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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
P: This is Julian Pleasants, and I am in Cedar Key, Florida with Earl Starnes. It is
October 21, 2005. Tell me when and where you were born.
S: I was born in Winter Haven, Florida, on the fourteenth of September 1926.
P: Talk a little bit about your schooling. I know you got all the way through the Ph.D,
but if you'll sort of give me just a brief outline?
S: A brief outline. I, of course, attended public schools in Polk County, graduated
from Winter Haven High School in 1944, and then took a hiatus of almost two
years in the United States Coast Guard, and came back and started school for a
couple of years at Florida Southern. Then moved on up to the university
[University of Florida] to study architecture, and graduated from the University of
Florida in 1951. Then I practiced architecture and planning in Miami for years,
with architects originally. After I got my registration, a classmate of mine, Joe
Rentscher, and I opened our own practice. I was involved in that until I got
involved in politics in Dade County. In 1970 I went with the Askew [Florida
Governor Reuben Askew] administration to Tallahassee. While I was in
Tallahassee, I took night school and what other time I could steal and studied at
FSU [Florida State University], and I got a masters and a Ph. D.
P: Your Ph. D was in 1977, and that's in Architectural Planning?
S: No, the major area of study was Urban and Regional Planning.
P: Let me talk to you a little bit about your time on the Dade County Commission.
Obviously from the very beginning you were concerned with environmental
issues because one of your major projects was the Biscayne National Park and
the Cape Florida Park. Give me some idea, even at that early point in your
career, what your goals were for both the environment and urban planning.
S: Julian, what transpired with regard to Cape Florida-at that point in time, I think it
was probably 1965 or 1966-there were no state parks in Dade County. The state
had never bought any land in Dade County for any reason other than highways,
and perhaps some money for state office buildings and that sort of thing. No
parks. On the County Commission we finally designated Cape Florida as a future
park on our adopted general land use master plan. After that was adopted, we
knew the private owners, I didn't know them personally, but we knew that they
were willing to sell. So some of us trooped off to Tallahassee and sat down with
Governor Kirk [Claude Kirk (R), Governor, 1967-1971] and talked about it, and
apparently were able to convince him that it was an appropriate acquisition for
the state. Bill Baggs, the editor of the Miami News,-the late Bill Baggs-was very
enthusiastic about it. The Miami Herald was enthusiastic about it. So we got the
state to buy it under an old outdoor recreation program.
P: This was long before we had CARL [Conservation and Recreational Lands
FWM 16, Stames, Page 2
Program] or anything like that?
S: Yes, yes, yes. This was on the old outdoor recreation program. I think it was the
Water Resources Act or something. I've forgotten where the money came from,
but most of it was Federal money.
P: Later that became Bill Baggs State Park?
S: It became Bill Baggs State Park, and I chaired the committee during the re-
development of it, or during the development of it. We spent quite a bit of time on
that. We completely renovated the old lighthouse. We replicated the lighthouse
tender's house on the site, and we made it a very viable state park. It is an
extremely popular park today, sitting in the middle of Miami, of course. It is also
joined by the county park to the north on Key Biscayne, which is Crandon Park.
That's a big one. We've essentially-that whole island, with the exception of the
Village of Key Biscayne, is primarily preserved for recreation.
P: Talk about one other important issue that came up while you were on the County
Commission, and that was the jetport. Originally, I understand that the County
Commission voted in favor of setting up the jetport.
S: It was unanimous, as a matter of fact. It was authorized by the Federal Aviation
Administration. Both Collier County and Dade County Commissions agreed to the
project, the state agreed to the project, and there was support up and down the
line. The aviation industry in Dade, which was very important politically, of course
supported the project. Strangely enough it didn't happen, and today I'm very glad
it didn't happen. Originally it was going to be a training and transition airport to
train flag crews on the new jets, but about that time they developed flight
simulators. They didn't need the actual flight training, and in addition to that, we
were not aware that Boeing and other manufacturers were going to increase the
capacity of jets from 150 [passengers] to 300-odd people. Now they're up to 500,
I guess. Those things very soon declared that airport as unneeded.
P: The runway had already been built?
S: The runway was built, right.
P: This had been approved by the FAA?
S: There was seventy percent FAA money involved in it.
P: What changed the attitude toward the jetport?
S: That's a good question. I think essentially the local--well, Joe Browder, as far as I
recall, was very much involved in it. Joe and I spent lots of time together talking
FWM 16, Stames, Page 3
P: Yes. He's a local environmentalist?
S: He was with the South Florida Audubon Society, I think, I'm not sure what Joe's
position was. That and the state withdrew its support.
P: Kirk would have been governor.
S: Kirk was governor.
P: So did Nat Reed [Nathaniel Reed, Assistant Secretary of the Interior, well-known
Florida environmentalist] have any influence?
S: I'm sure Nat had some, but I didn't even know Nat at that point in time.
P: But Kirk came out formally against it, is that right?
S: After months and months of, well, after the thing had already been built. I know
that we-a delegation of the County Commissioner-went to Washington, and we
sat down with the Secretaries of the Interior and Transportation.
P: Let's see. Interior would have been Wally Hickel?
S: Wally Hickel, and Transportation was Volpe.
P: John Volpe from Massachusetts.
P: And their view was?
S: Their view at that time was still supportive, but somewhere along the line it all
changed. We finally reached an agreement, probably after that trip, as to how we
would dissolve the interest in the airport. I'll never forget Arthur Patton-a fellow,
another colleague, on the County Commission-and Arthur on Sunday called me,
we were both in Miami of course, but Arthur called me and says I've just got a
secret package from Washington. I said what's in it, Arthur? He said I don't know.
I thought we had better open it up, and it was the agreement. It was incredible. It
was delivered by hand from Washington, D.C. That was the beginning of the end
of the jetport, and I think today that's good.
P: When you got that agreement from Washington that was, in effect, to dissolve
the original agreement?
FWM 16, Stames, Page 4
S: A dissolutions agreement. What that did was that set up a planning committee,
whose purpose was to find an alternate site.
P: For the jetport?
S: For the jetport.
P: The issues were not so much environmental, related to the Everglades?
S: The issues then, I think, were essentially environmental. They wanted to set up
this group, including the County Commission and state people and so on; it as a
pretty large committee. In fact, Dick Judy, who lives here in Cedar Key right now,
was on that committee. Dick was the executive director of the airport, the Port
P: The Port Authority would have had jurisdiction over this new airport.
S: Well, it was Dade County Commission. The Port Authority had been dissolved by
the 1957 charter, the Dade County Charter. For years the Port Authority thought
it was independent, but it was not. The county attorney finally told them, no,
you're just another county department. That study went on, and gosh, that went
on for years. In fact all the years I was State Planning Director, that study was
still going on.
P: What was the land used for after that point?
S: You know I'm not sure. I really don't know. I haven't seen the site or flown over it
P: Now later in the mid-1990's, there's another proposal to re-establish the jetport.
Were you aware of all those activities?
S: No. Not at that site, I don't think.
P: It was a different jetport with a similar idea.
S: Yeah. The Andytown site was the site that the study group finally recommended,
but I went to Tallahassee one time, after I had come to the university, and
suggested that if they really needed it, then the three counties ought to build a
high speed rail to connect it to both Palm Beach and Broward and Dade, and end
on the Andytown site. Now that had been essentially approved by the FAA and
by all the study groups, and recommended by the engineers and the planners.
But that didn't go ahead, it just died and I'm not sure what finally killed it.
P: So there must be some of the same issues, environmental as well?
FWM 16, Stames, Page 5
S: Well, Andytown was probably less environmental certainly, than Big Cypress.
P: Let me get a little bit about your career when you start out. Take me from the
time you graduated from the University of Florida in 1951, and sort of just give
me a little bit of an overview of before you go to work for Reubin Askew and his
S: Oh, well.
P: Because you were practicing architecture a good portion of that time.
S: Yeah. I graduated in, I think it was August of 1951. We were supposed to
graduate in the fall, but I think some of us got in a hurry. So we graduated in
August 1951, and I really at first looked around for jobs in Central Florida which
would have put us closer to my family and my wife Dorothy Jean's family.
However, Darothy Jean objected. She didn't want to be near the families, so I
was interviewed by an architectural firm, Courtney Stewart in Fort Lauderdale,
and [was] hired. And so we moved to Fort Lauderdale from Gainesville, and we
worked for Courtney, and I literally learned how to make working drawings and
write specs and that sort of thing. Courtney was a good teacher. After you get out
of architectural school, those are the things you have to learn, cause you don't
learn [them] at school.
P: Now at what point did you get into being interested in water management and
urban state planning?
S: We were raising a family, and I was very much involved in doing my architectural
work and actually learning and establishing my career in order to get my state
board approval, and that took a couple of times. I suppose the first real inkling of
it was when Joe Rentscher and I started our practice, and I got involved in local
politics indirectly through the American Institute of Architects. There was then the
charter, the Dade County Charter, being debated country-wide. It had a provision
in it which established a county-wide planning department as a charter
department. The architects, including myself and several others, felt that was a
very good thing to do. I suppose that's when I first really became active and
supported that charter, primarily because of the planning provision.
P: How aware were you of what was going on in water management, for example
the Central and Southern Flood Control District? Were you aware of their
S: Oh, yeah. I guess I've always been aware of their responsibilities because it's a
very significant group, and particularly when I was on the county commission,
because they were very much involved with the county in terms of their projects.
The county often had to sign-off on their projects.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 6
P: In 1960, 1961, you had the development of the Southwest Florida Water
Management District. That's really the first one that is primarily concerned with
water management, other than just flood control.
S: That's correct. Central and Southern were the flood control districts.
P: What caused that shift to a different level of responsibility for water
S: I think basically the environmental movement on a national scale, and a scale in
Florida. I think it emerged in the late 1960s as a very powerful political
movement, and I'm sure that's where the water management concept came from.
P: Who would have been the leaders of that movement?
