Environment

Jim Alabiso: 'I Just Take One Stroke at a Time'

Jim Alabiso: 'I Just Take One Stroke at a Time'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  Friends and family cheered as Jim Alabiso finished up a 3.5-mile swim across the St. Johns River.

"I think it's really great what he's doing," said his son James Alabiso.

Alabiso, a competitive open water swimmer, began his river journey in Fleming Island.  Two hours later, his white swim cap could be seen as he made his way into the dock at Walter Jones Historical Park in Mandarin.

"It was wonderful.  It was a lot choppier than I thought it would be, probably the windiest day that we've done this course," said Alabiso.

He was happy to make it to dry land after the long trip trailed by boats for safety.  It was on this same dock, five years ago, that Alabiso made a promise to himself.    

"At that point I said I'm gonna swim across this thing," he said.

But it ended up being more than just a solo swim.  Alabiso wants this to serve as a wake-up call to everyone.

Expect Congested Waterways July Fourth Weekend

Expect Congested Waterways July Fourth Weekend

Nearly 1 million recreational vessels are registered in Florida, and thousands more are brought in by tourists each year to enjoy the state’s boating opportunities. Many thousands of these boats will be cruising the St. Johns River, the Intracoastal Waterway and the many popular lakes and rivers in the northeast and central part of the state while celebrating the July Fourth weekend.

Unfortunately, these busy holiday weekends too often end tragically for some boaters. And these tragedies are usually completely preventable.

Over Resident Protests, New Landfill Approved for the Westside

Over Resident Protests, New Landfill Approved for the Westside

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The traffic, the noise, the smell.

A lot of different reasons why Westside neighbors don't want a new landfill in their neighborhood. 

"I've lived there for 15 years. I don't want it. I don't know who in their right mind, just like I said in there, would want a landfill near their house," said Otis Road resident James Diamatta.

He was one of dozens of people in the neighborhood to speak out against the landfill, which he said will decrease his property value, and hurt the environment.

"Who wants to hear 60 dump trucks a day? On top of the traffic, on top of the fact I gotta work at night, it just don't add up," said Diamatta. 

The Council listened to more than an hour of public comment on the bill, which got heated a number of times.

Jacksonville's Water Hogs Let Millions of Gallons Go Down the Drain

Jacksonville's Water Hogs Let Millions of Gallons Go Down the Drain

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The average family uses about 6,000 gallons of water a month.  Each person in the house uses 90 gallons a day, and if you think that's a lot, wait until you see how much the water hogs in the city consume.

"Certainly we do have a set of residential customers that use more than the typical customer here," said JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce.

Well, what's typical for families in Jacksonville?

Most households are using about 72,000 gallons of water a year.

The top water hog on our list uses 1,489,949 gallons a year. That's 124,000 gallons a month.

"This takes on a life of its own when you're looking at these type of numbers," she said.

Many of the highest water consumers in Jacksonville live in large homes and gated communities, and none of them agreed to talk on camera about their water usage.

Nearly 50 Warnings Issued so far in Jacksonville for Bad Watering

Nearly 50 Warnings Issued so far in Jacksonville for Bad Watering

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  The city is no longer lenient with those violating water rules.

The city adopted an irrigation ordinance in 2008 in an effort to conserve water. But it wasn't until June 2010 that code enforcers began issuing tickets since the city wanted to give residents time to get accustomed to the rules.

Who's the Biggest Water Hog in Your Neighborhood? JEA Releases List of 50 Biggest Users

"Our rule emulates what the state is doing, to be consistent with the other counties around us and essentially statewide," said Vincent Seibold, chief of the Environmental Quality Division.

Wildfire Danger: How Can Parents Help Calm Their Children?

Wildfire Danger: How Can Parents Help Calm Their Children?

Massive wildfires continue to rage throughout Northeast Florida.  The chance of potential evacuations remains high.  Many children are seeing television or newspaper reports about the risk of wildfires. Because of these factors, the Florida Department of Children and Families is issuing expert tips from Child Guidance Center to help parents address their children’s concerns.

Lightning Starting St. Johns Wildfires; 40 Fires in Putnam County

Lightning Starting St. Johns Wildfires; 40 Fires in Putnam County

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Lighting really can strike twice. Three new fires sparked in St. Johns County Thursday.

"Every time we call one out, we get two or three of these lightning storms that keep coming through," said St. Johns County Senior Forester Greg Dunn.

These new fires have each been caused by lightning, days after storms moved through the area. It could be up to a week after a storm that the firestorm begins.

Worse, forestry officials said the rain that comes with the lightning isn't enough to put them out.

"If it gets a half inch or even an inch on it, as dry as the conditions are, it can just be sitting there until the conditions are right," Dunn added.

In the Bunnell Fire District, which includes St. Johns and Putnam counties, there are 86 wildfires burning nearly 7,800 acres. In the Waccasassa District, which includes Putnam County, there are 90 fires burning about 8,500 acres.