Title: The Water Management's Non-Regulatory Mission: The Forgotten Purpose
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00001414/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Water Management's Non-Regulatory Mission: The Forgotten Purpose
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: The Water Management's Non-Regulatory Mission: The Forgotten Purpose, Charles A Padera
General Note: Box 8, Folder 5 ( Vail Conference, 1995 - 1995 ), Item 28
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: WL00001414
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


Presented at the 1995 annual conference of the Water Management Institute, Inc.
Vail, Colorado

Charles A. Padera, Director
Department of Water Resources
St. Johns River Water Management District
Palatka, Florida

In this era of governing "down-sizing" and corporate "re-engineering," many

organizations are increasingly motivated to examine their past performance and future role in the

marketplace or public service arena. This motivation has, in the case of the government sector,

come from external forces, namely disaffected citizens and their representatives. The most vocal

segment of the public is undoubtedly the regulated community and those special interest groups

that look toward the regulatory process to further a particular purpose.

Disagreements between regulatory agencies and regulated industries often center on the

disparate missions of the two organizations. However, this dissension can become

emotionalized, even to the point where the emotion itself clouds the central issues. By

heightening emotion, a galvanizing force can easily be created so that a sense of crisis emerges

and becomes all consuming.

Nothing is more polarizing or galvanizing than a crisis. The most vocal members of any

disaffected citizenry can often effectively harness the disenchantment of the group and funnel

that energy to further individual agendas. Too often, a highly charged or purely emotional

response tends to over-simplify highly complex issues. Such over-simplification and undue

-o emotionalism can produce negative public perceptions among customers or stakeholders that--if

not corrected--can result in the overall mission of a given business or government agency to be

S completely overlooked or misunderstood. I believe this is the environment that many

governmental agencies are now facing. This holds particularly true for the institution of water

management in the state of Florida.

Because of the water management districts' highly visible regulatory function, they are

often in the center of conflict with regulated groups. It is important to stress however, the many

other functions that the water management districts perform for the benefits of Florida's citizens

and natural environment. This paper will provide a more comprehensive understanding of the

water management districts' overall mission.

Most people in the business of developing or protecting this state's water resources are

familiar with the creation of the water management districts. The floods of the 1940's and

1960's, coupled with the droughts of the 1970's set the stage for the development of the flood

control and water supply missions of the water management districts. The environmental

awareness of the late 1960's and 1970's started the modification of the district's purpose,

whereas today these regional districts are now multi-purpose resource agencies.

In addition to their original tasks of water supply and flood control, the districts are now

wholly or partially responsible for: protecting surface and ground water quality, acquiring and

managing land resources, protecting endangered or threatened species, restoring degraded water

bodies, assisting local governments with water resource issues, and providing sound

environmental education for the citizenry of the state. A more comprehensive review of these

vital functions follows.



Flood control is a primary function of the districts and is accomplished in a number of

ways. The most familiar and extensive water management works in Florida are those of the

Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project and other federal flood control projects

authorized by Congress in the late 1940's. Collectively the three largest districts, South Florida

Water Management District (SFWMD), Southwest Water Management District (SWFWMD),

and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), are required to administer a

network of over 1,800 miles of levees and canals, 275 major water control structures, and nearly

335,000 acres of water storage areas for the primary purpose of flood control.

The operation and maintenance of these projects is an extensive function that requires

over 700 employees, over one-quarter of the total staff of the three major districts. Unlike many

other discrete programs, operation and maintenance tasks are an ongoing and daily aspect of the

districts' programs. Thousands of hours are spent every year in monitoring and preparing water

control structures for adverse weather conditions and other events that may threaten property and

public welfare. Collectively the three largest water management districts, SFWMD, SJRWMD,

and SWFWMD, spend over $70 million dollars annually for operation and maintenance activities

such as levee maintenance, aquatic plant management, structure maintenance and repair,

personnel training, hydrologic and hydraulic monitoring, and necessary support staff. These

activities protect property with an assessed valued of over $500 billion in the approximately

40,000 square mile service area of the three largest districts.

