Hillsborough River News

   A Partners In Planning Publication of

   The Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board &

   The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission  

eNews Issue 9  

Winter 2013  


In This Issue

EPA approves rules
Board and TAC appointments
Riverfront Park Vision
Felled trees on river
River levels in Temple Terrace
TBO to split propeties
USGS Charts

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Upcoming Meetings

2013 Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board Meeting Dates:


Monday, FEB 25

Tuesday, MAY 21

(Joint meeting with TAC to be held at Southwest Florida Water Management District's Tampa Service Center at 1:30 p.m., Laurel Oaks Room, at 7601 US Hwy 301, Tampa, FL 33637)

Monday, AUG 26

Tuesday, DEC 10 (tentative)


Unless otherwise noted,
River Board meetings will
be held at 9:30 a.m. at:
Temple Terrace City Hall
at 11250 N 56th Street

2013 Technical Advisory Council (TAC)

Meeting Dates on Tuesdays:


January 15

February 19

March 19
April 16
May 21 (Joint Mtg w River Board) 
June 18
July 16
August 20
September 17
October 15
November 19
December 17


All TAC meetings will be held at Southwest Florida Water Management District's Tampa Service Center at 1:30 p.m.
in the Laurel Oaks Room at
7601 US Hwy 301 in Tampa




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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EPA approves Florida's rules to  

protect waterways from nutrient pollution

The EPA has approved the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (FDEP) rules to protect Florida's waterways from excess nitrogen and phosphorus. These pollutants, called nutrients, cause algal blooms, contaminate drinking water supplies and are among the largest contributors to water quality problems in Florida. These rules establish numeric limits on the amount of nutrient pollution allowed in statewide springs, lakes, streams and some estuaries. Following a thorough review of the state's adopted rules and supporting documents, EPA determined they are consistent with the requirements of the Clean Water Act and applicable federal regulations for the water bodies they cover.


"Nutrient pollution threatens human health and the environment, hurts businesses, costs jobs, reduces property values, and otherwise impacts the quality of life for all Floridians," said EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming. "Clean water is vital for Florida and EPA commends FDEP for taking this significant step towards protecting and restoring water quality across the state."


Hillsborough River at 56yh Street



The EPA determined FDEP's new method of deriving numeric limits for the amount of nutrient pollution is technically and scientifically sound, and more effective and efficient than the previous narrative approach. The numeric limits for nitrogen and phosphorus in springs, lakes and streams (outside South Florida) are virtually identical to those in EPA's 2010 rule. FDEP also has adopted additional biological and chemical indicators to identify and prevent nutrient pollution in streams and to protect sensitive downstream waters. This combination of numeric limits with biological indicators was used in to determine the Santa Fe River was impaired and needed restoration.


FDEP's rules are intended to improve water quality and protect public health, aquatic life and the long-term recreational uses of Florida's waters, which are a critical part of the state's economy. The Clean Water Act envisions states being primarily responsible for protecting water quality, and EPA fully supports Florida's efforts to implement its own water quality standards. However, in accordance with a 2009 consent decree with the Florida Wildlife Federation - and because the state's rules do not cover certain waters - EPA is also proposing two federal nutrient rules. One rule proposes numeric limits on the amount of nutrient pollution allowed in Florida's estuaries and coastal waters, as well as streams in South Florida, which were not addressed in Florida's rules. The other clarifies some provisions in the 2010 rule EPA establishing numeric limits on the amount of nutrient pollution allowed in Florida's inland waters. These provisions were remanded to EPA for further action by the District Court.


EPA welcomes public comment on its proposed rules and will host public information Open House sessions in Tampa on January 17 and 18, as well as three public webinars January 22 - 24, 2013. For more information, or to register for the upcoming online webinars, please visit EPA's Water: Regulatory Information web site. 


