Expert weighs in on what happens when algae dies — and it isn’t pretty

As bad as the massive algae bloom on the Treasure Coast is now, sometime in the coming days or weeks or months, it’s going to die. And when it does, the impact on flora and fauna will make the current disaster look like a tipped bait bucket by comparison.

That’s the prediction from a local professor who says even now the bloom already is blocking life-giving sunlight in the Indian River Lagoon and sending toxins up the food chain at a rate of as much as 10-fold per dinner.

Widespread algae chokes the St. Lucie River (Photo by Dorothy Dicks)
Widespread algae chokes the St. Lucie River (Photo by Dorothy Dicks)

» RELATED: Complete coverage of the algae bloom

The blanket of algae right now actually is generating oxygen, Bill Louda, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University’s chemistry department, said Thursday morning from Boca Raton.

But, he said, it also is blocking sunlight from reaching the entire water column. That kills algae and sea grass at the bottom. They rot. That makes them inedible to small marine animals, fish, turtles and manatees.

Read the full story on how the algae bloom’s death will impact marine life.

McKinlay seeks emergency regulatory discussion on algae bloom

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay wants the 16-county Coalition for the Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee to hold an emergency meeting to discuss health and environmental concerns stemming algae blooms in area waters.

“Health concerns are my first priority,” McKinlay said in a statement. “Residents need to know what precautions they should take in the interim while this issue is being investigated and solutions are identified.”

McKinlay wants the coalition to meet with the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the agricultural industry.

“I have offered to host the meeting wherever necessary and as soon as possible,” McKinlay said.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

Former outside lobbyist is new Palm Beach County legislative lobbyist

Delarosa
Delarosa

Former outside lobbyist Rebecca DeLaRosa is Palm Beach County’s new legislative lobbyist, replacing Todd Bonlarron, who in March was named one of three new assistant county administrators. DeLaRosa previously lobbied for the Moya Group and the Tallahassee office of the Greenberg Traurig law firm and also was legislative director for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. She also was a manager of the Florida Department of Management Services, Bonlarron said Monday in a note to county staff and commissioners.

 

Appraiser: Palm Beach County property values up 8.41 percent over 2015

PAO_LogoJPG

Nikolits
Nikolits

The numbers keep rising.

Officials now say Palm Beach County’s property value jumped 8.41 percent from 2015 to 2016, in July 1 preliminary tax roll numbers submitted today to the state.

And the county property appraiser’s office says, those numbers could change again before the final accounting. This is the second of three required certifications; the last is Nov. 1. The figure was 7.85 percent in late May, and a late April estimate put it at 6.6 percent.

Wednesday’s box score:

  • Total market value: $237.5 billion
  • Total taxable value: $165.1 billion
  • Number of parcels: 635,144

“This is the fourth year in a row the market has improved,” Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits said in a release.

The figures inch the county closer to its historic high of $169.5 billion, set in 2007, before the recession sent it plummeting to a 10-year low of $124.4 billion three years later. Since 2012, the market value of real property in the county has jumped 46 percent, Wednesday’s release said.

Values are set as of Jan. 1 and give cities and other taxing entities guidance as they assemble their budgets, and potential tax rates, for approval at the end of September.

Palm Beach County delays sinking of freighter for artificial reef

(El Nuevo Herald)
(El Nuevo Herald)
 Blu Stephanos hugs Fernandia Jones at the conclusion of a dedication ceremony at Manatee Lagoon in Riviera Beach Monday, June 27, 2016. Plaques honoring 14-year-olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen — who were lost at sea after their 19-foot boat left the Jupiter Inlet on July 24 — and Palm Beach County Sheriff's corrections officer Fernandez Jones, his stepfather Willis Bell, and Jones' son Jaden — who drowned when their boat capsized off Martin County on April 10 — were presented during the ceremony. The plaques will be affixed to the 170-foot freighter Ana Cecilia when it sinks to the bottom of the ocen to become an artificial re
Blu Stephanos hugs Fernandia Jones at the conclusion of a dedication ceremony, June 27, 2016. (Bruce Bennett/Post)

The sinking of the Ana Cecelia, to become an artificial reef and a monument to five lost mariners, has been delayed by at least a week.

