Title: A Critique of Water Resources Planning in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00000624/00001
 Material Information
Title: A Critique of Water Resources Planning in Florida
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: A Critique of Water Resources Planning in Florida
General Note: Box 7, Folder 1 ( Vail Conference 1987 - 1987 ), Item 17
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00000624
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



This report is the fourth of a five volume series dealing with policies and
procedures for addressing Florida's water and related land resource problems. It
introduces general planning concepts, reviews the history and recent practice of
water resources planning in Florida through the mid-1980s at the state, regional,
and local levels, and analyzes some of the problems and opportunities associated
with that experience. The report emphasizes the importance of viewing water
planning as an integral part of the public management process for water resources.
It recommends that water management districts adopt a strategic planning
approach to enhance their overall water management performance.

Water resources planning in Florida has taken place over the past two
decades with varying levels of federal and state government support. The federal
government encouraged many planning activities during the 1960s and 1970s,
including water planning. Likewise, state government strongly endorsed water
resources planning in the early 1970s and since then has continuously attempted to
perfect a practical water planning system for Florida.

Yet by the early 1980s, federal support for water resources planning was
declining significantly while the need for such planning in a fast-growing state like
Florida was increasing. Moreover, this limited federal support for water resources
planning seems likely for the foreseeable future, with the near-term outlook for
any positive change at the federal level particularly bleak. Conversely, water
management in Florida in response to growing demands of the public and the
Florida Legislature now seems to be moving beyond its historic confines within
Chapter 373, Florida Statutes.


Although the principal focus of this report is on water resources planning,
there are other significant types of public planning activities occurring outside of
the water resources field that water managers must understand and relate to,.
particularly in Florida. As a way of describing this broader public planning
framework, it may be categorized by the scope of planning and by the level of
government at which it occurs. Parenthetically, it is also recognized that much
planning activity occurs outside of public sector management circles. While this
report does not discount the substantial nature of private sector planning
activities, and indeed will attempt to learn from these activities, it is principally
concerned with public sector planning functions and their application to public
sector management settings. In all cases, these various types of planning activities
must be tailored to the particular decision-making characteristics of the manage-
ment systems which they serve, in order to be effective. Since the organizational
setting for planning in Florida is very different at the three principle levels of
governance (i.e. state, regional and local), intergovernmental coordination efforts
thus become paramount in achieving any sense of unified direction in these
planning activities, so that they do not operate at cross-purposes with each other.


Scope of Planning

Planning may be thought of in two general ways: comprehensive planning and
functional planning, with the two chiefly distinguished by the scope of the planning
activity. Comprehensive planning generally embraces the totality of governmental
functions in a public organization, whereas functional planning concentrates
primarily on a particular component or.subsystem of those functions. Neither is
inherently superior to the other, because they are undertaken to serve two
different management needs. Comprehensive planning is undertaken to obtain a
general systems view of diverse activities within an organization, to set overall
direction for those activities, to identify priorities among those activities, and to
provide a basis for managing conflicts among those activities and a means for
evaluating tradeoffs resulting from those conflicts. Comprehensive planning is
usually undertaken at the most general level within governmental organizations,
such as city-wide or state-wide in scope. Accordingly, it is usually initiated by
central management, it relies on central management authority for its execution,
and legislative sanction is often required to legitimize this broad scope of planning.
In Florida, all cities and all counties are required to undertake comprehensive
planning, and local comprehensive plans have the force and effect of law when
adopted. Comprehensive regional planning is also required in Florida and is
undertaken by the state's eleven regional planning councils, although it is limited in
its implementation by the nature of the regional planning councils themselves. The
state legislature also adopted a comprehensive plan for the state in 1985. Thus,
comprehensive planning is a pervasive fact of life for Florida's water managers and
careful attention must be given to coordinating water resources planning with
relevant portions of these various comprehensive planning activities.

Conversely, functional planning is usually confined to a single, major subject
matter or resource area of prime interest, such as water resources planning,
transportation planning, or land use planning. Often this is done to simplify and
expedite priority areas of planning and problem analysis. There are many examples
of federal grant programs which have encouraged functional planning in response to
specific congressional priorities. Functional planning of more limited purpose can
achieve more detailed analysis of planning problems and is often more technical in
nature. One result of this is that it is conceptually easier for technically oriented
staff and mid-level managers to relate to and participate in this style of planning.
This often yields benefits of better accepted planning products of more immediate
operational use and application.

