Hillsborough River News

   A Partners In Planning Publication of

   The Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board &

   The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission   


eNews Issue 8  

Fall 2012  


In This Issue

Hillsborough River Cleanup
Human Connections Program
Ulele Springs Restoration
Fertilizer Bill
Sinkhole Pumping Plan
Sylvia Espinola Leaves TAC
Hillsborough County Lawn Watering
USGS Charts

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Upcoming Meetings

2012 Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board Meeting Dates:


Monday, December 3

at Temple Terrace City Hall at 

11250 N 56th St, Temple Terrace, FL 33617


2012 Hillsborough River Technical Advisory

Council (TAC)

Meeting Dates:


Tuesday, October 16

Tuesday, November 20

Tuesday, December 18


All TAC meetings will be held at Southwest Florida Water Management District's Tampa Service Center (Laurel Oaks Room) at 7601 US Hwy 301, Tampa, FL 33637


For more information on the Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board & Technical Advisory Council, please contact staff at 813.272.5940 or visit:






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Join us on Saturday, October 20, for the 25th Annual Hillsborough River & Coastal Cleanup!  

River Clean upKeep Tampa Bay Beautiful has combined two of its biggest events into one gigantic day of service, environmental education, friendly competition, and family fun! The Hillsborough River & Waterways Cleanup and the International Coastal Cleanup are now the 25th Annual Hillsborough River & Coastal Cleanup

This annual event creates community awareness and helps determine future needs and projects in the area. Data collected from the event includes the number and type of littered items, the overall tonnage removed, and the amount of recyclable material diverted from each site. The data generated is shared with the International Coastal Cleanup, Keep America Beautiful, as well as local officials to help provide a local and global perspective.


The Rollin' on the River Rally and Recycle Regatta will take place at Lowry Park after the cleanup. Also, the Rally will feature the River Rat Team Challenge Trivia Game, live music, free food, and environmental education booths. The Recycle Regatta challenges participants to construct a watercraft from at least 70% recycled materials and race it over a 50-yard course on the Hillsborough River providing a hilarious competition for the spectators to enjoy. Middle and high school, college, and corporate groups are welcome to register.


Contact Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful at dpacker@KeepTBB.org or 813.221.8733 for more information.




Hillsborough River: Human Connections Program

The Hillsborough River has played a major role in the life of our region from prehistoric times to today. Rising in the Green Swamp, near the intersection of Pasco, Polk, and Hillsborough Counties, it flows 56 miles to Tampa Bay. Once a source of water, food, and transport for Native Americans, it is now enjoying a rebirth as an urban recreational and living site, as well as a key source of water for the region.  



The Hillsborough River is a natural resource, but its fate has been intertwined with that of human beings since people first set foot on what is now Florida. People have used, misused, polluted, and tried to control it. But from early times until today, people have been drawn to the river as a place to live, work, and play. It serves as inspiration for creative thinking, writing, and art. We invite you to join the Humanities Institute, as we celebrate the human connection to the Hillsborough; and contemplate its unique role in our region's history and culture.

At the heart of the project is a  series of events in October and November at which the cultural importance of the river through an interdisciplinary conversation that locates it in time, space, and memory is showcased. Speakers and activities representing history, archaeology, ecology, art photography, and literary studies will offer public talks and interactive experiences addressing the history of human interaction with the Hillsborough River. Emphasis on the importance of the river, not only as a unique natural environment, but also as a key component of the cultural heritage of our region, will be the focus. By understanding the long human history of the river, we are more likely to be informed stewards of this special environment.

Through this website, a wealth of resources - historic and contemporary photos, videos, and information gathered especially for the project - are available. You are encouraged to contribute your own memories, photos, or opinions, further strengthening the Human Connections to this irreplaceable natural resource. For more information visit:




Ulele Springs Restoration Project

Picture of Ulele Spring cira 1907

Ulele Springs is a natural spring feature located in the heart of downtown Tampa. Formerly known as Magbee Springs, the name was changed in 2006, to Ulele Springs, in honor of the fabled Indian woman who cared for a stranded Spanish sailor. The spring run, which historically flowed directly into the Hillsborough River, had been filled in and now the spring flows through a concrete pipe.
 In 1907, the City of Tampa built a pumping station at Ulele Spring, near the banks of the Hillsborough River. In 1910 the Tampa Streetcar Company built the hub of Tampa's streetcar system and this beautiful stretch of river quickly filled in with heavy industrial uses. A fish processing plant, a shipyard, a dredging operation, and the City of Tampa's Police Station and Maintenance Facility ultimately choked off access to the Hillsborough River for the surrounding neighborhoods and filled in the natural spring run. 