The county’s Department of Environmental Resources Management had set July 6 to drop the ship 75 to 90 feet down off the Port of Palm Beach, making it one of the county’s 150 artificial reefs, and the southernmost in a line of 11.

But ERM Director Rob Robbins said Tuesday that delays emerged in the work to punch holes in the ship, in preparation for sinking, and to remove all hazardous materials and schedule a final inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard.

He said a tentative date has been set for July 13.

When the freighter sinks, separate plaques on it will honor 14-year-olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, lost at sea after their 19-foot boat left the Jupiter Inlet on July 24A third plaque will feature Palm Beach County sheriff’s corrections officer Fernandez Jones, his 70-year-old stepfather, Willis Bell, and Jones’ 9-year-old son, Jaden. The three drowned when their boat capsized off Martin County on April 10. A cousin, Robert Stewart, survived.

Gov. Rick Scott hosts Zika roundtable in West Palm Beach

Caribbean_Mosquito_Virus.JPGov. Rick Scott today will gather with local officials in West Palm Beach for a roundtable on the Zika virus.

The event is set for 10 a.m. at the Palm Beach County Health Department, 800 Clematis St.

The Palm Beach County Division of Mosquito Control will spray Tuesday evening, in an effort to keep the mosquito population down for the Fourth of July weekend. But the county says that’s regular spraying for nuisance mosquitos and isn’t very effective against those carrying the Zika virus.

 

Palm Beach County unveils plaques honoring lost mariners

Palm Beach County Commissioners and families of five lost mariners gathered Monday at the Manatee Lagoon, at the Florida Power & Light Co. plant in Riviera Beach, for a dedication ceremony.

When the freighter Ana Cecilia sinks next week, to become an artificial reef, separate plaques on it will honor 14-year-olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, lost at sea after their 19-foot boat left the Jupiter Inlet on July 24A third plaque will feature Palm Beach County sheriff’s corrections officer Fernandez Jones, his 70-year-old stepfather, Willis Bell, and Jones’ 9-year-old son, Jaden. The three drowned when their boat capsized off Martin County on April 10. A cousin, Robert Stewart, survived.

The county’s Department of Environmental Resources Management has set July 6 to drop the Ana Cecilia 75 to 90 feet down off the Port of Palm Beach, making it one of the county’s 150 artificial reefs, and the southernmost in a line of 11.

The county formally took possession of the seized freighter on Monday from the U.S. Customs Service. It’s paying $103,760 to prepare the 44-year-old ship , tow it to sea, and sink it.

Nell Bell, the mother of Fernandez Jones, becomes emotional at the conclusion of a dedication ceremony at Manatee Lagoon in Riviera Beach Monday, June 27, 2016. Plaques honoring Palm Beach County Sheriff's corrections officer Fernandez Jones, his stepfather Willis Bell, and Jones' son Jaden — who drowned when their boat capsized off Martin County on April 10 — and 14-year-olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen — who were lost at sea after their 19-foot boat left the Jupiter Inlet on July 24 — were unveiled during the ceremony. The plaques will be affixed to the 170-foot freighter Ana Cecilia when it sinks to the bottom of the ocen to become an artificial reef. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Nell Bell, mother of Fernandez Jones, becomes emotional at ceremony Monday (Photos: Bruce R. Bennett / Post)
 Blu Stephanos hugs Fernandia Jones at the conclusion of a dedication ceremony at Manatee Lagoon in Riviera Beach Monday, June 27, 2016. Plaques honoring 14-year-olds Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen — who were lost at sea after their 19-foot boat left the Jupiter Inlet on July 24 — and Palm Beach County Sheriff's corrections officer Fernandez Jones, his stepfather Willis Bell, and Jones' son Jaden — who drowned when their boat capsized off Martin County on April 10 — were presented during the ceremony. The plaques will be affixed to the 170-foot freighter Ana Cecilia when it sinks to the bottom of the ocen to become an artificial re
Blu Stephanos hugs Fernandia Jones at ceremony at Manatee Lagoon in Riviera Beach Monday

Indian Trail Improvement District joins call for review of Westlake

The Indian Trail Improvement District has joined a call by Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay to have Gov. Rick Scott investigate the incorporation of Westlake.