However, functional planning does not necessarily equate single-purpose with
narrow geographical scope. For example, multi-state river basin planning is one
example of functional planning in the water resource field at a very expansive
scope. In fact, numerous congressional and other federal reports in decades past
repeatedly urged a more regionally based, multiple purpose scope for water
resources planning. A similar "comprehensiveness" in transportation planning is
encouraged by the federal requirements for state transportation planning programs.
A final general observation about functional planning is that in many instances it is
the only type of planning activity politically acceptable over time, in part because
specific constituencies often develop to support these efforts, versus broader, more
diffuse comprehensive planning efforts.

Levels of Planning

Comprehensive planning currently occurs at the state, regional, and local
levels of government in Florida's "three-tiered" planning framework. A broad

S?.3 )..

range of functional planning activities also occurs at these three levels of
government. Again, many of these have specific federal or state counterparts or
origins. Federal categorical grant programs have been mentioned as one source of
these planning activities. Florida's State and Regional Planning Act of 1984
requires state agency functional plans to be prepared by all state agencies in
Florida to further implement and operationalize the state comprehensive plan.
That act also expedites completion of the state water use plan and the state land
development plans previously required under Florida law. Some of the state
agency functional plans will be further implemented at the substate agency level,
and those of natural resource agencies will have particular significance to water
resources planners.

There are also specific components of local comprehensive plans of particular
importance to water resources planning. All such local plans are comprised of
mandatory and optional elements dealing with various functional areas. All of
these elements will be under preparation or revision between now and 1989, based
on new local planning mandates required by the 1985 growth management act.
Among the more significant local plan elements related to water resources
planning are a newly required capital improvements element; a future land use plan
element, which now requires local mapping of floodplains and wellfields; an
element dealing generally with water, sewer, solid waste, drainage, and aquifer
recharge issues; a conservation element, which includes a new requirement for
local water projections; and a coastal management element.

Finally, at the regional level comprehensive policy plans prepared by regional
planning councils will inevitably address some water-related issues, and for this
reason they must be closely coordinated with water management districts. At the
very least, regional planning council policies on water-related issues must be
consistent with state water policy expressed by the state comprehensive plan.

The Planning Process

Within this intergovernmental framework of planning activities in Florida
occurs the planning process itself. The planning process in general is simply an
orderly way of thinking about and acting upon assumptions made about the future.
The future may be perceived as a random series of events that unfold according to
chance and happenstance, or it may be perceived as the product of decisions made
today that have a future consequence. Since the management process itself is
based upon the latter assumption, planning assumes a useful role in the manage-
ment process if it reduces the uncertainty of decisions having those future
consequences. If the magnitude of those consequences is small or the time horizon
of the decision consequence is short, then less formal means may be substituted for
the planning process, such as intuition or experienced judgment. The need for
planning generally arises in more complex decision environments of a longer time
horizon, where the risks and uncertainty of decisions can be reduced by a better
understanding of their consequences.


Planning applications in a variety of public management settings today are
numerous and widespread, and reflect growing acceptance of the usefulness of
planning techniques in managing public affairs. In the most general sense, many
benefits can be ascribed to planning, although all are tempered with caveats


related to how well planning is actually carried out, under what constraints, and in
which particular institutional environments.

Some of the benefits derived from good planning are:

o to improve the quality of day-to-day decisions,

o to aid in better understanding problems and issues,

o to help set policy direction and achieve more consistent policy deci-

o to work towards reaching long-term goals,

o to help focus on priority concerns,

o to achieve better coordination within and among public agency

o to build consensus, and

o to generally provide greater rationality to public decision making and
program performance.

Several obstacles to planning are also pointed out in Volume IV. They include
negative perceptions of planning, several institutional problems, the difficulty of
executing planning in a regulatory environment, and specific funding problems such
as Northwest Florida's low tax rate and the Suwannee River district's low tax base.


