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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
P: This is Julian Pleasants, and I'm in Tallahassee, Florida. It is November 18,
2005, and I'm with Mr. Bill Smith. Tell me when and where you were born.
S: I was born in Athens, Georgia, August 26, 1922.
P: Tell me a little bit about your education. Where did you go to school and what did
you major in?
S: My father was a civil engineer with the Bureau of Public Roads, and as a result I
traveled around quite a bit at a young age. I was in twelve different schools in
twelve different grades. I ended up in a military school, Castle Heights Military
Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee. I went from there into the service in 1942 and
served in the Mediterranean theater, Africa, Sicily, and Italy. I was a infantry
platoon Sergeant and was wounded in Northern Italy in 1944 and spent thirteen
months in the hospital before being sent to Halloran General Hospital, Staten
Island, New York. I was discharged from Deshon General Hospital in Butler,
P: Let's talk a little bit about your military career. What unit were you with?
S: I was with the 91st infantry division rifle company.
P: You were in Sicily? Is that where you first entered combat?
S: I was in Africa, Sicily, and Italy [as a part-time Sergeant replacement].
P: So you knew about General George Patton and General Bernard Montgomery?
S: I didn't know them personally, but I was there.
P: Were you aware of the competition between Montgomery and Patton as to who
would be the most successful general?
S: You know I found out about that after the war was over. As an infantry soldier
you know where your foxhole is and the guy next to you.
P: That's all you need to know, right?
S: That's all you need to know.
P: What was the fighting like? You were in North Africa prior to Sicily?
P: Were you at Al Alamein or anywhere? That was mainly the British.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 2
S: No, I was in Africa. I was primarily a replacement that went in after Kasserine
P: You're lucky you missed the Kasserine Pass. Then how long were you in North
S: About four months.
P: And then you went from there to Sicily?
P: And how long were you in Sicily?
S: We were in Sicily about three months.
P: Then you went to Italy?
S: Then we went to Italy, correct.
P: Where did you land in Italy?
S: We came in after Salerno.
P: Salerno, yeah. So you were not in the first wave at Salerno?
S: No I was not. Then we went up the boot.
P: Did you go to Monte Casino?
S: Yes, we were at Monte Casino. Then we came around through Anzio and then
up the boot to Leghorn, Pisa, and Florence, then up into the Apennine Mountains
between Florence and Bologna. I was hit in a little mountain area called
Liveringono. The guys couldn't pronounce it so they called it liver and onions. I
was hit in November 6, 1944. I found out later that Bob Dole was with the Tenth
Mountain Division on Mount Belvedere right adjacent and was hit on the same
day or about the same day that I was hit and went back to the same evac
P: What kind of wounds did you suffer?
S: Head wounds. I was almost totally deaf for thirteen months.
P: So it was a shell that hit?
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 3
S: They called it a Screaming Mimi.
P: I've heard of those. You heard 'em coming, but you couldn't get out of the way.
S: That's right.
P: So after you left the hospital you went back to school. Where did you go?
S: I attended Loyola and Tulane University on the GI Bill. At that time, Tulane and
Loyola were taking the GIs together. In other words, the campuses were next to
each other and so we attended both schools on different subjects.
P: And what were you studying?
S: I was taking pre-med at the time.
P: What is the long term goal at this point? What do you plan to do with your life at
S: At that time?
S: I was hoping to get in med school, but at that time there was not a medical
school in the state of Florida. All the schools were trying to keep the GIs who
were going to medical school as physicians in their state, understandably so.
Florida had a hard time trying to get any doctors, or potential doctors, into med
school under the GI Bill. I got four years of college altogether, but I did not get
into medical school.
P: At that point, and by the way I should point out that the GI Bill is one of the great
investments that the government of the United States has made in this country. I
know it was an unusual situation because a lot of these schools all of a sudden
were overwhelmed with large numbers of veterans coming back. And as I
understand it, most veterans were eager to get through and get on with their
P: What was the initial decision after you decided not to go to medical school?
S: While at Tulane I worked at Charity Hospital in Central Supply and acquired a
certain amount of knowledge in equipment and instruments. So I decided that I
probably would be all right in the surgical supply business. I went with a company
in Tampa, Anderson Surgical Supply, and then went with a company out of St.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 4
Louis, Missouri, A.S. Aloe Company. After sixteen years, I decided to start my
own company which was named Southeastern Surgical Supply Company. We
had salesmen working an area from South Carolina, part of Tennessee, Georgia,
Alabama, and of course, all of Florida.
P: When did you first get involved with water management?
S: I first started out on the ELMS [Environmental Land Management Study]
Committee, which I was appointed to by Reubin Askew in 1972. Then I served on
that committee until 1974. The members of that committee were asked to pass
certain acts in the legislation, or be instrumental in writing them. Governor Askew
gave me the job of writing the Land Reclamation Act of 1974. I was involved in
writing that letter and more or less lobbying to have the act passed in 1974.
P: Tell me exactly what that act was about.
S: It has quite a bit of things in that act, but primarily we were doing a lot of digging
of lime rock and were asked to pass an act whereby if you dug deep trenches to
secure the minerals, you had to put them back into a agricultural state. We had
quite a bit of concern coming from Polk County and Gadsden County, where a lot
of excavation was going on. What it amounted to is when a hole in the ground
was dug, they had to come back and put the area into an agricultural state again.
P: You mean things like limestone pits?
P: Any kind of quarries that they were digging?
P: How was the act enforced? Who enforced it?
S: It was enforced by, at that time, I believe it was enforced by the Land
P: Now you were involved with ELMS as well. ELMS was the first time that there is
going to be a regional impact statement. Were you involved with any part of the
legislature as well?
P: What was the initial purpose of having a regional impact statement?
S: Well, I think the purpose was we didn't have anything like that in the books, or
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 5
any laws to that effect. In investigating this Land Reclamation Act, I found that
there were only four states that had a Land Reclamation Act. Pennsylvania I
think was one, Georgia was one, Oregon, and I believe Washington state.
P: This is the first real attempt at growth management in the state of Florida
because it's combined with the water management districts being set up in 1972
and some land conservation acts. So collectively for the first time the state is
getting involved in not only regulating water, but also trying to some degree to
control growth. Would that be a fair statement?
S: That's correct.
P: How committed was Reubin Askew to environmental issues and water
S: I think he'll probably go down in the history as a governor that really did more for
the environment than any governor, even Bob Graham, probably.
P: Was there a lot of opposition to the Reclamation Act?
S: It was from the people who were digging and the mining corporation.
P: The phosphate industry in particular?
S: Phosphate and so forth.
P: If we look at the damage that was done by the phosphate industry in terms of
impact on the Floridian aquifer, it was pretty serious problems in terms of
pollution, was it not?
