The Role Of The Basin Boards
Historically, basin boards were legislatively mandated as early as 1961. Chapter 61-691, Laws
of Florida, created the first basin water management boards within a district. In creating
Southwest Florida Water Management District the Florida Legislature provided that:
"All of the area of the district shall be sub-divided by governing boards of the
district into watershed basins to include each major stream and its tributary
streams and all lands draining therein except the area known as Green Swamp
The duties of the basin water management district boards were set out in Section 6, Chapter
61-691, Laws of Florida.
The water basins were dealt with again in Chapter 73-190, Laws of Florida, which described the
boundaries of Ridge Basin, Big Cypress Basin, and the Keys Basin. This legislation also
specified the duties and responsibilities of the basin boards during the interim period prior to July
1, 1975. Pursuant to Chapter 76-243, Laws of Florida, Section 373.0693(1) F.S., granted water
management districts the authority to designate sub-basins within the district or to change the
boundaries of existing basins.
Statutory powers of the basin boards are contained in Section 373.0695, F.S., which states:
(1) The various boards shall be responsible for discharging the following described
functions in their respective basins:
(a) The preparation of engineering plans for development of the water
resources of the basin and the conduct of public hearings on such plans.
(b) The development and preparation of overall basin plan of secondary water
control facilities for the guidance of sub-drainage districts and private land
owners in the development of their respective systems of water control
which will be connected to the primary works of the basin to complement
the engineering plan of primary works for the basin.
(c) The preparation of the annual budget for the basin and the submission of
such budget to the governing board of the District for inclusion in the
(d) The consideration and prior approval of final construction plans of the
District for works to be constructed in the basin.
(e) The administration of the affairs of the basin.
(f) Planning for and, upon request by a county, municipality, or regional
water supply authority, providing water supply and transmission facilities
for the purpose of assisting such counties, municipalities, and regional
water supply authorities within or serving the basin.
(2) Basin board moneys shall be utilized for:
(a) Engineering studies of works of the basin.
(b) Payment for the preparation of final plans and specifications for
construction of basin works executed by the District.
(c) Payment of costs of construction of works of the basin executed by the
(d) Payment for maintenance and operation of basin works as carried out by
(e) Administrative and regulatory activities of the basin.
(f) Payment for real property interests for works of the basin.
(g) Payment of costs of road, bridge, railroad and utilities modifications and
changes resulting from basin works.
(3) The works of the basin shall be those adopted by the respective basin boards.
Such works may be adopted jointly with other basins and may be within or
without the area of the basin.
(4) In the exercise of the duties and powers granted herein, the basin boards shall be
subject to all the limitations and restrictions imposed on the water management
districts in 373.1961.
The purpose of the early basin boards was to prepare engineering plans for development of the
water resources of the basin and to provide for the establishment of secondary flood control
structures. Also, the basin boards were to prepare emergency plans for development of water
resources within the basin. They also were to approve plans for works of the district to be
constructed within the basin. Basin boards do not have specific rulemaking authority and
therefore no separate rules have been adopted.
Basin board members are required to publicly disclose their finances pursuant to Chapter 112,
F.S., by filing financial disclosure forms with their respective county supervisors of elections.
The organizational or functional relationship between the basin boards and the governing board
is not clearly addressed by statutes, but generally involves the chairman ex-officio and staff
members. Most basin boards meet once a month while some meet every two months. District
staff schedules and attends all meetings. Certain staff members whose responsibilities involve
basin projects and basin board administration regularly work with basin board members.
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District governing board members are designated by the district chairmen to be chairmen
ex-officio of the basin boards, who then serve as a liaison between their respective basin boards
and the district governing board. The governing board's staff routinely schedules and attends
the meetings of each of the basin boards within the district. Items of particular interest are
brought to basin boards by basin board members, staff, or the public. Staff members and the
chairmen ex-officio report to the governing board on issues within respective basins. Governing
board and basin board members periodically hold joint conferences at which items of mutual
interest are discussed.
Items of interest are placed on the agenda of basin board meetings. Staff routinely takes land
and flood protection items to the meetings of the pertinent basin boards.
The basin boards manage those projects undertaken within their basin for flood control or water
management. The oversee contracts for construction of facilities and for evaluation of water
resource problems within their basin. Recommending the aerial mapping of portion of their
respective areas is another significant responsibility.
The basin boards and governing board both are charged by statute with responsibility for proper
management of the water resources and most issues are cooperatively addressed. Specifically,
the basins provide for secondary flood control works. To that end they provide financial
assistance for these projects.
Since the governing board is vested with the overall regional authority for managing the district
water resources, the governing board has the authority to decrease or delete items proposed by
the basin boards for their budgets. This oversight and authority is necessary to provide a
consistent program throughout the entire district.
The process for resolving disputes between a basin board and the governing board is inherent in
having as chairman ex-officio, a governing board member that is also a member of the basin
board, who can bring basin issues to governing board meetings.
The basin boards benefit the district by providing an additional means for local input into district
activities and a local forum for residents to address the problems and projects of a basin. The
local basin boards can provide members of the public a more locally available means to raise
water management issues that may need to be addressed by the governing board.
Basin board members are available to advise the public about the goals and procedures of the
district and to generally represent the water management district in their communities. As local
residents, they can be more easily informed about the needs of their basin and address those
needs on behalf of the district, as well as disseminate information to the public.