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Southwest Florida Water Management District News Releases (RSS)



Water resource related news stories and announcements.



 



Governing Board to Meet in Brooksville (note start time at 11:30 a.m.)

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 11:30 a.m. at District Headquarters, located at 2379 Broad Street in Brooksville.

Prior to the meeting, the Governing Board will hold a planning workshop beginning at 9 a.m. The planning workshop will focus on the strategic plan and budget process.

To view both the planning workshop and the Governing Board meeting online, visit Watermatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

The meeting agenda and materials are posted online at Watermatters.org and click on the “Boards, Meetings & Events Calendar” link.




District Receives Statewide Honors at Annual Florida Public Relations Association Conference

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Public Affairs Bureau recently received top honors at the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) 60th Annual Golden Image. The winners were announced last week at the Association’s 79th annual conference in Orlando. Recipients of this prestigious awards competition demonstrate the very best examples of innovation, planning and design in public relations. The Golden Image Awards have become a standard of public relations excellence in the state of Florida.

Cindy Rodriguez accepted a Judge’s Award and a Golden Image Award in the Public Affairs category for the Polk County Regional Water Initiative. In addition, Rodriguez received the event’s top award, the Grand All Image Award.

Brittany Jackson, Allen Yarbrough and Kenna Harrison accepted a Judge’s Award and an Award of Distinction in the Special Events category for the District’s Employee Meetings.

Mary Margaret Hull, APR, and Tara Poulton accepted a Judge’s Award in the Public Service category on behalf of the multi-divisional team that worked on the Flatford Swamp Outreach project.

Robyn Felix accepted an Award of Distinction in the Internal Communications category for the Your Health Matters wellness initiative.

FPRA’s Golden Image Awards program is conducted annually. To qualify for judging, a Golden Image entry must incorporate sound public relations research and planning. Entries must also meet the highest standard of production, execution and evaluation of results and budget.




District to Hold Workshop on Minimum and Guidance Levels for Saddleback and Round Lakes in Hillsborough County

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Monday, August 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library located at 2902 W. Bearss Ave. in Tampa. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum and guidance levels for Saddleback and Round Lakes in Hillsborough County.

During the workshop, District staff will present the technical basis for the proposed minimum levels for Saddleback and Round Lakes. Minimum levels are established to protect lakes and wetlands and the minimum level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment.

The workshop is an opportunity for local government, citizens, and others to provide input regarding the proposed minimum and guidance level. Information will be summarized and made available to the District’s Governing Board. At the Board’s September meeting, Board members will choose whether to recommend adoption of the minimum levels into District rules. Governing Board meetings are open to the public, and brief oral comments are permitted on meeting agenda items.

The Florida Legislature requires the District to set minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for priority water bodies within the District. Minimum flows are established to protect streams and rivers from impacts associated with ground water and surface water withdrawals, while minimum levels are established to protect lakes and wetlands. Minimum flows and levels serve as guidelines for the District’s permitting programs and for development of water resource projects.

A draft report summarizing the proposed minimum levels for Saddleback and Round Lakes is posted on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/MFLreports. For more information regarding the proposed minimum levels, please contact Jaime Swindasz at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4276.

Written comments can be submitted via mail or email to Jaime Swindasz, Environmental Scientist, Water Resources Bureau, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604 or jaime.swindasz@watermatters.org




Public Invited to Help Identify Flood Prone Areas in Portions of Pasco County

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is gathering information to improve identification of flood prone areas in Pasco County. Residents living in the Anclote West watershed are invited to attend an open house on either Monday, Aug. 7 or Friday, Aug. 11 at 4:00 p.m. The meetings will take place in the cafeteria of J. W. Mitchell High School, located at 2323 Little Road in New Port Richey.

District representatives will present preliminary data for flood prone areas, explain the basis behind the findings, and gather additional information that may be used to identify additional areas which may be prone to flooding. After addressing public comments, information will be finalized and presented to the District’s Governing Board for approval to use the data for regulatory purposes. This information is not currently being incorporated into the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs); however, it may be used in future DFIRM updates.

The information which identifies areas prone to flooding can be used by local governments for land use and zoning decisions, to help manage development in and around floodplains and wetlands, to reduce flood risks, to preserve land and water resources, and for emergency planning. It will also provide valuable information to the public for decisions about purchasing and protecting property.

For more information or to find out which watershed you live in, please visit WaterMatters.org/FloodRisk/ or call the District at (352) 796-7211, ext. 4297.




CFWI Focuses on Saving Water Outdoors Outdoor Irrigation Accounts for up to 50% of Residential Use