S: It was. And I think probably it really was settled at the right time when it was
getting out of hand. I've been told that since then the people down in Polk County
were real happy that the act went into effect because now where they did have
mines, they're now having housing developments, and wouldn't have had that,
had they have ended up with holes in the ground.
P: How long did it take for the act to have an impact? Did it take a few years before
the companies adjusted to the new requirements?
S: I think probably it did. Yes.
P: Were you involved at all in setting up the water management districts? Were you
aware of the process of that legislature?
S: No, I was not involved in that. I guess it was about ten years after that
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 6
involvement took place before I was on the board.
P: Talk about your relationship with the Northwest Florida Water Management
District. When did you first become involved, and who appointed you to the
S: I was appointed by Reubin Askew.
P: I have 1978.
S: That's probably correct, yes?
P: Now, other than the work with Land Reclamation, you had not had any
experience with water management at all. Is that correct?
S: That's correct.
P: Why would you accept that job?
S: Well, primarily because the governor asked me.
P: What did you have to go through to become acclimated to the issues you were
going to have to face? If you had not had much work previously, once you got on
the board, it must have been a pretty hard process to learn everything you
needed to learn.
S: Well, we had the people with the knowledge that were conveying it to us.
P: So the staff people and the science people?
S: The staff did a good job. We made a lot of trips around the state, and they
acquainted us with the problems. Well problems, wetlands, so forth.
P: I've talked to several people who were on the boards of water management
districts. You don't get paid, there are no perks, there's an awful lot of work. Why
would people do that?
S: I think they do it because they feel like they're accomplishing something. They're
doing something for their state, for their community.
P: Were you aware, were the water management districts aware in 1978, how
critical the issue of water and water quality was around the state?
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 7
P: Because part of that time had been mainly flood control, and now it's going to be
changed pretty dramatically.
S: Actually the Suwannee District, St. John's District, and Northwest Florida District,
really are the controllers of that aquifer. It'd end up down in south Florida. I think
for that reason it's very important that they're recognized in a geographically
significant state that they've got to control it on this end to support the southern
end in the state.
P: Do you think the decision to put the water management districts on river basins
was the correct decision?
S: I think so.
P: Are you knowledgeable about how Northwest Florida, in terms of ad valorem tax
got only .05? Do you know where that decision came from?
S: I don't know where it came from, but I know that we haven't increased it since it's
been in effect.
P: Some people told me that they thought that it was a mistake, that it supposed to
be .5 instead of .05.
S: I've heard that.
P: I've also heard that people like Dempsey Barron and others were opposed to
having any kind of regulation and they didn't want to be taxed, and therefore they
wanted to have the lowest possible ad valorem rate. Do you know anything about
S: I've heard that, yes.
P: What was the initial goal of this water management district when you came
aboard? What were the major issues that the board faced in 1978?
S: Looking back on things that I was involved in, there was the Lake Jackson
P: Talk about Lake Jackson. That was a storm water improvement project?
S: That's correct.
P: And this was sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency?
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 8
P: So this was a federal agency doing a sort of a trial run to see what worked?
S: A trial run, right, correct.
P: What exactly was going on and what did the Florida Water Management District
have to do with this project?
S: The biggest problem we found was the effluence from parking lots and roads (I-
10), were going into the lake. So it was decided that we'd investigate building a
large holding pond with the run-off into the lake from the holding pond with a
environmental control system that would filtrate water into the lake. Not
necessarily clean, but cleaner than it was.
P: And what impact did this solution have on Lake Jackson?
S: I think it's done very well.
P: Prior to this demonstration project, was the lake severely polluted?
P: What else do you do about that kind of surface problem? If you look at gas
stations and all of these shopping centers, obviously they have to have some
retention pond or some run-off. At that time I don't suppose there were many
rules and regulations about that.
S: No. There are now, a lot of regulations to that effect.
P: You remember SWIM [Surface Water Improvement Management]?
P: Was that part of the process of trying to clean up the surface water around the
P: Give me some examples of some of the things that you would do under SWIM.
S: Well, I think projects were outlined by the board and put into effect and pretty
much started the retention ponds throughout north Florida.
P: And this was funded by the legislature?
S: Some of it was, yes.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 9
P: And some of it by northwest Florida?
P: There's been some discussion over the years that .05 was not enough money to
do all things that the water management district needed to do. Did you find that to
be the case when you were there?
P: Would it have been better if you'd had .5 or one mil. or something like that?
S: I'm sure it would have been better, yes.
P: Some people argue that since it's the smallest district that's enough money to
carry out the responsibilities.
S: Actually, it's not the smallest district geographically.
P: Population wise.
S: Population wise, I guess Suwannee's probably lower, smaller. So, yes, but
geographically I think we're not larger than the South, but ....
P: Was there ever any talk about trying to get that ad valorem tax raised?
S: Oh, they've tried it several times.
P: No success?
P: A couple of other issues that you would have had to deal with. One is well
permitting. Were there quite a few wells in the district?
P: I guess you would have had to make some sort of survey to find out how many
wells, and what you needed to do about permitting.
S: Well, they designated several key wells in different counties which they could
audit the wells periodically as to the amount of water and where they were as
related to ones that might be drying up.
P: Did you set up a process for permitting new wells?
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 10
P: What did the people have to go through to get a permit from the district?
S: They had to make a written application and meet certain requirements and then
the applications would go before the board for approval.
P: And the key ingredient in your decision would be where the well was located?
S: I would say yes, probably where it was located in relation to other wells around it.
P: Were most of these private wells or were there other individuals who wanted to
dig wells for a new development project?
S: Well, there were community wells that had to be approved, and then developers
came in. We've still got a real problem with that as far as developing is
concerned. A lot of developers are going in and putting in one house per half-
acre on large plots that were formerly farms, and there's not going to be that
much water coming through those aquifers to support it. It's gonna be a real
problem in the future.
P: Particularly now we're seeing this huge development down in the Panhandle and
they're going to be developing thousands of acres. That's going to put a great
strain on the aquifer I assume.
P: Another issue you would have had to deal with is consumptive use regulations.
And I would assume that in the beginning here you really don't have much in the
way of rules and regulations. You sort of have to make this up as you go. How
were you going through this process of dealing with consumptive use?
S: Well consumptive use where and in what regard?
P: Just public water, private water, whatever. However it was used. I assume that
once the act was passed in 1972, whatever had been legal before would still be
P: Did you have any controls? Let's just say there's a drought. Would the board limit
watering on every other day or eliminate lawn watering?
S: I think they'd make recommendations to the various communities, and the
communities it would be up to them to enforce the recommendations.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 11
P: Did you do much of that?
S: I don't recall that we did much of that. We've only had really two severe drought
periods that I recall in the last thirty or forty years.
P: What about flooding? Was that an issue?
S: Yes, that was an issue.
P: Where in particular?