The principal statutory authority for water resources planning in Florida is
found in Chapter 373, Florida Statutes, the state's organic law for a wide range of
water management activities. Although most other types of planning in Florida
also involve water issues as well, such as local comprehensive planning and several
aspects of state comprehensive planning, the most direct substantive guidance for
content and purpose of water resource planning in Florida remains grounded in
Chapter 373. The origin of most planning provisions in Chapter 373 derive from
1972 with passage of the Florida Water Resources Act, which stemmed in large
measure from published drafts of a model water code developed at the University
of Florida. A capsule summary of state and regional water planning under Chapter
373 follows.

1972-1975: Planning Emerges

Little evidence of an active state water planning effort under the new water
resources act during the period 1972-1975 was uncovered by research for this

Organizational development problems were overriding imperatives in the
early years of the 1972 Florida Water Resources Act, and for the most part water


A.? ___

resources planning took a back seat to those efforts. At least by 1974 the
Department of Natural Resources had officially delegated authority to all thee
districts to begin to undertake portions of the state water use plan, pursuant to a
1973 legislative amendment to Chapter 373 expressly authorizing such planning
delegations. However, only the two older, established districts, the Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District (predecessor to the South Florida Water
Management District) and the Southwest Florida Water Management District, had
any significant water use planning effort underway during the 1972-1975 time

Initial preparation of the state water use plan was undertaken by each water
management district for their area of the state, based on general format guidance
but little substantive direction from DER. Some districts, particularly the two
older ones with more in-house data, staff and resources, undertook fairly extensive
efforts in developing their plans. For example, the South Florida district's water
use plan addressed six sub-district planning areas, totaled ten volumes, and was the
subject of numerous public hearings within the district during 1977.

The State Water Use Plan Phase One is dated December 1978. Although
several persons interviewed mentioned voluminous planning documents prepared by
the districts and sent to DER, the portions from each district appearing in the final
published state water use plan averaged only forty pages apiece. Further, one
generally searches in vain for evidence of strong district governing board support
of vigorous implementation programs, or of planning vision extending very far
beyond basic water supply issues in the district summaries contained in the
published plan.

The final structure and format of the 1978 state water use plan was no doubt
influenced by a hostile planning climate in Florida in 1978. For example, during
the 1978 legislative session, the Governor presented the Division of State
Planning's state comprehensive plan to the Florida legislature, culminating 6 years
of executive planning effort. Among the portions of the plan presented were the
state water element's policies. After a somewhat ambivalent reception, including
appointment of a select legislative committee in the House of Representatives to
provide recommendations regarding disposition of the plan, the legislature decided
to neither accept it nor reject it as state executive planning policy, but instead
elected to modify Chapter 23 to recognize the plan as "advisory only." Perhaps
reflecting an overall legislative hostility at the time towards state planning efforts
in general, during the same session the legislature explicitly rejected by passage of
law another DER state plan long in the making, the coastal zone management plan
which, like the state water .use plan had been previously prescribed by law to
become a part of the state comprehensive plan.

DER did not present the state water use plan to the legislature for action in
1978, and was not required to do so. However, uncertainty as to legislative
receptivity of state planning generally during the 1978 legislative session no doubt
prompted in part a strategy of reduced visibility for the state water use plan. In
December of 1978, the plan was published as a series of five executive summaries
of water management district plans, together with an introduction and revised
state water policies. Although public hearings were held on the plan, it was never
adopted by DER.


,3 5

Summarizing the 1975-1978 period of water planning, significant
administrative realignments at the state level were carried out to enhance
successful, integrated planning and management of water quantity and quality. At
the same time, efforts to harmonize state comprehensive planning with state
functional planning for water resources never proved entirely satisfactory.
Nearing the end of Governor Askew's second term of office, the legislature in 1978
turned hostile towards executive planning efforts generally, or at least the planning
products brought before them. After six years of intermittent progress in state
water planning since 1972, the planning process itself faltered.

1979 1985: A New Beginning

Changing gubernatorial leadership brought new faces to both the Governor's
office and to DER in early 1979. The 1978 state water use plan was promptly
shelved by the new secretary of DER, Jacob Varn. Two early initiatives in
Governor Graham's administration marked a new beginning for water resources
planning. First, DER undertook preparation of a new set of state water policies
that would provide overall water management guidance to both DER and the water
management districts. Second, a major reorganization of state planning shifted
that function to the Governor's Office, aligned directly with the executive
budgeting process.