S: I think you have to attribute it to Silent Spring. Oh, the leaders?
P: So we're talking about environmentalist author Rachel Carson's book Silent
S: I don't know. I didn't know those leaders at that time, I really didn't.
P: This of course is well before 1000 Friends of Florida, but you had the Audubon
Society, and certainly that would have been fairly active.
S: Yes. They were very active. Audubon was very active.
P: Let me sort of take you through the evolution of water management. I'm not sure
how involved you were up until 1971, 1972, but in 1969 we start seeing a certain
shift where the Department of Conservation becomes, I guess, a little broader in
terms of its responsibility. It becomes the Department of Natural Resources.
S: Well, Julian, you're right. What I think, particularly the County Commissioner in
Dade County was very concerned about the-well, what was the previous one?
P: Board of Conservation.
S: The Board of Conservation, and its subsequent department of Natural Resources
after reorganization. What we were concerned about was their willingness to go
ahead and establish bulkheads and that sort of thing. Now in Dade County we
were asked by the county engineer to establish a bulkhead line in south Dade
FWM 16, Stames, Page 7
County, because the county up till that point had not established bulkhead lines
from south of where Matheson Hammock County Park is located, I guess. So for
all that reach in south Dade County, the bulkhead line had never been
established. In that debate the County Commission-we learned that the
bulkhead lines had always been established seaward of the mangrove. The
tradition was you build the bulkhead on the line out there and then you come
back and tear out the mangroves, and then you pump bay bottom and you fill
landward of the bulkhead. Well, some of us felt that that was not quite right, I
suppose, because of what we were reading and hearing and so on. We got Ken
Woodburn to come down and testify for the County Commission.
P: Let me jump ahead. He was the first manager, or I guess the executive director
of Suwannee River?
S: No. Ken Woodburn was then a scientist with the Federal Fish and Wildlife
Research Lab in St. Petersburg. I think that was the research lab for commercial
fishing, because their sport fishing lab is up in the Panhandle. Ken came down
and Ken essentially said, well, we don't really know what value the mangroves
have, but we think such and such about them. This was in the 1960s. We all
looked at each other and said, well, if we don't really know, then we better leave
them alone. We established that bulkhead line landward of the mangrove.
P: So most of what was done at this point was done by County Commissions?
S: They had the authority to set bulkhead lines, at that point.
P: As we go along I wanted to talk to you about the series of acts that were passed
in 1972, obviously the Water Resource Act, but let me get your background
because you were, I believe, on the Early Planning Committee for all of this.
Were you asked to serve by Jay Landers? What was your relationship?
S: I was over at DOT then as Director of the Division of Mass Transit Operations. A
friend of mine who was close to the governor's office told me that the governor
was seeking to deal wit planning, and appoint a committee. I had read and heard
about the Water Resources Conference in Miami Beach that Askew had called
for in late 1971. He, I've forgotten his name now, he asked me if I would be
interested in serving on it. I spoke to the secretary to see if it'd be alright, and the
secretary said that's fine with me, and so I got appointed by the governor to a
resources task force. That was really the first time I really got into feeling
comfortable with what I was doing, in terms of environmental and planning
[work]. That was a very important task force.
P: That was chaired, I believe, by John DeGrove?
S: John DeGrove chaired the task force.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 8
P: Talk a little bit about the process you went through. I know at one point you went
to the famous meeting at River Ranch Acres.
S: The football game.
P: You played football all afternoon and worked the rest of the time, didn't you?
S: [Laughter] We about killed each other playing football.
P: Was this competitive?
S: Oh, it was competitive because we had some guys on there who really wanted to
play football. The rest of us was just looking for a little exercise.
P: Now this would have happened in early 1972?
S: This would have been early 1972, probably January or February.
P: And this group would have been twelve people?
S: There were twelve people on the task force.
P: And you were meeting in complete secret? Nobody else knew this was going on?
S: I think you can pretty much conclude that. The press was never there, that I was
P: Talk about the contribution that John DeGrove made to this committee and the
S: We all looked to John as our leader, and we also looked to John as our essential
communicant with the governor's office. Jay was on it with us.
P: This was Jay Landers?
S: Jay Landers. But I think it was very important, that John's role was very
important, in terms of the committee. I don't know that the committee was
directed in any particular series of policies by John. In fact, I know they weren't.
P: That's what I was going to ask you. What was your mandate from the governor?
To just look at water management issues?
S: The mandate of the governor that came out of his resources, out of his water
conference at Miami Beach, and that mandate was essentially that we were to be
charged with finding legislation, or writing legislation for the 1972 legislature to
FWM 16, Stames, Page 9
deal with this whole set of environmental land use, water management problems.
P: Explain how this went. How did you come to these final decisions for at least four
major bills, and what sort of dialogue went on? Did you sort of make those
compromises or was there a general consensus?
S: Well, we made compromises all along. One of the major compromises was the
role of regional planning and whether in fact the conceived water management
districts would be the regional planning districts or not. There was essentially a
compromise that said look, the water management districts are not going to
represent local government, they are going to draw their power from the state. So
what we concluded was that we needed a new creature. There were then I think
five regional planning councils in the state, operating under seven or so hundred
programs essentially. There was the South Florida Everglades one which I
organized, that included Collier, Monroe, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties,
and Dade County. There were five counties. That was the South Florida
Everglades Regional Planning Council. We organized that after the jetport
debacle, in order to [suggest] look, guys, we better get together and think about
all of us. That was one. There was an East/Central Florida Regional Planning
Council that included, I think, Volusia and Orange and Osceola, no Seminole,
and maybe a couple of other counties. There was an EscaRosa County way out
into West Florida, which included Santa Rosa County and Escambia County. And
there was a Northeast Florida one which was really not, it was an area planning
board, and it was comprised of Duval and I guess it was, which county was north
of Duval? Nassau. Nassau and St. Johns.
P: So these were sort of independent regions?
S: They were independent. They were all organized by the counties themselves .
There was no statute except for the early part of Chapter 163 which permitted
local governments to enter into inter-local agreements to create these things, but
there was no emphasis on the part of the state.
P: I understand that at one point you needed some sort of guidance in drawing up
this regional planning concept. You went to the American Law Institute and got
some of their guidelines?
S: One of the advisors on our committee, on our task force, was Gil Finell. Gil was a
young faculty member at FSU, and Gil had learned of the American Law
Institute's Research that had been going along since the 1960s. That research
was essentially to look at states and land use, because those subjects hadn't
really been dealt with in terms of serious research since the mid-1920s. All the
states and all the locals had been operating on that mid-1920s Standard
Enabling Act. So we brought Fred Bosselman, who was the main reporter for the
American Law Institute on that work, and Fred came in with the American Law
FWM 16, Stames, Page 10
Institute Article 7, draft Article 7, and that included the new State Planning Law.
We modeled the State Planning Law after that Article 7, and Fred had a lot to do
with drafting that.
P: Tell me who else was involved in this twelve-member committee, and were all
diverse interests represented?
S: I've got a list of them. That would be a stretch.
S: Dick Rabimo, my co-author on this signing book, was teaching at FSU. He had
been a state planning director in Vermont. Don Morgan represented the Central
P: Who later was director.
S: Right. Don was a landscape architect, although Don never had practiced any
landscape architecture that I know of, they hired him for years past because of
the improvements on their canal systems and so on. Oh golly, who else?
P: Frank Maloney was not there?
S: Frank Maloney was not there.
P: But you used his plan for the water management district.
S: We used it. The legislature had already been dealing with that book, and those
recommendations. John White was representing the committee on environment
for the house.
P: Most of these people are professional types?
S: Yes. The committee was real professional.
P: There was not anybody from the sugar industry or anything like that?
S: Noone from the building industry. I think we had one city councilwoman [Alice
Wainwright], I think she was from Miami. She had a strong environmental record.
There were no persons on that task force who were terribly interested in anything
but one [thing, which was] getting the state into the business of planning and
managing its resources.
P: When we got back to the guidelines of the American Law Institute, one of the
things that must have come out of that is a DRI [Developments of Regional
FWM 16, Stames, Page 11
S: That's correct.
P: What else did you get from them?
S: Areas of critical state concern.
P: Those were two major issues that you wanted to pursue with the legislature.
S: Right. There was also a requirement for a state comprehensive plan. There were
three requirements: the DRI, the Critical Area Program, and the State
Comprehensive Plan. The way they would be what I would call comprehensively
tied together. The DRI was essentially to deal from a planning standpoint with
those developments that were so big that they impacted the people of more than
one county, and the statute provided for guidelines.
P: So these are DRIs?
S: Developments of Regional Impact. That was essentially a stop-gap measure
because we knew the counties didn't have plans. We knew the state didn't have
a plan. The other one, the Critical Area Program, was to deal with those much
larger areas that were threatened by development or threatened by whatever.
P: Like Big Cypress or the Keys.
S: Yes. Big Cypress, the Keys, and Green Swamp. That was designed also as a
stop-gap measure. The theory then was, of the ALl code, is eventually if you get
to a state comprehensive plan and all the local guys are planning, you don't need
these stop-gap measures. I think we've learned over time, we were much more
enthusiastic about the state adopting a comprehensive plan than has ever
P: Still not waiting, are you?
S: Well, there's a State Comprehensive Plan but nobody pays any attention.
P: When you made your recommendations, the Committee of Twelve, you made
them to the governor in the form of legislation?
S: The bills were pretty well drafted when they went to the governor.
P: And once you got those, he apparently put those at the top of his agenda.
S: That's what he did.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 12
P: And went on the process of determining that we're going to get these bills
through this session.
S: That was his mission.
P: Were you involved in any of the lobbying or the hearings?
S: No, because by then I was back over attending to what business the [DOT]
Secretary had programed over there.
P: I'm sure you must have been aware of what was going on since you were in on
the planning. How would you characterize the hearings and opposition to these
S: I don't think-there was the agricultural interest, were really the only abiding
opposition. When those bills went to the Senate, agriculture was exempted on a
motion by Jim Williams of Ocala, who was lieutenant governor later on.