S: Well mainly on the rivers, Apalachicola and Ochlocknee rivers.
S: Yeah. We've had severe problems over the years of those flooding.
P: Mainly with the Apalachicola?
P: What did you do to minimize flooding problems?
S: As you know, in Chattahoochee they pretty well regulate the water flow of the
river below the Chattahoochee.
P: Minimum and maximum flows.
P: You didn't do any ditch digging at all or canals?
S: Water management didn't, but the Corps of Engineers did a lot.
P: How did you get on with the Corps of Engineers, while we're on that?
S: You're talking about the water managements district?
S: We got along all right with them. That varies with communities, like the oyster
people were never happy with them and the fishing guys and so forth were not
happy with them. But then you've got the other side of the ledger where they
were trying to get coal barges and steel barges up the river, and you were having
a problem in particular during a low rain period where they couldn't get up the
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 12
river, and they wanted to dredge more.
P: What was your view of the Cross-Florida Barge Canal?
S: I think it ended up where it ought to be.
P: Do you think it did much damage to the environment or water quality?
S: I think it probably would have, but I don't think it went that far. It went into the
edge of Marion County from the St. John's. So I don't think it really did that much.
P: If it had gone all the way across the state, then it might have been a different
S: Right, right. I think it would have done harm.
P: When you look at conservation issues, and there are going to be several. I think
one of the more important ones that we just mentioned is the Save Our Rivers
legislation. Tell me what that was about and specifically what the district did to
implement Save Our Rivers.
S: We had the Apalachicola River listed as a Save Our River, and I was familiar with
that. I guess St. Johns is listed, too as a Save Our Water. I'm not sure about the
others. Those are the only two that I'm aware of.
P: So what would you do to save them? Would you buy land along the rivers?
S: You mean the state and the water management district buy land on the river?
S: Well of course, my feeling on that is, why are you buying it? Like we bought
95,000 acres, I think it was, on the Apalachicola River on the bluffs. That was
one purchase while I ....
P: Now this was the purchase from the Southwest Forest Industries land?
P: And you purchased that land on the bluffs to protect from development. Is that
S: From development and from erosion and the protection of the foliage and so
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 13
P: And wildlife?
S: Wildlife. I think that was an excellent move.
P: Now who paid for that purchase?
S: It was, as I recall, it was in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy. Where
they came in and bought it, and then the state came in and bought it from the
P: So it was paid mainly by state funds because they had CARL [Conservation and
Recreational Lands Program] and they had Preservation 2000, but a lot of land
purchase programs. So most of this would have been purchased by the state.
S: That's correct.
P: Now the water management district also could purchase land, but since you
didn't have a lot of money I wouldn't imagine you would have purchased a lot of
land. You had bonding authority. Did you ever float bonds to purchase land?
P: So if you found land that the water management district thought was essential to
preserve these rivers, you would have to go to the state and ask them for the
S: Correct. Usually Nature Conservancy was the vehicle we used.
P: Tell me what was the Nature Conservancy and what were they doing during this
period of time?
S: They'd work with the water management district in the financing and with the
P: Now was this the state part of Nature Conservancy or was this the national
P: Okay. And you would be the ones, the water management districts, you would be
the ones that would determine what land needed to be purchased.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 14
P: And the staff would bring that to the board, and the board would vote on that.
S: That's correct. And they would run a survey and find out the acreage involved
and then the amount of money it was going to take to buy that acreage.
P: Was most of this land purchased on eminent domain or was it purchased from
S: I think it was willing sellers.
P: So the land owners would in essence have an attorney who would come to the
state and say I have this land, I want to sell it for this price, and they would
S: That's correct.
P: Once the land is purchased, then who is responsible for maintaining that land?
S: It all depends. For example we were instrumental in the Wakulla Springs
purchase. I was appointed as chairman of the Wakulla Springs Board at that
time. We worked with the Department of Environmental Control as well as the
Park Service. I guess you've met Landram before with Park Service.
P: I know who he is.
S: So we worked with the Park Service. This committee that we were on lasted for
three years, and at the end of that time it was turned over to the Park Service.
I've got something, information here, files that I thought maybe you'd like to go
through and look to see what the Northwest Florida Water Management District
did since 1985 really is when we started the purchase of the land.
P: And so you had come out with an annual report as to what would be purchased?
P: So when you purchased Wakulla Springs, it was a retail industry? I guess there
was a lodge and restaurant?
P: Tourists came and used that frequently?
S: Right. It was owned by the Ed Ball Nemours Foundation.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 15
P: That's DuPont.
S: Yeah, DuPont.
P: Why did you purchase it? Did they come to you? Did they want to sell it? Was it
S: No. I think the reason was that game fresh water commission and the Park
Service wanted the land.
P: Because those springs are pretty unique, aren't they?
S: Yes. I've got all that written out here for you.
P: I'll just read this. "On June 3, 1986, the Florida Cabinet approved the purchase of
Wakulla Springs from the Nemours Foundation. The purchase agreement is for
the purchase of 2,888 acres in Wakulla County, including the lodge, outbuilding,
and all personal property used in operation of the Wakulla Springs attraction. The
government requires a closing on September 30, 1986. Wakulla Springs then
became the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. The park was managed by
the Division of Recreation and Parks of the Department of Natural Resources."
There was, in addition to this, I'm sure a comprehensive management plan as to
how this was to be managed. Would you comment, I don't know if this is
something that you might know, was this a successful purchase? Did the Springs
continue to operate the lodge, and did the state make money or lose money?
S: I wouldn't say that they made any money, but I think if they hadn't done what
they did, they would have lost a lot of money. I'll put it that way.
P: So they would have had a park manager who would have managed that like any
S: That's correct.
P: Do you have any idea of how many people might have used that facility once it
became a state park? It's apparently very popular.
S: Oh, I would say you could almost compare it to Silver Springs as far as the
visitors that attend there every year.
P: If you bought if from Ed Ball, I would assume that Ed Ball got a good price for it.
S: I would assume that.
P: I'm not sure how good the state is going to be negotiating with somebody like Ed
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 16
Ball. I think he might win each of those negotiations.
S: Well, actually he wasn't living at that time.
P: The estate. They bought it from the estate. And therefore they were willing to
have this become a state park obviously.
P: What other purchases would you have been involved with? Anything similar to
S: We also purchased land around St. Mark's Lighthouse. I forget the amount. I've
got it in this file.
P: That's okay, just give me a ballpark figure.
S: It's well over 10,000 acres from the St. Mark's Lighthouse down along the coast.
P: And that was state funds again? Purchased by state funds?
P: So you did purchase quite a bit of land.
S: Right, we did.
P: Did you have much to do with wetlands preservation?
S: Yes. I think the water management district sort of led the, were really the
pioneers in going into the wetlands preservation.
P: What do you think of wetlands mitigation, where if a developer develops a
wetland he has to offer a comparable amount of land somewhere else?
