August 7, 2021, Lakeland, Florida: The City of Lakeland Lakes and Stormwater Division in partnership with the Lakes Education Action Drive are pleased to announce the date for the 18th “no” the 17th “almost” Annual Lakeland Cardboard Boat Challenge and Lakeshore Festival on October 9, 2021, from 8:30 am to Noon at the Lake Hollingsworth boat ramp. Due to COVID19, last years annual event was cancelled, but we are happy to bring back this Fall fun for all challenge.

Join the Lakes Education Action Drive and the Lakes and Stormwater Division of the City of Lakeland as they help raise awareness about our water resources and how we all must play a role in protecting them. People can reduce their impact on the environment through the lifestyle choices they make every day. Celebrate our lakes and join the fun!

THE CHALLENGE: To build a boat out of cardboard and duct tape, and then put 2 people inside to race around a course, be the first to make it across the finish line without sinking.

THE CATEGORIES: On-Site Built Groups: Cardboard boats are built on site, the morning of the event, and all supplies are provided. Pre-Built Groups: Cardboard boats are built before the event, and teams must provide their own supplies.  Divisions for on-site built and pre-built categories include: Youth (both on board crew are under 18 years of age), Family (one crew member is over 18 and one crew member is under 18) and Community/Adult (both members are over 18).

Registration cost is $35 per team and can be completed online at and search “Lakeland Cardboard Boat” Or, visit the Lakes Education Action Drive on Facebook and click on the “Events Tab”.

The establishment of the City of Lakeland’s Lakes & Stormwater Division has contributed considerably to improving the health and beauty of our City’s lakes and waterways. The Lakes & Stormwater staff invites you to take advantage of and enjoy the many lakes and water resources available to Lakeland residents and visitors alike! The Lakes Education/Action Drive (LE/AD) is a non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of educating the citizens of Polk County about our lakes and helping them to realize the tremendous benefits our lakes provide.

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The Board of Directors would like to thank Shannon Carnevale, Polk County Natural Resources and Conservation Extension Agent for her 10 years of service to our Board of Directors. Shannon played an instrumental role in guiding our mission with her insights and unique expertise.

“We are grateful for her numerous hours given to LE/AD. On behalf of all the board members, I wish Shannon all the best, and hopefully we will continue to work together through events like Water School.” Laurie Smith, President.

“As I reflect on the ten years I have spent as a board member, there are so many wonderful projects to think back on and I can only imagine how much LE/AD will grow in the next ten years. The upcoming 5k event is the exciting start of a new era for LE/AD, in my eyes. One of creative outreach, impactful education, and a growing sense of community around our lakes.” Shannon Carnevale.

Executive Director Danny Kushmer said, “The commitment Shannon has provided the Lakes Education Action Drive has been stellar and so much appreciated.”

Thank you, Shannon!

Tell us who’s coming by filing out the form below.

There are often questions about who is responsible when storm-damaged trees end up on a neighbor’s property. UF IFAS Escambia County Extension discusses a few common situations using legal interpretations from the UF publication HANDBOOK OF FLORIDA FENCE AND PROPERTY LAW: TREES AND LANDOWNER RESPONSIBILITY.

Thank you Beth Bolles and the University of Florida IFAS Blog.

Re-Blogged from the University of Florida.

Join UF/IFAS Extension Polk County experts for an on-demand series of four, 15-minute online educational workshops to help you save water in the landscape and use irrigation more efficiently. Topics include microirrigation, setting your irrigation timer, irrigation repairs and calibration, and smart irrigation technology.

(Click the topic to register and view the video.)

  • Microirrigation: Microirrigation is a type of low volume irrigation that can help you save water and irrigate your landscape plants and vegetable garden more efficiently. The video includes tips on benefits, types of microirrigation, installation, and maintenance of microirrigation in the garden and landscape.
  • Setting Your Irrigation Timer: Irrigation timers require frequent checking for correct settings and seasonal adjustments. The video includes step-by-step instructions on general settings to check on your irrigation timer.
  • Irrigation Repairs and Calibration: Irrigation sprinklers may become clogged or damaged over time. Regular inspection and maintenance, including calibrating your sprinklers, will help you water more efficiently. The video on irrigation repairs and calibration includes the benefits of a properly functioning irrigation system, routine maintenance, how to calibrate your system, and finding an irrigation professional.
  • Smart Irrigation Technology: Are you ready to step-up your irrigation efficiency? Incorporating a smart irrigation controller that is either soil moisture sensor (SMS) or evapotranspiration (ET) based can help you save water. Even if you are not ready to upgrade your irrigation controller, you can use an on online Smart Irrigation App to help you set your irrigation based on plant needs.
Additional resources from the webinar series:

by Julie Schelb 

Posted: May 11, 2021

The Lakes Education Action Drive is happy to announce, the LEAD’r (our podcast) is now on Podbean. After seven episodes on our free site on SoundCloud it was time to upgrade to a professional presence.

