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Interviewee: Buddy Blain
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: February 17, 2003
P: This is February 17, 2003. This is Julian Pleasants. I'm in Tampa, Florida, and
I'm speaking with Buddy Blain for the Water Management Project. Buddy talk a
little bit about your early years and how you got interested in water management.
I know you're a native of Plant City, Florida.
B: I went from high school into service and from service into college. I got a degree
in education. I did graduate work working towards a master's in education in
school plant planning. I did not finish that. I started teaching school and got
involved in a number of civic projects in Plant City. I was very early, and probably
should not have been, elected president of the Plant City Jaycees. We were quite
active at that time and we began to push the city to create a city planning board
to do more planning. The city was involved in having a zoning ordinance,
primarily motivated by the federal program in order to get money for public
housing, and in order to get money for public housing they had to have a
workable program. The workable program required that the city should have a
zoning ordinance. It was our thought that if you had a zoning ordinance you
needed to do some city planning before you had the ordinance. So the city
commission did appoint a city planning board and I was appointed as a member
of that planning board. The other members were a generation older than I was,
but I wound up as secretary of the city planning board and learned a great deal
from that process. The chairman was a former congressman who had been
active in the U. S. Congress during World War. His name was Joe Hendrix.
Anyway, we went through that process and I didn't teach school but two years. I
built my house during that period of time and shortly thereafter. It took about
three years to do that. But [I] was very active in all the civic things and activities
that happened in Plant City. I wound up in the insurance business when I lost all
the money I could borrow and put in the cattle business. I sold life insurance for
nine years and precipitously made a decision one day to go to Gainesville to see
about going back to law school. The next day I was in Gainesville and was
admitted, and two weeks later classes started.
P: This would have been what, about 1961?
B: This is 1962. At that time I was at the ripe old age of thirty-five, had been
knocked around a lot in civic activities, hadn't made any money, but had gotten
an awful lot of experience. I went through law school. Dean Frank Maloney was
dean of the law school. He and I became very good friends while I was in law
school. I was close to his age and closer to the ages of the professors than I was
to the age of the students. I finished law school in twenty-eight months and then
went to work at the Attorney General's office in Tallahassee. When I was at
Tallahassee I was assigned to the Statutory Revision and Bill Drafting as a
Special Assistant to the Attorney General. At that time the attorney general
provided all bill drafting service for both the senate and the house. I spent seven
months doing that. It was a very intensive course in studying Florida
constitutional law, statutory law, bill drafting and techniques, and working under
Charles Tom Henderson. Then [I] came to Tampa and went to work at the
Gibbons Firm [Gibbons, Tucker, McEvan, Smith and Cofer]. The activities that I
had while I was in Tallahassee were very valuable to me in my later practice of
law with the experience not only of the subject, but of the people that I met. I did
a lot of bill drafting. I did bill drafting for South Florida Water Management
District, who at that time was Central or Southern Florida Flood Control District.
When I got to the Gibbons Firm, being thirty-eight at the time [and] bald-headed, I
looked like I knew more than I did and was very quickly thrust into a lot of
activities. The law firm at that time had, I think, twelves lawyers. When I joined it,
I was number thirteen. It was a very active firm. It was a very old firm that had
been formed in the late 1800s. It had a big real estate practice at one time. It had
had its own title company that it sold to Stewart Title when it came to Tampa, and
one of my first assignments was doing a lot of title work for Southwest Florida
Water Management District. This was in preparation for filing eminent domain
lawsuits to acquire the rights of way on the Tampa Bypass Canal, for the Lower
Hillsborough Flood Detention Area or the Upper Hillsborough Flood Detention
Area, the Oklawaha Diversion Canal, the Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal, [and] the
Mararyktown Canal. All the public works of Southwest Florida Water
Management District were getting involved. I was doing the land title work for it
P: Let me interrupt you for a second. Was this work that was assigned to you, or did
you have a special interest in working with water management?
B: It wasn't all of the work that was assigned to me. Well, it was some of the work
that was assigned to me, but it began to consume more and more of my time. As
I did it, I found a real niche that I didn't pick and I don't think they picked me for it,
it's just one that I worked into and very quickly was very deeply immersed in it.
About the same time a friend of mine that I had known through the Planning
Board business, Ray Knopke. He had been the mayor of Temple Terrace. He
had been elected as a House member and then had just been elected to the
Florida Senate. This is at the time when we were having reapportionment and the
legislature was realigned. There were special elections at that time, and
Hillsborough County had had one senator and suddenly they had three senators.
It was near the end of the "pork chop" era. While I had been in the attorney
general's office, my wife had been working as a secretary for Senator Jack
Matthews, who was president of the Senate. I don't recall whether it was that
year or the next session, but [it was at the] same time. I got to know on a very
personal basis a number of the people that were very intimately involved in that.
One of the young lawmakers that was involved in that group was a man called
Reubin Askew. We got well acquainted with Reubin. When I was working in the
attorney general's office and bill drafting, a good friend of mine from law school
was working in Governor Haydon Burn's office. Haydon Burns had been the
mayor of Jacksonville and was then elected as governor. My good friend Joe
Chapman, whom I had known in law school [and who] was about a year ahead of
me in law school, and I saw a lot of each other. I was in and out of the governor's
office frequently. I did a number of assignments of drafting legislation for the
governor's office as well.
P: This was not related to water management.
B: No, it was not related. [It was related] to reapportionment, to taxation, ad valorem
taxing, [and] a great variety of legislation. The legislature was undergoing a big
change at that time because it had just gone from the old, so-called "pork chop"
system to more of a one man, one vote type thing in both the house and the
senate. Then two years later, when I had been practicing law about a year and a
half, I went to Tallahassee with Senator Ray Knopke as his attorney.
Hillsborough County had been in the practice of providing the senators with
legislative aides, and they could pick someone that was a good friend, someone
that was a lawyer, [or] whatever. I was a lawyer and Ray Knopke and I had been
good friends. I had had the experience in bill drafting, and it was a natural fit. Ray
Knopke and I roomed together and shared a motel room the first year up in
Tallahassee. It was one of those situations where you drive home every Friday
night and drive back every Sunday night. [It was a] very vigorous schedule, but
very interesting, very fascinating. Ray Knopke was chairman of the Local
Government and Urban Affairs Committee. At that time the legislatures didn't
have much in the way of staff, and most of the staff went to work the day the
legislative session started and sixty days later they went off the payroll. I was all
of the staff that Ray Knopke had other than his secretary and his secretary for
the committee. I was, in effect, what later became the title of staff director. It was
a very active group of people and there were a lot of young politicians who were
later to have some pretty substantial positions around, not to say that being a
state senator wasn't substantial. But I remember that Dick Stone was on the
committee and he later became Secretary of State and then he became a U.S.
Senator. Lawton Chiles was coming along at that time. I had known Lawton as a
kid. [He] grew up down the block from my grandmother in Lakeland. The
connections were infinite. I had also, during that period of time, been active in the
Jaycees and had gotten to know people on a statewide basis. When you go to
school at the University of Florida and then you're active in the Florida Jaycees,
you get used to seeing a lot of different people and get to know a lot of people.
[All] that would have been in 1967. I again went back up to Tallahassee with
Senator Ray Knopke in 1969. I didn't see much of him at all between 1967-1969
until the legislative session started.
P: The legislature then met every two years?
B: The legislature met every two years and it went for sixty days. When they
dropped the hankie that was when everybody's pay stopped and everybody left
Tallahassee. It was a pretty good system to stop it every once in awhile. I went
up there with Ray Knopke four different times, 1967, 1969, 1970, and 1971. I
also was called by the attorney general's office when special sessions were
called to go up just to help man the statutory revision and bill drafting office
during those times when they had a real push for legislation. So I was in and out
of Tallahassee frequently, but this was always on a short term basis. I didn't work
up there on a full time basis, just during the legislature being in session.
P: All of this is going to be valuable experience when you start working with water
B: I knew my way around the capital and I got to know most members of the
legislature. Ray Knopke moved from chairman of the Local Government and
Urban Affairs Committee to the Senate Natural Resources Committee as
chairman. That lasted for several years. Once again, there was no staff. I think
he had an additional person added to help in the legislative session as the
legislature was called on to do more and more of it. They were trying to do year
round projects and things. I got quite familiar with the water management districts
through my work the rest of the time in Tampa with the Gibbons Firm.
The first time I ever saw a jury picked I picked it myself, and I was doing a
condemnation eminent domain case for the Water Management District. It was
one of the situations where the sphincter muscles get a great workout. I was up
against one of the people that I had known as a kid who was one of the leading
condemnation lawyers in Tampa. We had a hung jury, which is almost unheard
of in condemnation [cases]. As I began doing the trial work for the Water
Management District, I had to explain the water management process over and
over. It was really interesting in preparing for trial. When we would file these suits
we might have eight or ten different tracts of land or parcels in one suit, so that
sometimes I'd go in the courtroom and there would be six, eight, and ten lawyers
there representing the various parcels. Nobody knew that I had just started
practicing law. I guess they hadn't looked had they? [They] thought that I was the
experienced one, and I was getting new experience every time. It gave you a lot
of confidence once you'd done a few of them and you realized that, well maybe
you haven't been practicing law near as long as they have, but you've had more
experience than they've had in the short period of time. And I gained a lot of
experience in a short period of time. At that time the Water Management District,
Swiftmud [Southwest Florida Water Management District], was just really getting
started. It had been formed in 1961 by legislation that had been drafted by Sam
Gibbons [U.S. Congressman, D, 1963-1994], who was a member of the Gibbons
P: And later a U.S. congressman.
B: [He] had, by that time, been elected congressman. By the time I got to the firm he
was a congressman, he was in his second term at that point. When the
Southwest Florida Water Management District was created, it was comprised of
all or parts of fifteen different counties. It had eleven basin boards. It had nine
governing board members [that] were appointed for three year terms on a
staggered basis, so every year there were three new board members. This
meant that we had to keep educating board members to the process as they
P: This is the first time it's called water management rather than flood control?
B: When Swiftmud was created, and by Swiftmud I mean Southwest Florida Water
Management District, in 1961, that was the first time that you had something
called a water management district. In 1949, Central and Southern Florida Flood
Control District was created as a local sponsor for a federal project. That was for
the Central Florida Southern Flood Control District project. I can remember
Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District having a booth at the Florida
State Fair. They had a portion of their funds allocated just for public relations. I
can remember them coming to Jaycee conferences and conventions and setting
up an exhibit so that people would know what their project was all about.
P: What regulatory powers did the state have over Swiftmud in the beginning?
B: When Swiftmud was created it was based principally on a law that had been
passed in 1957.
P: And that's the Water Resources Law of 1957?
B: That was the Water Resources Act of 1957. Swiftmud was the first district under
that, but Central and Southern Florida Flood Control district was already
regulating certain things and they were the local sponsor of that big, gigantic
project. [The] Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District had been
created in 1949, [and] it included part of Dade County, part of Monroe County,
Broward, Palm Beach, Hendry, part of Lee County, all of Glades County, part of
Highlands County, all of Okeechobee County, Martin County, St. Lucie County,
Indian River County, Brevard County, Osceola County, part of Polk County, part
of Orange County, [and] part of Seminole County. It extended up to the Volusia
County line [and] down to almost the tip of Dade County, [but] not all of Dade
P: Now this was set up primarily to deal with flood control in cooperation with the
B: This was as a local sponsor and then they took on other responsibilities as they
were doing this. It slowly evolved. When Southwest Water Management District
was created, it included part of Charlotte County, all of DeSoto County, all of
Hardee, part of Polk County, all of Hillsborough, all of Pinellas, all of Pasco, all of
Hernando, all of Citrus, part of Levy County, part of Gilchrist County, almost all of
Marion County, all of Sumter County, a little bit of Lake County, [and] a little bit of
Orange County. That was the fifteen counties that I mentioned before.
P: Now as I understand it, both of these had the authority for ad valorem taxes.
B: That's correct. When Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District was
initially started, they had the authority to levy up to one mill [of ad valorem
taxation]. Of that one mill, a portion of that was earmarked specifically for public
relations, actually to sell the program because it was a new idea. When Swiftmud
came along, because the legislature had prescribed subdistrict basins. The
eleven different subdivisions within the district were given the authority to levy up
one mill for each of the basins, and three-tenths of one mill for the district-wide
needs. They had basin boards as well as [a] governing board.
P: Explain to me why there was a need for dividing the district up into basins.
B: Well, the district was to be the local sponsor of the Four River Basins Florida
Project, which is a federal project which included four rivers that all originated in
the green swamp area. The green swamp area is a high plateau that's not all
swamp, but it's the source of the water that flows down the Oklawaha River, the
Hillsborough River, the Peace River, and the Withlacoochee River. It did not
include, for instance, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, which are wrapped
around it, because those rivers didn't happen to flow into those two counties and
those two counties did not want to be in the district when they were forming this
district. There were areas between Southwest Florida Water Management
District and Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District that were not in
either district. These were portions of Highlands County, Okeechobee County,
and Polk County that were not in either district. Part of Charlotte County was not
in either district. [It] was between the two of them.
P: Why was that?
B: Well they just weren't within the confines of the geologic area.
P: As opposed to hydrologic areas.
B: Hydrologic areas. These basically were the surface drainage areas that gave the
flow ways either into the Kissimmee/Okeechobee area or into the Four River
P: So are the Okeechobee and Four River Basins sort of the central areas of the
B: Well they extended a great deal. We've got an unusual situation because the
Kissimmee River originates up in Orange County flowing south, and the St.
John's River starts down in about St. Lucie/Indian River County, somewhere in
there, and flows north. You had two areas that had two different problems.
Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District was primarily concerned with
surface water. It had a lot of canals that had been dug years before by the
Everglades Drainage District and by others. They had a lot of the reclamation
area that had gone on, putting farm lands in the Palm Beach County and in some
of those areas that are later talked about as the River Of Grass. Southwest
Florida Water Management District didn't have the same surface water problems
that they had in South Florida Water Management District.
P: Which was primarily to deal with flooding?
B: With flooding and with water shortages. Florida's a very flat state that doesn't
have any deep valleys. [It] doesn't have a lot of places to store water [and] it
doesn't have snow, so water's not stored during the winter. In the Southwest
Florida Water Management District, you're more dependent on ground water
than surface water. In the South Florida Water Management District, a lot of the
ground water along the coast [had] the wells salting up and you were having salt
water intrusion. They were involved in projects of going around and putting in salt
water barriers in some of the drainage works that had been constructed earlier.
You could not have moved into and lived in Florida if you had not done some
drainage work. There were a lot of early drainage works that were done that were
all over the state, but particularly in South Florida.
P: The old ditch and drain concept?
B: Ditch and drain.
P: How important, while we're on that, was Hamilton Disston involved in all this?
B: Hamilton Disston was pretty important from a financial standpoint because the
state of Florida was broke and he gave them some money. He gave them money
for some sorry land that nobody wanted. He didn't pay very much for it, but he
gave some cash money into the state coffers. Then he dug some extensive
canals. He drained the area up in Seminole County [and] Osceola County. He
connected Lake Okeechobee with the Gulf of Mexico. (Lake Okeechobee didn't
have any outlets and it was not connected to the sea.) He connected them
through some of the works that he did down there. One of his responsibilities
when he purchased this was that he would do certain drainage work. It was
controversial as to whether it worked or not. I think that it was a very massive
undertaking and it was surprising how much he got done.
P: Particularly for a private individual.
B: Yes, and then for its time.
P: This would have been what, 1850s or something like that?
B: No, a little later than that. I don't remember the exact date on that, but the late
P: Let me go back and ask why Swiftmud was the first Water Management District
B: Well, I think that there were several things that brought that on. The 1957 act that
was passed was a rather comprehensive act that provided for water
management and regulation.
P: And this is the first time there has been state regulation of water resources, is
B: Well, this is the most comprehensive, this is the broadest at its time. The
mechanism was put there but it wasn't actually implemented. There was an effort
made in Hillsborough County because of a need we had in northwest
Hillsborough County for some drainage work. Because there were shallow lakes,
at times of real wet season you had flooding and in dry seasons you had drought.
As there were people moving into the area, they wanted to have docks, and
some days their boats wouldn't get out of the slip so there was a lot of hue and
cry to do something. Then we went through a long period of drought. Then in
1959-1960, we had three near record flood events in the Hillsborough, Tampa
Bay area. Those three events, one of them was with Hurricane Donna, but there
were several where we had unusual amounts of rainfall. Swiftmud was created
very quickly and there was a Corps of Engineers that planned the Four River
Basins Project, which was to allow actual flood routing capacity to divert flood
water from one river to another. It was pretty sound from an environmental
standpoint. We weren't talking about environmental things at that time. That
really wasn't a word that anybody used. The law [creating Swiftmud] was passed
in 1961 after the flooding in 1959-1960. One of the primary things that the Water
Management District was charged with doing was flood control. It worked. The
district didn't have any flooding for a long time. Of course, the district had a
prolonged drought so the District could not really take credit for that.
P: If I can go back to that 1957 Water Resources Law. One of the things they did
was to protect existing legal uses. What precisely did that mean?