S: I think it's very good. I wish that the state would put in guidelines for the whole
state rather than letting each individual county set that up. As an example,
Gadsden County just recently has become very lenient with agriculture one, two
and three. For example agriculture one, you could put one house per forty acres.
Agriculture two, one house per twenty acres. Agriculture three, one house per ten
acres. This was what they had three years ago. Now they've got it down to
agriculture one, one house per ten acres, agriculture two per five acres, and
agriculture three can go for one acre. Well they're doing this with the idea in
mind, for example, you buy four hundred acres of agricultural] land and you end
up setting aside so many wetland acres, so many parks, so many roads, and
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 17
then what you've got left you're putting into one acre tracts with the idea that they
can have their own septic tanks and their own two-inch wells. That's not gonna
fly. They're gonna run into serious problems.
P: Particularly with the septics and the wells.
S: Septic tanks and the wells.
P: And part of this is a boon to developers because now they can put more houses
on these tracts.
S: That's right. And the developers are going to these counties.
P: Smaller counties and less populated.
S: Smaller counties, right. Around here Jefferson County and Gadsden County,
Franklin County, where they can get away with that. It's gonna cause trouble
down the road.
P: What kind of control did you have over septic tanks? What did you do in terms of
S: I don't recall that we had a lot to do with septic tanks. I think they tied septic tanks
in, in most counties, with the utility departments. In other words, the electricity
could not be turned on until a septic tank was built according to specifications.
[End Tape A, Side 1.]
P: Did you have, in general, much to do with dealing with waste management?
S: No, not really.
P: The quality of how the effluent is cleaned up, that was not part of your job?
S: Not when I was there. I don't know about now.
P: There is always an issue as to whether water management districts can be both
a regulator of water and a supplier of water. Do you think they can handle both
S: I don't know that they can or cannot, but I think there should be a tie in with
another group with the water management.
P: It's a little difficult to supply and to regulate, so probably it's better to let the City
of Tampa or whoever, let them set up a water authority to deal with the actual
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 18
distribution of water.
S: I think that would work better, but whether they could work in conjunction with
P: How did you, in the water management district, get along with cities and county
S: I think we got along well with them. We didn't really have any problems.
P: Would you go to them when you had a new project. If you were going to
purchase this land, would you go to the county commissioners and say, we want
to purchase this land, and get their support and approval?
S: Yes. They'd have a meeting in advance inviting all the commissioners and
anybody that would really have any authority.
P: So it would be a public forum?
S: Yes. A public forum.
P: There's been some discussion, maybe not in your time, that local governments
have a lot of things they want to accomplish and they're trying to turn these over
to the water management districts since they have their own funding, their own
taxing authority. Some of the people today talk about that water management
districts have more to do than what they should be doing.
P: That some of the local projects are sort of pushed off on the water management
districts to take care of. Did you find that?
S: That was just starting when I left whereby they'd bring up problems and they'd
say, let's let the water management district handle that.
P: What would be your reaction to an issue like that?
S: Well, if we could cooperate, we would, but you've got to issue that out in a time
factor as to whether you've got time to do it or not.
P: Talk to me a little bit about the fact that you apparently initiated, or at least the
water management district initiated, the meeting of the annual water
management district conferences. So most of them took place, I would assume,
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 19
P: Who thought that up and how did that work in the beginning?
S: I guess that was Bill McCartney's project. I think it went over real well. They'd
have the meetings out at the water management district, and we always had the.
P: Is this in Havana?
S: Yes. And we'd always have the reception, I don't know why, but we always had
it here at the house, and everybody you know, whatever. A big get together of all
the board members in the state.
P: This would be a reception for all the board members of the five districts.
S: Right. As well as the directors and key personnel.
P: Executive directors, but not staff people?
S: Key staff people, yes.
P: So the director, and the executive director, and the assistant director, and the
S: The attorney.
P: So you would have, what, a hundred people?
S: At least a hundred. We'd have, I'd say, between a hundred and two hundred.
P: And would you have sit-down discussions about issues that would be prevalent
for the whole water management?
S: Not here.
P: No, but at the conference.
S: At the conference, right.
P: So you would have speakers, some sort of discussion sessions, that sort of
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 20
P: Were they valuable?
S: I think so. I think it's very important if you're in the state, you know what the rest
of the state is doing. Each district would give an account of what they had done
P: Was there a lot of competition for money and funding between the districts?
S: I don't think so. I think everybody had their percentage they were getting, and
that was it.
P: Was there any conflict between Swift Mud and South Florida, the first two
districts, and the newer districts?
S: Not that I know of.
P: Did you use the established districts as a source of information, and were they
willing to cooperate and help you get established, and get your rules and
S: Yes. Right.
P: More of a cooperative effort as opposed to any type of conflict.
S: In my tenure I think we had 100 percent cooperation from all the other districts.
P: One of the things that was done by the district was a salt water resource study at
Destin, Old Pass Lagoon, Choctawhatchee Bay, Apalachicola Bay. What was
that about? Salt water intrusion?
P: What did you find, or what did that report find?
S: We didn't, as far as our district is concerned, at that time, we didn't really have
that much of a problem. I think the problem was down along the Atlantic Coast.
P: Southwest, Swift Mud?
S: Indian River South.
P: South Florida District.
S: Right. I think that's where the intrusion was.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 21
P: What can be done about salt water intrusion?
S: I guess you've just got to stop digging the wells along the coast. At one time it
was recommended, and I don't think anything was ever done about it really, but
they were gonna make it very difficult to put in over a two inch well within
seventeen miles of the coastline. I don't know whether you ever heard that or not.
P: Is there any scientific or technological solution to that? They have these
desalinization plants. They have one in Tampa. Does that seem like a viable
S: It's a very expensive solution. I visited the one in Key West. Bill McCartney and
several of the board members went down to the opening. From what they
showed and told us, at that time, that's been a while back, maybe they've
improved on cost factor, but at that time it was awfully expensive. You had a lot
P: Well, of course, if the state keeps growing and we need more water, water might
get more expensive, and desalinization might not look quite as expensive as it
did previously. Is water too cheap?
S: Well, it's not going to be.
P: Should there be a user fee? How can you control the use of water unless the
cost goes up?
S: You know they've got a user fee in California I understand. I think the user fee
has got to come within the agriculture district, like the Doherty Plain, which is
between the Flint River and the Apalachicola River, is a large agriculture area;
cotton, peanuts, and soy beans. They need a yearly plan because that's the
water that we're depending on, coming out of the Doherty Plain. I think yes, it's
got to be in certain cases. I don't think you can tack it on to the homeowners and
say you gotta pay so much. They're paying enough now for it, I think.
P: In terms of the cost of water?
P: A lot of people don't realize in the state of Florida, something like ninety percent
of our water comes from the aquifer.
