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TO: State Water Conference File
FROM: Roger Sims
DATE: October 8, 1991
RE: General Sessions October 2/3
The State Water Conference was held in Tampa on
October 2, 3, and 4, 1991. The conference was sponsored by
the various water management districts and DER, with
Southwest Florida Management District (SWFMD) hosting the
The general sessions addressed the current status
and future directions of state water management and water
policy. The speakers included the executive directors of all
five water management districts and DER secretary Carol
Browner. The following items represent significant comments
or recurring themes from these sessions:
The Districts are required to develop "needs and
sources" plans reviewing expected water demands and
how those demands will be met. For example,
agriculture and industry may be able to use
recycled water, leaving fresh water for potable
Users who "buy into" needs and sources
recommendations may be offered permits of extended
duration (i.e. more than 10 years).
User fees were discussed on various occasions
during the general sessions. Such fees were noted
as sources of revenue for state programs.
October 8, 1991
DER and the water management districts are
discussing a coordinated surface water permitting
program to be administered by the districts.
Permits issued under this program would satisfy
water management district and DER requirements.
Various speakers, particularly Secretary Browner,
emphasized the importance of respecting the water
resources and allocating sufficient quantities to
protect environmental functions.
Secretary Browner and others emphasized that water
should be first set aside for protection of the
resource, with the excess allocated for other uses.
Recent polls indicate that the "vast majority" of
the public think the government is not doing
enough regarding protection of the environment.
Numerous speakers expressed concern about the lack
of a uniform, centralized water policy. State
legislators at the program suggested that such
-- policy should be first set by the legislature and
then implemented by the agencies, rather than
having such policy developed by rulemaking at the
Representative Jones asked whether the attendees
favored: (1) the current water management district
structure; (2) elected governing boards; (3) a
State water "czar"; or, (4) transference of water
functions to DER. Judging from the response, there
is no clear preference, at least among those groups
represented at the meeting.
Clay Henderson (Volusia County Commissioner)
emphasized the capability of local programs and the
importance of involving these programs in meeting
Secretary Browner announced that DER will begin
developing revisions to the state water policy
within the next month. Water resource protection
and water use/allocation will be addressed.
Various speakers addressed the unavoidable
"systematic" nature of water in Florida. Not only
are various segments of the drainage system
October 8, 1991
interconnected, but water quantity and water
quality are interdependent.
Representative Jones noted that growth management
policies appear inconsistent with state water
policy (i.e., discouraging urban sprawl will tend
to force population to remain in coastal areas,
where water resources are limited).
One flaw in the growth management legislation is
the failure to deal with a general assumption that
there is adequate water to meet virtually any need
and that the growth management objective is to
provide infrastructure to convey the resource.
Certain speakers indicated reservations about this
assumption and suggested that the water resource is
Mr. Jones also noted that shifting environmental
regulatory responsibilities to the water management
districts essentially shifts the cost from general
revenue to the ad valorem tax base (water
management districts have ad valorem taxing
cc: Robert Coker
Bill Gay, Jr.
II 1 I !