B: Well, when you say precise, I don't think that we have yet determined that. One
of the interesting things in all of this is that there hasn't been a lot of case law in
water law in Florida. We've undergone some changes, but we haven't had the
case law and the development of that law like you've had in the western states
and some other states. There was a deliberate position that Swiftmud took at that
time that we simply didn't want to start having a lot of prolonged litigation, [get
involved in the] appellant process, [or have] a lot of delays. We had things that
we needed to do. We had the Four River Basins Project land acquisition and
construction that was starting. We had funds from congress [and] we had funds
from the state of Florida, plus funds from ad valorem taxation (taxes on real
property). If you get tied up in the appellate courts you don't move very rapidly,
so a lot of compromises were reached in an attempt to expedite, to keep moving.
As a lawyer you can gum up the works pretty good in things. You don't stop
things, but you can sure slow things down if you want.
P: One other aspect of that law, again, that's sort of vague, and maybe that's the
purpose of it [is] to keep it a little bit vague, was that the water management
would authorize use only in excess of average minimum flow. Now again, what
does that mean?
B: Well, I think it was recognizing the fact that we have a system [of rivers]. We
don't have big rivers. We've got a lot of rivers, but we don't have a lot of real
large rivers. Now, in Florida, we've got some rivers that come out of Georgia [that
are pretty large]. The Suwannee and the St. Johns River are pretty large rivers. I
think that they realized that it would be pretty easy to dry up a river if you used all
the water for something else. So, the mechanism was put in (and it was a very
ingenious mechanism but a necessary one) to preserve the flow of the rivers.
People depended on them for transportation in the early years, but by 1957 they
weren't using rivers for a lot of transportation [in Florida], a little bit on some
rivers, but not too much. They saw the necessity for establishing minimum
amounts of flow. Now, of course you can set a minimum, and if you set it wrong it
never will have that much water there.
P: Did the Water Management Districts set the minimum?
B: Well, later they were given that authority, but not in 1957.
P: How would that standard apply to the aquifer?
B: That gets more complicated because the aquifer is more extensive, most of
them, [and] they're harder to define. They are so totally dependent on the
recharge areas, [and] the recharge areas are difficult to delineate. What's a
recharge area one year might be a discharge area another year. What is surface
water one day is ground water the next. What's ground water one day is surface
water the next. It goes through that transition [and] there's not a clear boundary
line between them. We didn't understand a lot of that. We didn't have a lot of
hydrologists in Florida. One of Swiftmud's biggest expenditures was in money to
USGS for their studies.
P: United States Geological Survey?
B: United States Geological Survey. Florida became one of the most active states in
wanting studies by the USGS. Swiftmud got a lot of studies and sponsored a lot
of studies. I can remember when Swiftmud was sending delegates [to
Washington]. I never went, but Myron Gibbons, who was the general counsel to
Swiftmud and whom I worked with very closely, would go to Washington in an
attempt to get more money put in the budget. [He was trying to get money] not
for Swiftmud, but for the United States Geological Service to be able to do more
studies for Swiftmud. Those studies were very valuable [and] I think that peaked
a few years ago, it's not increasing.
P: Would one of the purposes of the studies be to trace and delineate the Florida
B: [It would] be able to maintain better flood control and better preservation of
minimum flows and still have more available water for consumptive use
purposes. Now we didn't know what the term consumptive use meant either, and
that had to be developed. About at the time that these things were going on,
Swiftmud was aware that it had some problems. We had several legislators that
lived in northwest Hillsborough County who were telling Swiftmud you better do
something about my lake up here and the lake is drying up. Well, Swiftmud had
been created to provide flood control; and then you have a drought so that you
have good flood control but you couldn't use the lakes because you couldn't get
out to them. Your shoreline had extended farther away.
P: Talk a little bit about how you got involved with the Water Resources Act of 1972.
B: Frank Maloney, who was dean of the law school [at the University of Florida], had
authority to set up the Eastern Water Law Center at the University of Florida
College of Law. He was very interested in the subject and he was quite
knowledgeable about it. He was writing a book on it and then developing a Model
Water Code. I'd say that Frank Maloney was a good legal scholar and he had
accumulated a lot of information and material. I got involved in 1970. A
movement started called "Conservation 70s," and this was the first time that we'd
really had an environmental movement started in Florida. Conservation 70s
wrote or prepared seventy bills [of] proposed legislation, in 1970, on
conservation. Some of them were quite good, some of them were pretty
comprehensive, some of them were kind of sorry. Ray Knopke, who was
chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, said to me, "we've got to
get some of these Conservation Seventies bills up [for debate and passage]." I
said, "well some of them are pretty bad." He said, "well go through them and see
if you can clean them up a little bit [because] we need to pass a lot of them." [He
said], "there's a strong surge of public opinion wanting these passed, so let's get
some of them cleaned up so that we can pass them."
P: Was this just water conservation, or conservation in general?
B: It was not limited just to water, but if you do seventy bills you have a lot of them
that involve water. I won't say that all of them did, but many of them did. So I
started through the bills and started looking to see what minor amendments you
could put to them to straighten them out so that they could be passed [and] lived
with. Some of them were practical and some of them were impractical. Some of
those that passed I wouldn't have voted for, but most of them I would have.
[End of side Al]
B: The thing is that most of them I would have [voted for] after I had "cleaned them
P: What were other influences that impacted the 1972 bill?
B: Well, in 1967 when Claude Kirk was the governor, we had had a Department of
Pollution Control created that, through some rather intensive lobbying, had been
assigned sole authority over pollution so that the Water Resources Act, which
might have had water quality as one of its issues, really didn't. Pollution was
under this Department of Pollution Control.
P: And that was a separate entity?
B: That was a separate entity.
P: Is that under DER or not under DER?
B: No, there wasn't any such thing as DER at that time.
P: I'm sorry, it would be the Department of Natural Resources at that time.
B: That's right, but it was not under it, it was a separate thing. Also in 1967 you had
the Sunshine Law passed. That had come through the Local Government and
Urban Affairs Committee as a matter of fact, in 1968, when Senator Knopke was
chairman of that committee. I've got two things that I think were particularly
significant in this era. One [is that] a new constitution was passed by the state of
Florida in 1968. That was a pretty drastic thing. It called for reorganization of
state government, and it placed limitations on government. One of the limitations
I'll come to later when we start talking about the ad valorem taxing authority of
the Water Management District. Also in 1968, because Swiftmud did not have
any specific authority to regulate water, we then created a new district under the
1957 Water Resources Act.
The 1957 act had said that you could create a water regulatory authority by
having a hearing and showing through a preponderance of the evidence the
necessity for creating such a thing. We [the Southwest Florida Water
Management District] had a series of hearings and created what we called
"Southwest Florida Water Management District (Regulatory)". It was a separate
district, but the same board members of SWFWMD were the governing board
members for "SWFWMD(R)". During our meetings of SWFWMD, we would have
a session where we'd stop, recess the meeting, and then go into the regulatory
authority meeting as a separate meeting. SWFWMD was having trouble with
Pinellas County and with the city of St. Petersburg. Both had well fields in
Hillsborough County and were drawing tremendous amounts of water from some
of these areas. These were the big, so-called West Coast Water Wars, and this
was the first water war. It probably wasn't the first, but [it was] the first one I was
involved in. But this regulatory authority was created and the first thing that we
did was to develop well construction regulations and standards. We did that
because we thought that that would provide us with the best handle on ground
water withdrawal and would give us an opportunity to know and learn more about
the aquifer and the underground geologic structures [better] than anything else.
At first, the well builders were incensed that we were going to start regulating
their well drilling. Then they began to see that that was an opportunity for them to
close ranks and to keep others from getting into the competition with them [and]
to have a better system.
We had a man named Jerry Parker [Gerald G. Parker] who was the chief
hydrologist at Swiftmud at that time. [He] had a long history of studying water
resources. I think he was the one that actually named the Floridan Aquifer. He
had done extensive studies in the Everglades. He had retired from the GS
[United States Geological Survey] and came to work for Swiftmud as our senior
scientist, that's a better term. He and I actually prepared a draft of a well
construction codes, or [a] set of rules relating to well construction. I don't say that
we didn't have a lot of participation from others, but he was providing the
technical and I was putting it into the legal terminology. We came up with well
construction rules that Southwest Florida Water Management District
(Regulatory) adopted. One of the first things that the Regulatory District did is, it
issued orders to Pinellas County, who had a water system, and to St. Petersburg,
who was in Pinellas County and also had a water system. It issued orders to
them as to how they should operate their well field [located in an adjacent county,
Hillsborough County]. It was a new idea [to] have an appointed board, the
governing board members from Southwest Florida Water Management District,
ordering elected public officials about how they should operate their well fields.
They didn't take too kindly to that and it started some very intensive battles.
P: Legal battles?
B: A lot of legal efforts were made. I'm not sure how legal some of them were, but
[there were] a lot battles and a lot of publicity and political battles [were started]
as well. But it created the regulatory authority and it was the first regulatory
authority in the state. Now, South Florida Water Management District, who at that
time was still called Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District, had been
regulating the withdrawal of surface water because they owned the canals and in
order for you to connect [to] the canal you had to go on their property. So they
were regulating how much the farmers could take out of their canals and how
much they could put in their canals. So this is not the first time that water had
been regulated, but Swiftmud's well construction rules were the first time that
water had been regulated per se.
P: What were some of the rules about well construction?
B: Well the first thing they had to do is they had to have a permit. At that time the
district did not have authority to charge for permits, to issue permits.
P: So none had been issued before right?
B: None had been issued before. So we came up with a little legal round robin that if
they came to the district to notify the district about the well construction, we
would issue these certificates on a twenty-four hour turn around. We only had
one person handling it. Her name was Hildred Haight. Hildred was an engineer.
Hildred turned them [applications for well permits] around pretty fast, but required
certain things to be done on well construction. One, we had them located. Each
time a well was constructed we had a series of U. S. Geological Survey quad
maps that they would plot the well location, and the spot was given a number, an
identification number. Another, is we started requiring [they follow] standards, the
way in which it [a new well] was to be constructed. Another [thing that] we
required that the well drillers prepare reports to give information as to what strata
and what material they encountered as they were drilling the wells. The log of the
construction, the log that they had logged each of those strata they went through,
was to be sent in. We felt that that would give a good source of information as to
what existed throughout the district.
P: Do you have any control over withdrawal of water from the aquifer?
B: Well, that's what we're talking about. We started requiring that if they abandon
the well it [had to] be abandoned in a proper manner, it [had to] be capped off.
There had been some separate legislation on capping artesian flowing wells, but
I'm not speaking of that kind of thing. It was kind of interesting the various
regulations we had on them. Some funny things happened. One day we were
trying to find out what was happening [in the subsurface aquifer] in some area.
We couldn't figure it out. Somebody had pulled all the well drilling logs from
around the well site, and we don't know what kind of subsurface strata they got
[found] down there. We started pulling the logs [of the wells that had been drilled
in the area] and found they were all fictitious. They were all written in the same
handwriting and every well log had the same features to it. We realized that
some of this logging compliance wasn't as good as we thought it was. [Well
drillers were required to keep a log of the different strata they drilled through
while constructing a water well.] There was a tremendous number of wells being
constructed within Swiftmud, many more than was anticipated. But this gave you
a handle on what kind of activity was going on and where it was going on. Also
we required that the drillers be registered, and we gave them a test. At first the
drillers were going to challenge that, and then they decided that was a good idea
because it meant that if a driller came to work for you, if you were a well
contractor, and the driller says he's registered with Swiftmud, that means that he
had gone through the testing process and at least had a working knowledge of
what the rules were and of certain things. The fact is for a while we were giving
them a test on a drill rig. They had to show their competence to operate a drill rig.
Florida was growing rapidly, people were coming in. They'd buy a well drilling rig
and say I'm a well driller. Well, that didn't work anymore. They had to know how
to use it properly.
P: What did you do about noncompliance?
B: We did a lot of huffing and puffing and bluffing, and we got a lot of complaints.
P: At this time you didn't have the authority to go to court?
B: We had the authority to go to court.
P: But you didn't want to waste your time doing that?
B: We tried to avoid that wherever we could [because] that didn't seem to be the
most efficient way to gain compliance. We met with well drillers and they formed
associations and they began to police themselves. It was pretty remarkable the
way that it came into place. Now the other districts didn't all follow suit. Some
counties were regulating well construction around the state, but not too many of
them. And some districts didn't think that it made good sense. It made good
sense to us because we had no way of getting a handle on it. With South Florida
Water Management District in that area, you could look at an aerial photograph
and you could see where everybody was tapping a canal. You could ride down
the canals and see where they were withdrawing water, but you couldn't tell what
they were doing from a well and a hole in the ground in a little building. But we
began to get all of the well construction information we could. We numbered
each well and then had the authority to actually go in and inspect it and check it.
P: Could you fine them for noncompliance?
B: Penalties could be imposed. I think we could actually take them before a circuit
court judge and could get some enforcement.
P: What about new ditches that were dug? Was it the same kind of regulation?
B: Not at that time. We weren't involved in that at that time.
P: Okay, let's get back to the 1972 act. You are meeting with Dean Maloney and I
guess he helped work the first draft of the bill or had some input into it?
P: Okay, tell me what happened.
B: In 1971, the year after the big move of Conservation 1970s, there was a lot of
activity. Reuben Askew was the new governor. By that time the Department of
Pollution Control had been doing a lot of regulation and there was a lot of public
interest in that. The legislative committees in the House were split. You had two
committees relating to the same subject. In 1970-1971, the House of
Representatives had a committee that was a natural resources committee, and
Gus Craig was the chairman. They also had an environmental pollution control
committee with Guy Spicola as the chairman. It became apparent that somebody
needed to do something about the water management districts. Mainly there was
a small informal coalition of legislators. One was from Escambia County [in] West
Florida, one was from Jacksonville, and one was from Miami. They were upset
about Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District and they wanted to do
something about it. They basically set out to try to dismember the district. They
felt like it was too big and spending too much money. They came up with the idea
they would have a special committee to work just on water management. Both
Gus Craig, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, and Guy Spicola,
chairman of the Environmental Pollution Control Committee, wanted to have that
[special legislation] assigned to their committee. As I understand it, there was
quite a little political fighting on it [in-fighting on who would be chairman]. The
speaker of the House that year decided that [he] would work that out a little
different way, and he named a joint committee. The joint committee consisted of
people from both the Environmental Pollution Control Committee [of the House]
and the Natural Resources Committee of the House. It was not a joint committee
of the House and Senate as we know it, but it was a joint committee within the
confines of the House. They named Jack Shreve, who was a relatively new
legislator, to be chairman of that. He was [trying to figure out] what to do and they
had hearings throughout the state.
As they got more deeply into this subject they realized that there was more
substance to the Water Management Districts than they realized. Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District was maintaining canals, rights of way, and
water levels all up and down that area [the south portion] of the state. Southwest
Florida Water Management District, by this time, had a lot of very serious
problems going on. There were public works and federal programs that were
going on. If you dismantled the water management districts you're going to
create more problems than you had. Jack Shreve was charged with coming up
with a new plan, or he saw that he had to come up with a new one, so he wanted
He got a draft of Maloney's Model Water Code, which was not yet completed,
and used that as a guideline, kind of as a structure, to see what we could work
out. Many of us didn't think that it had a chance of passing the 1972 legislature.
Now by 1972, I was no longer going to Tallahassee with Ray Knopke. I had been
retained by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to represent them. They were
contemplating building a regional service center in Tampa, so I was going to
Tallahassee as a lobbyist for that purpose. I had not lobbied before and didn't
really know anything much about lobbying, but I knew quite a bit about the
legislative process. When the bill was up, everybody watched it, but some of us
didn't think it had any chance of passing and we didn't follow it too closely. We
were following it, but [we] didn't get involved in it. Ray Knopke, who was still my
friend and who was still chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee,
told me one day, "You better be studying that bill because the speaker has put a
lot of emphasis on it." I said, "Okay." Then the next time I talked to him I told him,
you know, why that bill passed the House. When it went through the house there
were a lot of very bad amendments added to it.
Jack Shreve was a nice guy, a very bright guy, and he wanted to get the bill
passed and out of it. He had had about all of that he wanted, so he was receptive
to most any amendment that didn't kill the bill. Just to keep the bill alive and get it
out of the House, that was his main charge. It passed the house with a number of
these amendments on it. I saw Ray Knopke in the hall and he said, "hey Buddy,
by the way, you better get on that bill." I said, "why?" He said, "well it passed the
House and the speaker has met with the president of the Senate and we're going
to take that up next week." I said, "well it hasn't been engrossed yet." He said, "I
don't know how they're going to get that done, but we're going to take it up next
week." So I scrambled around and managed to get copies of all the
amendments and took the bill and cut it and pasted it. It was about ten or twelve
feet long, just one long thing, [but] it was the only way I could keep it straight. It
had a lot of handwritten scribbles on it. I came home that Friday night thinking,
I've got a lot of work to do, and my secretary was in all day Saturday and part of
Sunday. I went through just simply patching it up on the things that I knew we
had to have to maintain our existence as Swiftmud, because some of the things
just totally ignored the system that was there. Some of the amendments that had
been put on in the House weren't compatible with the other language in the bill.