Please follow us on Podbean and/or Apple today.

Water means different things to different people. Join Danny Kushmer as he and his daughter, Kaylie Kushmer have a conversation about water around the world on #WorldWaterDay. The Lakes Education Action Drive Podcast is designed to inform our members, residents, and visitors of Polk County the importance of our most precious resource, water.

Kaylie Kushmer

Kaylie is a 5th Generation Floridian with a passion for water. In her early 20’s Kaylie went on her first mission to bring clean water to the people of the Amazon. As Kaylie say’s “This trip changed my life”. Kaylie continued her journeys to the Amazon, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Nepal gaining a better understanding of the global clean water crisis.

Now, sit back and learn how we, in Polk County can apply Kaylie’s experiences to our everyday life protecting our most precious resource, water.

Podcast, Click Here: World Water Day 2021

Kaylie in the Amazon and Nepal…………

Re-Blogged from the University of Florida UF/IFAS Blogs

Water directly out of your tap may not be safe to drink during an emergency.  Boil water orders (also called advisories) are common during hurricane season, but can also occur during lightning strikes and other incidents.

Boil water orders, when issued, are a precaution we must take seriously.  Bacteria, viruses, and protozoans can enter the drinking water supply and can make you sick.  This can be a serious health hazard, and we must be alert to warnings issued by local authorities.

When a boil water order, is issued for your area, you need to limit exposure to contaminated water. Microbiological contaminants (bacteria) can be waterborne and can make you sick.

Contaminated water is a threat

to public health.

There are recommendations for boiling, disinfecting and/or filtering water, when one of these boil water incidents occur. Read and study the links provided below.

Boiling water

If you do not have a supply of safe bottled water, you should boil your water to make it safe to drink. Boiling is the surest method to kill disease-causing organisms, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

Healthy water and making water safe-

Disinfecting water

If you do not have bottled water available and if boiling is not possible, you can disinfect small quantities of water, to drink, by using a chemical disinfectant such as unscented household chlorine bleach. Disinfectants can kill most harmful or disease-causing viruses and bacteria, but not all of them. There are specific details on how to disinfect water and the manufacturer’s instructions must be followed carefully and exactly! See the CDC link below on making water safe to drink.

Making water safe- 09_202278-B_Make_Water_Safe_Flyer_508.pdf (

Filtering water

Many portable water filters can remove some disease-causing parasites from drinking water. Just like with disinfecting water, you must carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the water filter you choose to use.

A guide to water filters- A Guide to Water Filters | Cryptosporidium | Parasites | CDC

What about laundry, handwashing, bathing, dish washing, brushing teeth, cleaning, and caring for pets, the garden and house plants when a boil water order is in effect?

See the boil water advisory link below for recommendations, information, and answers to this rather long question.

Boil water advisory-Boil Water Advisory | Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene-related Emergencies & and Outbreaks | Healthy Water | CDC

When a boil water advisory is issued, here are ten considerations to help you stay safe.
  1. Water may not be safe to drink during an emergency; listen to your local authorities and follow all recommendations and boil water advisories.
  2. Stay tuned to the local news for advisory updates in your area. Follow these recommendations closely.
  3. Use bottled water if possible. If not, use one of the methods described to make water safe to drink. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions when disinfecting or filtering water.
  4. Consider using disposable plates, cups, and utensils during a boil water advisory.
  5. You may need to brush your teeth with bottled water.
  6. Be careful not to swallow water when showering.
  7. Pets can also get sick by some of the same germs as people and/or spread germs to people. Provide pets with bottled drinking water or cooled boiled water.
  8. Food and water safety matter. Remember the basic food safety principles of clean, separate, cook and chill.
  9. Prevent illness in your community by following local advisories and by being knowledgeable about safe drinking water.
  10. Know how to protect you and your family when a boil water advisory is issued. Always drink safe water.

by Brenda Marty-Jimenez 

Listen to January’s Podcast on upcoming State and Federal Legislation on Water. Or, read the transcript here.

Okay, 2020 was the year of COVID-19 resulting in 15 days to flatten the curve. Well, 15 days turned into all-year and shutting down business, locking loved ones in the home, and cancelling so many outdoor activities.