P: Buddy McKay [U.S. Congressman, Lt. Governor and Governor of Florida]?
S: No. I think it was Jim Williams. [He] made the key decision to exempt agriculture.
P: Otherwise it wouldn't have passed?
S: It wouldn't have passed.
P: Has that made any difference over the years?
S: I don't think it's been significant.
P: Really, when you think about the dramatic shift here, it's pretty remarkable that
these four bills passed through the Florida Legislature in one session.
S: It was an incredible political feat. It was Askew's political power that did it.
P: He must have bypassed people like Dempsey Barron and others who would have
had quite a bit of impact on just about anything that passed.
S: Yes he did, but Dempsey wasn't president of the Senate then.
P: But he was in the Senate.
S: Oh, yes.
P: He still was very influential.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 13
S: Very much.
P: Let me go over the bills briefly with you. Talk about the Water Resources Act that
set up the five districts and the administrative system. Do you think that that
concept then, and as we look at it now, was the right way to go?
S: Yes, I think that stood the test of time. I think that was probably a stroke of genius
coming from the concept of drainage basins.
P: There is, and we'll get to it later, there are issues always when you add ad
valorem taxes. The people have to accept that, so there had to be a
S: There was, and strategically it had to pass statewide. It did not pass in north
Florida, but it passed.
P: Because the bulk of the population in south Florida was supportive.
S: Right. The people carried the day on that one.
P: Were you involved in that at all?
S: No, I was not involved.
P: I know Askew was heavily involved.
S: Oh yeah, yeah he was.
P: Obviously it's going to be hard for that agency, or the five agencies, to work
unless they have some tax money. If they had to depend on the legislature every
S: In our late hours at River Ranch we even toyed with .... Bob Graham and I sat
on a bed in my room one night talking about having the Regional Planning
Counsels elected and giving them taxing power. Well, that didn't sit well with the
rest of the task force.
P: In retrospect I'm sure you're glad that didn't pass.
S: I am glad. We were having flights of fantasy at that point.
P: Talk about the other bills, Land and Water Management Act, and that's
something of course you're going to be more involved with later. That, I think, did
the DRI and critical state concerns.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 14
S: That's correct.
P: That created those two issues. How has, for example, the area of critical state
concern, and we do know you mentioned Green Swamp, the Keys, and I guess
the big one was Big Cypress, so has that worked well over the years?
S: I think in terms of Big Cypress it worked. I think in terms of Green Swamp it
worked. The Florida Keys has been a struggle, a real serious struggle. The state
still must approve and detail their comprehensive plan. In fact the state drafted
their first comprehensive plan, but the struggle has been consistent growth and
the consistent problem of water and sewer, not water, but sewer. They still have
cess pools, hundreds and hundreds of them.
P: Of course at one point the water pipe broke down there, and so that was a major
S: Yes. That's been a real problem.
P: Have there been other major determinations of areas of critical state return in
S: No. The statute was changed and the statute now permits the creation of
resource advisory commissions. When I left state planning, the Suwannee River
Basin one, it was under consideration, as was the Apalachicola Bay, and
Charlotte Harbor. They were all three that we were studying. When they changed
the statute those became study commissions. The only one that I tracked
afterwards was the Suwannee River one, and that pretty much set the pattern, I
think, for the policies for the Suwannee River Water Management District.
P: But it was never designated as such?
S: No. It was never designated.
P: Then the Land Conservation Act, which is a land purchase act.
S: That's correct. It was a 200 million dollar bond issue.
P: Yes, that was bond issued to start out with.
S: Yes. It had to meet statewide approval.
P: The state had not done much land purchasing prior to that time.
S: Very little. It was spotty.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 15
P: If you look at it overall, the land purchasing, and we just read about this huge
purchase-I guess the Babcock Ranch they're getting ready to purchase-has
much of the purchasing been done by state or water management districts?
S: Most of it has been done by the state. The water management districts, I think,
are getting about 50 million dollars a year.
P: That's not enough to buy too much, is it?
S: No, and my recollection is that Suwannee gets about $10-$15 million.
P: Yes, because it's small.
P: Then the overall impact of all of this. What would you say that these laws had on
water management and the concept of statewide planning?
S: Oh, I think they had a huge impact on it. I think that we started, when we
established the DRI program, and I was the administrator of that program for five
years, nearly five years, three years. We also started the State Comprehensive
Plan at the same time, and the critical area, Section 5 of Chapter 380 was tied to
the bonding. If the bonding hadn't passed on the bonds, Section 5 would have
never been implemented, but as soon as that passed I put a group of guys to
work on designated critical areas. Let's go find out what the most critical areas
are in the state, and that's what they did. I thought some of them got lost in the
Keys one time. We lost touch for about two weeks. I thought somebody was
P: That would have been critical, wouldn't it? Now one thing...
S: What it did, it set into motion the ELMS [Environmental Land Management Study]
Committee, from 1972 to 1974, was primarily charged by that statute to look at
state-wide planning, look at local planning, look at the whole business of
resource management in the state. Out of that came the first mandatory planning
act in Florida for local government. That was proposed in 1974 by the ELMS
Committee. That year was interesting. They appropriated-I think I gave them the
number, and I said you guys are going to have to appropriate about 10 million
dollars to get this program going if we're going to make the governments do it,
cause they don't have any money, and the 701's dried up, it's gone. There's
essentially no federal money, and these local [governments] aren't prepared. It's
interesting enough, that year the $10 million dollars was enacted or adopted by
the legislature, but the Acts weren't.ELMS came back the next year, and got the
Act, but no money. Ernest Bartley was smart when he wrote that Act for the
FWM 16, Stames, Page 16
P: Yes, he was a Political Science professor at UF.
S: Bart and I are good buddies.
P: Go ahead.
S: That set [events] into motion, and when the Mandatory Planning Act passed, that
raised the level of consciousness of planning in this state by I don't know what
percent, it was almost nonexistent.
P: I wanted to mention that ELMS study was required in the Environmental Land
and Water Management Act.
S: That's correct, and that came out of Chapter 380.
P: By 1976, they're going to set the final boundaries of the water management
P: There was this sixth district. What do know about that district and whatever
happened to it?
S: Was that the one in Manatee County?
P: Well, there was one that I read about in an old interview called Manasota.
P: Yes, and that was sort of divided between Manatee and Sarasota.
S: It was merged with Southwest. It never really got organized to my knowledge.
P: And so as they set these boundaries, are they done the right way? Obviously
they cross over political boundaries because they're based on water flow. Do you
think that was the right way to go in terms of setting the boundaries?
S: I think it was, although we argued at one point with Randolph Hodges that where
the boundaries were real close to the county line, they ought to use the county
lines. But in retrospect I think that was unnecessary, because over the years we
have preserved the integrity of those boundaries.
P: In 1975 they changed DNR to DER, Department of Environmental Regulation.
How did that change the regulation of the state, and how did that agency
S: Well, the agency changed quite a bit. That was the merger of the old trustees,
FWM 16, Stames, Page 17
the trustees staff. There were several mergers along in there. The trustees at one
point were independent of DNR. I can't recall all the issues, but trustees and
DNR were merged, and then certain authorities were moved from DNR to DER.
[End of Tape A, Side 1.]
S: Interestingly enough, we had done studies of state planning regarding
organization of environmental agencies, and about the time I came down to the
university that study had been pretty well completed. Whether that study ever got
over to the governor's office into legislation I do not know, but the purpose was to
put regulatory agencies together and to put what I would call programmatic
agencies together so that we didn't have programs and regulatory agencies
mixed up. That was essentially what happened over the years, and now we have
the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and it is the regulatory agency.
There are no other regulators in the environment except DER. The crazy thing
about all that was you had the marine patrol over here regulating and enforcing
marine fisheries laws. Over here you had the conservation, or what was then the
Game and Fish Commission, regulating and enforcing game laws. Both of them
were responsible for enforcing environmental laws. So today they're all together.
The environmental guys have their own operation over here in terms of permits.
The law enforcers were over here, and I think it makes a lot [more sense] but
that merger took a long time.
P: Because they didn't want to give up their authority.
S: No. There were big turf battles.
P: I think it's a little bit like areas of critical state concern. A lot of local people didn't
want the state taking that land, did they?
S: They didn't want the state regulating land use in those critical areas.
P: So the theory is if they take that land, where are they going to stop?
P: Talk about the development of these basin boards, particularly in Swiftmud. How
did they come about, and what was the purpose of those?
S: I'm not quite sure how those things evolved. Well, they evolved after 1972 I think.
P: They did.
S: I guess Swiftmud is the only one with them.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 18
P: I think so.
S: I think that evolved from the old Manasota thing, and local people pressing for
P: Now at one point the management lands trust fund, I guess that's what it's called.
This is where one got money from documentary stamps and used that to buy
S: That's save our rivers.
P: Okay. How did that work? How many millions of dollars did ... ?
S: That was adopted in 1980, and Julian, I think there's 50 million dollars. Oh, that
doesn't sound right, it sounds like a lot more because I know Suwannee and
Northwest were getting about 10 million dollars a year from Save Our Rivers.
P: Did that work well, particularly of course, for Suwannee and St. John's?
S: It worked well for Suwannee, and what we did at Suwannee was when the
money started coming down the pipe in 1980 after the legislation, we sat down
and made a plan. There were three of us on the board who were sort of
designated as a planning committee, and our plan was to buy the Suwannee
P: Buy the whole thing?
S: I remember talking with Don Morgan about it. I said Don, how much do you think
it's gonna cost? He said well, it shouldn't cost more than 100 million dollars to
buy the whole damn river. I said well, at 10 million dollars a year, we could do it.
P: That was a very serious consideration, was it not?
S: It certainly was. Fortunately today they do own it, they're the largest land owner
on the river bank.