P: What kind of amendments? Give me an example.
B: I'm not sure that I can, but some were quite technical. I wound up in a day and a
half preparing thirty-five or thirty-six amendments to the bill. Now the bill had not
yet been printed up on the slick sheets. So I went back to Tallahassee with all
P: Now let me get this clear, these are your amendments in addition to the
amendments that had been put on in the House.
B: Some of my amendments had just simply removed the other amendments, some
of them would change them, and some of them would change another part which
would make it acceptable. These are amendments I was going to try to get
approved in the committee as a lobbyist. As a lobbyist I was not [experienced], I
mean that was my first year lobbying, but I knew the subject probably as well as
anybody did. I had the only engrossed copy of the bill because it was rolled up in
a big bundle. So a few days later when it came up before the Senate Natural
Resources Committee, there were two or three hours allowed for the committee
meeting. I asked to be recognized and Ray Knopke called on me, and I started
presenting proposed amendments. The committee now was comprised of a
number of people [that] wasn't exactly the same that I had worked for, but it was
similar. I knew all the people and they knew me. They began to accept the
amendments that I suggested and they [continued to] accept more and more. I
believe they accepted all the amendments, or very close to all the amendments.
There were people in the audience who were quite upset about this thing going
too fast and too complicated, and it was going fast and complicated. As I noticed
that the time was getting near and I thought they would probably make a motion
to extend the time, but nobody on the committee wanted to extend the time. They
were sick of water management [and] they wanted to get it through and out. It
was too big a bill to comprehend. There were people in the back [and] I can still
remember a man from West Florida who was there and he said, "Can I be
heard? The chairman replied, "Yeah, when he finishes." They took all of my
amendments and then the man from the rear spoke. About that time they were
almost out of time and Ray Knopke said, well we're running out of time in the
committee. Somebody moved that they pass out the bill as amended, and they
did. Everybody was clapping and I was as surprised as anybody else. Then the
bill was ready to go. It had been referred to the Finance and Tax Committee
because it had more ad valorem taxing in it as well, but the committee decided
they'd waive a hearing on the bill. It was ready to go up to the floor of the Senate.
The Senate was taking up the House bill and they took all of my amendments
and they just simply substituted [it] as a substitute bill. So there wasn't a question
of going through all the amendments again. There was a state senator who was
a rather popular man at that time. He assumed responsibility for handling the bill
when it came to the floor of the Senate. He had not been a party to the debate,
he had not followed it from that standpoint, but he'd been chosen as the one to
handle it. Ray Knopke did not like to get up on the floor. He was better at
handling things quietly. [The man picked to present the bill was] Senator Bob
Saunders from Gainesville.
[He] was a very knowledgeable senator and very good senator, [and] handled the
bill. I began meeting with him every morning, briefing him. The bill stayed on the
special order calendar it seemed to me like two months, but I think it was
probably about four weeks. Everyday it'd be on special order, but it would never
come up. [It was] always special order [and] it'd never come up. In the meantime,
there was a lot of lobbying going on. I still had some problems with the bill, so
then we came up with the idea that this bill is so complicated that it required
certain things to be done before it could be fully implemented. For instance, we
had to divide the state up into five districts, and that was going to take some time.
There were certain other things [too]. So at the last minute I conceived of the
idea of having an effective date provision in the bill that provided that some parts
of it would take effect now, some parts would take effect several months hence,
and some parts not until after the next session of the legislature.
This was Wade Hopping's first or second session lobbying and he was pretty
effective. He had been the Supreme Court justice under Claude Kirk's
administration but he [Wade Hopping] hadn't survived the election, so he was
now lobbying. I can remember talking to Wade Hopping about this deferred
effective date. I said, "Look, we're all goofed up on this [and] we don't know
what's going to happen. We know we're going to get water management districts
throughout the state. Let's go ahead and pass the bill with the deferred effective
dates then we'll come back next year and we'll straighten those out [because]
we'll have a time to look at it." People were still confused as to what was even
before the legislature. So he bought that and agreed with that, and when it came
up it passed almost unanimously. I'm not positive of that, but I looked that up at
one time and I remember it was a very [high vote].
P: Other than that joint committee, weren't there any other hearings?
B: Well, see there had been a lot of hearings before the House as the bill was
coming up, but the Senate didn't have a companion [bill], so when it got to the
Senate there was only the one hearing.
P: Were there a lot of people who were opposed to this bill? Who were they and
why were they opposed?
B: I'm not sure there were a lot of people opposed to it at that time.
P: Weren't some of the sugar industry, farming interests?
B: No, this had some things for them to gain as well. No, this was not a big battle
with the sugar [industry]. There were some people that didn't like the bill, but
Reubin Askew was governor and Reubin Askew had said "We're going to pass a
bill on water management this session. If we don't, I'm going to call a special
session and we're going to have it." I was suggesting to everybody, we didn't
want a special session on this bill. It'd be better to pass one with deferred
effective dates giving us a year on it than it would to come in with a special
session and in three days come up with a bill. So that helped things.
P: Explain how you got to the final version.
B: Well, that was the final version.
P: In terms of implementation. Take me through 1972, 1973, and 1974. Would you
discuss how Dean Maloney interacted with the legislative process?
B: Well it's hard to keep up with the legislature when you're right there, and it's
much harder when you're 100 miles away or 150 miles away as Frank Maloney
was. Frank Maloney called me and he said, "What are all these amendments?" I
had discussed them with him briefly. Jack Shreve had made a number of
changes to the original draft of the model water code. We were making the
changes to accommodate two districts that were already in existence and had
substantial works on-going; we had good staff, independent staff that had their
own source of revenue with the ad valorem taxes that they [the districts] could
levy. Frank Maloney called me one day and he said, "you've destroyed the model
water code." I said, "no we haven't Frank, it's all going to work together, just trust
me." I don't believe I said trust me, but I thought it would work out. I said, "we've
got a year to work on it [and] get it perfected." He said, "I'm not having anything
to do with this." "They're putting my name [Maloney] on some of this, but I'm not
going to assume that responsibility. You've got it changed too much." I said, "I
think it'll work. I think you'll be proud of it. I think you'll like it once you've looked
at it and studied it." [Maloney said,] "I'm not having anything to do with it." Well,
later on he told me how closely we followed his bill, but that can be compared
any way you want to. We simply shifted several things, some that were kind of
major. One was that we have five independent districts rather than having a
centralized Tallahassee head to run the whole thing. But we preserved a lot of
things and he [Dean Frank Maloney] later decided it was a pretty good system
P: Now you set up the five water management districts and each of them, at that
time, had a nine member board appointed by the governor. Is that correct?
B: No, not quite, you've gotten through the first passage of the first bill. During the
next year the Division of Interior Resources [of the Department of Natural
Resources] under Dr. Robert Vernon went around the state [and] held hearings.
Generally following USGS hydrologic district boundaries, they carved the state
into five water management districts. They came up with a legal description of
them [and] they made their recommendations. It would change Southwest Florida
Water Management District alignment and it would change South Florida Water
Management District. For instance, the Waccasassa Basin, which was in
Swiftmud, was carved out and put in the Suwannee River Water Management
District because that was a smaller district and they were trying to get five equal
sized districts. [That's] very difficult to do in the state of Florida if you're following
hydrologic lines, particularly when your population is not evenly spread either and
your tax bases are substantially different. So they came up with the five districts,
but the new 1968 Florida Constitution had a hooker in it. It had a provision that
you [the legislature] could not grant ad valorem taxing authority by a legislative
act for special districts without a referendum. This meant that [each of] the new
districts were going to have to have referendum before they could impose any ad
P: Because they were now different districts.
B: No, no, because they were new.
P: That's what I meant, they were different. They were new as opposed to what they
had been previously. Previously they had ad valorem taxing authority right?
B: The two districts had ad valorem taxing, Swiftmud for 1.3 mill and South Florida
for one mill.
P: So now that Swiftmud's changed, they've got to get the legislature to re-approve
their taxing authority.
B: Well that question hadn't arisen at that time, but we knew that [the new]
Northwest Florida [Water Management District], [the new] Suwannee River
[Water Management District] area, and the [new] St. Johns River [Water
Management District] area would not have ad valorem taxing authority. It
became apparent that if they didn't have ad valorem taxing authority they were
not going to be full-fledged, bonafide water management districts as we knew the
other two to be, so we started talking about how we could get that accomplished.
Well that was pretty remote. We said, "well, we let them see and then we'll come
back two or three years later." But then it occurred to Myron Gibbons [my law
partner] and me that if we changed the boundaries of Swiftmud and we changed
the boundaries of South Florida [Water Management District], that amount to
reconstituting the [two existing] districts, and we [might not] be able to continue
with the [existing] ad valorem taxing authority. We first tried to come up with a
legal argument that it would not change it [the taxing authority] for those areas
that were [then levying ad valorem taxes], but that for the areas coming in there'd
have to be a special election [to tax the new areas added to the old districts].
Well, that was going to be a very awkward thing to have a special election to say,
"okay you boys, come on in and you can vote for it [ad valorem taxes]." That
would probably never happen. Then we said, now if you change our boundaries
does that really mean we're going to be a new district under the new constitution
that passed in 1968, or is that going to mean that somebody could come in, a tax
payer could bring a suit, and cut out all the taxing authority for the two existing
districts. We didn't know so we decided the only thing to do is test it in court. We
talked to Hernando County. Bruce Snow was the county attorney, a young
lawyer, and he's still the country attorney, I think. Hernando County agreed that
they would bring the suit and that we would test the thing as to whether it was or
was not going to preserve the ad valorem taxing authority. Several people who
were opposed to water management per se, and to Swiftmud in particular, were
saying, "Oh this is just a subterfuge. They [the proponents of the bill] were just
waving a red flag. Ignore them." But the day the bill came up to the committee for
final passage on this second year of the enacting act that was going to make
everything move, [was] the day that we got the ruling from the circuit court judge
to our friendly law suit that we had down in Hernando County. The judge held
that it would be constituting a new district, and therefore [the new Southwest
Florida Water Management District] would not have ad valorem taxing authority
[in the new areas] and it would kill the ad valorem taxing authority of the districts
that existed before [the change of boundaries]. So we announced that to the
legislative committee that was hearing the bill, and that helped move it on
through. It meant that we then had to go back and figure what do we do in the
meantime. Here we've got these five districts, and we're supposed to have five
districts, but we've got errors. We don't want to change the boundaries of existing
districts, [but] if we don't change those boundaries we're going to leave areas
that are between the two. So what happens to Manatee and Sarasota County,
which were supposed to move into Southwest Florida Water Management
District? We came up with the idea that we'll put the areas between the two
districts in an administrative district, a sixth district. We'll keep the boundaries of
Swiftmud and South Florida Water Management District just as they are until we
get through the legislative process and until we get through an attempt to pass a
constitutional amendment [to allow ad valorem taxing for the new areas].
P: So at that point, Swiftmud and South Florida would still have ad valorem taxing
B: They would maintain theirs, we could go ahead and implement the thing with the
other three districts coming in, [and] we would create a sixth district that we call
the sixth district.
P: That was just a temporary district.
B: It was a temporary administrative district. [It] had a board, met, [and] started to
assume some responsibility.
[End of side A2]
B: So we came up with the proposal that we have the sixth district which would
more or less pick up the remnants, those areas between South Florida Water
Management District and Southwest Florida Water Management District that
were not in either district. The other parts of the state could go ahead and start
with their activities, but they would not have ad valorem taxing authority. But we
also proposed a constitutional amendment that would enable ad valorem taxing
for water management purposes that would cure all of this. In the meantime, the
new districts would be constituted and exist as separate districts.
P: But with funding from the legislature?
B: Well, they got some funding from the legislature and I believe they got some
funding from the water management district. There were some grants [too]. I'm
fuzzy on exactly how we did that, but there was enough money for them to be
constituted, and they got assistance from Swiftmud and South Florida Water
We started working on the idea of trying to get a constitutional amendment
passed. I drafted the legislation to start the constitutional amendment. [I] was
trying to come up with a way that would be acceptable to the people when they
went into the voting booth and looked at a proposed constitutional amendment to
allow taxing. Swiftmud had been levying as much as a full mill in some basins for
construction of the Tampa Bypass Canal, and up to part of three-tenths of a mill
for district purposes. By this time that was beginning to taper off a little and Derrill
McAteer was chairman of Swiftmud. Derrill said, "well, we can get by with this
money." I said, "can you get by with a total of one mill?" Swiftmud decided it
could get by with one mill or less. South Florida had one mill, but we didn't have
to limit that. So, we proposed the constitutional amendment. Because we were
cutting the millage we could legitimately say that it was limiting the millage. It was
authorizing the millage in certain areas and it was limiting it in some others, so
that made it appealing to some.
By this time the water management districts were in better public graces than
they had been several years before. So we had Swiftmud area and South Florida
Water Management area, or Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District,
where you had a lot of people that thought water management was something
we needed and that ad valorem taxing was an appropriate way to pay for it.
When the vote took place the places that were already under water management
district voted for the amendment. Well, the other areas didn't have as much
population, so those that opposed [passage of the constitutional amendment]
really were ineffective in blocking it. We had some quirks in the proposed
amendment. We had a limitation in West Florida that was brought about when we
prepared the constitutional amendment. There were legislators in Northwest
Florida who said, "look, we know you've got problems down in Swiftmud and we
know they've got problems down in South Florida. We don't have those problems
in West Florida, we don't want to start a big bureaucracy. Well, yeah, we'll go
ahead and have a little bit, but figure up what it will take so that they'll have about
$375,000 maximum or something."
P: But the constitutional amendment limited it to one mill?
B: Well, that was the bill that was proposed and it got hung up in the legislature by
the West Florida legislators, not by the people who were expected to hang it up,
but by some others. Finally, I was talking to one of them and he told me, "you
come up with something that will only give them up to X dollars, and then I'll see
about it." So I went off and tried to find somebody that could calculate how much,
because the dividing line between Northwest Florida Water Management District
and Suwannee River Water Management District is Jefferson County. It divides
Jefferson County almost right down the middle. Well, you could take the tax base
of everything else, but that one gave me some problems. So I came up with
some estimates and went back and told him. I just took the clerk's manual and
Allen Morris' Florida Handbook. I took that and figured up how much I thought
Jefferson County's going to want and how much in the other. I came up with a
figure, converted that to millage, and went back and showed him how I'd worked
it out. That was put in so that Northwest Florida could only levy five-hundredths
of a mill, where the others could levy one mill. It passed the legislature and then
when it went to the electorate we passed.
P: What was the vote on that constitutional amendment?
B: I'll give you that figure at a later date. I've got it somewhere in this material.
P: Was it a close vote?
B: It wasn't too close. It was a comfortable margin, but it was not overwhelming.
One of the interesting things is that when we were coming up with these
boundary descriptions, we had it on a map, but the state said they didn't have
anyone to prepare a written legal description of it. I asked South Florida Water
Management District if they could have their survey department [do it]. I said, you
do yours and we'll do ours. Well, they couldn't get theirs. I talked to our surveyors
at Swiftmud [and asked them] how long will it take them to do that, and they said
about three weeks. I said, "I've got to have it in two or three days. I've got to have
it by next week." They said, "well there's no way we can get that done." My son
was clerking that summer at our office and I said, come here, I want to show you
something. I started showing him how to do this, and he's a very good typist, and
he followed the lines on the maps and typed the descriptions that went in the bill
describing all the districts by a metes and bounds description and had it done in
two days. We proofed it together and it had one mistake that we caught. I was
pretty proud of that, thinking: "He may make it through college yet."
P: Was part of this bill for the Department of Natural Resources to have an official
water use plan for the state?
B: Frank Maloney and his model water code provided that there should be a state
plan and that the water management portion of it would become a functional part
of the state plan. I've forgotten exactly how that went together, but there was a lot
of law going on on the state water plan, not state water use management. It was
always envisioned that this would mesh together with the effort that was going on
in other parts of the legislature to have planning and have the regional planning
councils. This is when they came into being. The state plan was to then develop
in concert with several different agencies and the water management district was
to do their own water use plan that would become, I believe the words are, a
functional element of, or something similar to that.
P: But this is in conjunction with bills like the Environmental Land and Water Act?
B: That's right, the ELMS Act [as] they called it, was under consideration at the
same time. It had always been my understanding that the water management
districts would be the ones that would be responsible for the water use planning
element of the state comprehensive plan because the districts were developing
the water regulatory scheme. They were to develop them in one part of their
activities and that rather extensive planning should become part of the state
water plan. We [Water Management Districts] didn't have a water quality function
at that time.
P: So we're just talking about water use?
B: No, because we still have the department of pollution control. That went away
about the same time.
P: Doesn't this mean that all state waters are subject to regulation? At one point I
know springs were exempted, but now all state waters are to be regulated?