Appointments to River Board and TAC

Alison FernandezOn December 4 2012, the Temple Terrace City Council re-appointed Council Member Alison Fernandez to continue serving as their representative on the River Board. Welcome back, Council Member! 

Richard Formica 


On December 6 2012, the Tampa City Council  appointed Richard Formica, Jr. as their new citizen representative to the River Board's Technical Advisory Council. Mr. Formica is a retired Air Force Officer and business owner. Mr. Formica is active in the community and has an interest in natural resource protection. We look forward to Mr. Formica's participation on this important Council!

Planning Commissioner Ray YoungOn December 10 2012, the Planning Commission appointed Commissioner Ray Young as their representative to the River Board's Technical Advisory Council (TAC). We look forward to Commissioner Young's insight!

Talk of Riverfront Park changes alarms some West Tampa residents  

Julian B. Lane Riverfront ParkBy Richard Danielson

Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, November 2, 2012


TAMPA - Not so fast, Mr. Mayor.

That's the plea from several West Tampa residents who worried Thursday that Mayor Bob Buckhorn's musings about the future of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park are leaving them out of the loop. In particular, residents of the West Riverfront neighborhood are worried that one of the mayor's ideas, putting a waterfront restaurant in the park, could make it less available to the people who live closest to it. "A lot of us use that park," Dr. Lois Miles told the City Council. "I'd hate to see it destroyed just to put up a restaurant."

Residents should not worry, Buckhorn said after the meeting. They will have a say in planning any changes at the N Boulevard park. "They will be fully engaged at the appropriate time when we have something to talk about," he said. "I want this to be their plan." But it's no surprise that residents are tuned in to discussions about the future of the park, the riverfront and West Tampa. There are a lot of them going on:

  • The Tampa Housing Authority, after consulting with city officials, has sought proposals from private developers to create a master plan for a 120-acre area that includes the 23 acres at Riverfront Park. The first part of the plan is expected to address the demolition and redevelopment of the North Boulevard Homes and Mary Bethune public housing complexes.
  • For more than a year, the city has been getting advice from the nonprofit, Washington D.C. - based Urban Land Institute about ways to redevelop and improve Tampa's downtown, including the 120-acre area being studied by the housing authority.
  • As a part of its InVision Tampa project, which began in April, the city has held a series of public meetings to ask for ideas from residents and businesses about what they want to see in the way of design guidelines, amenities and connections between downtown and surrounding areas, including West Tampa.
  • The West Tampa Chamber of Commerce two weeks ago unveiled a plan to rebrand, redevelop and bring improved transit to West Tampa.

While Buckhorn said those discussions have not focused in on specific plans for Riverfront Park, he has done some thinking out loud himself. In September, Buckhorn told the Times that he wants to bring new activity, including maybe a waterfront restaurant, to Riverfront Park. His larger goal is to make the Hillsborough River the center of downtown Tampa, not its western edge. If the city pursued that idea, Riverfront would become the third city park, along with Water Works Park and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, where Buckhorn's administration has tried to bring a restaurant to a city park on the river. "When you think about it, we have very few waterfront dining options," Buckhorn said at the time. "That's got to change."

Buckhorn put $2.5 million in the city budget for work on the park in the coming year, and nearly $9.3 million in capital improvement spending on the park over the next four years. Still, he says that money is a placeholder for a detailed plan that hasn't been written yet. He also has said he has to figure out whether a restaurant at the park "even makes sense." During a discussion with the council, City Chief of Staff, Santiago Corrada, said the other planning discussions by the Housing Authority, the Urban Land Institute and the InVision Tampa - may talk about the park indirectly, but there is no planning under way to redevelop the park. "I think everyone needs to take a step back and wait to see what actual real plans are proposed from the city rather than jumping to conclusions about what will be there," City Council member Lisa Montelione said.