P: We'll talk about that a little bit later, but they started buying for the Wilderness
Trail and that sort of thing. Now let me talk about your work with the Suwannee
River Water Management Board. You were appointed to the board the first time
by Bob Graham, is that right?
S: [In] 1980, that's right.
P: What was your reaction when you were offered that job, and what was your
FWM 16, Stames, Page 19
S: I was excited about it, frankly. I think out of all the public service I've ever been
involved in, the fourteen years I was on that water management district were
probably the most satisfying.
S: Because of the [sense of] accomplishment that we could do things, and we did
do things. We got flood plain ordinances adopted by all those crazy counties, and
they thought that was a Communist plot, but they adopted 'em.
P: I can remember somebody, I think it was John Finlayson, he said when they first
tried to do that ordinance they went to some meeting, and he said they had to
have police protection. He said the people were calling them Communists. He
said later they called him Fascist. He said he didn't know which was worse.
S: I don't know either. That staff and the board itself, they were very patient.
P: That's a crucial thing. This is all new for a lot of these people, and they had a
sense of encroachment.
S: They essentially weren't even trying to adopt their plans. They were avoiding
P: And the issue is from a homeowner's perspective, you're telling me I can't build
on my own land. How did you persuade them that in the long run it would save
them a lot more money if people in, let's say New Orleans, had listened to those
arguments, think how much money that would have saved!
S: I think one of the [tactics] that the board used was the small lot acquisition
P: What was that?
S: Along the river there were these plotted subdivisions. Where those lots occurred
in the hundred year flood plain, the board essentially said we will use our Save
Our Rivers money to buy those lots, and they've acquired a lot of them through
the years. I think that took a lot of heat out of the process. I think a lot of folks still
sit on them. The Department of Health ceased to issue septic tank permits on
P: So then they couldn't build on them.
S: They were kind of stuck. In every case the board did an appraisal, unless the
people walked in and said here you can buy this and whatever, but the law
required an appraisal.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 20
P: Talk a little bit about that purchasing of the land. You had your own attorney go in
and you would have the appraisal, and then the offer would be made. What if the
offer were refused? How would you pursue that?
S: That was it.
P: That was it? You wouldn't go any further?
P: You were somewhat restricted in how much you could offer?
S: Oh, yeah.
P: You couldn't be much above appraised value.
S: We had to have two appraisals as I recall, and you cannot exceed the upper
appraisal by more than 10 percent.
P: If you didn't purchase, could you do conservation easements?
S: They have done that in the Suwannee.
P: And that basically serves the same purpose?
S: Yes. In fact, there's some timber leases. They bought the underlying land and let
the silva-culture guys continue with their work.
P: So that's a good alternative?
S: Oh, yeah. The only thing that is absolute is they will not lease any land for cattle
grazing. None at all.
P: Well, [think of] the environmental impact.
S: Because it would destroy everything.
P: Talk about your time on the Suwannee River Board, and let me just ask you a
couple of questions about the board. At that time they were appointed by the
governor. Looking at the first board you served with, how would you evaluate the
board in terms of the quality of the appointments? I grant some would have been
appointed by Askew, I presume. Was this board a diverse board, in that all
interests were represented?
S: I think it pretty much has been diverse in the fourteen years I served off and on.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 21
Agriculture was always represented.
P: Auley Rowell was on there for much of that time.
S: Auley was a timber man.
P: He was with Buckeye Cellulose.
S: Yes. John Finlayson represented agriculture, pretty much. Shotner was a retired
lawyer, actually from New York, who somehow or other knew Graham and
maybe he was appointed by Askew. I think he was on the board when I went up
there. Jon Wershow.
P: Jon is a lawyer from Gainesville?
S: Yes, [and a] farmer, but he was a lawyer farmer. His father was Jim Wershow,
who wrote the Green Belt Law for Florida. The one thing I like about those board
members is they were eminently honest, and eminently gentleman. It was a
pleasure working with them, and [although] we had some major disagreements,
they were never disagreeable.
P: That's right. I'll tell you one story, and I can't remember who told me this, whether
it was Auley Rowell or John Finlayson, but he said occasionally you and Auley
would go in the bathroom and sit down and sort of come to an agreement.
S: That sounds like John Finlayson.
P: Okay, maybe John.
S: We weren't supposed to do that.
P: No. That violated the Sunshine Law, but nonetheless this would demonstrate that
there were opportunities for people who had differences to come to some sort of
accommodation, which in my view shows that the board was functioning
S: Of course the personalities have changed on the board, but I really think it was a
good working board.
P: Now, the first executive director was Jack Woodard.
S: Yeah, and I never met that man. I never did meet him
P: He was gone before you got there.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 22
S: I was very happy when Morgan got the appointment.
P: Then Don Morgan is the executive director. How would you rate Don Morgan?
We mentioned him briefly earlier, as an executive director.
S: I think Don, for that job, was first class. He always had vision of where he thought
the board ought to be moving, and he was very careful with the local folks, to
make sure they were brought along in the process. His staff, he was a loose
manager. He expected his staff to do the job they were supposed to do, and by
and large they did. I think his relationship with the board was always first class.
He's retired. There was never any question about his staying on as executive
P: How would you assess the professional staff during that period of time at
S: Excellent. You know most of the guys are still there today.
P: Talk a little bit about how the Suwannee River ad valorem tax number came
about. I've heard several different stories about that. Was that tax enough and is
that enough today?
S: The Suwannee River?
S: Just the name?
P: No, no. The ad valorem tax, because it was less than the other districts.
S: Oh, no, it's not enough. Obviously it's growing. That part of Alachua County is
growing. Columbia County is growing. These other counties aren't growing to any
great extent. I think Levy is going to because of the Sun Coast and the growth is
coming right up this way. In time we'll see Levy grow, but all of Levy is in the
Suwannee. Part of it's in Southwest.
P: Should the ad valorem tax be changed? Should it be the same as, say,
Swiftmud? Suwannee is .5 isn't it, or .3? I can't remember.
S: [I think] .5. The Northwest is what, .1?
P: I think they're .3.
S: I guess, .3. I think if it ever, ever becomes necessary they could change it, but
there are so many other sources of revenue these days that they're still about .4.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 23
P: Because of Preservation 2000, Save Our Rivers. There are other options that
they can do.
S: I think they're okay for now, and the [tax] base is growing.
P: When you were on the board you acquired a lot of land, and as I recall you got
Atsena Otie here, is that right? Was that your doing? This is a little island off the
coast of Cedar Key.
S: The argument was that we were in the water management business, and to
develop that island over there with thirty-eight or so units on septic tanks just
somehow didn't make sense. We argued, and the district argued that it was a
water management issue, a water conservation issue, and the state approved it.
P: Although this is coastal water?
S: That's correct.
P: So that purchase was a little bit different.
S: It was very different.
P: Was there a lot of opposition to it?
S: No. The vote was unanimous. There was absolutely no opposition to it. Cedar
Key was ecstatic.
P: The last thing they would want is to see it develop, see condos out there.
S: The clam industry was happy about it, too.
P: As we go through this land purchase, what I've learned in talking to a lot of
different people, is that the water management district could identify land that
needed to be purchased and get it purchased ahead of DER or the state?
S: Move much more quickly.
P: That's bureaucracy, I guess?
S: Much more efficient, and it's bureaucracy.
P: Apparently over a period of time, if you look back on it, most of the purchases
you made would have been the right decision.
S: I think so. I don't know that I'd argue with any of the purchases. I guess at first I
FWM 16, Stames, Page 24
was a little troubled with the individual lot things, but in retrospect, I was probably
being a little narrow.
P: Once you were on the board, talk a little bit about why anybody would take a job
that requires a huge amount of work, there's no pay, there are no perks to speak
S: None whatsoever. They'd pay for travel once in a while.
P: So why would anybody take on that very important responsibility knowing how
hard the work was? You would frequently have two or three briefing books.
S: Well, some of the other districts are heavily burdened. Suwannee was not that
much of a problem. It usually took me half a day to go through the agenda before
a meeting. It wasn't anything like Dade County. The compensation, by the way,
in Dade County was only 6,000 dollars a year.
P: So you did it because of the service content?
S: I did it, I guess Julian, I suppose I've had a long lifetime in believing in public
service, whatever it may be, however I can help.
P: Plus you have expertise in this, and a little broader context than others. You had
been in the DOT, you'd been in state planning, so you had a little bit different
perspective to bring to water management. Is it better to have the members
appointed or elected?
S: I think it's better the have them appointed.
S: I think it's inconceivable that you could run a meaningful political campaign in a
district as diversified as the Suwannee, or any of the rest of them, as a matter of
fact. I remember years ago the members of FIND, the Florida Inland Navigation
District, were elected. No one in those five counties down there knew anything
about those five people. They were automatically re-elected because nobody
ever ran for the job, and nobody even knew about the agency until they looked at
the tax bill, and here's a little bit of money for FIND. They did just about as much
environmental damage as anybody down in that area for years.
P: Are the terms the right lengths?
S: As far as I'm concerned, yes. They're four years, aren't they?
P: They started out longer than that.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 25
P: But now they're four. The number of board members originally was nine.
S: There's still nine members.
P: Is that enough, too many?
S: I think that's fine. I think if you get too many more it makes the meetings difficult
P: When you were on Suwannee, how much interaction did you have with other
water management districts?
S: Annual meetings.
P: That was about it?
S: A lot of it, yes.
P: How about the federal government? Were you dealing with the Army Corps of
S: The staff did most of that dealing. We rarely saw a Corps person. We weren't
doing anything with the Corps, anyway.
P: Did you have any evaluation of how the Corps operates?
S: Well, Julian, of all the districts, Suwannee had almost nothing to do with the
Corps. The only thing they've ever done with the Corps is some planning work
and that sort of thing, but we never had any projects.
P: One of the things I just thought about. Didn't Suwannee do an aerial map of the
P: Now was that with the federal government?
