Federal Highway Administration / http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/photos/75957

Every session, Florida lawmakers fight over funding for a river, storm water system or sewage plant in their district. But an environmentalist wants to change that process.

Capital Report: 03-05-2015

Mar 5, 2015

Three days after the start of the session, the House signed off on a massive plan to rewrite state water policy, setting the stage for weeks of negotiations with the Senate. As Jim Ash reports, the legislation focuses on cleaning up Florida springs.

With the legislative session under way, the Republican majority’s plans are beginning to take shape—even if there is some squabbling behind the scenes.  Nick Evans reports minority leadership got in on the action Thursday stressing the need for better water and anti-discrimination legislation.

Capital Report: 02-06-2015

Feb 6, 2015

In the coming weeks, a Senate panel is slated to take up a comprehensive prison reform proposal aimed at fixing Florida’s troubled prison system. Sascha Cordner is digging into what the overall prison reform package could look like.

Lawmakers set sail this week on a long, complicated journey to rewrite the state’s water policy. As Jim Ash reports, clouds are building as some passengers wonder who’s captaining the ship.

Capital Report: 10-10-2014

Oct 13, 2014

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has announced plans to keep defending the state’s ban on same-sex marriage Lynn Hatter reports the move comes after the nation’s high court refused to take up several appeals to gay marriage rulings from around the country.

A Leon county circuit judge ruled Thursday the plaintiffs in Florida’s redistricting lawsuit can recover some of their legal costs, but not attorney’s fees.  Nick Evans reports the voting rights activists are looking to a legal concept known as the private attorney general to make their request.

Perspectives: Sharing Water

Sep 18, 2014

The Monticello Opera House hosts the interstate “Sharing Water” conference Oct. 2-4.  Conference organizers and participants Dr. Anne Holt, Dr. George Cole, Bobbie Golden and Jack Carswell have a preview of this effort to avoid future conflict over the Floridan Aquifer.

Capital Report: 05-16-2014

May 16, 2014

In the coming months, there will be some major shifts in the way statewide crime labs operate. As Sascha Cordner reports, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking to make some procedural changes spurred on by the initial arrest of a former crime lab chemist in a supervisorial role, suspected of tampering with drug evidence.

Tourism marketers in Florida are hoping to see at least 100 million trips to the state this year. Janelle Irwin from member station WMNF reports, the latest numbers are out for first quarter and those figures were record-breaking.

Capital Report: 03-11-2014

Mar 11, 2014

The Florida Senate has now put together several proposals aimed at overhauling Florida’s child welfare agency. As Sascha Cordner reports, the goal is to address the spate of child deaths taking place under the watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Capital Report: 03-07-2014

Mar 7, 2014

Years after it became law, the Federal Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” if you prefer – is still a topic of ferocious debate and political grandstanding.  Florida was one of the states that chose not to set up a health care exchange of its own in support of the federal law.  But, quietly and without much fanfare, Florida did roll out a health insurance marketplace of sorts earlier this week. Lynn Hatter reports that marketplace should not be confused with the federal health insurance exchanges and should by no means be associated with Obamacare..

Wikimedia Commons

The Florid Department of Health is warning residents in North Florida’s Live Oak area to stay clear of the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers. A 9-million gallon spill of partially treated wastewater in Valdosta, Georgia is contaminating the area surrounding the two North Florida rivers.


A long-simmering dispute over water continued this week as Georgia filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Florida’s request for a hearing.  But the feud is more complex than it may at first seem.

Capital Report: 01-24-2014

Jan 27, 2014

Water issues are taking center stage in the run up to Florida’s 2014 legislative session, and this week environmental activists joined together to declare that every Floridian has the right to clean water.As Ryan Benk reports, they’re pressuring politicians to sign a recently-drafted “declaration” of water rights that was the subject of statewide rallies this week. But, since the declaration is neither petition, nor legislation, some wonder: to what end?