S: That's right.
P: And at some point if the aquifer is polluted or salt water intrusion or it's dried out,
it would be a great crisis for this state.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 22
S: It would.
P: People I talked to said that the state of Florida's greatest problem or issue is
S: It is. From Ocala down they got a problem.
P: What about water wars? There's this sense that people in Tampa and St. Pete
and Sarasota can get the water from Northwest because there are fewer people
up there and they don't need as much water. What is your reaction to that?
S: Well, you got a happy medium. For example, I don't know whether you know it or
not, but are you aware of Spring Creek?
S: The springs in Spring Creek?
S: Not many people are. There's enough fresh water coming out of Spring Creek, it
could probably support south Florida. I mean, it wouldn't be the single answer,
but for example, a pipeline down and capping off that water that's just running in
to the Gulf of Mexico. All the way out from Spring Creek, in a line, are these
springs, going out into the Gulf that could be capped, just like you cap your oil
wells. Now what that's going to do if they did it, is you got a big problem on your
fisheries, your hatcheries. That's where your bedding of your lobsters come from,
your shrimp, and all your fish that require a certain amount of freshwater with the
P: And of course any time you change the natural environment ....
S: That's the problem.
P: You don't really know what the impact will be, but there certainly would be an
impact. So it's not as simple as saying well there's not as many people in the
northwest [the Panhandle], so we can take their water. Governor Bush has
appointed this Committee of One Hundred to essentially determine how to
allocate water in the state. It seems to me that that would take over the
responsibilities of the water management districts. What would your view of that
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 23
S: Well, I think it'd be a natural tendency to say no, look, this is our world, we're
keeping it in our district. I think that's what all of 'em would, that's human nature.
P: But if you appointed a state board and you're politicizing it to a degree, and the
governor says this is a state crisis, we're taking water from northwest and
sending to south Florida, they could do that. The legislature could pass an act.
People tell me that they see more politics in water management districts now
than they did earlier on.
S: That's probably true.
P: The earlier governors would appoint people and sort of basically leave them
S: Yes. We didn't run into any, the years that I was there, we didn't have any what
I'd call political issues. A couple of 'em would, Dempsey Barron [ (D) Florida state
senator, 1960-1988; president of Florida senate, 1975-1976; Florida state
representative, 1956-1960, switched to Republican Party in 1988] on his farm
over there, his cattle farm.
P: The Red Baron. What were the issues with Dempsey? Of course he was a
powerful state senator and could often get his way.
S: I always liked Dempsey. He could be a son-of-a-bitch, but I always liked him.
P: He was a charming ....
S: Yes. I never will forget when they put 1-10 across the state, it went through his
farm. It sort of made a curve to go through his farm. It went through his farm. He
was in the cattle business at that time, and Dempsey says, you put this road right
through the middle of my farm, and I can't get my cows from one side of the road
to the other. He says, I want a tunnel under 1-10, and he got it.
P: I figured he would.
S: Allegedly, he's the only man that ever got a tunnel dug under an interstate to
P: He's probably the only one that could have gotten it. I wondered if he had been in
favor of the road coming through there, because I guess they would have had to
buy up some of his land. Some people might look at that as a positive as
opposed to a negative.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 24
S: I'm sure they did.
P: Let me ask you about a couple of other issues. There was the Warren
Henderson Wetlands Act. Exactly what was that, and what was your involvement
S: I really wasn't involved in that too much. I think that came in just about the time
that I went out. As I told you before, we had a number of seminars on the
Wetlands Act, where we were instructed as to what was wetlands, and what was
not. But as far as the action of the water management district, at that time, I think
it was very little, other than learning more about it in seminars.
P: How did they define wetlands?
S: They would take us out on these tours and they'd say ok this ....
P: This is wetlands.
S: .... this kind of foliage, and this is what you're looking for. We'd look at it, and
yeah, okay. I never did figure out that there was a clean cut decision on what was
wetlands, you know. Wetlands could be where cypress trees grow. Well if you
don't have cypress trees growing, and it's wet, that's not a very good criteria, is
S: So if you said okay, you've got this kind of foliage grows here, and you go over to
another county and it don't have that kind, but it's wet. More common sense it
seems to me.
P: Than some scientific definition? Yes.
P: Did you ever have a survey done of the district by the U.S. Geological Survey to
find out exactly what you had in that district? Where the aquifer was, how much
water, all of that technical information that would be helpful to make decisions
about water management?
S: I think they have now.
P: It would seem to be almost essential.
S: Yes, I think they have.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 25
P: I know that they did that in Swift Mud very early. They had that information
maybe even in the 1960s as to exactly where all the wells were, everything so
that you could do some sort of....
S: I heard they did a very good job in Marion County in Ocala on that because they
had so many springs in that area.
P: There are quite a few springs in this district as well.
S: Oh, yes. Wakulla County, particularly, there's a lot of 'em.
P: There was an Apalachicola, Choctawhatchee, Flint River, tri-state program. What
was that? This tri-state program?
S: I think that occurred primarily had to do with the Apalachicola River as far as the
dredging of the river is concerned, as I remember, that's what it was set up for
was to control the river basin.
P: Did you have any issues between states if you have rivers that run through
Georgia or run through Alabama into the state of Florida? How do you determine
who owns that water, who controls that water? Florida may have a very good
pollution control, and Georgia may not. Did you have any of those issues?
S: That's been an issue on the Apalachicola River for a hundred years. It's not any
better now. In fact it's worse because Atlanta says ok, we gotta have so much
water. Look at the population and growth we got. We gotta have water. So that
water that once flowed down the Chattahoochee River is not flowing like it used
to even in wet times.
P: And what can be done about it other than say the governor of one state meeting
with the governor of another state?
S: They've been doing it as long as I can remember.
P: And they've never really worked it out have they?
S: They never have come to an agreement.
P: Would you be involved in those kind of discussions with water management
district between governors?
S: Water management?
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 26
S: Oh, yes. Right, right. I used to go to the hearings when they had them.
P: Where would they hold these hearings, and who would attend, an who would
S: Different places. We've had them in Apalachicola, we've had them in
Wewahitchka, had them in Chattahoochee, had them in Dothan, Alabama,
Columbus, Georgia. But they've gotta quit dredging that river out. That's a fore-
P: Who's doing the dredging?
S: Corps of Engineers is doing the dredging, but you've only got about twenty
businesses on that whole river now that they use it.
P: That use it at all. And it's costing millions and millions of dollars to keep it up.
S: It's just absolutely stupid to keep it up.
P: Well, who makes that decision, the Secretary of Interior?
S: There again, that's politics; the governor of Georgia, governor of Alabama, and
the governor of Florida.
P: They want to keep it open for commercial traffic?
S: Well, Florida doesn't. Florida wants it closed.
P: I would think so.