S: The Corps helped on that, and some other agency helped, but I think the Corps
[was] primarily [involved.]
P: Tell me why you did that and what the benefits were?
S: Why we did it? Because we needed to establish a flood plain. In order to get
FWM 16, Stames, Page 26
regulations we had to have an established flood plain, and it had not been
P: That's a great value to everybody in the county, not just to the water
P: Do you see when we look at all this flooding that goes on, the Federal
government will provide flood insurance, and people will build their houses back
on the Suwannee River, knowing that at some point it's going to flood again. The
Federal government will insure it, and they'll re-build at the same place, still on
the flood plain.
S: If they've lost more than fifty percent of the old building, they've got to conform to
the new regulations. This house [Starnes' home in Cedar Key] was built on
FEMA standards. We are seventeen feet, two inches to the bottom of the sofit of
the first beam.
P: But some of these old houses that get flooded out but not destroyed, they can
S: As long as there's not more than 50 percent damage. If it exceeds 50 percent
damage then they have to conform to the new code.
P: It seems inefficient for the federal government to keep providing insurance for
people who build in the flood plain.
S: We have flood insurance here because it's paired with wind. You can't get one
without the other.
P: You better have both, and then it might not do you any good.
S: No. I know the flood [insurance] won't do me any good because it's not going to
cover anything below that beam.
P: When you were on the board the first time, and I think you were there from 1982
to 1988, is that right?
S: I think so.
P: Ok. What were your major problems, major controversies during that period of
time? I know that you had some difficulties with dairies.
S: We were getting some complaints, and we were beginning to learn about nitrates
FWM 16, Stames, Page 27
in the rivers and the streams and the springs. That evidence had not yet built to
the point that it is today, though. It's kind of like, back to the Ken Woodburn story,
we knew something was going wrong, but we didn't quite know what it was.
P: How about storm water drains, sewer systems? Were you getting more involved
in those issues?
S: We got involved in that a great deal. We started what we called a Quality
Communities Program. That program was funded primarily through sources
funding from the Agricultural Department Resources Program, used to be the
Soil Conservation Service, but they changed their name. We got funds from
them. We got funds from DCA. We got funds from DEP to help fund those
programs. We did a storm water project here in Cedar Key. Every one of these
little towns now has an ongoing storm water project of one sort or another. The
purpose is obviously that we've gotta get stuff cleaned up, and none of them had
done anything like that. In some cases, the district has bought well-fields. In
some cases, well, in the town of Suwannee, the district was the impetus for a
whole new sewer program. In Suwannee the whole town was on septic tanks,
and none of them were working, and they were wondering why they lost their
oyster fishery. Of all things they were blaming it on the animals out in the lower
P: It was the people who were running it. Is there a program, it seems like Auley
Rowell mentioned this. This may have been between your terms, called CARES
[County Alliance for Environmental Stewardship]. The CARES program. Are you
familiar with that one?
S: I'm not sure about that one.
P: Let me explain what I understand that it is. Let's say that someone had a chicken
farm, and they weren't cleaning it up.
S: Oh, yes. I didn't know that was called CARES. Actually, that emerged when I
came back to the board that was just beginning.
P: The idea is that one would assume that farmers wouldn't want to foul their own
land, but of course they do. So the idea here is to provide them some incentive to
clean it up.
S: It's called the Suwannee River Partnership, I think now.
P: Okay. That entails some incentive payments to help them resolve that issue, as
opposed to full-time regulation.
S: What the district, the staff did, and in some cases it was John Carver, because
FWM 16, Stames, Page 28
John had been working for years with the agricultural department. John was very
effective in getting the Department of Agriculture involved in some of those rural
programs. In the Suwannee programs, the Department of Agriculture essentially
paid for most of that sewage system in Suwannee, because they do rural sewer
programs and rural water programs. That was the first one. Then the dairy
problem came along and we started trying to figure how we could deal with the
dairies effectively. You're not going to do it through regulations, because first of
all, the guys will just shut down and walk away, and you really don't want that to
happen. So they started the Suwannee Partnership. I get those little memos from
them every month, and it's quite an effective program now. The district is really
good at convening people and bringing them together, and getting them all
pointed together in the direction of dealing with environmental issues.
P: What about SWIM [Surface Water Improvement Management]? How did that
impact the water management districts?
S: I guess at first, the water management districts were trying to figure out what it
was. We began to identify the priority projects, Lake Alligator and others.
P: And mainly you're dealing with run-off, is that [right]?
P: So if you build a new mall you have to have ....
S: You've got to take care of your water. It's on-site management. You cannot
remove any water from the site of a development project like that. The DOT is
restricted, too. They can't do it either.
P: On any roads that are built?
P: Yes, today. Did Water Management District in Suwannee ever deal with the
quality of salt water?
S: Julian, the only one was Atsena Otie. Yes, they do, because they're monitoring
the salinity of Suwannee Sound.
P: Because it intrudes on the aquifer?
S: Well, because it not only intrudes [on the aquifer], but the reason is there's a
desirable range for salinity. If the river floods, that range becomes too low, and
the claiming is killed, the oysters are killed. One year, one guy lost a million
dollars in clams because the river flooded. That's not the real problem, that's
FWM 16, Stames, Page 29
gonna happen. The real problem is to know what that base salinity is, and how
much water the Suwannee is going to have to continue to flow to keep that
salinity healthy for all the creatures that live in the water. That's what minimum
flows and standards [are intended to protect].
P: It has more to do with salinity than it does with just the minimum and maximum
S: In the case of the Suwannee and any huge river body that dumps into the Gulf.
All of them essentially do, eventually. The minimum flows also are standard from
springs and tributaries to the river and so on.
P: What is your view of desalinization?
S: I think if you use reverse osmosis, it's a fairly low cost system. The problem is
your [product] from the plant is very salty, I mean it's very salty. The question is
how do you get rid of that, and where do you get rid of it.
P: Isn't it rather expensive at this juncture?
S: Well, we went to a reverse osmosis plant, I think it was in Dunedin. They were
providing about 10 percent of the city's water at that time. It seemed like a
reasonable amount of money per gallon that they were doing. But reverse
osmosis is really the only way to go, practically.
P: There was a desalinization plant in St. Pete or Tampa that has not done very
S: Yes, I think they had trouble with their Tampa plant.
P: At the Tampa plant, they apparently had little mollusks or something that kept
getting caught in the final product and they couldn't get rid of them. When you
look back at your time on the board, what power does the chairman-of-the-board
have? You became chairman in, I guess, 1987 and 1988. How did that change
your relationship with the board members?
S: I was just chairman of a collegial body.
P: Could you set the agenda?
S: I rarely attempted to. The staff sets the agenda. If I had a conflict with something
that was going on, it was easy to talk to Jerry about it, or Don, I guess.
P: That was my next question. How do you deal with these potential conflicts of
interest? Let's just say that you're gonna purchase some land from Buckeye
FWM 16, Stames, Page 30
Cellulose, and Auley Rowell used to work for them, does he recuse himself?
P: Did you find circumstances where people should have and did not?
P: So you had a pretty honest group, then?
S: Yes. They would all sign a document that the attorney prepared.
P: Were you at all disturbed about the fact that you had to make financial
S: No. It never bothered me.
P: Some people stepped down because of that. They didn't want to make that
S: I think that's foolish. What's the difference?
P: W ell ....
S: Today they can Google [search] and find it. I really think financial disclosure has
always been sort of.... In fact, when I was on the Dade County Commission,
we adopted a local ordinance that required it of all the city and county
commissioners and councilmen, and all the major staff. Put a lot of work on the
P: Talk about the staff at the Suwannee River when you were there. How many
people did you have, and did you have enough?
S: When I left there was about fifty, fifty-two, or fifty-three.
P: And so your budget would have been what?
S: I don't remember now.
P: Fifty million a year. Is that too high?
S: It was probably nearer to thirty-five or forty.
P: At that point was that enough money, enough employees to get done what you
needed to get done?
FWM 16, Stames, Page 31
P: It's just that you would say now that it probably would not be.
S: I think they only have sixty now.
P: I don't know how involved you would have been with wetlands mitigation. Did that
become an issue at all for you?
S: I don't like the notion of wetland mitigation. I think it's a dumb program. I think it's
a [concession] to developers.
P: You think the land ought to be saved or it ought not to be saved.
S: I think it ought to be saved or.. ?
P: So if you trade the developed land for five acres somewhere else?
S: I guess in a very limited way, it could work.
P: So you don't think it's worked very well?
S: I don't think it's worked very well. It's been a net loss in wetlands.
P: Yes, I understand that. The concept was to preserve wetlands. If it's a net loss,
it's not doing what it's supposed to do. Did you deal with that very much at all
when you were on the board?
S: Not at the district. In a way we did, because the DOT practices wetlands
mitigation. They gave the district some money, some grants, for wetlands
mitigation, and were able to use that in some very constructive land acquisition
programs that were very innovative
P: You ended your term on the board in 1988. Why did you do that?
S: I went to California on sabbatical.
P: You were out there teaching one year, is that right?
P: What would you say is the difference between the western system of water
management and the eastern system?
S: Very different, very different. The upstream rights are significant in terms of
FWM 16, Stames, Page 32
California water. The upstream guy has the water, and the downstream guy has
to make a deal with him. California is a whole different philosophy regarding
water. Water conservation in California is a prime public policy. When I was in
San Luis Obispo, they were at the end of a three or four-year drought. They're
always in a drought. It doesn't really matter if you get ten or twelve inches a year
of rain, maybe. Their reservoirs were running low. They had two or three
reservoirs that provided the water supply for the county.
P: They use reservoirs a lot more than we do, right?
S: Yes. They capture the water out of those streams coming down off the hills, and
rain, what little rain they get. That is funneled into the reservoirs. When they get
below a certain level, they have intense conservation measures. While I was
there, anytime you rent an apartment or you go in a hotel room, there's a
reminder that you have to conserve water. While I was there, the city of San Luis
Obispo issued an ultimatum that if your water use exceeded the previous
month's water use, they would come turn your water off. And it'd cost you a
hundred dollars to turn it back on.