In addition to the fiscal resources needed to run the "nuts and bolts" aspects of the several

flood control projects, all of the districts have resources directed at flood avoidance and control


Projects. Flood avoidance is central to the regulatory process. The districts, through

their surface water management permitting programs, establish specific basin discharge criteria

that limit the amount of water that may be released from a project. In the absence of a basin

specific allocation for discharge, the districts use a pre-construction verse post-construction

analysis. This typically allows a project to discharge the amount of water equal to or less than

what was discharged from the site prior to the construction of the project.

Identifying flood prone areas and developing water management plans are other tools

used by the district in their flood control programs. Much of this work is accomplished through

cooperative arrangements with local, regional and federal governments. These management

tools are directed at preventing inappropriate development in areas inclined to flooding or

identifying proactive methods to correct existing drainage problems.

SAn example of one such effort is the Master Stormwater Management Plan currently

being developed for the City of Jacksonville by city engineers and the St. Johns River Water

Management District staff. This planning and implementation effort is endeavoring not only to

identify and rectify existing drainage problems, but also improve water quality discharges into

the lower basin of the St. Johns River. To date, over $3 million in state, water management and

city funds have been applied to this effort, which is expected to ultimately require over $250

million for implementation.

To offset the cost of water management planning, the Districts work with local

governments, regional and state agencies to identify potential sources of revenue to fund both

the planning and implementation of these efforts. In addition to the City of Jacksonville effort,

the water management districts have similar activities in the Boggy Creek, Econlockhatchee

River, Wekiva River, Lake Harris, Palatlakaha River basins of Lake County, Anclote basin of


Pasco County, Withlacoochee basin in Citrus and Sumter counties, and Kissimmee

River/Everglades basin, for example. Over $59 million is currently allocated among the five

districts for a variety of local government assistance and outreach programs.


While the original purpose of the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District

(C&SF) project was flood control, its vast plumbing network of canals and structures also enable

water managers to supply great amounts of water to vast agricultural areas and recharge urban

well fields. Over 500,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) depend on the

delivery of water for irrigation via the C&SF system. This irrigation water supports an industry

in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) that is conservatively worth $1.5 billion annually.

While drainage and flood protection projects dominated the early years of water

management in Florida, water supply and water resources restoration projects have become

important components of the water management mission in recent years. Population growth and

its corresponding demands on the state's water resources have given particular emphasis to the

restoration and protection of surface waters and ground waters. Saltwater intrusion, groundwater

contamination, degradation of surface water quality, and loss of recharge areas are some of the

major threats to the state's water supply. The five water management districts have programs in

place to address the particular problems facing their region.

Water managers at SJRWMD have for several years sponsored an aggressive abandoned

artesian well plugging program. To date, 989 well have been plugged or repaired, saving

approximately 225 million gallons of water per day. Programs such as this conserve today's

resources as well as tomorrow's.


SWhile managing our current water resources, water managers are also preparing for the

future. All five water management districts have active programs for protecting and conserving

current water supplies, as well as developing new water sources. Working with local

governments, water user industry associations and water utilities, the water management districts

are projecting the needs and identifying potential sources of water for the state to the year 2010.

The SWFWMD is a leader in investigating the use of reclaimed water for wellfield recharge.

Currently, scientists and engineers at SWFWMD are working with local governments in Pasco,

Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties to develop a pilot project using reclaimed water to relieve

reduce potentially harmful effects on the Starkey, Cross Bar, and Cypress Creek wellfields.

Comprehensive ground and surface water investigations are allowing water managers to

identify water supply problem areas. Problems such as saltwater intrusion in supply aquifers,

C adverse environmental impacts due to over use of source areas, and the potential of source

depletion or contamination are being tackled by the water management districts. Using

Geographical Information Systems (GIS), district scientists are able to pinpoint with greater

speed and accuracy sensitive areas.

In addition to identifying new or expanding existing sources of water, the water

management districts are advocates for reuse of treated storm and waste waters. They are the

leaders in water conservation initiatives aimed at stretching our existing supplies. Through the

efforts of the water management districts, xeriscape (landscaping to minimize water use for

irrigation) is a common practice today. It is estimated that current water conservation efforts in

the Southwest Florida Water Management District alone are saving are saving over 5.6 million

gallons of water per day.