B: No. In the early days there was not a mandate that it had to be regulated, but
there was authority to use these different steps. For instance, some areas of the
state had needs that were entirely different from others. So in some areas you
might need one regulation and in others you would need another. The Water
Management District didn't follow political boundaries, they followed hydrologic
P: But all the water in the state is subject to some sort of regulation right?
B: All of it could be regulated if there is a need for it.
P: In other words they had the authority to do so right?
B: That's correct.
P: We started out talking about the water management boards. Why have nine?
Why did you decide on gubernatorial appointments, and talk a little bit about how
they functioned in the beginning.
B: Swiftmud had nine board members in the original act. That was because it had
fifteen counties, and in order to have representation scattered throughout the
district it seemed that nine was better than five. South Florida, or Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District, only had five, so they increased that to
the nine. Subsequent to that time, Swiftmud has had other board members
added to this.
P: And now they have eleven?
B: Yes, [as] of right now it's eleven, but that was done through some political
pressures. There was a feeling that some of the counties that contributed very
heavily through ad valorem taxing had a very high population, Dade County, for
instance, Broward County, that they should have more representation. It's been a
hard battle all the way through to be sure that in regulating the water you're
looking out for the resource rather than the people. If you should have it strictly
on a one-man, one-vote basis, you may have some distorted areas. You can
have your coastal areas, heavily populated areas, extending their regulatory
authority far, far away from them. On the other hand, they need some fairly good
representation because they're providing a substantial amount of the funding. It
really has worked out pretty uniquely, and there were residency requirements for
board members that were imposed.
P: That was later.
P: That was at that time?
B: That was initially. Of course where you have the basins, then you have the basin
board. They were levying the majority of taxes.
P: What's the relation between the basin boards and the water management
B: Water management boards, the governing boards of the districts, have the
overall authority, but some of the tax levies, for instance, have to be levied, and
the authority to do that comes from the basin board members who can vote to
levy the tax within their basin.
P: How are the basin board members appointed?
B: They're appointed by the governor, same way that the governing board members
are appointed. They have to be confirmed by the Senate.
P: Were there staggered terms on this bill? How many years were they appointed
B: Initially in Swiftmud it was for three year terms. Initially in South Florida Water
Management District it was for a four year term. That has been changed several
times. It had been shifted somewhat. Swiftmud initially had three new board
members being appointed each year. That meant that it took at least two years of
a governor's term before he could have a majority. There was a desire to have
the governor be able to name a majority of the board during his first year in
office. Because of the mechanism, the way it's set up now, he has to make those
appointments during the first three months of his administration. It's hard to make
all those appointments and select good people for all the places. You've got
ongoing projects that don't stop and start with each election. There's an
argument [that] certainly you want the governor, who is your chief executive
officer, to be held accountable, to be accountable to the people, and to be able to
influence the direction that the water management districts go by his
P: If we look at Swiftmud, how would you evaluate the quality of the appointees?
Are some of them friends or political payoffs, or are these people
B: To me the most amazing thing that has happened through the years is the very
high quality of board members that you've had. Many people come on the board
and don't know anything about it, and they become totally immersed in the
subject, and thoroughly dedicated. It's not an easy job. Many people come on
governing boards thinking, "oh that's a nice political appointment and it won't take
much time," and they wind up spending about a third or more of their time on an
P: Are there any perks at all?
B: Perks? Well, certainly. They're in charge of doing the greatest thing they could
do, help us take care of our natural resources, keep out the floods, increase the
amount and the qualities of the drinking water we have got, [and] restore our
lakes and streams so that everything is fishable and swimable.
P: Do you have trouble getting people who would take a non-paying job for a third of
their time? That's a pretty strong commitment.
B: [Laughing.] Well, you don't tell them it's a third of their time to start with, and they
don't believe you if you do. It's an insidious thing. It's something that they
become more and more entrenched in. Obviously there's some members that
have not spent as much time as others have, and some have spent more time
than they should have.
P: Normally how often would the boards meet?
B: Monthly. That's set up by the statute as far as having a monthly meeting. Now
sometimes they're meeting two and three and four times a month on special
things, on briefings, on field trips, [and] on inspections. They have to meet more
during the taxation thing. With the "truth-in-millage" compliance they have to
meet, I think, more than once in a month, maybe twice in one month.
P: Do they approve the budget?
B: They set the budget. They hire and fire the employees.
P: Although there's an executive director?
B: They are authorized to hire an executive director. The executive director in the
beginning was answerable solely to the governing board. That's no longer true.
The executive director now has to be hired by the governing board, be subject to
approval by the governor and then has to be confirmed by the senate, and then
has to be reconfirmed by the senate and the governor.
P: What kind of authority does the executive director have day to day?
B: He has great authority. Through the years, and his requirements of time with
governing board members, more and more authority has been delegated to the
executive director. Early on, the executive director could not be delegated certain
authority. Now he can be delegated a great deal of authority over a great many
P: Now the act in essence allowed the executive director or the board to hire
hydrologists, legal counsel, or whatever they needed to run that management
B: That's right.
P: What influence, at least in the beginning, has the Department of Natural
Resources had on decisions by the water management district boards?
B: Starting in 1949, when you were primarily trying to comply with the federal act
and try to be the local sponsor of these federal programs, we had a process
where each year the state had a public works program. I can't recall the name
right at the moment.
P: You're not talking about State Board of Conservation?
B: No, the Administrative Department of the State of Florida, signed by the
governor, had a public works program for the federal government where they
established priorities. They would have a conference and would decide what
would be on that list. It used to be you'd get together everybody that had
anything going on with the Corps of Engineers in the state of Florida. They would
go through all the programs in one, two, or three days, and would work out those
things that the state had priority over. Then the governor would sign it and we'd
go off, and that would be part of the public works program. The Water
Management District wanted to be sure that their projects were on there and just
how much should be in there. There were some presentations in trying to get
things moved up.
The Conservation Department, and then later the Department of Natural
Resources, was the natural department that handled that. Until we had the
constitutional amendment, the new constitution in 1968, we could have as many
departments as we wanted. Then when we reduced the number of departments,
then that just simply loaded some departments up with the same people. It was a
good idea to shake things up, but I'm not sure that it reduced anything. It may
have had just the opposite effect before it's all over with.
When South Florida Water Management District started, they had a five member
board [that was] led by the Corps of Engineers as to what they should be doing.
Then through the state, Randolph Hodges was head of the Department of
Conservation, and he had three or four retired colonels from the Corps of
Engineers [that] helped him on helping the locals get their projects in compliance
with the federal laws.
P: But they didn't determine what projects were to be undertaken?
B: That was determined by the annual priority list that was adopted for the state.
This included beach renourishment programs, water management programs,
[and] that kind of thing.
P: So once you get past 1972, 1973, 1974, what kind of influence does the
Department of Natural Resources have over the planning of the Water
B: Up until 1976, the Division of Interior Resources [of the Department of Natural
Resources] was the state arm that had the overview over the Water Management
District. Now, the water management districts had lay boards appointed by the
governor [and] their own ad valorem taxing authority. Then the Department of
Natural Resources had an executive director, but the head was the governor and
cabinet. So you got right back to the same people. They had the authority to do
anything that the water management districts had authority to do, but they never
exercised that authority [or] power. I don't believe they ever did. They had the
authority to override the water management districts' boards, but that was very
seldom done, and in very discreet areas was that ever done.
P: Could they remove an executive director?
B: No. The executive director was answerable to the governing board, and certainly
if they started trying they might make it very difficult for that person to continue.
P: To go back to the governing boards, what's the advantage of having a lay
B: I think you get a good cross-section of people, business and professional men
and women, that provide a very valuable service that would cost a rather large
amount of money to replace if you did it strictly through a compensation board.
Now you could have them elected, but I think that having them appointed gives
them a sort of independence. They're looking after the resource rather than
individual people [and] they're not doing as much log rolling.
P: It's less politics.
B: I don't know about that [laughing.]
P: Well, they don't have to get reelected, let's put it that way.
B: They're not seeking reelection.
P: Now discuss some of the authority the water management boards have, for
example, eminent domain. How is that generally exercised?
B: By eminent domain they have to have a program that has been approved that's
within their purview, and they then have to comply with the law. They're granted
the power of eminent domain just like county commissioners, city commissioners,
or just like public works boards and authorities would have.
P: Is there a lot of conflict between the elected municipal commissioners or county
commissioners in terms of the exercise of eminent domain by the water
B: No, I don't think there's any conflict from that standpoint, but there are conflicts
and jealousies back and forth. It depends on how well they do. In recent years,
the water management districts have been pretty well funded and have made
grants to various governmental entities that has kind of greased the wheels and
made things a little smoother.
P: How do you deal with the issue of eminent domain and the right of private
B: Well, you've got some pretty rigid laws that you've got to comply with on that and
you've got the established public necessity for it.
P: How is that standard used? What would you define as "public necessity?"
B: Well, if the district, through its governing board, passes a resolution approving
some project and initiates that project and there are boundaries or guidelines as
to how far their condemnation authority extends, then it goes to a certain court.
The first question that the judge asks the condemning authority is to show its
authority for condemning that, and the necessity for acquiring the property.
P: At a fair price.
B: Well, they have to show first the necessity for acquiring, then they go through the
process to determine what is fair market value and to determine the amount of
P: Water management districts can also buy and sell water rights?
B: Water management districts under some circumstances could buy and sell water.
P: What circumstances?
B: They could sell what water they had in a jug, they could buy what they wanted in
containers, [or] something that's under their control.
P: So you're not talking about Suwannee selling water to Swiftmud?
B: I'm not talking about the Suwannee River Water Management District selling the
water in the Suwannee River to the city of Tampa, no, I'm not.
P: Let's talk about that while we're on that subject.
B: How did we get on that subject?
P: I don't know [laughing]. It just occurred to me. Oh, because you'd mentioned
water wars earlier. Explain what happened in Swiftmud in particular during this
time in the category you describe as water wars. What was that all about?
B: Well, I'll give you an example. Pinellas County came into Hillsborough County
and acquired the right from the owners of a property to go on their property and
to construct wells to withdraw water from those wells. [They would] transport that
water through pipes to Pinellas County and distribute it to governmental units
within their county for distribution and consumption by an individual. Swiftmud
was getting complaints from people around this well field, which is called the
Eldridge-Wilde Wellfield, because the private wells in the area and some of the
lakes were showing the adverse effects of withdrawals to an extent that it was
actually causing draw down in the surficial aquifer and in the water levels of the
lakes surrounding that well field. They actually had land subsidence. I can
remember going out there and as you drive into one place all of a sudden you
see the tops of trees that are at eye level. As you get close to it you see that the
ground had actually dropped away and made cracks and holes in the land
surface. Swiftmud, through its regulatory authority, even before the Water
Resources Act passed back in the early 1970s. [The District] issued an order to
Pinellas County to cut back on its pumps in a well field that had been pumping for
years from land that it didn't own, but it had the right to because the owners had
been compensated for that. Well that was a pretty tough thing. St. Petersburg
had moved into Hillsborough County, and they had a well field that was called the
Cosme-Odessa Wellfield. It really wasn't a well field. It was along a road [and]
they had a well here and a well here and a well here. As you drove out in that
area, as you got close to their well field, you noticed there was no water in the
ditches. As you got a little farther away from it there'd be water in the ditches.
They were dewatering that area. [It was] the same complaints, and Swiftmud
issued an order to them. That was pretty tough for non-elected board members
to order these elected officials who were providing water to their public to cut
back on their pumping.
P: And they complied?
B: Not easily and not quickly, but before it was all over with they complied.
P: If we can go forward a little bit, if we look at an area like Tampa and St. Pete
which has a growing demand for water, and they would like to get water from the
Suwannee River Water Management District. How is that worked out between
B: Well, in the first place, just merely because the Suwannee is up on the top of the
mount doesn't mean that the water is going to flow naturally down from water
seeking its own level coming down to where Pinellas County is. There have been
changes in the law. Attempts to protect the production areas by saying that local
sources [get water] first [and] there shall not be water going across district
boundary lines have been put in the law recently. There have been counties that
have passed ordinances that you can't have a pipe going across a county line.
[That's] pretty tough when you've got a county road running along county
boundary lines and they happen to have drainage works and they have these
pipes going under the road to drain them. Suddenly you can't have the pipes so
you cut them off and it floods them. Well, that wasn't what they intended at all.
But that law didn't get passed, it didn't get written in there.
P: Yes, I think that was because one of the proposals was to build a pipeline to
bring water in.
B: Some of the counties get pretty paranoid, and you can understand why they
would be, with a wealthier county coming in and condemning their land; because
you've got condemnation power that extends beyond their bounds. That's a
public necessity. If a city has to provide the water for its people and they don't
have enough water to put out fires, to supply their hospital, to provide their
people with drinking water, then they need some mechanism so they can go
beyond their bounds to get their water.
P: But not beyond the bounds of the water districts.
B: Going across district bounds just brings in another group of people to join the
P: So technically they could, by eminent domain, take over private water resources
and use if for the city?
B: If they met all the tests and show they had a greater necessity; and some things
are protected from that and [they're] prohibited from doing that, and others are
P: Would they consult with water management before they did something like that?
B: Well, the water management districts might be controlling, by them having
consumptive use permits for withdrawing the water.
P: And these consumptive use permits are given only by water management?
B: That's correct.
P: Not by the city. That's a big difference then.
B: Yes. When I first got involved with this, we didn't really have a good definition for
what is consumptive use and how much of the water used is consumptively used.
That can be pretty troublesome sometimes.
P: There are several criteria, I guess. What would they be?
B: For the consumptive use?
B: Well, there are some definitions in the statutes now. I'd rather give you the law
than quote the law.
P: Okay, let me go on. A crucial problem from 1972 on is water shortage. One way
you can deal with that through the water management boards is just limiting and
restricting use so that you would restrict use of sprinklers or that sort of thing.
Then, how else would you deal with water shortage?
B: Well, conservation measures.
P: You're talking about toilets.
B: Mandatory conservation measurements. There are a lot of different techniques to
do that. You've had some water shortages in some areas, some pretty acute
water shortages, where you had water supplies without any meters at all. They
had flat rates, so there was no incentive to use less water. You might restrict
when they can use the water. Trying to irrigate at efficient times. There are all
kinds of conservation measures.
P: Recycle water for golf courses.
B: Catch and recycle all your table water. Process your water, [and] by process I
mean treating the water and then reusing it. By having closed systems and
recirculating. By cutting down on your methods. Swiftmud was very effective in
getting the phosphate companies to cut down on the amount of water that they
were, it's hard to say "consumptively using," but basically the amount of water
that they were using in their processes. For instance, the phosphate company
would go in and they would de-water a large area so that they could mine it
easier so that they're not mining in as deep of water. To de-water, they just
simply put down wells or pits and they funneled the water into the rivers and let it
run off. Well, they weren't consuming it, but they were sure removing it from one
place to another, and that could create some problems. Swiftmud started making
it a little tighter on the phosphate companies, educating the phosphate
companies, evaluating how they were doing things and operating their plan, and
making constructive suggestions on how they could better operate the plan with
less water. The phosphate companies cut way down on the amount of water that
they actually use in the process. It was a voluntary thing. Of course there were
veiled threats here and there, I'm not sure what would have happened to it if it
had come to the law.
[End of side B3]
P: How is the cost of water to the user determined?
B: It's determined by the mechanism, person, or entity that is delivering that water.
Whether they may be delivering it in buckets, bottles, pipes, or canals, the cost
may be based on all kind of cost factors. [These include] what it cost to deliver it,
what it cost to get it, what it cost to process it, [and] to what degree is it going to
P: Does what we're talking here that includes sewage treatment?
B: It could.
P: But is it usually determined, the actual price, by city or county government as
opposed to water management?
B: Water management districts don't really determine price. I don't believe that
they've set the price on anything that I'm aware of.
P: What about these mandatory requirements? Could water management districts
require these efficient toilets and showers?
B: Back during, what I referred to as the first water war on the west coast, when
Swiftmud was trying to persuade Pinellas County and St. Petersburg to use less
water or to reduce their demand for water as their population was growing so
rapidly, they met with the administrators for the county and for the city. They
brain stormed on things that could be done that would reduce the usage and the
demand. They came up with low shower heads so you could take a shower with
less water; low flush toilets was a very popular one; irrigating at more efficient
times to irrigate your lawn; cutting down on the frequency that you irrigated your
lawn; encourage putting in different kinds of ornamentals that required less
water, of Xeriscaping. There were always different things that came up of not
using water for cooling when the table water was not being utilized. There used
to be a lot of businesses that had sprinklers on their warehouse roof just simply
to spray the water on there and let it evaporate, which was a good way to cut
down on that. I remember that Swiftmud, at the suggestion of one of the
administrators, accepted the idea and ordered that Pinellas County and St.
Petersburg require the new installation of low flush toilets. There weren't any on
the market. I don't know how they slipped up, but it sounded like a great idea and
they sold it all the way down. When they got to the end they said, we can't buy
them. We'll put them in, but we can't find them [because] there are none.
