our vigilance is now required.

More stories can be found below:

Great Ocean Science Curriculum for Teachers

View over 150 coral reef activities for students at

Read "Southeast Florida Reef news" at

Study over 40 species of stony corals at

Watch all four of our public service announcements at

Tuesday, March 17

Septic Tanks Affect Coastal Water Quality

While this is a CA article it can apply to Florida..

PALO ALTO – California Sea Grant researchers have strong evidence that septic tanks in Northern California are leaking nitrogen and phosphate into coastal waters that can trigger algal blooms. Reporting in the journal Limnology and Oceanography, they report finding elevated levels of these “nutrients” in the surf zone during periods of high groundwater flows to the beach.
Following one of these freshwater pulses, they observed a four-day elevation in chlorophyll-a levels – a proxy for phytoplankton concentrations. Though it is extremely difficult to attribute any single algal bloom to the presence of higher than normal nutrient levels, the general link between nutrification and algal blooms is widely recognized for both marine and freshwater ecosystems.
“Our project is one of the first in California to show definitively that septic tanks can affect coastal water quality through submarine groundwater discharge,” says Alexandria Boehm, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.
Most research on septic systems has focused on their effects on terrestrial ecosystems, Boehm explains. The value of this project is that it shows they can also impact marine ecosystems via polluted groundwater discharging directly to the ocean.
In theory, the nutrient spikes detected in Northern California could have come from polluted creeks or runoff. This, however, is not what the scientists believe is happening because their fieldwork was conducted in summertime when, they say, groundwater is the only source of freshwater to the coast.
Fertilizers spread on lawns and crops could also potentially be sources of the nutrients they detected. Again, however, scientists rule out this possibility because of the concomitantly high levels of human fecal indicator bacteria detected in groundwater samples collected between the septic systems and shoreline. Interestingly, bacteria counts in beach water samples did not rise and fall with changes in groundwater fluxes, suggesting the beach aquifer removes pathogens, says Stanford doctoral student, Nicholas de Sieyes, the lead author of the journal article. “Some of our current research is focusing on this point.” From a scientific perspective, the researchers were not surprised to find a link between septic systems and beach water quality. “It is what we expected,” Boehm says.
The unanticipated discovery was the way in which tidal cycles modulate freshwater fluxes to the coast. Indeed, their prediction was that fresh groundwater flows would peak during spring tides, when the tidal forces of the Sun and Moon reinforce each other. Instead, the greatest pulses of exiting groundwater occurred during neap tides, when weak tidal forcing results in minimal differences between high and low tides.
In particular, they measured a fresh groundwater discharge rate of 1.2 to 4.7 liters per minute per meter during neap tides, compared with .1 to .5 liters per minute per meter during spring tides. During neap tides, nitrogen levels rose 35 percent, phosphate levels 27 percent and silicate levels 14 percent, as compared with spring tide measurements. Their technical explanation for the pattern is outlined in detail in their peer-reviewed work. The gist of it is that ocean water fills the beach aquifer during high spring tides, creating a sort of hydraulic mound in front of fresh groundwater. During low tides, all of this saltwater must drain back to sea before fresh groundwater can begin to exit. During neap tides, the absence of a formidable hydraulic mound results in a greater release of fresh groundwater to the beach during low tide, hence their results.
All of the fieldwork, which will continue into the summer of 2009, was conducted at Stinson Beach in Marin County because of the community’s interest in protecting its beach water quality.
“We don’t think our findings are unique to Stinson Beach,” de Sieyes says, noting that septic systems are common along coastal counties north of San Francisco, as well as in more densely populated areas such as Morro Bay, Malibu, Rincon and Los Osos.
In recognition of the potential environmental implications for beach, ocean and river ecosystems, the California legislature has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to establish regulations on septic systems. California and Michigan are the nation’s only two states without statewide regulations on septic systems.
Critics of the proposed changes cite a lack of data showing septic systems contribute to actual water-quality problems. “I think it’s really important for people to know that we’ve quantified the impact of septic systems on the coastal ocean at one location, that there were documentable effects on groundwater and coastal water quality and that, in general, on-site wastewater treatment is indeed an important environmental concern and may require additional regulatory attention,” de Sieyes wrote in an email exchange.
Contact: Christina S. Johnson,, 858-822-5334

Monday, March 9

Surf Economics of Brevard County

Check out the recent update to Surfrider's Surf Economics Blog that focuses on Brevard County. Over 240 surfers were surveyed!

Tuesday, February 24

Emerald Coast Chapter Party for Beach Access Feb 26th

Another South Florida Chapter Dune Restoration Success

This was our first dune restoration of the 2009 year. It took place in Miami Beach in between 52 and 54 street and collins ave. We removed invasive scaveola plants and left it ready for planting new natives plants this summer. We were very lucky to have the support from the city of Miami Beach, the UM chapter of surfrider. Macy's employees and Sobe green also showed up and helped us out and many new members. Zephyrhills provided 10 cases of water and Wholefoods Market provided food and drinks. Thank all the people in our chapter that made this possible:
- Wyatt Porter
- Lou Lozada
- Shane Close
- Jason Biondi
- Mike Laas
- Karen Monteagudo
- Jesse Bull
- Katie Yanke
- Lauren Campbell
- Michelle and Kevin Morenza
- Natalia Acebo
- Sam Wright

Friday, January 30

El Bano Stikes Again

On January 27th in Delray, FL, the Palm Beach County Chapter presented to over 200 students and teachers in the assembly about how sewage impacts our coastal and ocean waters and to witness the gigantic toilet.

Tuesday, January 13

OffShore Drilling Number Dont Add Up

Here is a great article from the Greasy Monkey..