Felled trees pose a hazard on the River

Felled Tree in Hillsborough River. Credit: Daisy Jones
SEMINOLE HEIGHTS -- It was worrisome from the beginning: two men in a small boat and a storm-tossed tree snagged on bridge pilings in murky water. Now Thomas Jones worries that boaters and kayakers should keep a sharp lookout for three runaway logs on the Hillsborough River. They could be adrift somewhere west of the Nebraska Avenue bridge that spans the river at the border between Seminole Heights and Sulphur Springs.

"It certainly is a hazard to navigation," said Jones, who has lived on the river for 30 years. "They took a minor situation that could have been cured and turned it into a danger." The tree, which stretched maybe 40 feet long - Jones thinks it was a cypress - landed under the bridge weeks ago after a violent storm tore through Seminole Heights and surrounding neighborhoods. A few days ago, Jones saw workers trimming branches. They came back Thursday in a 12-foot boat to finish the job. "I was not impressed with the equipment they had and was seriously concerned they were going to lose control. The tide was very fast," Jones said.

"I don't think they realized how strong it (the current) was," said Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kris Carson. State highway officials who hired Infrastructure Corporation of America to pull the tree to shore and haul it off say the situation isn't so dire. One large log that broke free washed ashore about 100 yards from the bridge. ICA workers were told to remove it by today.

After Jones' complaints, one worker phoned Greg Deese, an FDOT structures maintenance engineer who visited the site Thursday. He spoke by phone with Jones and left. Carson said Deese told the men, "We need a bigger boat." One hour later, Jones saw a log going down the river. "These guys were paddling like hell to try and catch it," he said.

By KATHY STEELE | The Tampa Tribune | Published: September 21, 2012



Maximum levels for Hillsborough River revised
Minimum levels for the portion of the river that runs through Temple Terrace have still not been set.
By Ashley Reams

September 27, 2012

Ron Smith knows about the changes that Temple Terrace  residents see in the levels of the Hillsborough River. As chairman of the Temple Terrace River Watch Task Force
, Smith monitors the rise and fall of the portion of the river that flows through the "Amazing City." This portion of the river is also known as the "middle river."

In late August and early September, the levels in the middle river were unusually high, reaching more than 25 feet at Fowler Avenue. "There were places along the river, within our city, where docks were underwater, structures were underwater, back yards were flooded in some cases," Smith told the Temple Terrace City Council at its September 18th meeting. "There were no homes in danger, but we did have some pretty good flooding."

So, the River Watch Task Force met with the Southwest Florida Water Management District this month to discuss what water level is too high and what preventative steps could be taken to avoid flooding.

"We have decided to revise the elevations for two of our structures to prevent this from happening again in the future," said Robyn O. Felix, the district's media relations manager. "If the water elevation reaches 24 feet at the Hillsborough River at Fowler, we will first close structure S-163, which will close Cow House Creek and divert the water to the Tampa Bypass Canal. If the water elevation reaches 25 feet at the Hillsborough River at Fowler, we will close structure S-155, which will close off the upper Hillsborough River and divert the water to the Tampa Bypass Canal."


It's a win for Temple Terrace, Smith said."It gives us, the citizens of Temple Terrace, the opportunity to have some water diverted off the river at 24 at Fowler and begin to start lowering the river," he told the council. "And if that works: Fine. But if it continues to rise, then they can stop it completely and avert the water to the bypass."


What the task force is still working on though is getting the district to agree to minimum levels of the Hillsborough River. "We made great progress on maximum levels this time, but we still have some work to do on minimum levels," Smith said.For years, city officials say they've tried to get the district to set minimum levels. When the river gets too low, boats can't use it and wildlife might be affected, they've said.At a City Council meeting in August, 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.