In late 1982, the Florida House of Representatives undertook a major
political initiative by creating a Select Committee on Growth Management,
composed of principal committee chairpersons and other influential House
members. One of the committee's work products for the 1983 legislative session
was a strategic planning bill directing the Governor's Office and all state agencies
to undertake various levels of planning as a partial solution to managing new
growth in Florida. Although the legislation did not become law until 1984, this
983 bill explicitly required completion of the state water use plan once an overall
state plan was complete. Thus, for the first time since the legislature asked for a
state water use plan in 1972, it placed a statutory deadline on its completion. It
also indicated that both water planning and land development planning were
critical priorities in an overall growth management system for the state, by
requiring completion of those two "specialty" plans before all other plans of
individual state agencies.

In summary, the 1979 1985 phase of water resource planning figuratively
and literally marks a new beginning for state water resources planning in Florida.
Passage of a new state plan by the legislature in 1985 set DER on a tight,
six-month planning deadline to complete the state water use plan. Following that,
DER as well as all other principal state executive agencies must prepare "state
agency functional plans" to guide their departmental activities and programs. DER
in 1985 created an executive planning office for the first time in its agency history
to respond to these and other mandates. Water resources planning is once again a
priority among all water management districts within a positive public planning
environment at the state level.

In a larger sense, however, other changes in Florida's evolving water
management system between 1979 and 1985 offer even stronger evidence of a "new
beginning" for water resources planning. They may be capsulized briefly as
growing legislative confidence in both DER and water management districts by
virtue of substantial new responsibilities delegated in the areas of groundwater



management, wetlands protection, water quality improvements, and land acquisi-
tion funding; continued maturation of the district management system, as they
have collectively responded to both drought and flooding crises during the 1980s;
new public demands for environmentally sensitive water management practices;
and a universal benefit of strong gubernatorial support.


As the historical section of the report suggests, significant state legislation
from 1972 to the present has given new directions for intergovernmental coordina-
tion, changes in program responsibility, requirements for new programs and has
also necessitated new expertise.

Each water management district has instituted these new programs and
responsibilities in pace with district financial support and staff capabilities. Some
new programs came at the initiative of the individual districts and are not
necessarily linked to the requirements of state legislation. Volume IV describes
examples of water management district planning programs within several
important resource management areas including water conservation, water re-use,
floodplain management, land acquisition, protection of groundwater and wetlands,
and local government assistance. Such topics go beyond a limiting vision of the
implementing mechanisms of the authorizing language contained in Chapter 373.
The topics addressed do not constitute an exhaustive list, but serve as a convenient
organizing vehicle for examples identified in interviews with district staff in
August and September 1985.

Taking these illustrations of district planning initiatives as a whole, some
common elements emerge to distinguish these efforts from implementation
mechanisms which might be suggested by legislative requirements. What
characterizes these examples is the contribution of district resources in time,
staffing, data, and authority to particular local water resource problems.

Within the general expression of district initiative in addressing local
problems, several particular elements occur. The examples show how the districts:

o respond to local water resource problems in a manner consistent with
district policy and capability

o promote efficient use of the water resource

o anticipate growth management responsibilities

o foster cooperation and coordination among affected local governments

These examples'are not considered as inclusive of the many ways that the
five water management districts apply a planning approach to water resource
issues. Rather, these illustrations suggest the creative application of expertise in a
non-regulatory setting and can provide examples to guide further planning efforts.
Where successful Chapter 380 committees have occurred, the water manage-
ment districts have played a key role in both technical support and policy
development. This has provided the districts with residual benefits of reinforcing



to local officials their regional presence as water resource managers. These
experiences also may have allayed fears of some local officials who resisted water
management district intervention into what was considered local land use
decisions. Oftentimes the strength in acceptance of resource committee efforts
has resulted from the consensus building process occurring within the committee
structure. This consensus building makes designation as an area of critical state
concern a measure of last resort.

