The Point, Aug. 22, 2022: 'Watershed' series examines impact of Florida's 'overtourism' problem
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Watershed: How safe?
Today WUFT News continues its series 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, UF 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progress can the state celebrate, and what waters are still ailing, or worsening amid climate change, pollution and outdated infrastructure?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?
Natalia Galicza digs into the surprising lack of oversight for water quality at the University of Florida's signature freshwater lake in her story "A Lake Named Alice." Kalia Richardson reports on Florida subsistence fishers, who don't always get the message about pollution advisories. Sara Lindsay finds rural North Floridians relying on bottled water in one of the most water-rich parts of the United States due to groundwater worries. And Marlena Carrillo looks at the phenomenon of "overtourism" in the state in her story, "Loving Florida, Losing Florida."
Florida’s pristine waters are its calling card for tourists, who are now returning to the state in record numbers. But what happens when crushing numbers of visitors harm the natural environment that draws them?
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Around the state
• WTSP-Tampa Bay: 'I had no plans on committing voter fraud': Felon arrested for voting says he didn't know he was ineligible. "Since 2019, convicted felons in Florida have been allowed to go to a polling place and cast ballots, except for felons convicted of murder and/or sexual assault. DeSantis said the 20 people arrested fit that profile. Six of those people live in Hillsborough county, including Nathan Hart of Gibsonton. Hart told 10 Tampa Bay he was confused about the law when he registered to vote, and never believed he was breaking the law."
• USA Today Network ($): Ron DeSantis on pace to bring in more money than any governor candidate. Ever. "Open Secrets, a group that tracks money in politics, reported this week that DeSantis raised a total of $165.6 million through Aug. 5 for his reelection effort."
• Tampa Bay Times ($): 8 things at stake in Florida’s primary elections Tuesday. "Voters will test new election laws, decide on local tax initiatives for schools and pick challengers to Marco Rubio and Ron DeSantis."
• News Service of Florida: A Florida agency will borrow $150 million for property insurance claims. "In more fallout from Florida’s troubled property-insurance market, an agency that handles claims after insurers go insolvent approved a plan Friday to borrow $150 million — with policyholders across the state slated to pay back the loan. The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association Board of Directors made the decision after five property insurers have gone insolvent since February."
• Florida Storms: Humid heat could be a better indicator of heat-related health risks. "High heat combined with high humidity can be a recipe for multiple heat-related health risks. A recent analysis shows that equivalent temperatures, a metric of humid heat, has been increasing since the 1950s, and could contribute to dangerous living conditions now and in the future."
• New York Times ($): Florida Utility Is Fined $500,000 for 2017 Explosion That Killed 5. "Tampa Electric Company pleaded guilty in May to “willfully” violating an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that required workers receive a pre-job briefing about the work they were to perform, including on potential hazards and the procedures involved, prosecutors said. Failing to hold the briefing caused the death of five employees, prosecutors said in court documents."
• Florida Politics: Twitter ‘permanently suspends’ HD 20 candidate after he advocates shooting federal agents. "Republican Luis Miguel, running against incumbent Rep. Bobby Payne of Palatka in the redrawn House District 20, was suspended from Twitter after a tweet advocating that Floridians should be able to shoot federal agents on sight."
• Associated Press: 85 arrests made in Florida-California drug flight scheme. "Eighty-five people have been arrested and millions of dollars in illicit drugs seized in a smuggling operation that used checked bags on commercial flights from California to Florida, investigators said Friday."
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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 email@example.com.