Water Management Districts
The Florida Springs Council and media outlets have been digging into the governor's puzzling neglect of the water management district governing boards since 2019. Meant to reflect a variety of voices, including science and conservation, these boards make important decisions about our water, including granting or denying Consumptive Use Permits like the one sought by Seven Springs and Nestle.
Governing boards dwindled steadily under Governor DeSantis's neglect. Because of his inaction, business conducted by these decimated boards were unlawful, as they meet without required quorums and undemocratic, as decisions are made, including taxation, for citizens who do not have representation on the boards. The pressure and scrutiny brought by Florida Springs Council led to the governor eventually bringing each board up to a quorum, though they are still not fully appointed.
Tuesday October 13, 2020 -- A total of 7 appointments were made last last week, including representatives from timber and agriculture, but still no representative from conservation. Three appointments were made for SJRWMD, two for SRWMD, and two for SWFWMD. Even with these additions the governing boards are still not fully appointed.
Tuesday September 8, 2020 -- This morning, in response to our letters informing that the Water Management Districts were operating in violation of the law, Governor DeSantis made eleventh-hour appointments to three water management districts, bringing each up to the bare minimum of a quorum.
SJRWMD: Rob Bradley, former state senator and Janet Price, timber company executive
SRWMD: Harry Smith, agricultural supply company executive
NWWMD: Kellie Ralston, American Sportfishing Association, and Nick Patronis, Restaurant owner
What's going on?
Four Water Management Districts make water use decisions that affect Florida's 30 Outstanding Florida Springs.
Florida law mandates that the Governor appoint a specific number of Board Members for each year of his term to maintain a full board.
For much of 2020,
23 of 40 seats were vacant:
SJRWMD: 3 of 9 seats filled
SRWMD: 4 of 9 seats filled
NWFWMD: 3 of 9 seats filled
SWFWMD: 7 of 13 seats filled
Governor DeSantis had failed
to do so.
FSC Got Involved
WMD governing boards must have a quorum to conduct business. For a 9-member board, that requires 5 board members.
FSC's team of policy and legal experts put the Water Management Districts on notice that actions taken by the Governing Board absent a quorum would be unlawful and subject to legal challenge. In response, last minute appointments were made in September to achieve a quorum for each.
You can read the entire letter to the SJRWMD HERE.
You can read the entire letter to the SRWMD HERE.
The neglect of Water Management Districts