The water management districts have historically maintained an aggressive land

acquisition program. Florida Statues gave general authority to the Districts to acquire land for

"flood control, water storage, water management, and preservation of wetlands, streams, and

lakes." Initially, much of the land acquired was aimed at providing the necessary land interests

to construct and operate flood control systems. Flowage easements and fee title interests were

obtained to meet federal requirements associated with the Flood Control District efforts. As

concerns about the environment and population pressures increased, land acquisition efforts at

the water management districts expanded. The districts now acquire land to protect, preserve,

and enhance water resources for future generations. Collectively, the five water management

districts have allocated over $200 million in fiscal year 1995 for this purpose.

' The benefit of land acquisition are manifold. Lands purchased by the water management

districts provide:

Non-structural flood control Land acquisition can prevent costly and hazardous
development in inappropriate areas, as well as provide adequate floodplain protection.

Buffering of Sensitive Areas Certain resources cannot be protected effectively or fairly
through regulation alone. For example, uplands adjacent to a tributaries are critical to
protecting the water resources. Permitting alone often cannot protect critical functions of
he watershed, such as wetlands.

Natural System Protection Many natural areas, such as a salt marsh, have resource
values well beyond their immediate boundaries. Acquisition provides an equitable
method of protecting the entire ecological system and compensating land owners for any
property that had any development potential.

Ground Water Recharge High recharge areas are purchased to insure safe and sufficient
water for today, as well as tomorrow.

Recreation Recreation for physical and mental health is an extremely important side
" benefit to public land acquisition. Over 95 percent of water management district lands
are open to the public.


The Save Our Rivers and Preservation 2000, two state-funded programs, have provided

needed funds for the water management districts to purchase sensitive lands within each district's

boundary. Since their inception, the water management districts have acquired more than 853,00

acres of land in the state. Cooperative efforts between the districts and numerous private and

public associations have combined the talents and fiscal resources of the best acquisition teams in

the nation to protect some of the most unique lands in the United States. An active land

management program by the districts provides responsible stewardship and resource management

of these public lands and opens thousands of acres of land annually for public recreation where

such public use is compatible with established environmental and water management objectives.

Despite wide-spread support for public land acquisition programs, such as the

Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL), P-2000, and Save Our Rivers, the districts are often

S criticized for taking lands off public tax roles. Concern is often expressed regarding the impact

of the districts' land acquisition programs to the local tax base. As the following example

illustrates, however, the SJRWMD has acquired over 68,000 acres of land a total cost of nearly

$100 million to support the non-structural aims of its Upper St. Johns River Basin Project.

Although a significant amount of land needed for this project have been removed from the local

ad valorem tax base, the actual 1990 tax revenues lost to the affected counties were less than

4/100 of one percent. This average "loss" is equal to less than ten cents per person per year. It is

difficult to calculate the off-setting gains to the entire upper St. Johns River region of the

outstanding water resources benefits and associated public recreational opportunities.



Environmental restoration and ecosystem management are two of the newest, and in

many ways the most exciting, of the water management districts' missions. While a principle

participant (or at minimum a successor-agency) to the adverse alteration of Florida's wetland

ecosystems, today the water management districts are "on point" with the some of the largest

restoration initiatives anywhere in the world.

Starting in the 1980's, the SFWMD was the first entity to initiate restoration of the

Kissimmee River. Once a contiguous ecosystem from the headwater lakes in Central Florida to

its outfall in Lake Okeechobee, the Kissimmee River was channalized as part of flood control

actions of the late 1960's and 1970's. The intended purpose of this drainage project was to

provide the headwater counties and the agricultural areas adjacent to the river with a reliable

level of flood protection. While accomplishing the intended mission, this project created

considerable adverse environmental impacts that were eventually deemed unacceptable by the

State of Florida and the federal government.

The current restoration project is a joint effort between the South Florida Water

Management District and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project will restore about

26,500 acres of wetlands and 40 square miles of historic river floodplain ecosystem. The

conservative cost of restoration is about $372 million, with SFWMD and the USACOE equal

partners. Construction in April 1994 and it will take about 15 years to complete. When

completed, the project will improve water quality, increase flood storage, expand fish and

wildlife habitat, and promote recreational opportunities for the citizens of Florida.