P: That's a fairly severe penalty, isn't it?
S: Yes, it is. The last time I was out in California, we were out there in March, and I
noticed now in California they don't have the flush tanks like the little 1.7 gallon
flush tanks, they don't have those anymore. There's a container in the tank, and
it probably holds, somebody told me, a little less than a gallon of water. When
you flush, that container is under the pressure that's caused when it's sealed. It's
a sealed container, so when the water comes in it builds up it's own pressure.
That's California across the board now.
P: Do we need to do more of that here?
S: Yes, I think we do. As we move toward 30 million people or 40 million people, if
we don't learn to conserve water, we're going to be in a very profound problem.
P: Now when you were on the board, and you would have situations where you
would have had droughts, would you issue specific limits on car washing or
watering of lawns and that sort of thing?
S: We had a staged plan, and all the time I was on the board we only got to the first
stage. As Don Morgan used to call it, that was the take-a-shower-with-a-friend
stage. [laughter] I thought that was classic.
P: Hopefully a good friend. Did you issue guidelines about low flush toilets.
S: Well, low-flush toilets became standard ten or fifteen years ago, anyway. You
FWM 16, Stames, Page 33
couldn't buy anything but low-flush.
P: What else would you have done, or should you have done, to encourage
S: I think we should have been more rigorous about metering agricultural uses.
Metering was pretty much voluntary. I don't suspect that there were a lot of
cheaters out there, because the agriculture guys probably understand the
importance of water as much as anybody. I think that we should have metered, to
the extent that the district should have paid for the meters, whatever.
P: Should there ever be a user fee?
S: Probably, because we don't pay for water.
P: Well, we pay virtually nothing in terms of the quantity we use.
S: We don't pay for water. We pay for the pipes that get it there, and the pumps.
P: Eventually that cost is going to have to go up.
S: Yes. Jerry Milliman-you may remember Jerry was resource economist over in
the economics department for years-Jerry always insisted that Florida suffers for
not having a water use [FEE]. If you use water, you pay a fee. He says eventually
it's gonna catch up with the state.
P: Did you do a lot of well permitting?
S: All wells were permitted. Consumptive use permits for all agriculture use other
than domestic, public use, agriculture. Domestic use is the only thing excused
from consumptive use. They only wells that the district permitted were
agricultural or public use wells. The residential wells were handled by the district,
and we did license well drillers. That's the only control we may have over it.
P: Even though it was done on a private basis, right?
P: Talk about when you were there, and this is a little bit of an unfair question to
you, but you're still having the water management districts developing when you
were there. They're really just ten years old. What were the strengths of the early
districts, and the weaknesses of the early districts?
S: Well, I think the separation of powers was a weakness. Who issues permits, was
it DER, or was it the district? The wetland permitting and some of the other
FWM 16, Stames, Page 34
issues relating to permitting, I thought, were fairly confusing at first. A lot of that
was sorted out finally. I think it's sorted out pretty well now.
P: When you were on the board what sort of influence did the DER have on you?
What sort of regulations did they require of you? Did they require yearly reports?
S: Yes. They had to approve our land acquisition and our land management plan
every year. They had to approve the budget. Now the governor's office approves
P: I was getting ready to say that's changed. Now that puts more politics in it, does
S: I don't know how it's working, Julian. My guess is it's working pretty good.
P: One of the things that people tell me about the early boards, and even today, is
the independent lay boards have been a real strength of the WMD's.
P: And that's continued on pretty much into today.
S: Yes. When I got on the board, they were tending towards issuing variances. They
were issuing variances for economic hardships and that sort of thing. You really
can't issue a variance unless you've got a legal hardship. We got that pretty well
straightened out. All the years I was on the board, I don't think we ever did issue
any variances from any of the regulations that could be called economic
P: Well, it'd be difficult to prove legally exactly what that was, I would imagine.
S: Well, there's plenty of statutory precedence. Tom got it right for the board, and I
asked him to give the board a legal memorandum so that they understand what a
legal hardship really is.
P: How did the government and the Sunshine Law impact your activities on the
S: Probably not at all, because I was used to it.
P: If you were to, say, call the executive director prior to the meeting and discuss
with him the agenda, would that be a violation of the Sunshine Law?
S: No, that's not a violation.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 35
P: Only if you decide policy.
S: It's not really a violation then. The only thing that you can't do is I can't call the
executive director, and ask him to call another member of the board. The director
cannot be used as a communicant between members of the board. He can't tell
me how he thinks the other board members are going to act.
P: Nor could four of you go out and have a meeting prior to the regular meeting?
S: That's correct.
P: I remember Auley was telling me at one time that when Vicki Tshinkle was in
DER he went to some meeting and the agenda had been changed, and the
people that had some key goal that they wanted, had changed the agenda. He
ended up getting it changed back to the original agenda. Were you involved in
that meeting? It may have been between your terms, but he was saying that he
thought it was a violation of Sunshine Law if somebody had come in, and
deliberately changed the agenda to focus on whatever the goals were that they
were trying to achieve.
S: I don't know. I'm not sure. I don't recall that incident. I have no knowledge of it.
P: Okay. That's a good answer, always.
[End Tape A, Side 2.]
P: You were going to tell me about an incident while you were on state planning?
S: While I was a state planning director, I served on the original conservation and
lands acquisition advisory committee with Harmon Shields. And there were
several of us on there from several different agencies. I would get an agenda one
week ahead of the meeting, and by the time we got to the meeting the agenda
had changed, and the priorities had changed on the acquisitions. I couldn't figure
that out until maybe several months later when Harmon was indicted. I knew
something was going on that was not right. Those priorities were changing.
P: Not only was he indicted, but he was removed from office. He was involved pretty
heavily. A couple of issues. You were one of the major forces in the founding of
the 1000 Friends of Florida. Talk a little bit about how that got started, why you
thought it was necessary to have such an organization.
S: I had been in Oregon and I had met with Henry Richmond, and had quite a bit of
information about what 1000 Friends of Oregon had done and what they were
doing. Carl Feiss and I were on the faculty at the same time at U of F, and Carl
the old growth management years. So Carl says we need what he
FWM 16, Stames, Page 36
referred to as a war room. The war room would be a place that all of the
significant development impacts around the state would be accumulated in one
place so that people would know what's going on. Well, that led us to think about
a 1000 Friends of Oregon.
I called Richmond and asked him specifically if he had any objection to
Florida using a 1000 Friends of Florida. His comment was, well, I don't know.
Maybe we ought to franchise it. But he had no objections. Carl and I contacted Al
Hadid, who was over at the Southern Legal Council, which was then headed by, I
think, Roy Collins [LeRoy Collins, governor of Florida, 1955-1961] was one of the
advisors from Tallahassee. There were several of the law faculty involved in it.
This council was essentially taking land use cases, and that sort of thing pretty
much throughout Florida.
In other cases the public was under-represented by counsel. We, neighbors,
had a case up in Alachua, and got Al involved in that case, and it turns out that
the city of Alachua was dead wrong in the pursuit of it, and we were able to stop
the land use gift. Al and I became friends, so I talked to him and said can you
help us organize a 1000 Friends of Florida. He said yes. So we started with Al.
We researched the need for a corporate charter. We researched the need for
applications for 501C-3. Al started calling around, and we got Nat Reed to agree
to serve on the board. We got Buddy McKay to agree. Of course Carl and I would
serve, and then we kept adding people to the board, and we finally had an
original board meeting. Carl and Al and I met lots of times. When we filed a
corporate charter, he and I were the signatories to the corporate charter.
P: This would have been like 1988 or 1989, something like that?
S: Probably 1989. No. We started this before then, 1986 or 1987. It was before I
went to California, I think.
P: Oh, okay. Were you still on the board when you started this? Would you have
been chairman of the Suwannee?
S: I wasn't chairman. I was on the board when I started 1000 Friends, yes.
P: Is there, in this context, a conflict of interest? If you were founding a 1000 Friends
of Florida, does that make you more connected to the environmental point of
view, as it was?
S: Not necessarily, I don't think. Our mission was really to ensure that people
understood the growth management act, and to ensure that the provisions of the
planning principles were enforced. I guess we always said education and
litigation. Education first, and then litigation last.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 37
P: In addition to 1000 Friends of Florida and the Audubon Society, what other
groups would have been influential in terms of the environmental issues by the
S: Sierra Club.
P: Sierra Club. John Finlayson, when I talked to him, he was talking about what he
called the radical environmentalists.
S: I don't consider the Sierra Club nor the Audubon Society radical.
P: Who do you think he was talking about?
S: Maybe Greenpeace, I don't know. John has his own way of saying things.
P: I want to read you a little bit about that interview. Quoting John Finlayson: "Earl
and I are very good friends, but we have very different points of view. I think that
was helpful. Neither one of us would let the other one get by with anything." He
said when the board was discussing some issues he sat on his side of the board,
which he said was the right. Finlayson said, "I said well, the audience sees you
as the extreme left, and I considered myself to the right." So apparently he
looked at you, and I'll quote "this a little bit more, I was more of a minimalist, and
he wanted complete control of it." So he sees you as more of a regulator, and he
sees himself as looking at the government being very limited.
S: I would think that would be John's assessment.
P: So his view was he would be more in tune with incentives, purchasing land,
building above the flood plain, that sort of thing--non-structural kinds of changes
to control the environment?
S: Well, John was never in favor of structural changes.
S: Non-structural, yeah. In fact, I guess the board, when Morgan came on board so
to speak, they took the only [structure] in the Suwannee River out. They removed
it. I don't know if it was a famous [story], but I've quoted John Finlayson many
times. He told us the story of when Morgan took them all down to South Florida
to visit the South Florida waterworks, so to speak. They were showing the pump,
standing there at one of the pumps. John asked the fellow-one of the engineers
standing there-how much does it cost to run that pump each year? About a
million dollars in fuel. John told the guy, looked at him and said, you know, we
don't want none of those.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 38
P: Can't afford them.