The Lakes Education Action Drive was not immune from this terrible disease. Our communications strategy had to change dramatically. Our board went to virtual meetings, so many activities were cancelled including our favorite, the Lakeland Cardboard Boat Challenge and Lakeshore Festival.

But we begin 2021 with the hope of a vaccine and getting back too normal. Well, here we are half-way through January and the upheaval in Washington D.C. and the continuation of COVID-19, once again, we really do not know what is going to be in store for us.

In this episode of LEAD’er, the Lakes Education Action Drive Podcast, I would like to review state and federal policy pertaining to water. Even though many of our businesses have shut and we remain on lockdown. State Legislators and lawmakers in D.C. will continue to make policy.

As a county with over 550 lakes, rivers, and streams it is important for us to keep up to date with water policy development.

In a letter from the American Water Works Association, they congratulate Joe Biden on winning the 2020 election. The state, “You will take office during a critical moment in U.S. history, and we are confident your commitment to research and science will serve you well.”

They explain to the President-elect how “the infrastructure their members maintain is the foundation on which the country’s communities are built.”

They developed a set of recommendations that will provide investments and attention needed to help address challenges the country faces in drinking water issues.

Due to COVID-19, the AWWA believes revenue shortfalls at U.S. drinking water utilities may reduce economic activity by $32.7 billion and cost 75,000 to 90,000 private-sector jobs.

Drinking water utilities will see revenues from customer payments drop by nearly $14 billion. This is the result of the elimination of water shutoffs for non-payment, increased late payments due to high unemployment, reductions in non-residential water demands, and the addition of fewer new customers due to economic stagnation.

Not so much here in Florida!

Many utilities, particularly those serving small to medium-sized communities, are at risk resulting from diminished operating revenues. Not only do these lost revenues mean local communities are less able to renew, repair, and sustain aging infrastructure and treatment facilities, but some are feeling the effects in their ongoing operating finances, which may result in the loss of operators that are needed to ensure the utility is in regulatory compliance.

It is critical to continue to provide water service to our communities during a pandemic. Consequently, water utilities themselves, or state or local governments across the country have instituted moratoria on disconnecting water service for non-payment during the COVID-19 crisis.

However, the AWWA has urged the President-Elect that if there is to be a mandatory moratorium on disconnecting water service, that such a moratorium be limited to the duration of the current coronavirus public health emergency plus a reasonable amount of time after the formal declaration expires.

Some past legislative proposals would have imposed a moratorium on shutoffs indefinitely, for any public health emergency. In addition, they imposed a moratorium if any part of a local government accepted relief funds, even if none went to the water utility.

It would be harmful for water utilities to be subject to such mandates if they have not received any benefits. Providing financial assistance to people who are struggling to pay their water utility bills is needed now more than ever.

The AWWA asks: As you work with Congress on the next COVID-19 relief package, we urge you to make sure it includes the following:

Funding to help low-income customers pay their water bills during the current pandemic emergency.

Funding to help those local water utilities that have suffered significant revenue losses due to the pandemic, so that they can continue to operate and provide safe water services; and

A definitive limitation to any mandated moratorium on disconnection of water service for non-payment if such as moratorium is included in a legislative package.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the US Department of Commerce estimates that for every dollar spent on water infrastructure, $2.63 is generated in the private economy. And for every job added in the water workforce, the BEA estimates that 3.68 jobs are added in the national economy.

Their second request involved wastewater infrastructure:

In your 2021 budget, seek to fully authorize funding for State Revolving Funds.

Work with Congress to strengthen the effectiveness of the State Revolving Funds Program. And…

In negotiating changes to the tax code, ensure that the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds is protected, and that the tax advantages of advanced refunding of these bonds is restored.

Regarding America’s water-related workforce the AWWA has requested the following:

Work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Associations of Boards of Certification to ease the ability of workers to carry their licenses to work at a water utility to other states.

Provide robust funding for community college scholarships that prepare students to entire the water workforce. And…

Direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop liaisons with the water sector job market. The water sector has prioritized hiring more veterans.

Citing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, significant improvements in conservation programs that can be used to protect sources of drinking water. It enhanced the ability of agricultural producers and local water providers to collaborate on projects that help protect our source waters. Here are the key features:

Protection of drinking water sources as an explicit goal of the conservation title of the 2018 Farm Bill

An increase in incentives for agricultural producers to implement practices that benefit source water protection

Authorization for community water systems to work with state technical committees for agricultural programs to identify local priority areas for source water protection.

A dedication of at least 10 percent of funds in conservation programs going to projects that protect sources of drinking water, which could amount to $4 billion over 10 years

An increase in authorized funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to $300 million a year, plus some streamlining of program administrative processes. The RCPP authorizes partnerships among agricultural producers, USDA, and non-agricultural entities, such as water utilities.