When the Friends of the River brought a lawsuit against the district, the district conducted a study of the lower river and increased the minimum flow in that portion. Minimum levels have also been adopted for the upper river. "Our section needs to get equal consideration," said Councilwoman Alison Fernandez in August. But Sid Flannery, the district's scientist in charge of the Lower Hillsborough River Recovery, said in August that the minimum levels in the upper river protect the flow into the middle river. "I think the members of the River Watch Task Force, under your guidance, are going to continue to march down the road we've been marching down, continue to ask for minimum levels on the Hillsborough River," Smith said. "We think it's important to the City of Temple Terrace to allow our citizens to be able to utilize that river, navigate on it, use it for recreation, have the wildlife and fish be able to move from one area to the other."


Adding to the city's concerns is the district's plan to pump water from Morris Bridge Sink, which is located north of Temple Terrace, to provide water to the lower river. Flannery assured the City Council in August that pumping at Morris Bridge Sink would not affect the river as it flows through Temple Terrace. The district and the Department of Environmental Protection are allowing the Temple Terrace River Watch Task Force to review the district's application before it is submitted to the DEP. After talking about minimum levels in the middle river and learning about the district's plan to stop the flow of water if the maximum level is reached, Fernandez brought up what Smith called "an excellent point." "What triggers them (to re-release) the water into the river?" she asked. "If there is no minimum level or minimum flow established, theoretically, how do we get them to get the water flowing again?"


By Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tampa Tribune owner looks to split properties on Hillsborough River

Tampa Tribune and Channel 8 BuildingsTAMPA - As the parent company of the Tampa Tribune looks to sell the newspaper, it has asked the city of Tampa about splitting two properties it owns overlooking the Hillsborough River. Media General of Richmond, Virginia, has filed a three-page application asking whether splitting its properties at 200 and 202 S Parker St would require city approval.

"Media General Operations Inc. is seeking a formal decision that a proposed parcel split will not trigger the need for any application process through the city of Tampa's (office of) land development coordination," according to the request, which was signed by Kenneth Campbell, Media General's director of real estate and facilities in Virginia.

Media General said in a news release this week that it "expects to enter into a transaction with one of several prospective buyers" for the Tribune and its associated print properties, which include regional newspapers. It offered no details on the timing of a sale or the identities of the potential buyers. The building at 202 S Parker St contains the old offices of the Tribune. In 2000, Media General converged three operations - the Tribune, NBC affiliate WFLA - Ch 8 and Tampa Bay Online - in a $40 million News Center that it built immediately to the north of the newspaper building. 

In May, a subsidiary of billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway agreed to pay $142 million for every newspaper that Media General owned - a total of 63 print operations - except the Tribune. As part of the deal, Media General kept its broadcast operations, including WFLA, borrowed $400 million from Buffett's company, and gave it the right to a nearly 17 percent stake in Media General. Berkshire Hathaway exercised that right this week.

In July, Media General said it was in discussion with prospective buyers for its Tampa print properties and associated websites. At the same time, it set aside the Tribune for accounting purposes as a "discontinued operation" and said a sale was "probable." The public has until Oct. 5 to comment on Media General's request to the city, said Thomas Snelling, Tampa's director of planning and development. After that, city zoning officials have 30 days to consider the facts and render their interpretation. While people can share their opinions, the process is purely administrative and does not go to the City Council.

Together, the real estate parcels that are the subject of Media General's request have a market value of about $15.5 million, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office. The property appraiser says the land that makes up the two parcels in question is valued at $3.7 million, but does not break down the value of each parcel separately. The depreciated values of the old Tribune building and the News Center are about $935,000 and $10.7 million, respectively, according to the property appraiser.

In addition, the company has $12.6 million in tangible property - such as equipment, technology and printing presses - on both parcels. Of that, $4.5 million in equipment belongs to WFLA. The Tribune has $1.7 million in equipment at the News Center and $6.4 million in equipment in its old building.

Neither Tribune publisher Bill Barker, Katherine O'Donniley, a Tampa lawyer who is the company's agent on its request to the city, nor Media General vice president of corporate communications Lou Anne J. Nabhan returned calls for comment.


 Precipitation Winter 2012 
 Discharge Winter 2012
 Gage Winter 2012

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