S: John said our philosophy on our board is, God made it and gravity runs it.
P: I want to read you a couple of other things by John. I think you'll appreciate
these. He talks about different points of view. He is a minimalist, you wanted
more regulations. He said, since that time he [Starnes] has built a house in Cedar
Key. When he went through that permitting process, it opened his eyes. He says
he has a little different viewpoint than he did when we were making all those
rules. [laughter] Do you have any comment on that statement?
S: Actually, permitting was easy.
P: Then he talks about, and this is both from Auley and from John Finlayson. He
said, Auley Rowell would call a recess to go to the bathroom, while Earl and I
went to the bathroom in the sunshine. We would kind of hash out our differences
and come to some sort of compromise. It was amicable. We didn't fuss and holler
and yell at each other.
S: No, we didn't. I really have an abiding respect for John Finlayson. I think he's just
a fine man, and Auley. The only problem I had with Auley is when I became
chairman, I felt bad. We abolished all his committees. We would go to a board
meeting. We'd get there at nine o'clock in the morning, and there would be
committee meetings till noon. Then we'd have a recess for an hour and a half for
lunch and we'd come back to the board meeting, and we'd go through all the
same stuff again. I said this doesn't make sense to me, so we abolished all the
committees. We ended up having board meetings that lasted no longer than a
day, half a day.
P: He recounts a story that at some point, somebody, when he was chairman,
somebody wanted to remove him and was going to nominate you. He said that,
just as we got seated and called the meeting to order, Earl says, I nominate
Auley Rowell for chairman. After the meeting Earl said, "I better get on that train
before it runs over me." In other words, he was probably going to be retained as
S: I think it was Shotner who wanted to make the change. I said whoa, I don't think
we want to do that!
P: I'd like to get you to respond to this. Auley said, "I think John DeGrove, Earl
Starnes, were probably the same. They were really professional people,
professional planners, had a lot to offer. They probably had it all figured out
before they got there." He goes on to say, "Earl had a long standing relationship
with environmental groups in Gainesville at the University. They knew him.
People in Tallahassee knew him. [He was on a ] first name basis with [Governor]
FWM 16, Stames, Page 39
Askew. He could open doors up there, which was something the rest of us could
not do. He had a real in-depth knowledge of all the Chapter 120 of the DCA and
the departmental community up there." You knew how the agencies worked, how
they meshed together, so that he sees your major contribution, in a way, as
dealing with these agencies.
S: Was that Auley?
P: Yes. Would you agree with that?
S: It never occurred to me that I was doing all that for the district.
P: But you did do all that. You did have access to Graham and Askew, so obviously
he saw that as an advantage, because most of the people were basically local
and didn't have the experience that you had.
S: Graham was concerned about the Everglades, and I guess because of, oh gosh,
who's the lady who wrote The River of Grass?
P: Marjory [Stoneman] Douglas.
S: Marjory Douglas. Marjory, well, she had called Graham, and I was on the board,
and she wanted to come and talk about the Everglades. Graham and whoever
wanted me there, and I went, and I had forgotten who else was there. There was
just three or four of us in the room. Buddy may have been there. The purpose
was to-this was long before any of the Everglades restoration-any of that stuff
was beginning. The purpose was to essentially talk about how can we restore the
Everglades. I guess, in talking to the governor at that time, and Margery Douglas.
She has a middle name.
P: Stoneman. Marjory Stoneman.
S: Stoneman, right. She was the daughter of the former Miami Herald editor. I said
well, Bob, we can do these things. We can do this and this and this, but
somebody has to be the institution that moves this whole thing forward, because
you're going to have all kinds of people involved. You need to have an
institutional arrangement that is somewhat permanent. I don't know what that is
right now. That essentially was the beginning, I think, of the restoration project.
P: This was the save our Everglades plan, that's when Graham was starting on
P: While we're on that subject, talk a little bit about how all of this has evolved. What
FWM 16, Stames, Page 40
do you think of the process up to this moment, in terms of restoring the
Everglades? Has it been effective? Will it achieve its purpose?
S: I don't know what its purpose was exactly, Julian, but I understand that only
about thirty percent of it will be restored in the long run.
P: We can't restore it as it was, obviously.
S: I think that's important, yes. As a matter of fact my daughter is a planner for that
project for the water management district.
P: Does she work with Rock Salt [Director of the Florida Everglades Restoration
project] at all?
S: She's with South Florida in the Fort Myers office.
P: They have a lot of connections with the Army Corps of Engineers.
S: Correct. She goes to Jacksonville about twice a month, and [to] Atlanta.
P: Certainly the concept, if we look at the fact that Florida has an underwater
aquifer, and the importance of water, one would think that would be a major
priority for this state. I think that Governor Bush has supported it, and the federal
government supported it, and Bob Graham, of course, is probably the mover and
shaker of the whole concept.
S: Bob Graham was a mover and shaker regarding planning all along. Bob was in
the Senate when we finally got a statewide permissive planning act.
P: You're talking about the Florida State Senate?
S: Yes. We never [had] a planning act in Florida. If county aid wanted to do any
planning, they had to go to the legislature to get a special act in order to do that.
That's how bad Florida was in 1969.
P: He's really a policy wonk.
S: Oh, yes.
P: He understands what's really going on with all of these issues.
P: Now you go back to the Suwannee River Water Management Board in 1991. You
would have been appointed by Lawton Chiles [US Senator, Governor of Florida,
FWM 16, Stames, Page 41
1991-1998]. Why did you decide to go back? You mentioned earlier your service.
S: I just loved it. That's why.
P: How was your second time different from your first?
S: Not very much.
P: The goals, objectives, problems still pretty much the same?
S: Yes. I think they had matured at that point. Jerry was now executive director. I
really think that Jerry is a much ....
P: Now, who is this Jerry?
S: Jerry Scarborough. Jerry's a much more centralized manager than Don was.
P: And probably had to be, at this point.
S: Yeah. Well, they had so many programs going on, goodness gracious. They had
a whole lot of programs, SWIM and the acquisition programs, and they had the
quality community programs going on that had matured, at that point. There was
just a world of activities. The Suwannee Partnership was emerging at that point.
P: Talk about the Wilderness Trail. Did it come along at that time, or was it earlier?
S: It came along about that time. Actually, I guess I got the district involved in the
trail business. 1000 Friends had an idea of building a statewide greenway and
trail system. I have trouble with names, but 1000 Friends, and Buddy McKay, and
I went to see Lawton Chiles, and presented Lawton with the idea that if he would
create a Florida Greenways Commission, 1000 Friends would staff it. We had
money from the Conservation Foundation to do that. Lawton thought that was
great. He was going to create a commission, and it wasn't going to cost any
P: That's always a good thing to do.
S: So he did. He named Buddy McKay to it, and Nat Reed as chairman. Buddy and
Nat were co-chairs. I got appointed as a member, and out of that came the
statewide Greenway Program, which includes the Wilderness Trail and all these
other things that have emerged since that time. That was another fun project.
P: Did the Suwannee River Water Management District purchase the land for the
FWM 16, Stames, Page 42
S: We got this thing going statewide, and then I talked to Jerry and I talked to the
board members in a meeting. I said, we need to develop our own trail program.
There's a landscaping architect [Mark Gluckman] operating up in Bell, [and] he
had done a sort of a very preliminary sketch of green way and trail programs,
using primarily old abandoned railroad tracks through this whole region. I
suggested at the board meeting that maybe we ought to hire him if he's willing to
come on board, and be our advisor for a year or two, or whatever it took to get a
trail program and greenway program adopted into the district. The board
members thought that was a good idea, so we moved forward. The district was
the first district to adopt a greenway and trail program. Since that time, the district
has-this is another one of those programs the district has gotten involved in.
Since that time, they have been the DOT representative for trail building in the
entire Suwannee Water Management District. All of this is in the sense of
conservation and recreation.
P: Some of the people I've talked to said over a period of time that one of the
problems [with] the water management districts [was] they were getting too many
things to do, that the local governments were happy to let the water management
district take on that issue. The state government says well, you guys deal with
that, and they were starting to lose some of their focus on what their original
purpose was. Would you agree with that criticism?
S: Not with regard to Suwannee, I don't think. I don't know the other districts that
P: This was mainly from south Florida.
S: I would think that would be [so]. Suwannee has been very helpful, and I think
they sense that as a vacuum, because the Regional Planning Councils are
essentially not very helpful.
P: How did you get along with local governments? County, city governments? Did
you meet with them frequently, talk to them frequently?
S: On the district?
S: Yes, we met periodically with them, information meetings and that sort of thing.
P: Would there be conflicts as to your goals and their purposes?
S: Not usually, Julian. They were willing to have the district do it.
P: That's what I mean. As long as you did it, they didn't have to pay for it.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 43
S: That's right. These local governments up here in this region are pretty poor.
P: Yes. They don't have a lot of projects, anyway. How was Suwannee impacted by
the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act?
S: Suwannee is not a wild an scenic river, although it probably should be.
P: I was thinking, it should have been.
S: It was never designated. It probably is the only wild and scenic river of any
consequence in the state.
P: That's why I'm surprised at that. Wouldn't that have been the logical river to be
designated? Is there a reason why it was not?
S: I don't know why it was not.
P: That's a federal program, right?
S: Yes. That was all done in Florida. I have a suspicion that the congressmen up in
this area didn't want it.
P: I was going to say, what would be the negative on that? Again, the federal
government would obviously take some land?
S: I don't think that was ever a land acquisition program, that was a regulatory
P: But once it's designated, there have to be certain restrictions?
S: Yes. There can be no net change in the quality of the water.
P: Therefore you couldn't build a cement plant.
S: No. Most likely, you couldn't.
P: As we know, they continue to be built.
P: It depends on what position the governor takes?