Ecosphere Restoration Institute, Inc., a non-profit organization specializing in public-private partnerships, is spearheading and designing the restoration of this spring run. The primary project objective is to remove the existing pipe and re-create a meandering stream system along with the associated wetland community down to the Hillsborough River. In addition, the spring boil area will be expanded by the removal of a portion of the concrete wall coupled with excavation of the banks to expand the wetland community, this newly restored wetland area will be planted with native wetland vegetation. In spite of these anthropogenic activities, the spring boil area is very healthy, with continuous flows of crystal clear water, which support native vegetation including ell grass which is rare within the Hillsborough River. 
 conceptual plan Ulele Springs

These activities will allow fish to seek refuge in the spring run, provide wetland (estuarine habitat, specifically oligohaline environs) within the urban core of the city, and provides a unique area for the citizens to enjoy as well as providing educational opportunities. In addition, this portion of the Hillsborough River has been completely hardened with seawalls, so this small, but important restoration project will provide the only location with native wetland vegetation. In addition, the continuous source of freshwater (75 degrees year round) will provide critical refuge for fish and even manatees as they currently use the river's upstream springs as wintering areas.


Thomas F. Ries

Founder and President - Ecosphere Restoration Institute, Inc. 




Fertilizer bill among those expected to return in 2013


Bruce Ritchie, The Florida Current 09/06/2012  

Legislation restricting local government fertilizer ordinances is among the bills expected to be back before the House again in 2013, Rep. Steve Crisafulli, chairman of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, said Thursday. He was among four legislators and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. who spoke at the third annual Florida Water Forum in Orlando.

The forum was hosted by Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association.
The groups say an adequate water supply remains key in attracting new industry to Florida and to ensure there is adequate water supply for cities.


Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said other bills also are expected to be back after they died in the Senate. They include HB 7045 to extend the length of some water use permits to 30 years and another HB 157 to encourage cooperation among neighboring water management districts. Both bills died in the Senate without being heard in committees. Last session, SB 604, exempting certified landscaping professionals from local ordinances, was killed by the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation by a 4-3 vote. Crisafulli says a conversation on the legislation still is needed to find "common ground," acknowledging support from the landscaping industry and opposition from counties.


"This is an issue that is starting to take legs nationwide," he said. "I believe there are 26 states now around the country that have gone in this direction, including as of recently Virginia and New Jersey."   

Other legislation from last session that could be back, Crisafulli said, includes HB 115, which would repeal a ban starting in 2016 on spreading septic tank waste on land. He also said there should be legislation encouraging public-private partnerships in the development of wastewater projects and legislation establishing a statewide water quality credit trading system.


Rep. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican who introduced HB 639 that passed this year encouraging the use of treated wastewater known as "reclaimed water," said she had met after the legislative session with representatives of agriculture and utility groups in Tampa to talk about other problems and solutions. She said there was no understanding or proposed legislation to come out of the meeting. "To the extent as policymakers we can facilitate that type of conversation that is what we need to be doing," she said.


Other legislators who spoke were Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City and sponsor of HB 157, and Rep. Steve Perman, D-Boca Raton. Sen. Chris Smith, D-West Palm Beach, provided a recorded video address because he was in North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention.  Vinyard outlined initiatives being undertaken by DEP to ensure that the state's five water management districts are working together. They include statewide environmental resource permit rulemaking, consumptive use permitting consistency, and regional water supply planning, including an effort under way with the Suwannee and St. Johns districts to help protect springs in North Central Florida. "Obviously the springs in our state are an iconic part of our ecosystem," Vinyard said. "It is one of the things that attracts visitors to our state. And it is so, so important that we protect springs."





Sinkhole Pumping Plan Raises Concerns


by Ashley Reams, Temple Terrace Patch 

City officials want to make sure a Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) plan to take water from Morris Bridge Sink will not affect the portion of the Hillsborough River that flows through Temple Terrace. The City of Temple Terrace is in the process of drafting a letter to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection after learning more about a plan to pump water from a sinkhole near Morris Bridge Road. SWFWMD is preparing to take water from the Morris Bridge Sink in the Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve to provide water to the Hillsborough River below the City of Tampa Dam at Rowlett Park. Water would be pumped from the sink and transferred by the Tampa Bypass Canal and the Hillsborough River Reservoir to the river below the dam.


A sink is a sinkhole filled with water that isn't connected to other groundwater flows. Morris Bridge Sink is located east of the Hillsborough River. The section of the river that flows through Temple Terrace is considered the middle river.


At a recent City Council meeting, Sid Flannery, the district's scientist in charge of the Lower Hillsborough River Recovery, explained that the district has established four water sources to provide a minimum flow of water to the lower Hillsborough River (in priority order): Sulphur Springs; Blue Sink; Morris Bridge Sink; and the Tampa Bypass Canal. The district expects to have all of these sources operational by 2017. "Any water that is released from the Hillsborough River Reservoir to the lower river to meet the minimum flow would be made up by water from Morris Bridge Sink or the Tampa Bypass Canal," Flannery said. "I know there's great concern in Temple Terrace because of the beauty of the river in this section of the city, but the establishment of minimum flows will have no net effect on water levels in the middle portion of the river in the City of Temple Terrace."