P: So, that any new construction would be required to have them.
B: Sometimes you need to retrofit things. Some of the sister plants were retrofitted,
and the phosphate operating procedures were cut way back on some things.
They could produce more phosphate with using far less water by using some of
the water saving techniques.
P: How much water do you think has been saved by these techniques?
B: I have no idea.
P: Is it a substantial amount?
B: Oh, I think a substantial amount has been cut back on certain uses. Now, we've
had an ever increasing population that has made greater demands for the water.
We've got some planning mechanisms in place that are counterproductive from
the standpoint of water use.
P: Such as?
B: Well, density control. When we said that you only have one house for five acres,
or that you shall have a homesite frontage of at least seventy feet so that you
have a little bit more lawn so that you've got a bigger yard, well that creates a
greater need for water.
P: In 1973, the ELMS Act was the first time that it's required to have a regional
impact statement, is that right?
B: I believe that's correct.
P: So, does water management participate with other agencies in evaluating?
B: To some extent. The one thing that was unique about the Water Resources Act,
and this came through from Maloney's water model code and it has gone all the
way through, is that the water management districts have the exclusive authority
for regulating consumptive use of water. That may be the only thing that's totally
P: So in a time of drought they can apportion water?
B: The water management districts have really an extensive authority when they
exercise it as a part of their water shortage plan. If there is a water shortage they
can take pretty extraordinary steps on cutting back water or curtailing the use of
When the Water Resources Act passed and the deferred implementation was for
a year hence, it had in there a provision about water shortage. That fall Governor
Askew called a special session. It was a taxing session, but he included in there
the fact that there was an impending drought in South Florida. The legislature
was called to consider having some kind of legislation dealing with water
shortages. We didn't know until the day he called the session that that was going
to be in there, and the session was starting in two or three days, a short period of
I went tearing up to Tallahassee to see what was going on, and Jay Landers was
in the governor's office as an attorney to the governor, I think. We started talking
about it and no one had really thought that out and the water management
districts had not been involved in this thing. Overnight we came up with a plan for
how you dealt with a water shortage. We put all kind of impediments in. The
governing board would have to declare the water shortage with a comprehensive
finding of facts on it. Then, they could take certain extraordinary steps of cutting
back the use of water. You might have a permit, but they [the districts] could
curtail the use of your permit. But in order to do this they had to each month re-
declare this water shortage [and] they had to run a publication seven days
running in the newspaper [with] general circulation in the area. I think at the time
I was probably thinking let's make it as tough as we can so it'd be hard to do it.
Lo and behold, the first district that had what I consider to be a true water
shortage was Swiftmud. We [Southwest Florida Water Management District]
declared one of those [water shortages] and used it as authority against Pinellas
County to direct Pinellas County and the city of St. Petersburg to take certain
extraordinary steps. We [the District] went through that process every month.
We'd re-declare the thing and they would argue that it shouldn't be re-declared,
but nobody ever challenged the authority of that law. It still is in the books, I think,
pretty close to the way it was originally drafted, and it was drafted overnight. It
was just one of those knee jerk things.
P: When you apportion water, obviously there are going to be some conflicts with
the city and county governments. How do you determine who gets first use? Is it
the farmers? Is it the schools?
B: Each of the water management districts have set up kind of a priority schedule.
It's not a clear cut distinction. For instance, how do you regulate water if it's going
for domestic or public supply? Public supply goes to industrial users, it goes to
commercial uses, [and] it goes to domestic uses. What do you curtail? [It's] very
difficult to put a handle on. The minute you start saying, "oh, that's simple," you
just haven't read it. The water management district is to make the judgement,
decision, as to which things should have the greatest priority. That's why you
have a larger board, because a public entity is making a decision, and hopefully
it's making a decision that's based on a broad based input from responsible
P: So they would contact the farmers, the city, and the county.
B: And they would have a public hearing. There would be notice [and an]
opportunity to be heard. It's not easy being a good governing board member.
You're called on to make many decisions about things you've never heard of until
P: Let's just say it also might depend on time of year. In the winter you don't have to
worry too much about watering lawns in most places.
B: But you have to worry about how much water they use for freeze protection.
P: That's right, for the crops.
B: You've got strawberries in this area [and] you've got ferns over in St. John's area.
P: What if they make a decision that goes against them? Can they appeal in the
B: Yes. For the water management district you've always been able to appeal their
decision, not only in the courts, but you can appeal it to what we call the...
P: Oh yes, there's an appeal board that was put in wasn't there?
B: Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission. The Land and Water Adjudicatory
Commission was comprised of the governor and cabinet. What's interesting is
that with all the squabbles that have gone on, this appeal board has been used
very, very little. Maybe two or three times in the history [of it]. It's kind of
fascinating. Nobody really wants to go that far.
P: Although technically, the governor could intervene, could he not?
B: I don't know if now, under the latest constitutional changes [he can]. I haven't
looked at that, but the governor and cabinet could intervene. The governor
[cannot intervene] by himself.
P: What influence on these decisions would the Department of Natural Resources
B: They wouldn't participate today. Now that would be DEP.
P: Yes, but that state agency would always have some input?
B: They would staff it, and if you staff it you're going to have some input whether
you want to or not.
P: The boundaries for the water management districts are going to be finalized
around 1976, is that correct?
B: There have been some minor changes.
P: That was my next question, have there been any changes since then?
B: [There's] been a few changes. I don't know when the last change was.
P: Why would you change the boundaries?
B: Well, I'll give you an example. The little area that was between Southwest Florida
Water Management District and South Florida Water Management District is a
little ridge. The great sand ridge of the state of Florida that goes right down there.
It was a big orange [citrus] growing area. They [the growers] were in South
Florida Water Management District and they felt they would get a better deal, that
they had a more common interest, with the Swiftmud area. [They felt] that the
citrus growing area at that time, not today but at that time, was more in
Southwest Florida Water Management District, and Southwest Florida Water
Management District would be better for them than being in the remote area of
South Florida Water Management District. So they petitioned the legislature and
they politicked it through, and they got that boundary changed and they got
transferred over to Swiftmud. Swiftmud wasn't asking for them, wasn't trying to
get more territory, but it was one of the changes that was brought about by
people feeling like they had more common interests there. It really was on the
ridge of that high sandy area [and] it didn't make a great deal of difference which
district they were in. It didn't make any difference from the standpoint of money.
Now when you get over to Orlando, and Orlando is sitting in two different
districts, the boundary is within the city of Orlando. That's been a little
troublesome from time to time, but it's existed. People saw the need because
that happens to be where the watershed parts [divide]. There hasn't been a
strong enough effort on the part of anyone to get that changed. Probably
politically it could be changed.
P: I realize the difficulty of this, but have water management districts ever thought
about user fees. I realize it's kind of hard to determine that.
B: That's come up about every time they start talking about flooding, [but] it hasn't
been a popular thing with anybody. I don't think there have been any real
champions on that. There's been a few people that have said we ought to have
user fees on it, but when you stop and start looking at the ramifications of that,
next thing you know somebody'd come up with the idea, well if there's going to
be a user fee on it, then we're going to have a premium, some kind of
compensation going, to the producing areas. And you say, well wait a minute,
how does that work? Well, if I've got 10,000 acres and I'm collecting so much
water a year on that 10,000 acres, maybe I ought to be compensated for that.
Well then that gets complicated. There are user fees in some areas, not in
Florida, that are wellhead taxes. None of it seems to be real satisfactory.
P: Is the millage, as currently set, enough money to operate the water management
districts? Did the Northwest Florida Water increase theirs? Is it still .05 mills?
B: Northwest Florida Water Management District, in my opinion, should be allowed
to levy additional taxes. If it takes a constitutional amendment I think it could pass
pretty easily if you got it on the ballot, but it'd be hard to get it through the
legislature. It's put them in an awkward position when you say that Northwest
Florida doesn't have the problems, and then you start looking at the problems
they've had with Tombigbee [Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway] and some other
things up in Georgia. They do have other problems, their problems are different.
P: They do get more rainfall than any other part of the state don't they?
B: I'm not sure about that, [but] I don't think so. In the long haul we don't have that
much difference in the rainfall throughout the state.
P: Are the millages for the other water management districts acceptable?
B: Well, see the millages, as authorized by the the constitution, are not the limits.
The limits can be further compressed [reduced] by the legislature, and they have
been. South Florida Water Management District was reduced to, I think, 0.375
mills as their limit.
P: One mill is the top right?
B: One mill is the top [ad valorem tax rate authorized].
P: So most operate considerably under that?
B: Yep, and see, the water management districts have also got documentary stamp
tax income that comes in for a purpose. They get direct appropriations from the
legislature for projects.
P: The documentary stamp money, that's for purchase of land?
B: That's what it's used for, yes. A portion of that was assigned to the water
management districts as allocated on a percentage basis.
P: 7.2 percent, is that right? That's what it was at one time. "For the Water
Management Lands Trust Fund, 7.2 percent of documented stamp funds
collected may be used to purchase lands for water supply."
B: Yeah, of the documentary stamp [taxes that] were paid.
P: Who decides what land to purchase?
B: The Water Management District.
P: And it has to be approved at this point by DER?
B: No, they [the districts] prepare a priority list, and they have to do that annually.
That's the lands that they're going to acquire.
P: So this is different from things like Preservation 2000?
B: Well, that's part of it.
P: It's a part of that appropriation? I thought that was a legislative appropriation for
the state to purchase land.
B: I think you're right.
P: So this is just for water management. As a matter of fact if they have additional
projects, they can get funding from the legislature, right?
B: That's correct.
P: Okay. Now when you're making these decisions about what land to purchase,
what considerations do you make? Are you buying up marshes? Are you buying
up estuaries? What kind of land do they want to purchase?
B: You're talking about the water management districts?
B: Well now, those have changed a great deal since I was directly involved with
P: Explain how they have changed.
B: Well, initially the water management districts were being the local sponsor of
federal flood control projects. They had several immediate needs. First they [the
newly appointed governing boards] had to establish a district headquarters, so
that required some land. They didn't have authority to acquire that by imminent
domain, but they had authority to spend their money for that land. But being the
local sponsors, they had to come up with a certain percent of the construction
costs of the federal projects and they had to supply the land. For a time, that
money came through a fund that we called the W.R.D.A. money, the Water
Resources Development Account, and that was a direct appropriation by the
legislature. The legislature agreed for awhile, and this was not a guarantee but it
was carried on from year to year, that they would appropriate funds to be used in
acquiring the land as the local land needed for the federal project. The districts
would use their taxing authority to provide the match for the federal construction
costs. Each project and segments of projects would be on different percentages.
Swiftmud's was seventeen percent local money, eighty-three percent federal
money to build the Tampa Bypass Canal and all Four River Basins, Florida,
Projects. South Florida Water Management District started out, I believe, theirs
was twenty and eighty percent or twenty-two and seventy-eight percent. I think it
was twenty and eighty [percent]. Then they had some others that were fifteen
percent and eighty-five percent difference. [They] had several different things
[for] different projects. The match came out of local taxes and that came levied
by, in Swiftmud, by the basin boards. In the other districts it was coming by the
governing boards. Then when they started acquiring land for water conservation
purposes, enhancing or protecting flow ways, preserving green spaces. And
when you get in green spaces then that gets a little bit more tricky, that money
was then coming out of the money that was allocated to the water management
districts on a formula basis from the documentary stamp tax. The documentary
stamp tax money was an easy source of funds because the people who paid the
taxes are people when they buy land, so people don't get opposed to that kind of
a tax if they're not buying anything right today. It's a very small group of people
that would be opposed to that kind of thing. With Florida continuing to develop as
it is, most of the people who are going to be paying those taxes next week are
coming from out of state.
Some [from the water management districts] have said they've been on a binge
buying land in the last few years. [They] have acquired a great amount of land,
but have been good stewards of that land. They've done better with the land that
they've bought than some of the old land that has been acquired by some other
P: Do they buy a lot of wetlands?
B: They bought a lot of wetlands in protecting the flow ways and the upstream
portions and sources of streams. It's created a market for some of that land that
didn't have much market before. It also has made it possible to protect a lot of
flow ways and water quality in a lot areas.
P: Let me go back a little bit and get you to explain to me why it took so long for
Florida to get from ditch and drain to water management, and how has public
opinion changed over a thirty, forty, fifty year period?
B: I think that your terms are a little misleading, because ditch and drain is another
means of water management.
P: Okay, well conservation.
B: Well water conservation or land conservation?
B: Water conservation would mean you don't use any of it, so do you allow that to
sit there and evaporate?
P: I mean for many years the public didn't care about water in Florida at all. They
didn't care whether it was managed and didn't care whether they paid anything
B: Well, it was a common enemy. Until you gained management of that water it was
an enemy. When you had too much water that was bad, [and] if you didn't have
enough you needed to manage it until you got some more. I don't think the two
terms are opposite of each other.
P: Okay, but what triggered either the state or public opinion to accept the ad
valorem taxes for water management districts?
B: I think water management districts themselves. I think they rendered a valuable
service and provided a lot of public education.
P: So, a lot of that is providing information explaining what they do and presenting
specific information to taxpayers and citizens.
B: And in settling the disputes that would have arisen, or avoiding the disputes, of
people that would have overused or taken too much [water].
P: Some of those we talked about earlier. There's still this lack, in my view, of
understanding in the state of exactly what water management districts do and
how many there are and where they are. How do you get that information out?
B: Well, the water management districts have been severely criticized about
spending money on public relations, and you get it out through public relations
and public information. We're always talking about getting better public
information, but the minute you do it a little bit too effectively you get criticized.
P: Explain what changed in 1975 when you get DER [Department of Environmental
Regulation]. How is DER different from the Department of Natural Resources?
B: The Department of Natural Resources had a small cadre of employees that
basically had a good background in public works programs. DER had a cadre of
people that were very emotional about the environment and really didn't have a
lot of understanding of some of the necessary public works. The DNR was a
smaller group, and I think the employees, the people that filled those positions,
came from a different background and [had] maybe a little more maturity.
P: I believe they were set up by this acts with field offices?
B: Well, yes, but what you've got to understand is that when DER was created there
was a strong public outcry against the Department of Pollution Control against
some of the regulations that were going on. There was a lot of emotion. All of the
problem areas, including those within DNR, were transferred into this new
department and was called DER. They were given no new [staff] positions, no
new money, but had all the problems, and put them all together. It's amazing that
they survived. It really was a hodge podge of activities.
P: So when they put out their field offices, where would they put them and how
would these field offices interact with water management?
B: Well, in Swiftmud, Swiftmud needed an additional office and decided they'd put a
field office in Hillsborough County because they had such a large area that it
would be more efficient putting the offices closer to where the people were. They
were going to build a building, and they built a building large enough also to
accommodate DER at a price that DER could handle. They were co-housed
together at first. It was thought that they would work together and there would be
a lot of interplay, but there wasn't as much as they had hoped.
P: Why not?
B: Well, each one had their own....
P: Bureaucratic problems?
B: I don't know whether I'd say bureaucratic problems, but there was a lack of
understanding between the state employees and the district employees. There
seemed to be a built-in friction. The districts had independent staff [and]
independent boards. In some instances they had some higher salary schedules,
so there was a resentment. Also the DER started out as a big department. The
water management districts, the two, started out very small and [then] grew, and
some of them grew pretty rapidly. They started small and grew with DER.
Everybody was thrown into the same pot.
P: So at this point forward, the DER is responsible for water quality?
B: Yes, primarily, and some quality assignments were going to the water
management districts. The water management districts were expanding into that
P: Let's just take an example. Let's say an underground gasoline tank leaks. Who's
responsible for dealing with that problem?
P: If there were pollution of surface water or rivers or lakes, they would still be
responsible if there were algae or whatever?
B: They might, or the water management districts might get involved. The water
management districts did not have a lot of water quality jurisdiction to start with,
that has been gradually extending.
P: One of the things I wanted to follow up on, when you said the water management
districts set up these basin boards and one of them was the Oklawaha, what is
the bureaucratic environmental advantage of setting up this basin board within
the water management district?
B: Well, because the projects in that area were approved initially by the governing
board for the basin boards before going to the governing board of the district.
P: I understand they have the taxing authority.
B: Well, they did [have] the authority of approving the plans and the works. You had
local input and you had those decisions being made on a local basis.
P: But as a project proceeds, obviously water management districts still supervised
B: They had overall oversight.
P: In terms of funding, water management districts can issue general obligation
bonds. Can they borrow money?
B: They can borrow money on a short term basis. There are special provisions for
general obligation bonds [and for revenue bonds].
P: Why would they do something like that? Why would you need to borrow short
B: On your projects. Some of your projects are emergency needs [such as] dam
failures [or] catastrophes. [There are] a lot of reasons that you might need to
[borrow money. For example, buying land.]
P: So, if there were major floods or something like that. Now when you have a major
flood, for example, how much does FEMA give as opposed to water
management district [or] DER? Does everybody try to cooperate? How does that
B: I don't know.
P: But they all participate I presume?
B: I don't know.
P: What responsibility do water management districts have today for flooding in
terms of their overall commitment?