A lesser known, but highly successful restoration effort is nearly completed in the in the

SJRWMD. Like other waterways of south Florida, the upper St. Johns River basin was also a


target of the flood control efforts of the 1940's and 1950's. In 1954, the Army Corps of

Engineers began to implement an amended flood control plan that included the headwaters of the

St. Johns River. Major works were constructed under this amended plan. A primary canal and a

number of gated structures were constructed that conveyed flood waters to the Indian River

Lagoon and drained significant areas of riverine wetlands. However, the environmental

awareness of the 1960's and 1970's lead to a significant re-evaluation of this project. The project

was later deemed unacceptable due to its adverse environmental impacts.

Engineers and scientists from the St. Johns River Water Management District and the

Army Corps of Engineers initiated a redesign effort and developed a project plan that maintained

the flood control mission of the original plan without the adverse environmental impacts of the

original design. Today's Upper St. Johns River Basin Project has an environmental restoration

aspect that is almost equal in status to its flood control purpose. Almost 80 percent complete, the

project has restored 36,000 acres of riverine floodplain, significantly reduced adverse interbasin

diversions to the Indian River Lagoon and improved the water quality discharges to the St. Johns

River marshes. The project also provides significant habitat for fish and wildlife and has been

hailed as a national model of modem floodplain management.

The five water management districts also have extensive data collection and monitoring

programs which assist with restoration and planning efforts. The districts collect information

regarding water quality, water quantity, hydrology, biology, and vegetation. In addition to

supporting water management programs, this information is utilized by federal, state, local, and

nonprofit agencies in all facets of environmental work.



In 1987, the Florida Legislature passed the Surface Water Improvement and Management

Act, or SWIM, to provide funding for the cleanup, restoration, and protection of Florida's lakes,

rivers and bays.

SWIM has served as a funding catalyst for the water management districts to protect and

restore basins, rather than isolated wetlands or water bodies. Originally, the Legislature provided

80 percent funding for restoration, with a 20 percent contribution from the sponsoring water

management district. However, in recent years, the funding level has declined to the point were

the state now funds less than 50 percent of the costs. This reduction has impacted many SWIM

programs, with the postponement or elimination of some projects, and has required the water

management districts to overmatchh" SWIM funding to keep many construction-oriented SWIM

projects on track.

All SWIM programs share similar goals: water quality protection, natural systems

protection, watershed management, and development of partnerships between government,

business, and environmental interests. Some of the largest restoration projects at the five water

management districts are funded by the SWIM program. Following is a list of all the currently

approved SWIM programs of the districts and a discussion of selected programs.

Southwest Florida Water Management District

Tampa Bay Tampa Bay is Florida's largest and most heavily used open-water estuary.

Shoreline development and stormwater pollution from urban and industrial discharges have taken

a toll on the bay. By 1988, 44 percent of the Bay's mangrove and marsh habitat was gone, along

with 80 percent of its seagrasses. Fisheries and shellfish harvesting had essentially ceased. The

Tampa Bay SWIM program focuses on restoring habitat, controlling freshwater flow to the bay,


Sand removing nonpoint sources of pollution. Through the efforts of many agencies and local

government, the Bay is on its way to recovery. Seagrasses are returning and water quality has


Other SWIM programs at the SWFWMD include: Rainbow River/Blue Run; Banana

Lake; Crystal River/Kings Bay; Lake Panasoffkee; Charlotte Harbor; Lake Tarpon; Lake

Thonotosassa; and the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes.

South Florida Water Management District

Lake Okeechobee The largest freshwater lake in Florida, this water body has been the

center of heated public controversy. The lake has been used for agricultural irrigation, water

supply for lakeside communities, flood storage, a supplemental water source for coastal

communities, and a water source for the South Florida's ecosystem. Because of these many

demands, the lake has been managed much like a reservoir. Most of the lake's marshy shoreline

has been eliminated due to the artificial stabilization of water levels. Nutrient-rich discharges to

the lake over many years have polluted its water. The Okeechobee SWIM program has worked

to reduce nutrient inputs through regulatory efforts and by working with farmers to modify

agricultural practices, such as reducing fertilizer application, and implementing other Best

Management Practices (BMPs).