They followed this up by requesting the following:

We urge that in your 2021 budget proposal, you provide fully authorized funding for the conservation title of the farm bill. While these important provisions are provided mandatory funding through the farm bill, it is important for Congress to maintain that funding. Providing fully authorized funding to programs in the conservation title will not only help address algal blooms, nutrient overloading, and pesticide exposure in source waters, but also facilitate farmers and ranchers and community water systems working cooperatively on such projects.

Regarding research, the AWWA requested:

Work with Congress to see that future research is directed to further our understanding of the health effects, occurrences and treatment options for existing drinking water contaminants and emerging substances that may pose a risk to public health. Federal dollars can be greatly leveraged by funding research by extramural entities.

In the President’s budget request, increase funding for National Priorities Water Research and the Innovative Water Technologies grant programs to help better understand risks and treatment technologies for emerging contaminants; to recover resources, save energy and reduce greenhouse emissions from water treatment and other processes; and to enhance environmental protection across the water sector.

Finally, the AWWA states, new regulatory drinking water standards be a scientific, risk-based, and data-driven process that discerns what substances are to be regulated, and at what levels. This takes a significant amount of time, which can be at odds with perceived risk.

This is where the research efforts mentioned can accelerate and improve regulatory processes. The AWWA cautions against setting a precedent of by-passing these established processes via legislative action.

The nation tested that approach with the 1986 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act with untoward results. Those amendments required that EPA to set 25 new regulations every 3 years. EPA’s former assistant administrator for water, said in a congressional House Subcommittee meeting on Health and Environment in 1996.

“The current requirement to regulate 25 new contaminants every three years needs to be replaced with a scientifically defensible, risk-based approach. The current regulatory treadmill dilutes limited resources on lower-priority contaminants, and consequently, may hinder more rapid progress on high priority contaminants.”

I concur, science-based regulation and not just throwing 25 new regulations into the system every 3 years is a must.

Thank you, American Water Works Association, for reaching out to the President-elect with sound advice and requests.

In Florida, the 2021 Legislative Session will begin soon with committee weeks and already our legislators are filling Bills.

In particular, “An act relating to public works projects would revise the definition of the term “public works project”; and prohibit the state or any political subdivision that contracts for a public works project from requiring specified acts by certain persons engaged in such project or prohibiting certain persons from receiving information about public works opportunities.

As used in this section, the term: “Public works project” means an activity of which 50 percent or more of the cost will be paid for with from state appropriated or locally-appropriated funds, or any combination thereof, that were appropriated at the time of the competitive solicitation and which consists of the construction, maintenance, repair, renovation, remodeling, or improvement of a building, road, street, sewer, storm drain, water system, site development, irrigation system, and reclamation projects

This Act may not require that a contractor, subcontractor, or material supplier or carrier engaged in such project:

Pay employees a predetermined amount of wages or prescribe any wage rate.

Provide employees a specified type, amount, or rate of employee benefits.

Control, limit, or expand staffing.

Recruit, train, or hire employees from a designated, restricted, or single source

Train employees in designated programs with restricted curriculum or from a single source.

I believe this is a good Bill and will loosen many of the restrictions on contractors. Often is the case, local governments will have different rules and restrictions on contractors. This results in confusion and many contractors refusing to even bid on certain contracts.

Another Act relating to reclaimed water will require certain domestic wastewater utilities to submit to the Department of Environmental Protection by a specified date a plan for eliminating nonbeneficial surface water discharge within a specified timeframe.

This Act will require the department to approve plans that meet certain requirements; requiring the department to make a determination regarding a plan within a specified timeframe and require utilities to implement approved plans by specified date.

This Act is designed to improve water quality and bring more funding for reclaim and alternative water sources.

Finally, the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (FSAWWA) believes that water supply development plays in a critical role in meeting future water demands.

In Florida, state statutes recognize the challenge involved in ensuring that sufficient water be available for all existing and future reasonable-beneficial uses and that adverse effects of competition for water supplies be avoided.

To meet that challenge, the state defines these two distinct roles:

Water resource planning and development

Water supply development

The state’s five water management districts are charged with water resource planning and development. Local governments, regional water supply authorities, and government-owned and privately-owned water utilities are charged with water supply development.

Water supply development in Florida is defined as “the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of public or private facilities for water collection, production, treatment, transmission, or distribution for sale, resale, or end use.” 