B: Well, if you happen to have a flood in the Temple Terrace area, [that's where the]
Tampa Bypass Canal was constructed. You've had the rain conditions that would
have created it, but you haven't had the flooding because the bypass canal has
accommodated that. Now the water management district maintains that and
operates it. They operate the structures, they determine how high the water
should be in the canal and certain different legs [or runs] of the canal.
P: We don't have anything like New Orleans levees or anything do you, or is that
B: We don't have any like New Orleans, but you've got levees. There's a levee
along the lower Hillsborough flood detention area. That's where the bypass canal
originates. See there's no water in that canal, in the upper regions of it, until there
are impending flood conditions, and then all of a sudden there's water flowing
down that canal.
P: So what would the management district do to control flooding, let's just say, on
the Suwannee River?
B: Well, they have acquired a great deal of the land and they have prevented the
development within the flood plain. Now they haven't done anything specific. It
became very popular a few years ago to look for non-structural solutions. Of
course, when you do the non-structural solutions, you wind up having to do a lot
of structural alterations so you can revert to some of that.
P: But the tendency in the past few years has not been to do dikes or canals?
B: Well, that's what they say.
P: Who does that? Is that the Army Corps of Engineers?
B: Well some of this is Corps business and some of it is not, depending on whether
it's a part of the federal project or not.
P: Is there an equivalent in the state?
P: How do you determine the boundary between federal and state authority and
federal and state responsibility? It must be kind of cloudy.
B: Well, the congress determines whether they'll do it or not, and the state always
wants the congress to do anything that it takes up.
P: [Laughing.] They don't want to have to pay for it right?
P: Although in major projects like Everglades, the state has to chip in a certain
B: Sometimes, yep.
P: Is there a formal process whereby, let's say Suwannee River Water Management
wanted to do some flood control. Would they have to get approval by DER and
funding by the legislature or could they just do it themselves?
B: Today they'd have to get approval from DER for most any of their works, I
believe. But as far as paying for it, they [the districts] could pay for it individually.
Every government always wants help from another government if they can get it.
[End of side B4]
P: Let me go back and ask a little bit more about the constitutional amendment.
How was that amendment sold to the public, and how did you go about getting
support for that amendment?
B: Basically it fell to the two water management districts, the two existing districts, to
get some support. Derrill McAteer was the chairman of the Southwest Florida
Water Management District and had been for, by that time, some four or five or
six years. He was very enthusiastic in support of it. Phil Lewis, who was a state
senator down in West Palm, was very sold on it. Don Morgan, who was a staff
member who had been in Tallahassee a number of times with me during
legislative sessions, had the responsibility in South Florida Water Management
District for doing what they could to sell it. Derrill McAteer and I took it up here.
Derrill flew his own plane, a small light plane, and we bounced around the state
making presentations and talking to people about the constitutional amendment.
Phil Lewis did that down in South Florida. We organized a corporation that we
called FLOW, for Florida Loves Our Water, that would receive donations and
help on the support of the publicity on that. It really was a relatively easy sell in
the two districts that had existing water management. In our area we could say
it's going to lower the limit, it's cutting the limit, cutting down the amount that we
can do. [We're] not expanding anything. In South Florida they were saying, well
it's the same thing, it's not changing anything for us. Well, that's pretty easy to
convince people that we need to do it, but if we don't do that we're liable to lose
the ability to finish the projects, to finish the Tampa Bypass Canal that was under
construction at that time. Then in the sparsely populated areas of the state we
lost [the vote in] a lot of those counties, but that really didn't matter if you had
Broward, Dade, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough Counties, and some of those
[more populated counties].
P: Did you go into the counties in Northern Florida at all?
P: Did you take out ads? Did you give interviews with newspapers? How important
would say, editorial support for this be?
B: Editorial support was very good. Phil Lewis did more of that, I think, than we did.
Derrill did some of that. We had editorial support primarily in the population
centers of the state.
P: So the St. Pete Times and the Tampa Tribune supported you?
B: [The] Tampa Tribune did. I don't remember that the St. Pete Times did.
P: When you went through this process how long did you work on educating the
public and selling this constitutional amendment?
B: It seems to me the election was in March, it was a special election, so we had
had roughly five months to [sell it]. It wasn't an immediate vote.
P: Were there other items on the vote other than this constitutional amendment?
P: So you would be assured of a pretty good turnout?
B: No, not a record turnout.
P: But for you to get the turnout in the two management districts would make the
B: It wasn't a special election for the purpose of [this]. We satellite onto a special
election that was already being scheduled.
P: But still you wanted to turn out your voters in that district.
P: How did you go about doing that?
B: Mainly through editorial support [and] newspaper support. See, none of us were
on salary for that purpose, we were all volunteers. Derrill McAteer and Phil Lewis,
and there were others that supported it, but those are the two primary people
who were pushing it.
P: Did the water management districts give people time off to work on this?
P: What significant changes were made in the 1972 act after the constitutional
B: The shortage plan was one that we talked about earlier. In 1973 we went through
with the boundaries that I talked about earlier. There weren't any major changes
made to the law. I mean, it fit pretty well, and when we were about to do it
[implement the act], it fit much better than any of us had expected I think.
P: Let me go back and talk a little bit about something we talked about earlier when
you were dealing with all the amendments that were put forward. How many of
those amendments were you actually involved in then and subsequently? Have
you been involved in any amendments to this 1972 act since that time?
P: Could you give me an example of some of those?
B: Well, I'll tell you how many laws first if you want those. I suspect that there were
probably thirty or forty bills through the years on that. I mean, there are little
tweaking amendments. There were some significant changes from time to time.
The basic thrust of the bill is still intact, but there's been a little shifting here and
P: One question I thought of, you were general counsel to Swiftmud from 1979-
1983, how did your relationship change during that period as opposed to prior to
B: Until 1979 Myron Gibbons was general counsel, and he was the senior partner in
our law firm. I spent a very significant amount of my time working on water
management matters, [but] I had other firm responsibility. I represented other
clients not in the water field, but in other things as well. After 1979 Myron became
ill. I had left that firm and started the small firm of my own with every intention of
getting completely out of the water management area [because] it was just so
totally consuming for us. I became the general counsel instead and took on
more, but still not on a full time basis [because] we had a small firm. I tried
opening an office in Tallahassee and had a young lawyer that was up there,
hoping to reduce the amount of time that I would have to spend in Tallahassee,
but I found that I had to go even more. So finally, we just simply left the whole
P: So some of your time was in lobbying?
B: [Yes, I did some lobbying during the legislative sessions.] Lobbying.
P: Did you generally advise them [the District] on contracts and permitting? How
else did you give them legal advise?
B: I oversaw the regulatory [activities]. I gave oversight to all the regulatory activities
for the water management district and all the land acquisition. I was not doing the
land acquisition personally after that time, after 1978, but I was the final decision
maker on what steps we were taking in condemnation [litigation]. I personally
was involved in acquiring over 1200 parcels of property for Swiftmud, many of
them through condemnation.
P: That seems like that would take a tremendous amount of your time. Did you do
B: I did, yes sir.
P: Did you have other clients still, or were you now working pretty much full time for
B: I had other clients as well. I had other clients that I lobbied for also at the same
P: But not against Swiftmud.
B: No, no, [these were] non-conflicting clients. For instance, Ringling Museum of
Art. I represented them one year and helped them get an appropriation to put a
new roof on the museum. [I also represented] Florida Cattlemen's Association.
The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, I represented for quite a few years.
P: Talk about some of the more significant cases you were involved in when you
were general counsel to the water management district.
B: We tried to avoid as many cases as we could because we could move faster
P: Were there any of them that were particularly difficult?
B: Yeah, we litigated the water crop issue. Swiftmud had come up with a scheme
that we felt was a rationale for regulating consumption of water and issuing
consumptive use permits that involved using the term "water crop." That was to
determine [availability of water] using the leakance and transmissivity of aquifers
to determine what is an appropriate amount that you could withdraw from a
particular well in a particular area. That would depend on the aquifer
characteristics [and] it would depend on the amount of competing uses in the
area and what effect it would have. We had developed some rule criteria.
Developing the rules was very tough because there was no place in the United
States that was regulating consumptive use of ground water. That seems strange
today in the saying that, but in researching we looked at all the states, any of
them that had any legislation or regulation of water withdrawal, and nothing fit
what we were faced with in Florida. So we developed our own set of rules and
criteria on that. Then of course we had to defend those in court from time to time.
P: Did you have to argue appeals, or could you usually work it out with some form of
B: We didn't have many that went on to the appellate court. There were several, but
not many significant cases.
P: Did anything get to the Supreme Court?
B: I don't believe so.
P: Tell me the story about the case you had where you had a tough opponent and
he tried to distract you.
B: We were talking during a break about John Allen. John Allen was a very capable
lawyer, [a] very tough litigator from Pinellas County. John Allen and I, over a
period of time, became pretty good friends. If you knock heads long enough you
either get to be friends or you kill one or the other, well, neither one of us was
killed. One day we were arguing on the water crop case and John passed me a
note [while] I was in the process of arguing my point. [I] glanced at the note and it
said, "Did you notice the girl with the big boobs who walked into the back of the
room?" Well, that distracted me momentarily, probably more than it should have.
So I tried to come up with something that I could get revenge from, and finally I
conceived of an idea. The next day when he was making his closing argument on
that case I passed him a note that said, "John, your fly is unzipped." It had the
effect [that I wanted]. Revenge is always sweet.
P: Who won that case?
B: On that particular issue on that particular day I don't recall [laughing].
P: Both of you were too distracted, huh?
B: He managed to give us a very hard time about the water crop idea. Through
several different bits of litigation, eventually it was upheld, but by that time the
board had decided they didn't want to use that as a criteria because it was just so
P: Let me go back and ask about the basin boards. Again, some water
management districts don't have any and it was important for Swiftmud. Were
there any disadvantages of having basin boards?
B: Well, the disadvantage of having basin boards is you have one more layer. I think
that that serves as a very good advantage in that it gives you more people to
spread this tremendous workload among. When you've got the governing boards
with as many decisions as they have to make, if you've got a basin board that
can make some of those decisions for you then you don't need to send it to a
higher or bigger board. There's no question that it's challenging to coordinate the
activity between the various boards and get them to cooperate and to staff them,
but I think that it was well worthwhile. I think those that worked in the basin board
system when it was really at its height [thought it was good]. I want to tell you, for
instance, when the Tampa Bypass Canal was being constructed, that basin
board was intimately familiar with the construction problems and could participate
in making good, informed decisions. It was much easier to get to and talk to each
of them and keep them advised of what's going on if you have a local board for a
local problem. There are the disadvantages of keeping the boards coordinated,
keeping them staffed, [and] keeping the staff members up to date with which
board is doing what, so it has disadvantages. But in the case of Swiftmud I think
it has been a real plus for them.
P: To go back to the establishment of the water management districts, you told me
about setting up a sixth district. How long did that district last, when was it ended,
and did they undertake any significant projects?
B: They had some significant programs going on in Manatee and Sarasota County.
Manatee and Sarasota County had not been in Swiftmud. Swiftmud was on all
three sides of them [those two counties]. Manatee County had been issuing their
own well construction permits before they came into Swiftmud. That basin board
helped a great deal in the transition of moving into that. Actually Swiftmud
delegated that permitting authority to Manatee County to continue doing it but do
it in concert with the overall [district] program, and it was a very smooth
transition. I think it was satisfactory to everybody. I don't recall that there were a
lot of detractions. There probably would be some people who didn't like it.
P: And this sixth district had their own board?
B: That's correct.
P: And their own staffing?
B: Well, their staff were employees of the district, but they were assigned for that
particular staffing program.
P: When did you officially eliminate the sixth district?
B: The sixth district was eliminated the session following the passage of the
constitutional amendment. 1976 was the special election and I believe it was
merged in 1977. I think that's correct.
P: So that district was in existence for a fairly long period of time, four or five years.
B: Yeah. Furthermore, I recall two, and there may have been more, two members of
that basin board later became governing board members, one of Swiftmud and
one of South Florida. The one in South Florida became the chairman of the
South Florida board at a later time, so it was a good training ground for both of
P: Speaking of chairmen of the boards, you had at Swiftmud one time a chairman
for twelve years?
B: That's correct.
P: How did that happen, and was that a good thing or not?
B: Derrill McAteer was the third chairman at Swiftmud. His office and private
business [was that] he ran a feed lot that was operated on property that was
adjacent to Southwest Florida Water Management District's headquarters, so he
was very close. He is a very hard working, very intense person. He's a quick
study and he made good decisions. He has very strong feelings about things. He
was an excellent board chairman. He gave a lot of credence to the opinions of
his fellow board members, but he let his opinion be known pretty quickly. I'd say
he was one of the very strong personalities that helped form the water
management districts, not just Swiftmud, but in the rest of the state. Not only did
he help a great deal on the constitutional amendment, but as the new boards
were coming on board just getting started, he was very free with his time of
consulting with the other board chairmen and providing staff and instructing staff
to go and make presentations and meet with the new board members and the
new board staff. He was reelected time and again. There really was no issue
about reelecting him, he was a natural leader within the board.
P: Reelected as chairman of the board, but had to be reappointed by the governor.
B: He was originally appointed by Governor Kirk, who was a Republican, and then
he was reappointed by Governor Askew and then by Governor Graham.
P: Is it a disadvantage to have somebody on for that long of a period of time? I
understand the limits now are two, four year terms. Is it better to have some
B: Really there are no limitations. That's a self-imposed thing that's been followed
by recent governors. I think that it's a mistake on not keeping some board
members on longer. South Florida had a board member who served as chairman
twelve years, but they were not all consecutive years. Bob Clark was chairman
twelve years. Then there have been other chairmen that have served long
periods of time.
P: So once the four year term is up they have to not only be reappointed, but in
B: No, no, they're elected by the board members themselves. The board members
elect their own chairmen.
P: What I'm saying is you could have an appointment for one four year term and
appoint for the second four year term, that person might not be reelected
B: Might never be chairman.
P: The board then has control over choosing their own, so the governor does not
appoint the chairman, just the members.
B: In some instances I think the governor has indicated to some of his appointees
who he might favor as a chairman, but statutorily it's prerogative of the governing
board to name their own chairman.
P: You mentioned your chairman had some interaction with the new water
management districts. How much cooperation would there have been between
the two original districts and the new management districts? Did you all work with
them, coordinate with them, and help them learn the system and get organized?
B: I don't know how much South Florida did. [At] Southwest Florida because we had
common problems and a common boundary with Suwannee River Water
Management District and the St. John's and with South Florida, we were
coordinating and working with each of those basins [districts]. Derrill McAteer
was very free with his time and would also direct his staff to prepare things that
would be of assistance to the other boards. We felt like Southwest and South
Florida, those two, carried the weight for awhile in Tallahassee as far as
legislation and in protecting the interests of the water management districts up
here in the legislative processes.
P: You didn't see them as rivals who would take some of your funding?
B: No, I don't think that there was a lot of rivalry at all.
P: This is a little after your time, but I wanted to ask you what you thought about the
1987 SWIM, Surface Water Improvement. How did that impact water
B: It gave them a new priority. I think in many ways it introduced water quality as
another responsibility of water management districts. This is something that had
been withheld when they were originally being formed because of the rivalry with
the Department of Pollution Control and with their preemption. I think that it was a
healthy thing from that standpoint. The way it was administered in the various
districts? [In] some places it was done very well and [in] some places it wasn't
done quite as well as it might have been done in others. It was an area that we
needed to learn a lot about. We didn't know too much about some of those
P: So in a sense DER gave that responsibility to the water management districts?
B: No, in a sense the legislature directed the water management districts to assume
P: But the essential responsibility was with the water management districts.
B: That became one of their priorities.
P: Another issue that comes up that has to do with water quality to a degree is the
impact of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Could you talk a little bit about how it
got started, how it progressed, and how that would have impacted both water use
and water quality in Florida?
B: Now you've gone to meddlin'. No. The Cross Florida Barge Canal was originally
proposed in the mid to late mid 1800s, and it was started several different times.
Back in the 1930s they started building the Cross Florida Barge Canal. I can
remember as a kid seeing them with the mules and scrape buckets doing it by
hand up near Ocala.
B: Then it was initiated again in about 1968-1969. I learned more about the Cross
Florida Barge Canal when I was working with the Senate Natural Resources
Committee. The construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal entered into the
planning for the Oklawaha Diversion Canal, which was a project of Southwest
Florida Water Management District. This is from Moss Bluff area downstream
past where Silver Run comes in from Silver Springs into the Oklawaha River. The
Oklawaha Diversion Canal was one of the projects of Southwest Florida Water
Management District that was part of the design into the Eureka pool, which
would have provided the back water to the Oklawaha Diversion Canal. I did the
land acquisition of the land along the Oklawaha River.
Unfortunately when the Eureka pool was not built then there was never enough
water there to cause a backup effect, which made the design of the Oklawaha
Diversion Canal less than successful. It gave a sluicing effect to it when water
was released and it had to be revamped and redone to some extent. The Cross
Florida Barge Canal, in my opinion, and this is just mine, was inadequate in size
to provide enough of a cost-benefit ratio to carry the project from a
budgeting/financing standpoint. It was deactivated at the insistence and very
vigorous activity from Defenders of the Environment and others, but the only
reason that it was deactivated was because it didn't meet the cost-benefit ratios.
For example, the Cross Florida Barge Canal would have been one third the size
of the cross sectional area of the Tampa Bypass Canal, which was built with a
minimum of public outcry. The Barge Canal, whether it would have been utilized
as a barge canal, probably wouldn't have been fully utilized as that. As far as the
environmental problems [go], I think that they were overstated. I was somewhat
chagrined when all the professors from the University of Florida, my alma mater,
came to Tallahassee to testify before the Senate Natural Resources Committee
that I was staffing. On questioning one, who testified under oath to tell the truth, I
questioned him about his saying that if they completed the Barge Canal that it
would induce earthquakes. After questioning him several times repeatedly he
finally acknowledged that really wasn't his idea, [it] was professor so-and-so's
who couldn't be there that day and he was just testifying for him. I remarked that
it was kind of a strange way to testify when you're under oath, but I shouldn't
have done that.
P: Why do you think Nixon stopped it in 1971?
B: Because of the public outcry and because it didn't meet the cost-benefit ratios
that were required by the legislation that it was based on.
P: What impact did the construction of the Intercoastal Waterway have?
P: On the environment, water quality, all of that.
B: The Intercoastal Waterway provided some routes for transportation of goods and
services and also for recreational boating and fishing. It made it possible for an
awful lot of people to go to the beach, see the beach, [and] to live near the
beach. But it also, in bringing a big population, brings with it some responsibilities
P: That's through estuaries is it not? Is there much of it through fresh water?
B: I don't think any of it's through fresh water that I'm aware of. It's all salt water.
P: What about the process of straightening out the Kissimmee River and now going
back and trying to restore it to it's natural boundaries? What impact did that
B: Well, I should tell you first that I'm an officer in an organization that's called
ROAR, for Realists Opposed to Alleged Restoration. I should also tell you that at
one time not too many years ago I represented the owners of more than thirty
miles frontage along the Kissimmee River, and I have been on the Kissimmee
River and adjacent to it a good many times. I think that there are other solutions
to the problems that were raised that would have been far better than what
they're doing. I have been down to look at the back-filled areas. I have seen
lands flooded now that have not been flooded since prior to 1962. I don't think
that the project is all that it's cooked up to be. I think that it's a shame that we
have done what we've done.
P: To the Kissimmee.
B: To the Kissimmee. If you want to get back to when I was out in Colorado one
time attending a conference. I believe that there were forty-six states [with] most
of them represented by [the] attorney general, [although there was] one governor
there and there were some lieutenant governors. The states were well
represented. Someone got up and he held up the article that claimed that we had
a man-made drought [in Florida] that had been induced by this man-made canal.
Finally I was recognized and I pointed out to them that we had not had a
hurricane since, so there was one benefit from it. [I] was being somewhat
facetious because I didn't think that it influenced the weather one way or the
other. I think it's a mistake what they're doing.
P: Currently restoring it.
B: I made the suggestion to the Corps of Engineers that they've put in to try it with
the weirs and leave the navigation locks in there. So they did and then they piled
the water up behind it. Finally one day they opened up everything and turned
lose a gigantic flood and it washed around the ends of the tie backs. So they
said, "well it failed, see, we couldn't do it." Well, they had been put in hurriedly,
they weren't done well, and then they dumped more water than they'd ever had
going in the Kissimmee. I think the Corps of Engineers is very happy to have an
opportunity to go back in and take out those structures that they put in because
they recognized some four or five years ago when St. Cloud almost flooded that
they didn't put them in adequately sized, they weren't large enough, to protect
them like they thought they would. Well, now they're erasing their mistakes.
P: When you look at your relationship with the Army Corps of Engineers, do you see
them as good guys or bad guys?
B: Oh, one of my close friends in Tampa used to be one of the colonels up in
Jacksonville. I think that they have good guys and bad guys. I brought them to
their knees one time. I was invited up there to tell them about a modification that
we were suggesting on one part of their project, and they brought us in and took
us to a room that had no chairs. [It] had no table, had no boards, had nothing to
put a map on, [and] they didn't have a map. One of our engineers had a map and
so we got it spread out on the floor and I had all the Corps people down on their
hands and knees with their butts in the air and [I] explained what I was talking
about. They did put in that change, the modifications. I don't know whether it's
because they were tired of getting down there or because they thought they were
P: Some people argue that the Corps of Engineers just do what they're told, and the
environmentalists blame them for "destroying the environment." Now they say
they put the Corps of Engineers back in charge of restoring what they fouled up
in the first place, but the Corps of Engineers said, we're military, we obey orders.
B: I think that the Corps of Engineers, and I'm speaking mainly of the Jacksonville
office, I think they've done a great many good things. I think that there have been
some screw ups, I think there have been some inefficiencies from time to time,
but by and large I'd give them a high grade. I don't think it's fair to blame them for
some of the projects. They've built a lot of post offices too. That was under their
responsibility for awhile, to build all the United States Post Offices.
P: When you talked earlier about having a meeting about this, I wanted you to talk a
little bit about when you organized this yearly get together in Vail to discuss water
management issues. How did that idea germinate and what did you do to make
certain that it was carried out?
B: Well, in 1981 we had all five water management districts fully functioning then. It
became apparent to me one time that the water management districts were not
cooperating with each other, that there were people that needed to know each
other better. DER had been given that responsibility, but had not carried it out, of
kind of being the coordinator. I had been out in Vail, Colorado, and was
impressed with the area and attended a lawyers and doctors seminar. Everybody
laughed about it, but it started at 6:30 in the morning and went to 9:30, and they
had good speakers and I found that that was excellent. So I decided I would try
putting on a seminar out in Vail in January and invite the people interested in
water management to see if we could get some people from different districts. As
I say, 1982 was the first year we had that and it still goes on. I was out there for
two days this year and I was amazed at the quality of programs. They had an
editor there from the Economist magazine who spoke, and then we got an
opportunity to talk to her at length and question her. She spoke about water not
just in this country, she's pretty knowledgeable about Florida's situation, but also
in other countries. We had somebody from the Corps of Engineers who was out
there who gave a fascinating report on current projects of the Corps and what to
look for in the next few years and trends. We had somebody who gave us a
blow-by-blow description of the Enron debacle, as well as talking about Enron's
efforts to get into the water business. I think the programs have been excellent.
[End of side C5]
P: When you talked about the Vail meeting you said you wanted to get people from
other water management districts. Are you talking about people outside of
B: No, what we did [was] we invited people from Florida, but then also we've had
people from a good many other states that have participated. We've had a lot of
interaction from California comparing systems. We've had some interaction with
Arizona, with Colorado, with western water law compared to eastern water law,
problems of water management districts, of water supply, and various other
things. We also have had people from some of the financing institutes who are
interested in this thing, they're financing [and] they're providing the bonds and
other services. Bart Livolsi who's the vice president of one of the national
brokerage houses, [has] been attending regularly for, I think, eighteen years now.
So I think it's been very helpful. I haven't been going the last few years.
P: You also started a local group in Tampa to discuss these issues.
B: Well, that was when nobody was talking to anybody, and it put it on a different
plane. That was when we started passing notes back and forth to each other, so
maybe that wasn't such a good idea.
P: How long did that last? Was that effective?
B: That went on for a good long while. I was busy on some other things and then it
kind of fizzled out. I'm not sure why, but I'm sorry it did [because] I enjoyed it.
P: Discuss the development of the Florida Land Council and your relationship to
B: [The] Florida Land Council was created by a group of large landowners. I was the
one who suggested it. It seemed to me that the large landowners were not being
well represented to protect their interests in preserving the right to change their
land usage from time to time. The bigger your land holding is, the more
government covets it.
P: Does the Florida Land Council undertake lobbying activities?
B: No, not per se. There are certainly people within [it] that do lobby. I think it's
helped get more cohesiveness in the agricultural-related activities, the
P: So it's more relevant to agribusiness than other kinds of land owners.
B: And at the same time, it has gone to work very quietly to support the water
management districts when they needed some support. [It] helped them find
some people that can do good jobs for them and got cooperation from
P: Discuss the founding in 1992 of the Water Management Institute. How did that
come about? What do they do?
B: The Water Management Institute was an idea that came up during the
discussions at the Vail seminars. In the Vail seminars, we have the morning
sessions for three hours and have different people presenting papers and
presentations. Then, in the afternoon, we break up into smaller groups for group
discussion, but with a topic, a leader, and a reporter, who reports the next
morning as to what has transpired.
P: So that's where the idea for the Water Management Institute came, from one of
those break out sessions?
B: It became apparent from all the discussions that the water management in
Florida needed a constituency. You have the board members that come in and
they give a lot [of time] to be on the board, and the minute they're off the board,
they're forgotten. You have other people [as well] who support water
management as a system, whose support we need to preserve. If we formed an
organization that could build such a constituency [it would be beneficial]. I don't
think that we've been that successful in doing it, but there is a group of people,
and kind of a broad cross-section of people, that have expressed an interest in
that and have paid dues and have participated to some extent to do more helping
to maintain water management. In every legislative session, somebody comes up
with a bright idea, and some of them are bright and some of them are not so
bright. There needs to be a steadying hand that can hold that, that can overlook
the differences, whether it be political differences, party differences, or district
differences, to keep the primary elements of water management, as we know it,
P: So you're sort of like a guiding agency trying to help whatever project you see as
B: Not from an agency standpoint as much as being some outsider, some senior
mentor, that could step in and give a steadying hand.
P: Who's on that board, what kind of people?
B: It includes engineers, lawyers, people involved with agriculture, people involved
in business, former district employees, district employees, district board
members, former board members, just a broad cross-section of citizens.
P: Let me go back to the Florida Land Council. You indicated that they helped
support the water management districts. Can you give me some idea of what
type of support?
B: There had been a push from time to time to make the water management
districts state agencies. The water management district is not a state agency and
has a strong reason for not wanting to be a state agency; it does better as a local
special purpose district. I know that the land council has helped reduce the effort
and enthusiasm for abolishing water management districts, for restructuring
them, for making them totally a part of DER, has helped in some of the funding
issues recognizing that they can be very beneficial, and to keep the water
management districts on the straight and narrow path instead of being diverted
into too many priorities.
P: So that's why agribusiness would try to help the water management districts? I
know there's been a lot of conflict over the years.
B: Well, the agricultural interests are more dependent upon water than most
businesses and that's very vital to their existence. They also provide more water
than anything else. They have a great interest in the water management districts,
and it's sometimes very hard to see clearly if you're being ridden too hard. I think
that the Florida Land Council has helped defuse some situations that were on the
way to doing greater mischief to the water management districts than should be
P: So you see that maybe as an effort to control what they do?
B: No. I see that that's been an effort to select and recruit people to be available to
be appointed as board members not to totally dominate a board, but to have
some representatives that have experience in the area and have an interest in it.
I've always said that anybody who wants to be on a water management district
governing board probably shouldn't be until they've been on a board. Once
you've been on, you get it under your skin and you're kind of hooked.
P: How do you and water management as a governing board deal with the
demands of the sugar industry and the demands of farming? How do they make
those allocations of the water resources? Let's just look at sugar. I don't know of
a more powerful entity in the state of Florida than the sugar industry. Can they
bring to bear that influence?
B: The sugar industry feels like it's the most stepped on and abused bunch in the
state. [It] depends which side you're on as to what you think of them, though.
P: Yes, but can they bring to bear their political influence on water management
B: I don't think that they have a lot of political influence from that standpoint. When
you talk about political influence, you're talking about votes, and there's very few
farmers compared to the population.
P: Discuss the relationship between the new so-called Everglades Restoration Plan
and the South Florida Water Management District. Do they cooperate? Are the
Army Corps of Engineers in charge?
B: I think you're pointing the fingers in the wrong direction. I think the problem is
with the park service. The park service is not really sure what they want and each
time, depending on the circumstances, they need something different. I don't
know that they have ever identified what they want in the way of water.
P: When you say, "they," you mean the park service for the Everglades?
B: It depends on who the administrator is.
P: Dick Ring.
B: Well, it changed when he came.
P: What's the responsibility of the South Florida Water Management District to the
Everglades Restoration Project?
B: They've been made the primary local entity to work with the Corps of Engineers
to try to come up and resolve the issues, but the issues are not clearly stated.
They've got Jack Maloy doing it now.
P: You served on the Governor's Environmental Efficiency Study Commission in
1987-1988. What was that about and what recommendations did you make?
B: You asked about the Environmental Efficiency Study Commission, and the final
report on that was given in 1988. I have a copy of that, a fifty-four page
document, that's pretty specific. [For] the recommendations that are in there, we
actually proposed specific legislation that would address each of those. I don't
believe that many of those were taken at that time, but over the years some of
them have been adopted. We talked about [how] funding and enforcement were
the greatest challenges for Florida's environmental programs. We talked about
state funding and water management district funding. I think our system is pretty
well balanced in that you've got the water management districts with their ad
valorem taxing authority. Also, you've got state funding that provides the funding
for DER or DEP. The Documentary Stamp Tax Act is a continuing source of
I think the water management districts are well funded. I think that they are being
given too many responsibilities, and I think that the legislature continues to shift
their priorities too rapidly. I think that the legislature has a tendency to start
micro-managing things that they are frustrated with and they can't really
understand. I think they've done that with the water management district, but on
the other hand, when they have a job that needs to be done, such as SWIM, then
they turn around and they dump that in the lap of the water management
districts. I don't think it's inappropriate that that be given, but I think that the
priorities [need to be reevaluated]. The legislature, if anything, should ease off on
giving priority to the water management districts and let them develop the
priorities to meet the needs within their own districts, because each district has
different needs. When you staff-up real quickly to go in to meet some legislative-
mandated problem, sometimes other things start falling through the cracks. Now,
I recognize the legislature is omnipotent as far as the water management districts
are concerned. They are created by the legislature and the legislature can
abolish it, but they haven't come up with anything any better. Frankly, water
management districts have done a great job in the state of Florida.
P: So did that report conclude that they were operating efficiently?
B: I wouldn't say efficiently, I don't think that was a term that was addressed by that.
But there are some overlaps. I believe it was the intent of the legislature, when
DER was created, that they should, as soon as practicable, turn things over to
the water management district that were within the area that had been delegated
the water management district. They never wanted to and they never turned over
a lot of those things. It's been very slow and we've had to force them to do that
each time. The one thing that DER and, now, DEP could do, and was delegated
to do that they didn't do, they were to be the central repository of all the
information. Well, they've done a poor job of that or you wouldn't be here now,
we wouldn't be talking about this. I'm not sure whose responsibility it is, but the
legislature didn't fund them and give them that priority to work that out. They
could have delegated many of these things to the water management districts
that they didn't want to. They fought tooth and nail to keep from delegating things
to the water management district because, by the time they got around to
delegating, they had built up a department that was handling it, [and] may have
been handling it well. If they're going to handle it well, then we should go in and
realign things with them. The water management districts have been more stable
though than DER or DEP.
P: Another commission you served on was the Governor's Commission on the
Future of Florida's Environment.
B: I was not appointed initially to this, I think I was added to it. The primary
recommendation from this was to increase the amount of land acquisition by the
water management district. Let me read it, "The commission concluded that the
most far reaching means of protecting the face of Florida is to acquire large
amounts of land. Acquisition coupled with restoration and regulation will best
serve Florida's major ecological system." We've done that. [We're] sure doing
P: Let me get to a couple of other issues that you may have dealt with when you
were with Swiftmud. Did the issue of desalinization ever come up? Did you think
about the possibilities of that option?
B: Well, there are over a 100 desal[inization] plants in the state of Florida that are
functional right today. You've got them all around the coastlines. Swiftmud has
been participating in the major funding of this big desal plant that is almost on-
line right here in this area.
P: What percentage of water can be converted and is it an efficient way of doing it?
B: It's not as economical as some other ways, but it's certainly a viable way of doing
it, particularly to help in meeting the peaking needs for public supply. We don't
want to use what we've got that's available to us on the tertiary treated waste
water. We don't want to use that in our drinking water. If you didn't know where it
came from and you had that water supply you'd think, "Boy, our troubles are
P: In light of that, should there be more desalinization?
B: Pricing has gotten more competitive, [but] certainly it's not as cheap as some
P: What about, while we're on that, underwater aquifer storage? Do you think that's
a viable system?
B: [It] works. [They've] been doing it in Manatee County for twelve or fifteen years.
P: Is the problem mainly with the storage or taking the water out of the storage?
B: I didn't know there was a problem with either one.
P: Apparently some people argue that it's permeable and it does not stay
B: Those are the people who haven't done it and aren't really knowledgeable about
it. I think the aquifer storage and recovery is a very viable thing. It works some
places, [and in] some places it works better than others.
P: What about wetlands mitigation? Did you deal with that when you were in
Swiftmud? Is that a good system as well?