S: Oh, God the governor flipped on that one ....
P: He really did. Since you have been at the water management district and state
FWM 16, Stames, Page 44
government, how have lobbyists impacted governmental decisions, both at the
state level and at the regulatory level? I think of somebody like Wade Hopping or
somebody who represents important constituents. Did you all have trouble with
that at the local level?
S: Never. In fact, I wouldn't even take calls from people who had something on the
agenda. Some people I really have respect for would call and say such and such
about the agenda, and I'd say no, I'm not going to talk about that. It saves you a
lot of time.
P: Well, it does, yes. Why doesn't the populace of the state of Florida know more
about water management districts? I would guess one in a hundred people might
have some vague idea of what they do.
S: We did a study when I was over at Urban Planning. We were asked by the St.
John's Water Management District to study their impact upon-well, in a way-
their impact on the general public. We used a telephone survey done by
somebody there on campus, we contracted with them. We randomly called
people throughout the water management district, and our conclusion was
interesting. We reported it to the board over there, which was also funny. We
found that the people didn't know they were paying taxes to support it, and they
didn't know it existed, but they sure as heck liked what it did. One of the board
members says, I can't believe that, but that's the best thing you could have.
P: They can do what they want to, then. I was talking to Estus Whitfield about this,
and he said he thought that was the biggest failure of the water management
districts, that somehow or another they have not conveyed to the people who are
paying these taxes, what they do and what their responsibilities are.
S: That's true. I think there has been no public relations program, period, that I'm
ever aware of.
P: Should there be?
S: I think there should be, yes, certainly. I think if we're ever going to make the
public conscious of conservation needs, the water management guys in the state
are going to have to do some real educational programs.
P: It seems to me that would be right at the top of the list as we get more people, we
get more saltwater intrusion, we get all these problems that have to be dealt with.
S: You're right on that one.
P: Yes, now we see Jeb Bush talking about a statewide water board to make
decisions, as opposed to the water management districts. What would be your
FWM 16, Stames, Page 45
view of that, and how do you feel about the water wars? Should water be
transported form one district to another?
S: Only after major conservation measures and local resources are considered, to
the extent that they can be utilized without damaging the local environmental
P: If they take water out of the Suwannee River and send it to St. Pete or
somewhere, it has to affect the water here.
S: Right. It could ruin this whole fishery.
P: If you appoint a statewide board instead of the experts of the water management
districts, doesn't that shift the responsibility to political people?
S: I think it becomes a very politicized operation, and I think that would be tragic.
P: Let me ask you some general questions about criticisms of the water
management district. One is that water management districts do not now, and
have not, paid as much attention to scientific evidence as they should have.
S: My guess is that would vary with the districts, and it would vary with the scientists
available at the time.
P: How about Suwannee?
S: I think Suwannee has tried to do its homework in terms of science, but I think
there have been occasions when it was required to make decisions without all
the scientific backup.
P: But you certainly have enough scientific input?
P: Water management districts have too much authority. There's really no
regulation per se. There's DER and DEP, but how much do they really regulate?
The legislature doesn't do much. They have taxing authority and therefore they
are too independent. They should be more regulated.
S: I don't think they're all that independent, frankly. I think the governor's office is
monitoring their budgets. The DEP has to approve their plans each year, and
DEP has to approve their water management plan, and their acquisition plans. I
think that the local citizens do not participate. We would have budget hearings
and no one would show up. One time a fellow showed up from Georgia, and he
was at the wrong district, but I think that's a bit of the outreach problem.
FWM 16, Stames, Page 46
P: That's going to be another issue, when we start talking about rivers that flow from
Georgia and Alabama into Florida. It's not quite like California, but that could be
an issue. Those issues have not been resolved at all, have they?
S: No. Suwannee's probably in pretty good shape, because there are no major
users on the Suwannee, even in Georgia. There is one big pulp mill on a tributary
of the Suwannee, the Withlacoochee, and there's another pulp mill out there
somewhere. I think those are pretty well regulated at this point in time. Come to
look at it, I looked at the water in one of those tributaries and the water was tea-
colored. I don't think that was particularly well-regulated.
P: Doesn't sound like it, anyway.
S: There's a staff group between Georgia and Suwannee working on the Suwannee
basin. Now, how effective that's been over time, I don't know.
P: How did the water management districts change from 1982 until the time you left
in 1997? Mainly, obviously, Suwannee, because that's your experience.
S: They ended up with a lot more permitting power. They'd permit docks and sea
walls, a lot of stuff that was pretty much dumped on them by the legislature.
P: When you left, what would you see as the biggest weaknesses of the Suwannee
River Water Management District?
S: Probably public support. It just isn't there.
P: Of course one aspect, once you get public knowledge, you're also going to get
more public criticism and more public intervention, so there's a downside to it, I
presume as well. Maybe in some cases, water management districts are pretty
happy to operate in the dark.
S: Well, it's like the survey. We found they were real happy. Nobody knows what
P: What is going to be the main task of water management districts in the future?
S: I think they're going to become much more involved in water resource
management for public consumption. Consumptive use, that sort of thing. I think
they're going to have to learn to tie consumptive use to land use decisions and
development decisions. They have been very reluctant to do that, and they really
haven't had the authority to do that. As a matter of fact, when they issue permits
for consumptive use, they aren't even statutorily permitted to look at the local
land use development plan. That's going to be a problem that has to be resolved
FWM 16, Stames, Page 47
P: So if they're going to get consumptive use, let's just say there's going to be a
new shopping center, a new 3,000 home subdivision, those sorts of things, they
don't have to pay any attention to the local planning issues, at all?
P: It would seem absolutely essential that they work together.
S: The problem is that they haven't been required to. They haven't done it in the
P: Shouldn't they do that in a logical sense of trying to accomplish their goals?
S: Julian, what needs to happen is the local plans-instead of being based on "water
will always be there for our developments"-the local plans are going to have to
be based on what water resources are going to be available to support
development, and to what extent can we expect that support?
P: So it's the obligation of these resource planners. They need to go to the WMD's.
S: That's correct. But at this point in time, water has been thought of kind of like a
utility. The electric companies don't worry about local plans. They say, well, if you
build it, we'll serve it, and that's been the attitude of planners for water. That
cannot continue in Florida.
P: When you look at your time both as chairman and on the board, what would have
been the most difficult decisions you had to make?
S: I suppose the most difficult one would be the employment of an executive
director, but I wasn't involved in that, ever.
P: Who made those choices?
S: The board, before I came back, the board had already made the choice, and Don
retired after I left.
P: But now the board can remove the executive director?
S: That's correct, and that never came up as an issue. There was never a time, of
all the years I was on the board, that there was a question about the executive
P: There was no need to remove him.
S: Nope. There was no need, and there was no questions about staff. Not at the
FWM 16, Stames, Page 48
P: Obviously in other areas they've had to do that, for various reasons. Either
incompetence or malfeasance or something like that. But you never had that
S: Never had that problem.
P: When you look back, what would you say, in terms of water management district,
would be the greatest accomplishment of the board while you were on the
S: I think the greatest accomplishment was to get the land acquisition going. That
took a lot of effort. It got started without it ever becoming an ethics issue, and it
could have become so very quickly. We intentionally kept the board out of the
negotiation and out of the direct dealing with owners.
P: What would be your biggest disappointment, what you didn't get accomplished
that you would like to have done?
S: Probably that we didn't pay enough attention to minimum flows and levels, which
had been on the books for years. And probably the fact that the water
management districts do not have sufficient enough authority to deal with
contamination issues, like the dairies and nitrates.
P: Were you ever concerned in the water management district with best
management practices? Did you work with some sort of standards?
S: Yeah, those were okay.
P: You had no problem with those?
S: No. The silva-culture of best management practices and agriculture best
management practices seem to be working pretty well, as far as I know.
P: What is the future of water in Florida?
S: It's going to become rare.
P: And expensive.
S: I had some notes. In Florida we are right now consuming about 180 gallons of
water a day per person. In Central California they consume 120. We can't
continue to do that. If we add another 20 million people, that's a lot of water. We
don't have that much water. I think it comes out to about 160 billion gallons of
FWM 16, Stames, Page 49
P: So the alternative is then going to be increase the price of water so that will keep
people conserving, or like in California, if they exceed the previous month they
cut the water off?
S: That was a short term thing, but they had the authority to do that.
P: But we may get to that point.
S: Yeah. I think we've got to not just educate people about water use, yards. Drive
through these subdivisions and you see all these wonderful, beautiful green
grasses. That stuff takes about 100 inches of water a year to make it work. We
just can't do that.
P: How about use of grey water? They use that on golf courses.
S: Yeah, grey water. We use it here in Cedar Key. We have it on the cemetery, and
it's been piped to the park, but it hasn't been used in the park yet. They're a little
skittish about that in the park.
P: Well, it's not dirty, I mean, it's not sewage water.
S: No, it's just not pure.
P: You can drink it?
S: You can drink it, but it's not advisable.
P: Is there anything that we have not talked about? Any issues or events? One
other thing I wanted to ask you about is some of the really important characters,
we've already talked about Auley Rowell, and John Finlaysin, and Don Morgan,
and John DeGrove. How about Charley Jones?
S: I never did know him very well. He was the governor's brother.
P: Anybody else that you met that was particularly admirable?
S: Oh, I've got a huge admiration for, oh, what's his name? We talked about him
earlier, the 1000 Friends president.
P: John DeGrove?
S: No. He's from Jupiter.
FWM-16, Starnes, Page 50
P: Oh, Nat Reed.
S: Nat Reed. A huge respect for Nat.
P: Anything else you'd like to talk about or bring up?
S: Gosh, I reckon not. I just would not like to see water management in this state
politicized, because we've seen what can happen to the higher educational
system by politicizing it, and the same thing can happen to water management.
We just cannot politicize. We've got to avoid that at all costs, so to speak.
P: On that note we'll end the interview. Thanks very much.
[End of Interview.]