S: But Alabama and Georgia, they want it open as far as Columbus, Georgia, is my
P: But even there, there's very little traffic.
S: Right, there's not that much traffic to it.
P: Well, that's going to be another problem as the Southeast grows, the conflict
between Alabama and Georgia and Florida about water and water use and
availability is just going to get more heated, I suspect.
P: Talk about this organization called the Sub-state Regional Water Management
Concept. I don't know whether that was a group or just an idea.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 27
S: I'm not familiar with it.
P: It's called a Sub-state Regional Water Management Concept, and the way I
understand it is, it would be an agreement with the three states to try to somehow
on regional basis ....
S: I think I did read a while back ....
P: The system in Florida is rather extraordinary. No other state has a similar kind of
water management program. What makes Florida's system so unique? And in
your experience, how effective has it been in managing water?
S: Well, I think that Florida is unique in the fact that we probably have more of a
freshwater problem than any other state in the union, and it's essential that we try
to control our water supply throughout the state.
P: What do you see as the most pressing issues for water management districts in
S: I think the issue is we've got to control our water supply because there's just so
much of it, and with the population growth that we're having in Florida, more and
more we're gonna realize that we've gotta control that water supply.
P: Let me discuss with you a little bit about the board during the time you were on
the Northwest board. Who were the executive directors, and what is your
evaluation of their performance?
S: Bill McCartney was the director during my tenure on the board. I thought he did
an exceptionally good job. He was very knowledgeable. As you probably know,
he later went down to the University of Florida and got his doctorate degree. He
worked well with all the board members, and as far as I know, all the staff.
P: How much power does an executive director have?
S: I think he has quite a bit of power. And he needs to have it, really, to do what's
required of him to do.
P: Would the board override some of his suggestions or some of his proposals?
S: I can't say that I ever knew of a case where the board, I mean, the board
rendered their decisions, but I can't say that I remember a case where they
overrode his decisions.
P: How important would be the staff recommendations?
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 28
S: Very important.
P: So in a typical meeting, and you would meet what, once a month?
P: The staff would bring in certain proposals, they would discuss them, the
executive director would discuss them with the board, and then the board would
talk about it and vote?
S: Right. The staff would make their recommendations and then the approval of the
director, and then they would have a vote on it.
P: What is your view of the boards being appointed as opposed to being elected?
S: I think it all depends on the governor. If the governor wants to make a political
football out of it, I would be against it. On the other hand, if the governor is really
searching for not only qualified people, but people that are genuinely interested
in their area and in their community, I think it ought to be appointed by the
governor. I can see all kinds of problems in an elected official in that particular
kind of job. It could end up with private dynasties I think.
P: The time you were on the Northwest board, was it diverse in terms of the groups
represented on the board?
S: I think so. We had businessmen, we had farmers, people that were in the real
estate business, lawyers, very diversified I think.
P: How about environmentalists?
S: I think all of them had environmental interests represented, yes.
P: Were there any conflicts of interest? What would happen let's say, If you have a
developer and you were making a decision that would affect his property? Would
they recuse themselves?
S: I don't know that that ever came up, so I don't think that was ever an issue that I
P: Do you think there should be term limits for the boards?
S: No, I don't. I think that should actually be up to the governor. It would seem to me
that some of the best qualified men were the ones you left on the board for a
number years because every year they gained much more knowledge in what
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 29
P: Was there much turnover on the board when you were there?
P: So after a period of six or eight years you would know everybody, and everybody
would be more knowledgeable?
P: I understand that for most of the meetings, you would get a rather sizeable
packet of information that you'd have to go through in order to be prepared to
discuss these issues.
S: Right. Yeah, we'd get that in advance of the meeting, and as far as I know
everybody really studied it and were prepared for the meeting.
P: How do you feel about financial disclosures by member of the board?
S: I see no objection to it. I don't see any real reason for it, but on the other hand, I
don't see that anybody that I knew on the board would have any objection to it.
P: Some people have.
S: Well, I can see where some people it might affect.
P: How were the board meetings affected by the Sunshine Law?
S: Of course they passed that while I was on the board, but that wasn't any problem
I don't think.
P: I have heard board members tell me that occasionally when there would be a
conflict on the board a couple of people would go to the bathroom and kind of
hash out their differences, which technically is a violation of the law, but in a
practical sense they saw that as resolving issues that would ultimately be
S: I never was aware of that, but I don't see anything wrong with it.
P: Would you get, at any point, prior to meetings, private phone calls from the
director or other board members trying to persuade you to vote a certain way?
S: No. The only trouble I ever had is when I was chairman of that Land Reclamation
Act, and the people down there in Bartow gave me a fit, calling me almost every
day, all times of the night saying lay off, we don't want that. That's the only thing I
ever ran into.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 30
P: One of the problems particularly the beginning and in particularly in your district,
where a lot of people didn't want water regulation, it's kind of hard to tell people
that in the long run this regulation's going to be good for them.
P: It's their sense of this is my land, this is my water, you can't tell me what to do
with it. But in the long run, particularly in conservation, it would seem to me that
part of your job would be to persuade individuals that you could, in the long run,
profit by or your land or your water quality would be improved. Was the board
able to do that?
P: How did you do it?
S: I think we just did it with the assistance of the staff.
P: Did you put out documents, did you have public education, did you go to
S: Did we as board members?
P: So you would try to present your point of view to the public?
P: Through the media, through the local governments, that sort of thing?
P: Why is it that very few people in this state know what the water management
district is or what they do? Most people have no idea. Why do you think that is?
S: Well, I think you can tack that on to just about any department in the government,
that the people really know what it is. I don't think the people are that concerned
to find out.
P: They are when it floods or there's a drought.
S: Right, right.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 31
P: Then they have some ....
S: Then they know.
P: And of course their tax money goes for the water management district.
P: During your time, did you feel like the executive director, who I assume at this
case hired most of the staff. Do you think he hired a good staff? There was
enough scientific information available?
S: I think so. He had well qualified, well educated people in every key job.
P: How big was the staff during the time you were there? Just a ballpark figure.
S: You talking about all employees?
S: I'd be guessing, and I'd say around 125, somewhere in there.
P: How did the headquarters come to be in Havana?
S: I think that was a political move at the time. I think, oh hell, the senator, he's dead
now, but I think he was responsible for getting it over there.
P: As opposed to having it in Tallahassee?
P: Do you think that was, in retrospect, a good decision?
S: Well, it didn't really matter where it was. In fact, it probably was better,
psychologically, to get it out of Tallahassee. The theory that that's just another
program that we've gotta pay taxes on.
P: At that time did you have any other regional offices?
P: And that never came up? There's no desire to have any other office anywhere in
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 32
P: They do now, do they not?
S: They do now.
P: They have one in Pensacola.