Virtually all of the problems which have required attention by resource
planning and management committees encompass water resource issues: flood
control and floodplain management, stormwater management and drainage, en-
vironmentally sensitive areas, groundwater protection, and provision of potable
water and wastewater treatment. By using a committee partially constituted of
local governments, state and regional officials, and the interested public,
attention is directed to the appropriate unit of government for implementing the
recommendations. And in reporting on the progress of the committee, the water
management districts are provided with an opportunity for public education on the
particular resource problem and the delicate interrelationships between land and

The districts have exercised the opportunity to influence regional policy
decisions consistent with water resource goals and practices. Due to the perceived
success of the resource planning and management committees, this opportunity will
be further available in the future. As the districts participate in development of
regional policy plans, there may be a better defined statement of regional
perspective to contribute to subsequent committees organized under Chapter 380.


Planning activities discussed to date among the districts all focus on
relatively short time horizons. However, interviews with water management staff
also probed for longer range planning such as strategic planning at the district
level. Strategic planning as defined at the time of district interviews incorporated
policy development, program planning associated with the budget process, and
management of the priority activities including defining the district mission
statement, setting of strategic goals and targeted objectives, and incorporating
evaluation procedures. This working definition of strategic planning was kept
generalized during the interviews, prompting examples of actions of behavior that
under any more rigorous definition might not be labeled "planning" at all.
However, this proved to be a useful approach in opening up discussions with district
officials well beyond the formalized "state water use plan" experience of each
district, described in Chapter II of Volume IV.

In fact, interviews at the districts suggested numerous examples of strategic
planning already underway among the districts. Each of these examples touch on
policy development, definition of the agency mission, or setting of strategic or
management goals.

South Florida Water Management District
o Revisions to the mission statement

o Governing Board retreat to establish a planning priority

o Development of "blue book," Project Planning and Construction, begun
in 1983

o Creation of the Executive Council in 1983

o Development of a budget planning process

o Impacts program

o Issue management process

Southwest Florida Water Management District
o Staff level steering committee

o Study concerning consolidation of Basin Boards

o Governing Board sub-committees

o Five-Year Budget and Capital Improvements Plans

St. Johns River Water Management District
o Establishment of a Management Planning Advisory Committee
composed of division directors

o Preparation of a Five Year Plan (with annual updates) which projects
long range program priorities

o Development of policy guidelines for use in preparation of regional and
local comprehensive plans

Suwannee River Water Management District
o No additional examples suggested (beyond those discussed in Chapter m
of Volume IV)

Northwest Florida Water Management District
o Report to the Governing Board of the Northwest Florida Water Manage-
ment District by the Goals, Planning and Development Committee
(March 1985), which includes forecasts of district program needs

o Basin planning program for the Ochlockonee St. Marks Rivers

o Annual Work Program with generalized five year projections

Just as they exist for planning in general, obstacles to strategic planning
occur in the public sector. Often these obstacles are attributable to the political
realities of governments.

Walter and Choate (1984) have identified some remarkably similar challenges
for management in both government and business:

o Overwhelming pressures to favor the short term over the long term,
irrespective of eventual consequences


o Problems of managing large, often unresponsive bureaucracies

o Internal and external forces that resist change, regardless of how much
that change is required

o Pressures of special interest groups -- often the same special interest

o Difficulties in finding and retaining creative, productive people

o Problems of creating or finding new ideas and new approaches

o Difficulties of sharing decisions with individuals and institutions outside
of the organization

o Problems of securing and allocating limited funds for virtually un-
limited demands.

While the obstacles to strategic planning may occur in both public and private
sector organizations, chief elected officials and top managers face deep-rooted
deficiencies in management of government agencies (Walter and Choate). To
overcome this difficulty, strategic activities with broad support must be started,
and continued. At a minimum these strategic activities must be based on: (1) a
systematic analysis of the critical long-term trends and issues (economic,
technological, demographic, social, and political) that are likely to influence the
environment in which the institution will operate and (2) a comprehensive analysis
of the institutional capacity to respond to the trends identified. Implementation
of these forms of analysis can help a government institution determine broad,
fundamental objectives.