What The Water 'Declaration' Actually Does

Jan 24, 2014
Gaz Haywood / Flickr Creative Commons

Water issues are taking center stage in the run up to Florida’s 2014 legislative session, and this week environmental activists joined together to declare that every Floridian has the right to clean water. They’re pressuring politicians to sign a recently-drafted “declaration” of water rights that was the subject of statewide rallies this week. But, since the declaration is neither petition, nor legislation, some wonder: to what end?

R.Benk / WFSU-News

The same day Governor Rick Scott announced he’d be asking for $130 million in Everglades restoration funding for the coming year, members of more than 100 environmental groups held rallies in 16 Florida cities to raise awareness of Florida’s water issues. Tallahassee’s conservationists are demanding Scott do more than just “throw money” at the problem.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

A federal judge has sided with the state and federal governments by saying Florida should set pollution standards for its waterways. Environmental groups are considering an appeal of the ruling letting Florida manage its own water.

This week’s ruling is the latest in a lawsuit the environmental groups brought six years ago saying the state didn’t comply with the federal Clean Water Act. Federal judge Robert Hinkle agreed with state and federal assertions that Florida should set its own acceptable pollution standards.

LHatter / WFSU News

What happens when it rains nearly every day for more than a month during the hot, summer months?

Last July in Central Florida it meant an overflowing Lake Okeechobee and the dumping of millions of gallons of polluted freshwater into the region’s rivers and estuaries. The rain also helped spark toxic algae blooms that have some calling for a $220 million water conservation and clean-up plan Florida lawmakers could take up next session.

What Happens In 'Lake-O' Doesn't Stay In 'Lake-O'

Capital Report: 01-07-2014

Jan 7, 2014

Before Disney World, Sea World and Busch Gardens, visitors flocked to Florida for a different kind of tourist experience, But Regan McCarthy reports as the stat’s springs face pollution and over pumping, that legacy is fading along with the local economies that depend on it.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Central Florida planners are grappling with a challenge: There’s not enough water for the people expected to live in the area 20 years from now. That realization has prompted unprecedented collaboration between local governments, private utilities and state agencies as they search for more water.

In an October legislative committee meeting, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam gave lawmakers an alarming-sounding statistic about water in Central Florida: “In the next 20 years they’ve got to find another 200 million gallons per day to support a high quality of life.”

LHatter / WFSU News

More than 100 years ago, Florida’s Everglades covered the southern tip of the state, starting at Lake Okeechobee. Today, most of the system has been carved away to make room for growth in the Orlando and Miami markets.  One of the biggest plugs in the system is the Tamiami Trail, a road that acts as a dam, and cuts diagonally across the Everglades from Tampa to Miami. Efforts are now underway to make part of the trail a series of bridges, a project South Florida Water Management Assistant Director Ernie Barnett says would, in his words, “pull the plug in the bathtub”. 

Capital Report: 11-01-2013

Nov 1, 2013

For many uninsured Floridians, the federal government’s online marketplace offers an opportunity to obtain health insurance—the cost of which will be heavily subsidized. But glitches in the site have made signing up a challenge, and an increasing number of people are turning to local resources for help. But as Lynn Hatter reports, in North Florida, that help is proving hard to find.

Apalachicola Bay

Heads of the agencies that help manage Florida’s water supply told state lawmakers Tuesday it’s time to make smart water-management policies a legislative priority. The state’s water quality and water quantity problems don’t have clear quick fixes.

Water policy is the top concern for state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

"There is now not a single corner of the state that is not impacted by this," he said.

Putnam asked lawmakers on two House committees to keep the long-term picture in mind when making any laws or spending money relating to water this session.

Despite pending legal challenges, Florida officials are expecting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to sign off on new water quality standards for the state’s lakes and streams. 

One of Florida’s most popular natural attractions is disappearing. That’s the alarm environmentalists are sounding about Silver Springs in Ocala.

Silver Springs has been attracting swimmers, kayakers, nature enthusiasts and other tourists since the mid-1800s. But the once-bubbling springs don't bubble anymore, and  Charles Lee, Outreach Director for Audubon Florida, says he knows why.