P: When you look back at your experience on the board, how did generally the
board interact with the executive director? Was there a lot of discussion, a lot of
feedback? Or were you pretty much a rubber stamp as to what he and the staff
S: I don't think you could say we were a rubber stamp. I think we always figured that
the staff knew more about the problem, or solving the problem, than we did as
board members. And that's what they were paid to do was make those decisions.
I think the board really said, okay, director, you're getting paid to do the job. Your
job is to get the right people in the right spot.
P: What would be the average time span for an executive director? I'm sure some
people burned out. Some people have more difficulty than others. How long did
Bill stay in that job?
S: I think Bill was in there, I'd say, about eighteen years.
P: Isn't that longer than usual?
S: Well, how about your man down there in south Florida? How long has he been
P: Who, Jack Malloy?
P: Yes, he was there for awhile. But others have been five years, six years, seven
years, I guess it depends on the circumstances and the individual. How did you
get along with, and how were you influenced by the environmental groups? 1000
Friends of Florida, Audubon Society?
S: Well, I don't think we were influenced very much by them. They would come to
our board meetings. The Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy and different
ones would come to our meetings, and they would occasionally make requests or
recommendations, but I don't recall we ever had any real friction with them.
P: At this point, I say, when you first started in 1978, the environmental movement
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 33
probably didn't have as much influence as they did later. Would that be a fair
S: That's probably true.
P: But they were still very vocal and very active.
P: Did you see a wide range of viewpoints? Everybody used to say, well the
environmentalists, they all agree on what's to be done. But the reality is that they
don't. Different groups have different points of view. Did you come across that in
your discussions with them?
S: Yes. Well you'd have one segment would be all out to save the whales, and
another one the turtles, their own individual concept.
P: What was your relationship between DER and/or DEP, or Department of Natural
Resources? Did they have much of a supervisory influence over the Northwest
Water Management District?
S: I don't think so.
P: Did you have to write an annual report, or report back to them on some issues on
a periodic basis?
S: I think only on request. Like DEP might want something on a right of way or
something on advice.
P: Well technically, by law, they're supposed to supervise the water management
districts, but from what I've learned over a period of time, that supervision has
been very limited, let's put it that way.
S: I would say so.
P: Although there is always the option, I presume, that the governor or the cabinet
could have had some impact. How would you evaluate the two governors I guess
you knew the best, Askew and Bob Graham, in terms of their appointees to the
boards and their commitment to water management regulation?
S: I think probably they were the, you know you had sixteen years there where
between the two of them they promoted the environment of the state of Florida
as much as any governor of any state, I think, in the country.
P: And you thought their appointees overall were good?
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 34
S: I think so.
P: Non-political as a rule?
P: I want to bring up a few criticisms of the water management district. One is that
they have never been closely regulated enough, that they need closer regulation.
What would your response be to that criticism?
S: Well, I'd want to know who was gonna regulate. That could be more problems
than they've got.
P: Another criticism is the boards do not heed scientific evidence as much as they
S: I don't know enough to even make a comment. I would say overall they've got
the right people in the right job.
P: Of course even with scientists, scientists disagree as to what the proper solution
S: That's right.
P: Another criticism was that they have too much taxing authority without any real
control over how that money is spent. Your response to that criticism?
S: There again, that's politics in general. You can go to just about any department
and say that.
P: How important over the years, have lobbyists been in terms of how they influence
politics, and then how politics influences WMD's?
S: I'm sure they have a definite influence.
P: You think if somebody like Wade Hopping who would be at the legislature, and
people like Dempsey Barron, who gets his tunnel under 1-10, so I presume that in
various cases you, as a board member, you would at least have to respond to
some political intrusion. Is that fair to say?
S: I think so, yes.
P: I mean there would be certain pressure put on you as a board member to
achieve a certain result that would be favorable to the farmers or the sugar
growers or somebody. Obviously there are a lot of interest groups, developers,
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 35
who are always trying to get water management districts to do what they want.
S: I think if it's done in an educational manner where the individual board member
can make his own decision, yes, I agree with that.
P: Were you in any time approached privately by the representatives of the various
interests, trying to get you to change your mind on an issue.
S: No, other than that Manning thing.
P: When you look at the Water Management District during your time, what would
be the strength of the district, and what would be the weaknesses of the district?
S: I think the strength would be the authority that they have and the educated
people that are running that authority are adequately ....
[End of Tape A, Side 2.]
P: Discuss the strengths and the weaknesses of the Water Management District.
S: I would say their strength lies in the fact that they have acquired educational and
very knowledgeable staff people who are very versed in their job, and that they
are known throughout our district as being most helpful in their knowledge of
what they're doing. I think one of the weaknesses is too many municipalities are
requesting too much of the Water Management District, which under the financial
arrangement and the present conditions they just can't afford to put out that
much information that's costing them to do it.
P: Would you say that one of the strengths would be that in general, over the history
of the water management districts, they have been relatively free of political
S: Yes, I'd say that.
P: Another, I guess, positive aspect would be the commitment of what are
essentially lay boards. They are appointed, and they do it because they are doing
the service. People have said if they were elected, then you would really get into
a political influence and that that would turn these water management districts
into a much more politicized process when they ought to be making decisions in
the best interest of the people of that district, as opposed to one group or another
group. So if you run for office then you have to raise money, and whoever gives
you the most money might have the most influence.
S: Well, you might say why do either? Why have a board at all? Why not just have
the governor run it as a department? DOT, for example. The governor appoints
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 36
who he wants to run it, and make it a separate identity and run by the
government rather than a board.
P: What would happen in that case? Would that be better or worse?
S: Going back again, I think it would all depend on the governor that's in charge at
that particular time, wouldn't you think?
P: Well, one of the issues that, and other people I've talked to say that, one reason
that this is effective, is because there are five different districts, and each district
has different issues. If you put it under one institutional head in Tallahassee,
they're not going to be able to always meet the needs of these individual districts.
S: That's right, that's right.
P: It would seem to me that that organization is better suited to the specific needs
because south Florida has different issues than northwest.
S: Again, you could compare that to DOT where you've got the problems of needing
a ten lane highway in Dade County, and only needing a three or four-lane
highway in Leon County. The issues are entirely different, and that's what you've
got in the water management districts, they're different.
P: Of course, in this case, they have their own taxing authority. So South Florida
can decide how to spend their own money.
P: Should the state and the water management districts be involved in much more
conservation? Should we be buying more land? More work to preserve rivers,
preserve the coast?
S: I believe under present conditions, I would think, that if they can handle what
they're doing now, they've got their plate full. I don't think they're in a position,
under the present conditions, to take on more than they're doing.
P: There's this new land purchase, I don't know if you know about it, this Babcock
Ranch. Have you read about that?
S: Yeas. Over in Live Oak.