To take these broad objectives and translate the many separate decisions and
actions into a whole strategic planning process, a management framework is
suggested by Walter and Choate. This framework is applicable to both public and
private sectors, particularly since the framework implies a continuation of
day-to-day operations without massive reorganization.

There are five interrelated components of this framework for strategic

o Foresight -- explicit efforts to systematically identify, monitor, and
analyze long-term trends and issues likely to affect the institution's
future environment and to examine the implications of those trends on
various actions the institution might take;

o Goal Setting -- the explicit definition of the basic aims of the institu-

o Strategic Planning -- the process of identifying the resources to be
used in attaining those aims and the policies that are to govern the
acquisition, use, and disposition of those resources;

o Operational Management -- the translation of goals and strategies into
ongoing operations; and



o Evaluation -- the systematic review of the goals, strategies, andE
operations of the institution, along with the preparation of
recommendations for needed adjustments (Walter and Choate 1984:

While the strategic management framework presented here is drawn in
generalities and is equally applicable to business or government, specifics on
governmental strategic management are contained in Appendix D of Volume IV
(enclosed). In this table, detail appears for four of the five key elements. This
detail appears more applicable to state level strategic planning but lessons are
available for regional water managers as well.
These examples and discussions of the previous section emphasize activities
of the water management districts that all involve foresight or policy development.
These examples were generated by a very general working definition of strategic
planning which can be expanded by examining recent literature on the topic of
strategic planning.

Water management districts have already taken major strides in better
relating their operational responsibilities to this broader planning framework,
although room for improvement still exists.

There is a great opportunity for water resources planners and managers to
learn from the vast experience of other public sector organizations and those in the
private sector who have used a variety of planning approaches to improve their
managerial performance. As has been repeatedly emphasized throughout this
report, a "planning style" uniquely tailored to the specific institutional environment
of water management in Florida must be developed and integrated into that 7
management system.
The various strategic planning approaches now available can only help water
management districts by offering them additional tools and techniques to aid them
in accomplishing their individual water resources planning responsibilities, and
offer much potential for improving the overall system of water resources manage-
ment in Florida.


After examining water resource planning in Florida from several vantage
points, including its history, its institutional setting and its relationships with other
types of water-related planning, and after reviewing many examples of water
resource planning in actual practice, a number of conclusions can be drawn:

o There is a positive climate for water resources planning in Florida
today. Evidence of this climate is found at the state legislative level in
continued support for the overall framework of water management and
renewed legislative interest in state water use planning. Gubernatorial
support for sound water management has been consistently strong under
Florida's two most recent governors, and Governor Graham has been
particularly aggressive in supporting planning as a means of addressing
present issues and anticipating future problems and opportunities.
Additional support for water resources planning is found in DER's
recent establishment of an executive planning and coordination staff. 1

? ,ql

o A more significant trend is the growing recognition and acceptance by
local governments of a necessary role for water management districts
in regional resource management. While this trend is not yet uniform
statewide, it is supported by examples of regional resolution of major
water resources problems through seven resource planning and manage-
ment committees spanning all five water management districts and
twenty-seven counties since 1979.

o Water management districts will increasingly be looked to by local
governments for assistance in their local planning activities as they
implement significant water-related planning and land development
regulation under the 1985 growth management legislation.

o The federal role in water resources planning and management will
continue to diminish, placing greater responsibility on the state to
fashion its own planning and management approaches for their water
resources. In particular, a long history of federal financial support for
water resource development projects appears to be ending, at least for
the foreseeable future. This trend will reinforce an emerging
philosophy of non-structural water management practices in Florida,
supported by growing sophistication of local land use planning and
management techniques.

o The state's new three-tiered planning framework and growth manage-
ment legislation will require much greater integration of land and water
planning and management in Florida, and both DER and the water
management districts will play pivotal roles in this integrated effort.

o Continued rapid population growth will place unprecedented strains on
both the quantity and quality of Florida's water resources. Planning for
increased water quantity conservation and water quality restoration
efforts will be dominant water management objectives in responding to
these growth pressures.

o Continued population growth also increases the need to define minimum
surface water flows and groundwater levels reserved for the public
interest, including preservation of natural system needs. Water supply
needs for Florida's population growth must be viewed as dependent
upon, and not independent of, these public interest needs.



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