The district has simulated pulling water out of Morris Bridge Sink, and the groundwater drawdowns did not significantly reach the Hillsborough River. The district is in the process of analyzing the rate of pumping that is safe, and then it will apply for a water use permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. "The river is going to fluctuate under natural climatic conditions, and the simulations that we're doing, we're looking at: Is there a groundwater impact towards the river? And it's very slight," Flannery said. "The groundwater drawdowns tend to go more towards the southeast than to the northwest. ...So, we're doing very extensive modeling analysis to see: Will there be any effect on the river? And, at this point, it doesn't appear to be the case."


Six residents, including members of the city's River Watch Task Force, urged city officials to consider what effect the plan could have on the middle river that perhaps the district isn't considering. Ron Smith, chairman of River Watch Task Force, said the district has performed studies on minimum water flows in the upper and lower rivers, yet it has not studied minimum water flows or levels in the middle river. "I'm not a hydrologist... As a layperson here, I simply can't believe (the plan) won't have some effect on the river," Smith said. "What 'some' is, I really couldn't tell you."


Mayor Joe Affronti asked Code Compliance Director Joe Gross what the city's options are. Gross said the city could track the analysis that the district is performing, as well as the permit request the district will submit to the DEP. "Working closely with the district right now is where we are," Gross said. "We'll see ... the DEP permitting process. There may be opportunities at that point to weigh in as a city as to our concerns."


Councilman Ron Govin suggested the city contact the DEP to define its concerns. Councilman David Pogorilich clarified that city officials are concerned about the minimum levels of the middle river as opposed to the minimum flow. "That's what their 'do-no-harm' is based on is minimum flows, so as long as the water's flowing, they don't care how high it is in our section of the river," Pogorilich said. City Manager Kim Leinbach will work with the River Watch Task Force to draft a letter the city can send to the DEP after final approval from the council, as well as look into the possibility of finding an independent hydrology expert who would review the district's permit request to the DEP.





Fairwell to City of Tampa TAC Representative SylviaSylvia Espinola

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to the Technical Advisory Council's City of Tampa Citizen Representative, Sylvia Espinola. Ms. Espinola leaves the TAC after 36 years of dedicated service, shepherding the River Board TAC since its very inception.


We wish Ms. Espinola the very best in all her future endeavors. Thank you!


Hillsborough County Lawn Watering Returns To Twice A Week 

The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board voted to let the Modified Phase II water shortage restrictions expire for Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Counties due to improvements in the region's water resources. Effective August 1, 2012, these counties will return to the District's year-round water conservation measures of a two-day-per-week lawn and landscape watering schedule, unless a stricter local ordinance applies. The Governing Board voted to lift the restrictions in response to significant improvements in aquifer and river levels as a result of Tropical Storm Debby and regular summer rains. However, the Governing Board urged residents to continue the water conservation practices they've learned during the recent drought.
If you live in unincorporated Hillsborough County or the City of Tampa, the new twice-a-week watering days are as follows:
  • Addresses ending in 0, 1, 2 or 3 -   Mondays and Thursdays
  • Addresses ending in 4, 5 or 6 -       Tuesdays and Fridays
  • Addresses ending in 7, 8 or 9 -       Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • Locations with no address (common areas) and locations with mixed addresses (such as office complexes and shopping centers) - Wednesdays and Saturdays
All watering must be done before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m., and only once, on your designated days. The restrictions apply to all residents - not just customers of public utilities - and most water sources. That includes private wells, and ponds or lakes that are used as alternate irrigation supplies.
The use of reclaimed water is not subject to the day-of-week or time-of-day restrictions, although these customers are encouraged to use only what they need. Hand-watering and low-volume irrigation of plant material other than lawns or turfgrass may be done on any day and at any time. New sod and landscaping may be watered on any day for the first 30 days. On days 31-60, new sod and landscaping may be watered approximately every other day - even-numbered addresses on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday; odd-numbered addresses on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. An irrigation system zone can only be operated if the new sod or plant material covers at least 50 percent of that zone.

Fountains, Car Washing, Pressure Washing - no restrictions, yet residents are asked to still use water conservation methods, such as using a shutoff nozzle on their hose so water isn't wasted. For complete information on these and other restrictions including links to the Cities of Temple Terrace and Plant City - visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/water. Or, call 813.275.7094 for a recorded message, or the Water Conservation Team at 813.272.5977 x43991, during regular business hours.

Issue 8
Issue 8
Gage Issue 8

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