Florida Chapter Network

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March 31, 2009

Senate Bill Passes First Committee

On tuesday March 31st the bill BARELY made it through its first committee. We are very concerned and dont understand how there is opposition to the bill on the grounds that there is “no need for language.” Next committee is Community Affairs, however due to time constraints we are not sure if we will make it.

March 26, 2009

Beach Access Bill Will Finally Be Heard in Senate

We just received word that we should be on the agenda for Tuesday, March 31st in the Senate Environmental Preservation Committee, Senate Bldg Room 401. Theses members include:

Senator Constantine (Central Fl) 850-487-5050
Senator Sobel (Broward) 850-487-5097
Senator Rich (Broward/Dade) 850-487-5103
Senator Jones (Pinellas) 850-487-5065
Senator Dockery (Central Fl) 850-487-5040
Senator Detert (Southwest Fl) 850-487-5081

What to Say when you Call your state representatives by phone (This is easy. Do it right now!)

Call one of the phone numbers listed above and tell the person who answers: “Hi. My name is __. I’m calling to ask the Senator’s support for Senate Bill 488 and House Bill 527 regarding Public Beach Access.” (if you have ever had an issue with beach access being blocked you should share this as well)

That’s it!

March 25, 2009

Bill Pass First House Committee

On Tuesday morning the bill was heard in the Natural Resources Council. Chapter activists from Central Florida, Suncoast, and Panhandle areas, as well as Professor Donna Christie were present to show support for the bill. Rep. Sachs did an amazing job explaining the bill to the committee and it passed with great support. We would like to highlight major support from Rep. Mayfield and Shultz!!! Next Committee is Civil Justice. No word on Senate yet….

The day didnt end there thought. Members worked the halls of the Capitol to gain further support for the upcoming committee. They were well rewarded at the end of the day with the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition Leadership Reception where we gave Senator Pruitt of the Treasure Coast and Rep. Saunders of South Florida awards for their ongoing efforts to protect our coastal and ocean environments.
March 23, 2009

Senate Blocks Bill First Committee

On Thursday we received word that our bill will not go to its first Senate Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 24th.

It remains crucial for members that can come to Tallahassee tomorrow to be at the 8am House Natural Resources Council committee meeting at Reed Hall.

March 17, 2009

March 24th Trip to Tallahassee & Oceans Day Info

For Surfrider members that would like to travel to Tallahassee to attend committee meetings and meet with Legislators here is some helpful information:

1. Click here for the most recent version of our proposed bill that will be presented during the committees

2. Click here to print out bullet points sheet to share with legislators
3. Time/Location of Committee Meetings on Tuesday (Click Here for parking map)

  • 9 am-noon House Building, Reed Hall, Agriculture & Natural Resources Council
4. Florida Ocean & Coastal Coalition Reception
5. Place to Stay OvernightLa Quinta Inn & Suites $55/night
March 17, 2009

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

March 17, 2009

Press Release: Counties & Cities Oppose Beach Access

Tallahassee, Fl (March 13, 2009) – In a state such as Florida that depends so heavily on its beach tourism as an economic engine, the issue of adequate public beach access should be a priority. Surfrider Foundation’s eleven Florida chapters are pursuing protection of existing public beach access in the Florida Legislature via House Bill 527 and Senate Bill 488.

The 41 million tourists visiting Florida have the opportunity to experience a multitude of diverse attractions; but Florida’s beaches remain one of the most popular attractions. Can you imagine the shock and surprise that unsuspecting visitors and Florida’s own residents feel when they travel to the beach with their families only to be threatened with arrests unless they get off of the beach? Imagine the frustration when your neighborhood beach access is closed for over a year to accommodate a hotel or construction. Arrest threats on the beach are on the rise and there has been a sharp decline in the number of beach access points across the state. These issues will persist without clarification of beach access laws.

Sadly, after months of back-bending efforts and good faith negotiating, the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida League of Cities continue to block proposed legislation from being heard by the Florida Legislature.
“Who would have thought that Florida Statute Chapter 161, which deals with much of our regulation of beach management and general coastal protection wouldn’t have specific language on beach access,” said Larry Hart, former First Coast Surfrider Chapter Chair. “Unfortunately it only contains little pieces of language spread throughout the chapter that are completely ambiguous. It does not actually state protective measures that DEP can go to for guidance or enforcement.”

Financial support for Florida’s beach management program depends on beach access. The state’s matching share of funds to local government projects is proportionate to the number and quality of beach access points. Therefore, the decline in beach access could impact funding for future beach projects. That funding has already been reduced from $30 million to $5 million. In these cash strapped times, local governments should be doing everything they can to protect their best revenue producers, and our beaches rank among our state’s greatest economic assets. Apparently, the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida League of Cities do not understand the connection between public beach access, healthy beaches and a healthy economy.

“The only entities responsible for our loss of beach access in this state are our local governments, no one else has this power,” said Ericka D’Avanzo, Florida Regional Manager of the Surfrider Foundation. “They cannot have their cake and eat it too.”

Surfrider Foundation have built a website to show the related statewide articles, pictures and videos that show these issues first hand and the need for the bill. This bill would allow Florida to join the ranks of Texas, California, and Oregon with adequate beach access protection policy.

Call your County Commission, City Council and Legislators TODAY to get them to support this bill!!!

March 11, 2009


Another Engelwood Beach (in Charlotte Co) property has put up ropes and posts while we still are waiting for meaningful on the ground results in any enforcement action from DEP pending for more than 1 year on adjoining and nearby similar violations.


The property in question is at physical address: 1180 Shore View Dr. Englewood, FL 34223, the property owner’s name and mailing address from the Charlotte County land records show THEY ARENT EVEN FLORIDA RESIDENTS!

March 9, 2009

2nd Week of Session

Reporting Update:

The end of last week we meet with Rep. Trudi Williams to try to get onto her committee agenda in the House Natural Resources Council. We have been working diligently with the Council staff to make sure their legislative analysis is positive.

We are hopefully to make it to both Senate and House committees March 17th. If anyone is available to come to Tallahassee to speak in favor of this bill please contact the FL Regional Manager at

We still need everyone to continue to contact their legislators!!!

Dont forget Oceans Day is March 25th, this is another great opportunity to come to Tallahassee to meet with your legisators and show support for the Beach Access Bill.

March 9, 2009

First Week of Session March 2

Reporting Update

With the first week of session we have received a “neutral” anaylsis from DEP regarding our bill. Unfortunately we did not make it to the committee calendars.

We need everyone to continue to contact their legislators!!!

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