Current approaches to supply development include:

Water conservation which offers an immediate, low-cost approach to meet increasing supply needs.  Common goals for conservation programs include increasing water use efficiency, maximizing system capacity, and limiting increase financial impact to customers.

Demand-management strategies and technologies provides a range of opportunities – from conservation incentives, such as rebate programs, to water restrictions and rate incentive structures – to reduce water demand among residential and commercial users.

Water reuse/reclamation strategies and technologies include projects that treat water otherwise lost through discharge, evaporation, or run-off to near drinking water quality for irrigation, programs to treat and store water during regional rainy seasons for withdrawal and use during dry periods, and aquifer recharge projects.

And desalination strategies and technologies to offer the opportunity of harvesting and treating water from Florida’s coastal areas to increase available potable water supplies

Here at LE/AD, we believe this group understands it will take a combination of these technologies and approaches to meet future water demands and supports the efforts of communities throughout the state.

We support our 17 Municipalities, Polk County, and the Polk Regional Water Supply Cooperative in their effort to increase water supply, reduce waste, and improve water quality.

Lastly, while water conservation usually refers to water saved for the benefit of people, in the Kissimmee River Basin – site of the $800 million Kissimmee River Restoration Project, the Kissimmee River and Chain of Lakes Water Reservation will protect, or reserve, water needed for the protection of fish and wildlife.

Before the Kissimmee River was channelized in the 1960s, it meandered for 103 miles between Lake Kissimmee and Lake Okeechobee and contained diverse fish and wildlife resources and habitats associated with sand bars, vegetation beds, and variable flow conditions. The river overflowed its banks frequently and inundated the 1- to 2-mile-wide floodplain for extended periods of time, creating a mosaic of wetland plant communities.

Channelization converted the waterway into a 30-foot deep, 300 feet-wide canal that altered the hydrology of the system and eliminated its interaction with the habitat-rich floodplain. This altered hydrology had devastating impacts to fish, wildlife, and their habitats.

The Kissimmee River and Chain of Lakes form the headwaters of Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Together, these Central Florida water resources shelter 178 species of fish, wetland-dependent wading birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

The basin contains a nationally recognized largemouth bass fishery, nesting colonies of the endangered wood stork and snail kite, and one of the largest concentrations of nesting bald eagles in the United States.

The Kissimmee River Restoration Project restores over 40 square miles of river/floodplain ecosystem including 43 miles of meandering river channel and 27,000 acres of wetlands. The proposed water reservation rules for the Kissimmee River and Chain of Lakes will ensure the sustainability of this world class restoration project for future generations.

The Project is a partnership between the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore the river/floodplain ecosystem. As a kid, I remember going to my families trailer in Shady Oaks on Lake Kissimmee and my father telling me, channelizing the river is a bad idea.

Now, some 50 years later we are correcting what we thought was a good idea.

Well, thank you for listening to this episode! I along with the board of directors of LEAD would like to wish you a happy and prosperous 2021.

With the support of our members, volunteers, corporate sponsors like MOSAIC, AQUARIUS-SYSTEMS, and Tom Jennings Accounting along with our partners, City of Winter Haven, City of Lakeland, and Polk County we hope to be back in the community soon, providing water quality education to our visitors and residents.

For more information on LE/AD visit our website at and if you would like to make a suggestion for a future podcast email LE/AD at

According to the CDD and their Global WASH (Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene), Worldwide nearly 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source. An estimated 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation (more than 35% of the world’s population). The World Health Organization and UNICEF reports, regions with the lowest coverage of “improved” sanitation were sub-Saharan Africa (31%), Southern Asia (33%) and Eastern Asia (65%). 7 out of 10 people without access to improved sanitation were rural inhabitants.

An estimated 800,000 children younger than 5 years of age perish from diarrhea each year, mostly in developing countries. This amounts to 11% of the 7.6 million deaths of children under the age of five and means that about 2,200 children are dying every day as a result of diarrheal diseases.

Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases. Millions of people are infected with neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), many of which are water and/or hygiene-related, due to poor sanitation, and insufficient hygiene practices.

What can be done? Water, sanitation, and hygiene has the potential to prevent at least 9.1% of the global disease burden and 6.3% of all deaths. The impact of clean water technologies on public health in the U.S. is estimated to have had a rate of return of 23 to 1 for investments in water filtration and chlorination during the first half of the 20th century.

Water and sanitation interventions are cost effective across all world regions. These interventions were demonstrated to produce economic benefits ranging from US$ 5 to US$ 46 per US$ 1 invested.

An improved water source is defined as water that is supplied through a household connection, public standpipe, borehole well, protected dug well, protected spring, or rainwater collection.

Data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.