P: The state's gonna buy that at some extraordinary cost. Now this is done by the
state, and not so much by water management districts. I wondered how you look
at those kind of purchases? I forget how much money it is, but it's a huge amount
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 37
S: I've heard it's a lot of money. It would seem to me like there's an unknown factor
in there somewhere.
P: Somebody that the governor knows owns some land in there? Well the issue is,
to a degree, that this sort of, from my knowledge, this is a Tallahassee-oriented
purchase, as opposed to many of the purchases which come from water
management districts or environmental groups. If that's the case, how would you
judge future purchases? Should the state be making them? Should the water
management decision be the relevant decision? Should we listen to
environmentalists? How do you make these decisions about land purchase?
S: Well, that's a real tough one because you've got too many departments making
land purchases. I mean, go back to right of ways.
P: DOT purchases a lot of land.
S: Airstrips, airports. I guess half the agencies have a certain right to purchase.
P: I'm talking mainly about conservation. Because if Florida continues to grow, and
there are no wetlands, we're gonna end up like Louisiana. They developed all the
wetlands, and when these hurricanes come in, there's no place for the hurricane
to dissipate. If we don't continue to preserve some ecologically sensitive land, in
thirty years, it'll be too late.
S: That's right. It's happening fast.
P: Did you have anything at all to do with the Everglades restoration?
P: Do you have any sense of whether that's a good idea, a good project?
S: I think it's a good project. It's starting to pay off down there, isn't it? I've heard.
P: I think so.
S: I think now that they've got that Kissimmee River thing straightened out or un-
P: Well, now here you go with a Corps of Engineers. They're the ones that originally
changed it, and now they changed it back. So the Corps of Engineers ended up
undoing what they originally did.
S: That's what they're going to end up with the Apalachicola River, too.
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 38
P: They're going to end up taking out and sort of covering up for all that dredging
and let it flow naturally again?
S: Yes. I think so.
P: Isn't that pretty essential for the well-being of the aquifer and the state of Florida?
S: Oh yes. Not only the aquifer, but for the breeding of all marine life down there.
P: This is what I guess the tough issue is. Every time you make a decision like that,
there are so many factors. Environmentalists want this, but this hurts the
fisherman. Or the environmentalists don't want this, but the sugar growers do,
and the sugar growers have economic impact. And developers. How do you
determine what can be developed and what can't? How much input should the
water management districts have in these kind of decisions? I mean this is not
growth management per say, but every decision has to take into consideration
the impact to the water, right?
P: So should the water management district be more aggressive in presenting their
point of view or opposing certain developments?
S: I think they're gonna have to be. If they're throwing the responsibility on them to
do it, they have to. Who else is gonna do it? What other department are you
gonna throw it into?
P: What things do you think water management districts ought to do that they're not
doing? And what things that they're doing that they ought not to do?
S: Well, I'm just speaking for this area. I think they've got to put more restrictions on
drilling wells. This idea of a developer buying a 600-acre farm and getting the
approval to put 300 wells on one or two-acre lots, you can't stand much of that.
You're gonna have farmer Joe up ahead and farmer Brown down below that's
had a well there for years goes dry. It just takes so much. The next thing you're
gonna have to do is get wells going deeper and deeper and deeper, and there's
no aquifer there.
P: When you were on the board, did the board itself pass the actual decision on well
permitting? Did you all vote? Or was there a standard if the person made the
application ... ?
S: It was pretty much that anything under four-inch wells the board didn't take a
stand. They had a well committee that pretty much approved those. But when
you got to four, six, eight, ten-inch wells, community wells mainly, yes, we voted
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 39
P: So in essence what you're saying is now the board needs to be available to
judge on these two inch wells, too.
S: When a developer says okay, I've got 20 houses here that need 20 two-inch
wells; two inch times 20, they need to be saying that. You can have one well
there for so much.
P: Right. What are the districts doing that they should not be doing?
S: Well, there again, I'm out of the loop as far as knowing what to say on that. I'm
P: I think one of the things that we mentioned earlier, that you mentioned that local
government are requesting that they do things that are not necessarily in the
requirements for water management districts. They're getting them to use that
money to do things that are more relevant for local city or county governments.
S: Well, like this Lake Jackson is a typical example of that. Buying that land I think it
was twenty acres at the time, and then putting in a retention pond, and then
actually a drain field, so to speak, that would take out the pollution to a certain
P: Could you give me some idea of some of the more important board members
during your time at Northwest Florida? The ones that were influential, who were
S: I think all of ours I could put that on. I think I could say that about 100 percent.
They were all very sincere, honest, and hard-working people.
P: Were any of them more influential than other?
S: What are you after? Are you after somebody else to interview?
P: No, just to see how the Board works. Let me ask you a different question. How
important is the chairman-of-the-board? How much influence does that individual
S: I don't think the chairman or the co-chairman has that much power over any of
the others. I mean I think it was never thought of as far as power structure was
P: But there have been some board chairman who have been rather influential and
dominant and were able to persuade boards to do what they thought was the
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 40
best thing to do.
S: Tom Calloway. That name come to you?
P: I don't know that name, no.
S: Tom was a board member, and he was vice-chairman, and he lived in Port St.
Joe and was a trustee of the Alfred DuPont Nemours Foundation. He's dead
now. He was on the director board of Nemours and Port St. Joe, [and] had a lot
of power. As far as a respected person on the board, he was very respected. I
don't know that any of them had any more influence than the others.
P: Do you have any interesting stories or anecdotes or unusual happenings that you
would like to relate?
S: I recall that when we were on the Board of Water Management as well as the
Board of Wakulla Springs, and they had given us a report on how clear and clean
and free of, the water was coming out of the spring. They came in and said we
are going to have to drill an eight-inch well at Wakulla Springs to supply the hotel
with water. So one of the board members that was quite a character said, well
what's wrong with the water you got out of the springs? You keep telling us how
pure it is. Oh well, it's not covered. It's gotta be covered. How the hell you gonna
cover the springs? Well, you can't, so we got to drill a well. So right beside the
springs you'll see a big water tower. And here the cleanest water of any spring in
the country is coming out of the spring.
P: By the way, that's another issue. What do you do about these private companies
that want to come in there and bottle that spring water.
S: That hasn't been a problem there.
P: It will be.
S: It will probably be.
P: Because at other places it has been. They've come in there and purchased some
of this land and used that water. As stated by the law, and you might comment
on this, the water is a state resource. It is not owned by any individual. Do you
agree with that concept?
S: Yes, I do.
P: Little hard to explain to people. If they've got a lake on their property, that's their
FWM-17, Smith, Page, 41
P: Is there anything we haven't talked about that you would like to talk about?
Anything you'd like to bring up that I didn't ask you?
S: No. I think you did a good job of interviewing. I'm sorry I wasn't more astute.
P: No, you did very well. Well, on that note I'll end the interview, and I want to thank
you very much for your time.
[End of Interview.]