B: What do you mean good system?
P: If we're going to try to preserve wetlands and somebody's going to drain them
out and build a condo on them, should they get a comparable area preserved for
B: I think the wetlands have been given a higher score for desirability than they
deserve. They haven't taken into consideration the adverse impacts on the
environment that wetlands cause. We talk about preserving water [and] water
shortages, and still we're wanting to have more and more wetlands, and many of
these wetlands are big users of water. I've seen some studies that were done out
in the Midwest where they measured very carefully and they could increase the
stream flows significantly if they went in and removed some of the underbrush. If
you want to remove it, simply strip them out and then you have a greater
recharge there, taking up that much water and giving it off. Of course, if we did
enough of that, would that mean that we wouldn't have any clouds in the sky?
Well, not hardly. We need to have the clouds there, too.
P: So that wouldn't be a high priority for water management districts?
B: I think that wetlands have their place, but I think that they've been raised to too
high an elevated position.
P: Let me ask you some overall questions about your career. If you were in charge
of DER and water management districts, what changes would you make now?
B: In charge of both of them?
B: Well, I've always wanted that position. [Laughing.] I think that the water
management districts currently have too many responsibilities. I think that their
plates are overloaded and I don't know how's the best way to solve that, whether
to take some of those responsibilities and place them elsewhere. I've toyed with
the idea that if you had more sub-districts, that you could make it more efficient.
We talked about that a while ago. I know that it creates some inefficiencies, but it
would also make the delivery of services more efficient in many ways. It may be
that the districts are too large, that we should have more districts in the state of
Florida. You can do that either by having sub-districts or by having more districts,
just simply splitting some of them. That would not be a popular solution with any
of the districts. Nobody wants to lose any ad valorem tax base. Nobody wants to
lose any positions. Nobody wants to lose any possibility for revenue. I think that
when your [governing] board meeting packets get to be 500-pages thick for each
month and you expect your board to make informed decisions on that, then yes, I
think that you're asking too much of the board.
P: You say they have more responsibilities. Could that be taken care of with
B: Yes, but I'm not sure that's the way to go. I don't know that much about the
intimate workings. Certainly, there are more district employees today than there
have ever been. If you were to ask board members and staff in management
positions how many employees their district should have in ten years and in
twenty years, I wonder if it would be the same number. I just see that it's taking
the governing board members more and more time to do a good job, and it's not
because they're not getting the information. I can remember the day when they
weren't getting the information. Now, if anything, they're getting information
overload. But it's hard for the lay people to step into that job of responsibility.
P: Should we then change from a lay board to a professional, appointed board?
B: I don't think so. I think you get a much bigger bang for the buck with the lay
P: How have water management districts changed since you started with Swiftmud
until the present?
B: I think they've reached a higher degree of professional standing. I think things
are better, not everywhere [because] there are problems in all of them. The
selection process is awful, as far as being able to select good staff members
[and] good board members.
P: Who actually selects the staff? Is it done by the executive director and then
approved by the board?
B: [It's the] executive director, basically. The executive director carries out the
instructions and desired goals of the governing board.
P: How has the relationship between the executive director, staff, and board
changed over the years?
B: I think it's more professionally administered by far. I have been closely involved
in a lot of that in recent years. You know, if you do everything that the efficiency
expert wants you to [do], then you become totally inefficient. You've got to draw
that line. You can only spend so much time administering, the rest of the time
you've got to be deciding or flipping a coin.
P: Are there any other changes in the water management boards over a period of
time that you can cite?
B: I think that it's been politicized to the detriment of good water management. I
won't say that we're getting bad water management, but I think that they've been
politicized in a way that's damaging.
P: In what way?
B: I think the governor's office should be a little more hands-off on the day-to-day
decisions that the board makes. I don't think the governor should play a leading
role in the selection of the executive director. The governor appoints each board
member, and that's as it should be, and they have to be confirmed by the senate.
That's all right, too, but stop there. I don't think that the executive director should
be approved by the governor or confirmed by the senate. The executive director
should be directly answerable to the governing board.
P: Should the DER have a couple of appointments to the board?
B: No, the DER has the authority to override anything that the board does. What
more do they want?
P: Does the legislature meddle too much in the activities of water management?
B: No, I think many of them make an honest effort to help, but sometimes they
make some very bad mistakes.
P: If you could look back in your career, how would you evaluate the governor's
impact on water management starting with Claude Kirk?
B: I think Claude Kirk [1967-1971] made the best board appointments of any
governor that we've had. We didn't have the environment [issues then], that
wasn't a question. That wasn't part of our vocabulary then. He made good
appointments because he was the first Republican governor and because we
had a lot of good solid citizens that were Republicans that had never been
available to be appointed before. Board members could make better decisions
then when they didn't have some of the impediments that they have today.
P: How about Reubin Askew [Florida governor, 1971-1979] ?
B: Reubin Askew held the legislature's feet to the fire to get the Water Resources
Act passed. He didn't know what it was, he just knew he wanted something
passed and he knew how to apply the pressure. He came in during a transitional
time and a lot of people thought his being elected was something of a fluke, but
he was a good governor. He reappointed many of Claude Kirk's board
appointees, and I think that he picked the better ones.
P: Bob Graham [U.S. Senator from Florida, 1987-2003; Florida governor, 1979-
B: Bob Graham? I think Bob Graham allowed Buddy MacKay [Florida lieutenant
governor, 1991-1998; U.S. Representative, 1983-1989] to politicize the system
more than it should have been. I think that they actually created some serious
problems in the water management process during that period of time. I think
Bob Graham had a very strong feel for the water management districts, but I
think that he was wrong to let MacKay [politicize it].
P: Bob Martinez [Florida governor, 1987-1991] ?
B: I think Bob Martinez made a mistake when he took the easy way out of it of not
appointing anybody who had served more than two terms. I think that he should
have appointed some of the people to continue serving. I don't have any specific
people in mind, but there are people that should have stayed there. There was
too much of a turnover on the thing. Secondly, he did not take the
recommendations of some of the commissions and committees. [He] didn't follow
through with that or set up a mechanism so that somebody would.
P: Lawton Chiles [Florida governor, 1991-1998; U.S. Senator from Florida, 1971-
B: Some of the Lawton Chiles's appointees were former office holders that did not
always make the strongest board members.
P: Who were some of the most important personalities you dealt with other than
politicians in the water management district?
B: Jerry Parker.
P: Why was he important?
B: Well, he was a very dedicated scientist and he was getting well up in age. He
gave a good, pretty much unblemished view of things. Rod Cherry was a good
scientist. He helped come up with a set of rules that were workable. He spent a
lot of time at it. [He] had strong feelings about it. I think Bill Malone was a pretty
outstanding person down in the South Florida Water Management District,
primarily in land acquisition and keeping up with the overview on projects.
Kathryn Mennella has been a pretty great person. She's been very loyal to her
district and she's done a good job representing them.
P: How important have the different directors of natural resources, DER, DEP,
been? How would you evaluate them?
B: How would I evaluate them in importance?
P: Importance, contribution to water management, failure to live up to their
B: I'll go back before DEP [or] DER. I think Randolph Hodges did a good job of
assembling people that met the task as it presented itself at that time. I think that
Harmon Shields was pretty much a complete bust on that.
[End of side C6]
B: The first secretary of DER was Jay Landers. Jay Landers probably would not
have had the water management districts to contend with had Harmon Shields
spoken up. I mean, it was not a foregone conclusion that the water management
districts were going to be transferred out of DNR. Harmon Shields wanted to get
rid of us. We created static for him and he didn't care for that. He didn't really see
the overall thing. I think he could have kept water management under his
portfolio and it probably would have been better had it stayed there.
Now, Jay Landers was a very likable young man who had finished law school
and then had worked for Tom Adams [Florida lieutenant governor, 1971-1975,
and secretary of state, 1961-1970] and then he worked for Reubin Askew. He
was given the biggest bucket of worms of anybody in the state government. I
mean, of bringing all those departments that all had problems and putting them
into one and then he had the responsibility to unwind it with no new positions, but
a lot of new jobs. He never really got a good feel for the water management
districts. He was chairman of the Environmental Efficiency Study Commission
that I was on, and he and I worked very closely together on finalizing the report
and of drafting the recommended legislation that went along with it.
Vicki Tschinkel, who fell heir to it after he did, worked very hard. Vicki came from
a strong environmental standpoint. She had worked for Tall Timbers before she
came there. She was very dedicated but she didn't have much appreciation for
the water management districts. I don't think she contributed a great deal as far
as the water management districts were concerned. I think she contributed a
great deal as far as DER was concerned.
Dale Twachtman was the executive director of Swiftmud when I first started
working for Swiftmud. He left Swiftmud just after the Water Resources [Act] was
passed, but before it was implemented. He left in 1972 and went to the city of
Tampa. Dale and I have been good personal friends through the years from
when he was at the district and subsequent to that. I think he was very frustrated
by being in state government. I was a little disappointed in his administration. It
just didn't seem to fit quite right.
Jake Varn had worked for Swiftmud. I've worked with him [and] I know Jake
pretty well. I don't know who I know the best, if I said Jake or Dale, I know both of
them really well. I think that he did a lot to defuse some situations that were
pretty hot at that time. I think he has done remarkably well to have stepped in
that job and then to have stepped into the Secretary of Transportation job.
Virginia Weatherall did a good job. I think she tried to do a better job than she
could do. She came in not knowing a lot about it. She wasn't there at the time
that I was there.
P: What are you most proud of in your time with Swiftmud?
B: I was pretty proud to have evaluated in excess of 1,000 parcels of the land, and
never had any of them bounce back on me. To have done the title work on
probably 2,000 parcels of land, and I don't know of any serious problems that we
overlooked. I was proud that the Water Resources Act had come together the
way it did, and that was accomplished in a very short period of time. That was the
first time. I went up there to Tallahassee two or three times representing the
water management district and I couldn't get anybody to pay any attention to
anything, [and] then all of a sudden water management is on the front burner
everywhere. It was very satisfying when I was called on by different legislators to
come in and explain it to them and ask them what they should do. I'm not a built-
in lobbyist, I don't really like that life, and I was very proud of the way things
P: What was your worst experience?
B: I didn't have any worst experience. I enjoyed working for the water management
P: What were some of the most difficult problems you had to deal with?
B: Personnel problems. I had some funny things happen. I had problems within the
staff. I was a staff member and still I was not a staff member, I was outside it. I
had a funny experience. I was supposed to be getting a daily reading packet that
was to include certain material and somebody was going through and removing
the various parts of it. This is not an imagined thing. I had somebody that was
handling this, and I said, "I need, for a little control, to just put in the little number
there on the date you're doing this. Just the day of the month you're doing this
and then the number of sheets of paper that are attached." There'd be four
sheets less than it had written down there, and then you'd start looking through
and you'd finally figure out what they were [and I] traced it back finally to who
was sabotaging it.
P: Why were they doing it?
B: Just one of the parts of the bureaucracy. Somebody decided that I didn't need to
have all that information.
P: There's a question that occurred to me about the boards. In the beginning and
presently, do you try to have some sort of representation in terms of rural and
urban areas and in terms of people who are in different professions? Maybe one
farmer and one lawyer. Is that a goal and has that been achieved generally?
B: I'd say you get pretty good balance on the boards. Sometimes it's not as
balanced as it is other times. I think that it's a mistake to say that you shall have
an environmentalist, you shall have an agriculturalist, you shall have... I know
they talked about, "You should have an agriculturalist." Well, what's an
agriculturalist? A bank president that has the biggest ranch in the county or the
farmer that has the biggest farm?
P: What happens if you have a farmer and his land becomes involved in eminent
domain and there's a conflict of interest? What happens in that case?
B: Any time that there's been internal transactions, [we] have very, very carefully
monitored it and, if necessary, [we] bring in outsiders to resolve that to be sure
there's not a problem. The water management districts have not had any
scandals that I'm aware of in any of their land acquisition anywhere, and they
have acquired thousands of parcels of land.
P: Do members of the board have to make financial disclosures?
P: How detailed are they?
B: Same detail that the governor does.
P: So if they owned stock in a company, that information would be available. What
influence have environmental groups had on water management? What influence
should they have?
B: I'd say that there have been so-called environmentalists that have tried to exert
tremendous pressure on water management districts, [but] I don't think they have
been successful by and large. I think that some of the environmental groups
make some very, very poor decisions. It seemed like the bigger the group, the
dumber the decision they'd make. The individuals [are] well intentioned and quite
often bring something to the table that needs to be brought to the table.
P: What I found interesting is that environmental groups rarely agree on strategy.
B: Oh, that's right, and environmental groups have a tendency, as they stay in it, to
lose their perspective as far as black and white and truth and untruth is
concerned. It's sad. I used to consider myself an environmentalist. I've always
considered myself a conservationist.
P: What about the impact of the Sunshine Law on water management districts?
B: I think the intent was good, [but] I think the interpretation and the implementation
has been poor.
P: In what sense?
B: I think the intent was to have the decisions made when the final vote is taken, of
having everybody being counted. I don't think that there was ever the intent,
originally, to prohibit board members from talking to board members.
P: So if three of them have a lunch and they talk about water management
business, technically, that's a violation of the Sunshine Law.
B: Yes, and that's bad, that's wrong. What that does [is], that simply puts the staff in
an awkward position that they have to be the go-betweens and it gives the
chairman a much more powerful position that he doesn't need. He's powerful
P: Let me bring up some criticisms of the water management district and get you to
respond to them. One criticism is, water management districts don't pay enough
attention to scientific data.
B: I don't think that's well taken. I think that they are very strong in relying on
P: Is that more over a period of time as the data has become more reliable?
B: Sure, as they become more knowledgeable and as the experts have become
more plentiful. We didn't have many hydrologists back thirty years ago.
P: So in terms of employment, if you just took the St. John's Water Management
District, how many scientists in general would you guess they would employ?
B: Real scientists?
B: I'd say it'd be a much higher percentage than you'd think.
P: What about the criticism of the water management districts as having too much
authority and they're not regulated enough by either the governor or DEP?
B: As I said earlier, I think that they have too much responsibility these days. I don't
think that they have too much authority. There are more checks and balances on
the water management district than any other branch of government. I don't know
of anything that comes close.
P: More so even than a state agency?
B: Oh, surely.
P: If you look at the overview of water management districts today, what would you
say would be their greatest strengths and what would be their greatest
B: [The] greatest strengths are the lay board, dedicated financing sources, [and] the
staff. I think that they have the best staff of any of the governmental entities, but I
attribute that to the fact that they have the lay boards and the independent
funding. I think that's the greatest strength.
P: Biggest weaknesses.
B: I think the biggest weakness is, as I mentioned first, the governor and the
influence that the politicians attempt to have over governing board members and
staff, the constant, I'd say almost constant, harassment by the legislature,
confirming and reconfirming, [and] the idea that the governor can veto any line
item in the budget. The governor doesn't have time to review that to the extent
that would be needed, and so as a result, somebody else is doing it. He's
appointed boards, he was the one that selected boards. Once you've appointed
them, then let them do their job.
P: He should have some regulatory authority, correct?
B: Oh, and should he ride herd on the judges and say, "Wait a minute, you're really
not doing your job here, let me help you son. Let me have one of my little minions
come in and help you with your decisions judge." No. He made an appointment,
let him do his job.
P: What should be the future goals for water management districts in the state of
B: I think they're going to have to find some more efficient way that they can make
their decisions than the continued barrage of paperwork. I think that they are
being just buried in paperwork and I don't know how to avoid that.
P: What about in terms of water usage, water quality? What goals should they have
for that in the next twenty years?
B: I think that each district ought to have their own priorities and their own plan. I
don't think that any two districts should be alike at all. I think that they have each
got their own problems and they ought to address their problems and meet them
as they see fit.
P: Is there anything we have not covered that you would like to talk about?
B: Right now there is a duplication in the statutes about the powers and duties of
the Department of Environmental Protection and the water management districts.
Initially it was set up that the centralized authority, the DER/DEP, would have of
the authority and then it could delegate it to the water management districts as
they matured. Well, they've matured and that should all be delegated and the
department should not have anything.
P: Do you think the water management districts should have different regulatory
B: Of course, sure. You've got some problems that are more acute in one place
than the other. The standards and the regulations should vary depending on
whether you need them or not and how bad you need them. No, you don't want
to have uniformity throughout the state. You've got entirely different problems
from Key West to West Florida. I'd encourage greater use of the basin system. I
guess you've gathered that. I think that it's getting to the point that they need to
be looking pretty carefully on what land the water management districts acquire.
They may be getting overloaded on that. The one saving factor is, they at least
have an asset that they can get rid of.
P: I hear all this talk about that the price of some of the land they buy is way
inflated. Is that true?
B: As we've taken more land out of the market, then the price goes up.
The peer review is all that it's set out to be when they talk about peer review. I
don't think you can have such impartial peer review. I think it's tough. I think it's
a good thing to try to get. That's enough for me today.
P: Okay. Let's end this interview. Thank you very much, Buddy.