Other SWIM programs at SFWMD include: Florida Everglades; Indian River Lagoon

(joint effort with SJRWMD); and Biscayne Bay.

St. Johns River Water Management District

Lake Apopka In the 1950's, Lake Apopka was renown for its crystal waters, sandy bottom, and

trophy-sized bass. Today, the lake is a sickly green and the bass are nearly non-existent. Years

of pollution from agricultural discharges have severely degraded the lake.
of pollution from agricultural discharges have severely degraded the lake.


Today, scientists and engineers are using nature's filters marshes to restore the lake. A 1,850

acre demonstration marsh flow-way system constructed on former agricultural lands to filter

nutrients has had promising effects on water clarity and quality. Initial tests show the restored

marsh are capable of removing nearly half of the phosphorus and nitrogen from the water -

exceeding all projections. Almost all suspended solids are removed from the water column.

After a monitoring phase, the flow will be expanded to a 5,000 acre system. Other projects to

supplement the marsh flow-way include planting aquatic plants to help stabilize shoreline

sediments and removal of gizzard shad.

Other SWIM programs at SJRWMD include: Indian River Lagoon (joint effort with the

SFWMD); Lower St. Johns River; and Upper Ocklawaha River.

Northwest Florida Water Management District

* Lake Jackson Unlike Lake Apopka, Lake Jackson is still known for recreational fishing. The

lake is a State Aquatic Preserve and an Outstanding Florida Water, but stormwater runoff is

threatening water quality. Through the cooperation of many federal, state, and local government

agencies, several projects have been constructed to help improve and protect Lake Jackson. The

District's Megginnis Arm Stormwater Treatment Facility uses a large detention pond, a sand

filter, and manmade marshes to clean-up stormwater flowing into the lake. More treatment

facilities are being constructed to handle additional stormwater.

Other SWIM programs at NWFWMD include: Apalachicola River and Bay; Deer Point

Lake; and Pensacola Bay.


Suwannee River Water Management District

Suwannee River The focus of this SWIM program is protecting and monitoring the 245

mile river. Overall, the health of the river is good, although some of the tributaries along the

river have become degraded. Activities focus on monitoring water quality, educating the public

about the river, and collecting needed information. The SRWMD has assisted local governments

on their comprehensive plan elements that affect the river system. The program has also helped

to coordinate the successful effort to bring a sewage treatment plant to the town of Suwannee.

Other SWIM programs at SRWMD include: Santa Fe River; Coastal Rivers system;

Alligator Lake; Aucilla River; and Waccasassa River.


( Water management districts clearly do much more than regulate water and its beneficial

use. However, to focus exclusively on the regulatory function of the districts can only reinforce a

very parochial understanding of the districts' broader role and ultimate impact to Florida's social,

economic and environmental landscape.

Water districts will continue to wield significant regulatory powers and may well be

viewed primarily as "regulatory agencies" by the development community for the foreseeable

future. But a more comprehensive view of the districts public role will appropriately include

their many beneficial "non-regulatory" functions as well. For it will be the non-regulatory

missions of the districts (the carrot), rather than their widely-recognized permitting authority (the

stick) that will more fully dictate the character of Florida's water future.

There is no doubt that the sustainable economy, healthy natural environment and quality

( of life that future Floridians will experience and enjoy will be an appreciable result, in large part,



of these lesser known--but vital non-regulatory missions--of Florida's water management

districts and their many public and private partners. The choice of which tool can best do the job

is largely ours: Will it be the carrot, or will it be the stick?

Charles A. "Chuck" Padera is currently the director of water resources for the St. Johns River Water Management
District in Palatka, Florida. As director, Mr. Padera supervises a 180 member professional staff responsible for
several major engineering and environmental restoration projects. His department is also provides laboratory
services, performs water resources investigations, biological and hydrological monitoring throughout the 19-county
district. A biologist by training, Mr. Padera is active in the Florida Chapter of the American Water Resources
Association and other environmental organizations.


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