Title: Water Board Chiefs Get Word To Cooperate or Lose Independence
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00002645/00001
 Material Information
Title: Water Board Chiefs Get Word To Cooperate or Lose Independence
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Tribune
 Subjects
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Abstract: Water Board Chiefs Get Word To Cooperate or Lose Independence, 10/3/1991
General Note: Box 10, Folder 26 ( SF WMD Quarterly Meetings VOL III - 1979-1991 ), Item 4
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00002645
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text



I 0-Florkiia/Metro


Water board chiefs


get word to cooperate


or lose independence


By PHIL WILLON
Tribune Staff Writer
TAMPA Florida's five water
management districts must do a bet-
ter job coordinating programs pro-
tecting the state's water supply and
environment or their agencies may
be shifted under more state control,
t." Gov. Buddy MacKay told top wa-
ter officials Wednesday.
:. State environmental groups are
mounting a campaign to give the
state Department of Environmental
Regulation (DER) more authority
over the water agencies, including
wetlands regulations, water quality
protection and budget controls,
MacKay said.
During the first day of the 16th
annual Conference on Water Man-
agement in Tampa, MacKay met
With the heads of the' water man-
agement districts and DER Secre-
tary Carol Browner to discuss the
role of the agencies. The three-day
conference is expected to draw
mnore than 300 engineers, farmers,
environmentalists, politicians and
government representatives.
MacKay and Browner met with
water officials for the second time
this year in an effort to have the
water management districts and
DER work more closely together.
the group, which will meet every
two months, is trying to mesh com-
mon programs among the agencies,
such as water restrictions, land ac-
quisition, wetlands protection, build-
ing permits and the cleanup of
polluted water bodies.
:". The alternative to better coordi-
nation could be a radical restructur-
ing of the water management
districts, MacKay said. The indepen-
dent water districts are run by a
oard of citizens appointed by the
governor, and regulate everything
from lawn-watering restrictions to
the restoration of the Everglades.
The districts also have the authority
to impose property taxes.
'-Charles Lee of the Florida Audu-
bdn Society said change may be
necessary. Under state law, DER
has the power to oversee the water
agencies and monitor their spend-
ing habits, but has never exercised
that authority, Lee said. However,


Gov. Lawton Chiles and Browner,
his environmental chief, are trying
to wield more control, Lee said.
"The greatest problem with the
water management districts has
been that they are not responsible
to a central authority," Lee said. "I
think it's a lack of political courage
that's prevented it from being done,
until now."
On Wednesday, Browner also
said Florida's program to clean up
polluted waterways the Surface
Water Improvement and Manage-
ment (SWIM) program may be
affected by Florida's budget crisis.
SWIM is a program to restore
the polluted or threatened lakes,
rivers, streams, estuaries and bays
in Florida, including Tampa Bay,
the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee,
Lake Apopka and the St. Johns Riv-
er. The program is jointly funded by
the state and water management
districts, although state funding was
decreased last year.
"In every round of budget cuts,
SWIM is on the table and I've taken
it off the table. And I'm running out
of things to cut," Browner said.
The water management districts
may have to take over SWIM and
pay for it through property taxes in
order to save the program, said
Henry Dean, executive director of
the St. Johns River Water Manage-
ment District.
"We currently do have the tax-
ing capability, if our boards so
choose, to fund the current ongoing
SWIM program. In fact, we're in a
hell of a lot better position than the
state is," Dean said.
MacKay said the water districts
can pay for the SWIM program by
creating storm-water utilities and
charging fees. The water officials
agreed to investigate possible fund-
ing alternatives, but took no action
Wednesday.
The panel also agreed on a basic
format for statewide water conser-
vation measures, which would allow
lawn-watering on all days, but not
between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4
p.m. Similar measure already are in
effect in the Southwest Florida and
St. Johns River water management
districts.


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