Surf-First explains why the numbers behind offshore drilling don’t add up for coastal states

By Norm Oyole, Surfing Magazine

Seven days. That’s all the time you have left to comment about oil exploration off the coast of Virginia. With the 2.9 million acres in question running virtually border-to-border, it’s a decision that doesn’t only affect “the Old Dominion” but the whole Mid-Atlantic. And Virginia’s just the first in line. With many states like California facing budget crises, legislators see revenues from offshore leases as a possible solution. Soon, we could have rigs up and down the coast, bleeding pollutants and standing ready like bowling pins for the next major hurricane, making sure no tropical system can swoop north without leaving a least a little bit of damage. Killing sea life. Tarnishing habitats. Hurting human beings. And if those aren’t issues you’re concerned about, then let’s talk in terms that everybody can appreciate: money.

Every coastal resident – fishermen and business owners, realty companies and waitresses, the school teachers and sanitation workers -- depends on a healthy beach environment for a healthy economy. In fact, in some places, it’s the sole means of income. Hell, nearly every job I’ve ever had was funded by the beach. The newspapers I delivered (late) every morning to people who wanted to live by a pristine shoreline. The dishes I scrubbed for sloppy tourists. The drinks I served for even sloppier ones. The tables I bussed. Plates I delivered. These days it’s the stories I ruin-to-order. All 100% driven by people who will pay money to play in the ocean, unknowingly spreading their wealth out to all sorts of American industries, from clothing companies to magazine printers to plate makers to chicken nugget delivery boys. I’m only one person. Add up the whole spiderweb of affected businesses and the result is billions of dollars tied back to the ocean per coastal state.

Just how much? Well, let’s take a look. Below is just a quick list pirated on-line per-state:

New Jersey: “Coastal tourism comprises more than half of New Jersey's $27.7 billion tourism industry . . .and supports nearly 500,000 jobs while indirectly generating $16.6 billion in wages and $5.5 billion in state tax revenue.”

Florida: “The state had 75.6 million visitors in 2002, with beaches being the number one tourist attraction. Beach tourism generates about $15 billion a year to the state's economy.”

California: “Users of California beaches spent over $61 billion in 2001, of which approximately 36% was spent by out of state visitors. Additionally, California's beaches generate over $15 billion annually in tax revenue.”

South Carolina: “Visitor spending on travel and tourism in 1999 was well over $8.8 billion, with $6.6 billion coming from out-of-state and international visitors. In 1998, coastal tourism had a statewide economic impact that totaled $7.5 billion in expenditures and output. South Carolina beaches generate $1.54 billion in wages and earnings.”

North Carolina: “In 2002, the 8 counties directly bordering the Atlantic Ocean contributed $15.226 billion in tourism revenues of which approximately $12.538 billion is directly generated from the beaches.”

Now those aren’t quotes offered by Sierra Club, Surfrider or some other left-wing dune-hugging website. They’re ripped straight from The Marlow Co., a consulting group that specializes in beach nourishment. (What we dune-huggers call ‘evildoers.’) And those numbers are also at least six years old. So, between shouting ‘drill, baby, drill!,’ try to remember that though we can’t guarantee even a drop of newfound oil will stay in the US — we already export 268 million gallons annually to other countries who’ll pay more — all those god-fearing, American jobs and income will certainly suffer if there’s a spill. Or even if water quality just degenerates over time (see: Galveston). Surely, if we’re willing to risk such a huge economic engine in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Depression – in a time where jobs are drying up like Sun Cure in the Sahara – the potential income for states leasing coastal acreage must be beyond comprehension, right?

Not exactly. Acccording to the Minerals Management Service, from 1954 to 2004, the federal government’s received roughly $157 billion dollars from the offshore continental shelf – just over $3 billion a year. (Note: in 1995, California's beaches alone contributed $73 billion to the national economy.) And the states get an even smaller fraction: in 2005 Louisiana got $40 million while, 2004 saw California take $28.9 million and Texas received more than $15 million.

That’s million. With an ‘m’. From regions with way more potential than Virginia, which they say may –MAY -- contain 130 million barrels. (Otherwise known as two weeks of American consumption.) But where tourists definitely puked up $900 million bucks in 2007 alone and the beach is responsible for a total of $15 billion – with a ‘b’ – annually. And that’s just one of four pieces of coast that’s risking catastrophe with this single lease.

From the real estate bubble to the financial melt down, all we’ve heard the past 12 months is the government keeps “putting Wall Street ahead of Main Street.” Yet, here we are again willingly handing a golden goose to the most profitable companies on the whole planet and asking Joe the Bartender and Marge the Beach Vendor to foot the bill. Yes, I know …I know: I’m not considering the potential income in terms of oil rig manufacturing, and jobs, and ports, and all that mess. But the petroleum industry isn’t the one hurting financially right now. It’s the average, middle-class American, especially in beach towns where every dollar’s connected to the next guy being able to pay his bills. Towns where the building bust has left bank accounts in shambles. And where tourism-fueled businesses fear the worst is yet to come.

You know what’s even scarier? It took me less than hour to get the preceding numbers. A Google here. A Google there. Done. If an idiot like me can get the hard facts, so can our lawmakers. Which – besides the enormous amount of petroleum industry campaign contributions – leaves only one reason for why they don’t say no to offshore drilling right now: they don’t care. And why don’t they care? Because wedon’t care.

So start caring. First, tell the MMS no to keep Mid-Atlantic beaches clean and profitable forever. Tell your Senators, State Reps and Governors that now’s not the time to risk our evergreen coastal economies for finite energy source. And tell your friends to do the same. Then go to Surf-First after your next session and tell them everything they need to know to help keep oil rigs off our coast -- and tar off our beaches -- forever.