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The Point, Aug. 1, 2022: Announcing WUFT's special project, Watershed, a series exploring Florida's water quality

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Special project: Watershed

• Today WUFT News launches  WATERSHED, an investigation into statewide water quality marking the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and Florida Water Resources Act of 1972. Funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center’s nationwide  Connected Coastlines reporting initiative, University of Florida journalism fellows reported on the state's waters half a century after those sweeping laws. What progress can the state celebrate, and what waters are still ailing, or worsening amid climate change, pollution and outdated infrastructure? What bold actions are possible now?

Our series opens with “Shining Example.” After decades of pollution suffocated Tampa Bay and killed half its seagrass and much of its marine life, unprecedented political cooperation and hundreds of science-guided projects brought the estuary back to life. Tampa Bay became a symbol for the success of the Clean Water Act, and humanity’s ability to clean up pollution. But today, seagrasses and fishes have begun to die again. The Bay is losing ground — again a symbol, this time of declining water quality after a half-century of gains.

Be sure to also check out the story “Red-Handed.” New research finds that human pollution influences the severity of red tides more directly than scientists previously understood. The connection sheds light on the need for better water-quality monitoring statewide — and ultimately, to reduce the nutrient pollution flowing into Florida’s waterways. 

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Around the state

• Politico: Florida Republicans tether themselves to DeSantis — even without his support. "Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t endorsed a single Republican running for Congress in Florida this year. But that hasn’t stopped GOP candidates from tying themselves to him. Republicans vying for Congress — and countless more in down-ballot races — are using DeSantis’ photo in campaign mailers and television ads and are dropping his name in debates ahead of the Aug. 23 primary."

• NPR News: Florida Democratic congressman forced to run against GOP colleague after map battle. "Now, Democrat Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee — who is Black — is running against Republican Rep. Neal Dunn of Panama City — who is white — to represent more than a dozen Panhandle counties in the newly-drawn district."

• Miami Herald ($): What to expect as Parkland shooting trial continues: school tour; defense makes its case. "The sentencing trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is in its second week, and is expected to last several more months."

• Gainesville Sun ($): Boulware Springs Charter School paid a salary and rent to its director. Was it a conflict? "A recent audit of a Gainesville charter school raises ethical questions for a candidate running for Alachua County's school board. The inquiry shows that District 5 hopeful Kay Abbitt, co-founder and former director of Boulware Springs Charter School, had been double dipping from the school prior to her stepping down from the helm this summer."

• WUSF-Tampa: Florida to get $70 million in transportation resilience money this year. "The money can be used for highway and transit projects, bicycle and pedestrian projects and port facilities that help improve evacuations or disaster relief."

• NPR News: Miami area's chief heat officer discusses her first-of-its-kind job. "NPR's Cheryl Corley speaks with Jane Gilbert, Miami-Dade County's Chief Heat Officer, on how to address the effects of extreme heat and create a more heat-resilient future."

• Mainstreet Daily News: DeSantis fills Columbia County School Board seat. "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis named Cherie Hill of Lake City to the School Board of Columbia County, according to a Friday afternoon announcement from the governor’s office."

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• Politics: Jan. 6 hearings chip away at Trump's hold on GOP, as 2024 hopefuls circle

• Health: How we talk about monkeypox matters. Experts offer ways to reduce stigma

• Health: Millions of Americans have long COVID. Many of them are no longer working

• Science: Parts of the moon have stable temperatures fit for humans, researchers find

About today's curator

I'm Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I've found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today's edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news