“As the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors, elected to serve the residents with regards to drainage, parks and roadways of central Palm Beach County commonly known as The Acreage, we are extremely concerned about the circumstances surrounding the recent conversion of the Seminole Improvement District to Palm Beach County’s 39th municipality called Westlake,” board members wrote to Scott on Friday.

Board members raised many of the same concerns highlighted by McKinlay, who reached out to Scott on Thursday.

Westlake incorporated on Monday when the five votes in favor of conversion were certified by an elections canvassing board.

Minto Communities, the largest landowner in the Seminole Improvement District, backed incorporation, with its vice president, John Carter, saying the developer was having a hard time working with the county as it moved forward with plans to build 4,500 homes in the area.

McKinlay and the Indian Trail Improvement District have raised questions about the legality of the five votes in favor of the conversion plan.

“We respectfully ask that you investigate this issue to ensure the voting process was lawful and free of fraud and that it coincides with the intent of the governing special district conversion legislation,” Indian Trail board members wrote.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Florida Gov. Rick Scott

McKinlay asks governor to investigate incorporation of Westlake

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay has asked Florida’s governor to investigate the incorporation of Westlake, a city that sprang to life on Monday with the support of only five voters.

McKinlay raised questions about the new city’s charter, which only requires that two of the five transitional council members reside in Palm Beach County. McKinlay, whose district includes Westlake, also noted that each of the five people who voted in favor of incorporation are listed in elections records as sharing the same address.

Property records show that address is for a set of offices owned by Minto Communities, the builder that plans to construct 4,500 homes and develop 2.2 million square feet of commercial space in Westlake.

Minto Vice President John Carter has said his firm backs incorporation in part because of difficulty in working with the county on such things as permitting.

In an interview with The Palm Beach Post on Thursday, Roger Manning, a printing business owner who lives in unincorporated Lake Worth, said he agreed to be Westlake’s mayor at the request of Carter. Both Carter and Manning are board members of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce.

McKinlay has questioned Minto’s role in the conversion of the Seminole Improvement District to the city of Westlake and points out what she sees unusual aspects of the new city’s charter.

“I understand that no law requires municipal officials to reside in the city they serve, but allowing a majority of the Transitional Council to live not only outside Westlake, but also outside of Palm Beach County, strains acceptable principles of representative government,” McKinlay wrote. “On behalf of the 40,000 residents of the Acreage and surrounding communities, I respectfully ask that you investigate the issue to ensure the voting process was lawful and coincides with the intent of the governing special district conversion legislation.”

Check back with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

Palm Beach County Water Utilities: we got a clean bill of health for 2015

081914 met Stiles 01
Stiles (Post/Bill Ingram)

092707 MET Glades Water 3.jPalm Beach County Water Utilities’ drinking water did not have any state or federal violations in the 2015 calendar year, Director Jim Stiles told county commissioners Thursday in an e-mail.

Stiles, in issuing his annual summary, said he was “proud to report” that water both in the general utility and in the area formerly covered by the Glades Utility Authority “met or exceeded all federal and state requirements.”

Last year, the primary service area got a clean rating for 2014, but the Glades authority got one violation, for unacceptable levels of coliform bacteria.

The county utility, which serves about 500,000 households countywide, including the Glades, said it can produce up to 110 million gallons a day of drinking water.

It says drinking water nearly always will contain small amounts of some contaminants, including viruses and bacteria from sewage, plants and animals; salts and metals from runoff; pesticides and herbicides; organic chemicals; and radioactive contaminants.

Read 2015 Water Quality report: