The warmer temperature of urban stormwater runoff is a problem more often than not: it raises the temperature of salmon-bearing streams in the Pacific Northwest and can alter entire aquatic ecosystems. Some waters are 303(d)-listed for temperature, and cities plant trees to try to shade runoff channels and prevent the urban hardscape from heating the water to unacceptably high levels.
Last week in Florida, though, a few critters appeared to be happy with the warmer stormwater flows. As temperatures plummeted, water in the Indian River Lagoon was in the 40s and 50s—but stormwater outfalls were sending 70-degree water into the lagoon, attracting a number of endangered manatees.
The animals, which do best in water 68 degrees or warmer, shouldn’t really be as far north as they are, but warm water from power plants has allowed them to move into the area. Last week they crowded into a canal near Satellite Beach, attracting crowds. You can see a video of the manatees here. Biologists are monitoring the animals.