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Ensuring that central Florida has the water it needs is at the core of the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI). Three water management districts — the St. Johns River, South Florida and Southwest Florida – are finding new sources and new ways, through the CFWI, to maintain and build the area’s water supply, while protecting the area’s natural resources. Practicing water conservation at home is also critical to helping ensure adequate water supply in the community with outdoor irrigation a great water-saving potential. “Approximately half of all potable water is used for outdoor irrigation,” according to Dan O’Keefe, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Chairman. “Much of this use is more than what is required to sustain a healthy residential landscape.” “Water conservation is a critical strategy to meet our water supply needs — it’s the cornerstone of Florida’s water sustainability,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “While new technologies and strategies are important to meet the water needs of our state, using water efficiently year-round, both indoors and outdoors, helps protect the health of the Floridan aquifer system and ensures that fresh, drinkable groundwater is available for years to come.” “Conservation is really about not wasting water. And it’s easy to do,” said Brian Armstrong, Southwest Florida Water Management District executive director. “We have a lot of simple tips about conservation on our website at WaterMatters.org/conservation. I encourage everyone to do their part to conserve.” How much water is enough? On average, established lawns and landscapes require just one inch of water each week to stay healthy. This amount varies seasonally — water needs for plants go up during the peak summer growing season and down during the winter dormant period. The goal is to irrigate only as necessary to supplement rainfall. Watering routines should be influenced by the weather. During the summertime rainy months, watch the weather and wait to water. Homeowners can monitor the amount of water yards receive naturally by placing a rain gauge outside. Overwatering landscapes wastes both water and money. To see how long it takes a sprinkler system to deliver one inch of water, place empty tuna or cat food cans evenly throughout each zone. After running the sprinklers for a set amount of time, simply measure the depth of water in each can. Landscape irrigation rules Florida’s water management districts have irrigation conservation measures in place to limit landscape watering and encourage more responsible use of water resources. Following districtwide lawn-watering rules helps ensure the efficient use of water, promotes healthier lawns and landscapes and saves thousands of gallons of water per month. Programmable “smart” irrigation controllers can make it easy to comply with local watering schedules. It is surprising to see how quickly the gallons add up and how easy it is to reduce your use. Whether residing within South Florida, Southwest Florida or St. John’s River water management districts, it’s important to know the year-round landscape irrigation rules currently in place in your area. South Florida Water Management District Year-Round Landscape Irrigation Rule in place since 2010: Limits landscape watering to two days a week throughout the 16-county district with a three-day-a-week provision for some counties. NOTE: Local governments may adopt alternative landscape irrigation ordinances based on local water demands, system limitations or resource availability. Check the SFWMD website for watering days and times. http://www.sfwmd.gov/mywateringdays Southwest Florida Water Management District Year-Round Water Conservation Measures allows lawn watering twice-per-week. Some local governments such as Pasco and S[...]



Governor Appoints Jim Murphy to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board

Tue, 01 Aug 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Governor Rick Scott appointed Jim Murphy to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board. Murphy represents Polk County.

Murphy, 57, of Lakeland, is the division president of Florida Sealing Products, Inc. He attended The Ohio State University. Murphy is appointed for a term beginning July 28, 2017, and ending March 1, 2021.

Governing Board members are unpaid, citizen volunteers who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The Governing Board sets policy for the District, whose mission is to manage the water and related resources of west central Florida to meet the needs of current and future water users while protecting the environment.




District Approves Rolled Back Proposed Millage Rate Savings Taxpayers $6.7 Million

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

For the sixth year in a row, the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Governing Board voted to decrease property taxes by adopting a rolled back millage rate of 0.3131 mill for the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget.

The millage rate is more than 5.6 percent lower than the current fiscal year adopted millage rate of 0.3317 mill, a savings to taxpayers of $6.7 million.

For the owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption, the District tax would be $31.31 a year, or about $2.61 per month.

The total fiscal year 2018 proposed budget for the District is $181.6 million, and includes more than $77 million for Cooperative Funding Initiatives and District grants. Through cooperative funding partnerships, District funds are matched up to 50 percent and will result in a total regional investment of more than $151 million for sustainable alternative water supply development and other water resource management projects. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2018.

The District will hold a tentative budget hearing on Sept. 12 at 5:01 p.m. at the Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301.

The Governing Board will vote on the final budget on Sept. 26 at 5:01 p.m., at the Tampa Service Office.




District Maintains Water Restrictions in Northern Region

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Year-Round Water Conservation Measures Return Elsewhere

Due to lingering drought effects and water resources not recovering as quickly as other areas, the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Governing Board voted today to maintain once-per-week lawn watering and other restrictions in the District’s northern region, which includes Citrus, Hernando, Levy and portions of Lake, Marion and Sumter counties. This order in Marion County would be limited to the city of Dunnellon and the area encompassed by The Villages because the District has an Interagency Agreement with the St. Johns River Water Management District. The restrictions for the District’s northern region will remain in effect through Oct. 1, 2017.

The “modified phase III” water shortage order the board enacted in May will expire on Aug. 1 for the remainder of the District, including: Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. This means a twice-per-week watering schedule and other more flexible provisions of the District’s year-round water conservation measures will go back into effect, unless prohibited by a more stringent local ordinance (such as portions of Pasco and Sarasota counties).

Under the modified phase III restrictions, lawn watering is reduced to once-per-week and allowable watering hours also are reduced. Micro-irrigation and hand watering of non-lawn areas are still allowed any day, if needed. Additionally, there are limits on car washing and homeowners’ associations may not enforce any deed restrictions which could cause an increase in water use. Additional details regarding the watering of new lawns and plants, reclaimed water and other water uses can be found at WaterMatters.org/restrictions.

The District considerers both natural water resource conditions and the viability of public supply when deciding to declare, modify, or remove a water shortage order. For the past 20 years, the District has worked diligently with its partners to develop alternative water supplies.

The District encourages water conservation year-round, and offers many tips to reduce water use and additional information at WaterMatters.org/conservation




Governing Board to Meet at Tampa Bay Water

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 25 at 10 a.m. at Tampa Bay Water, located at 2575 Enterprise Road in Clearwater.

To view the Governing Board meeting online, visit Watermatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials are posted one week before the meeting, and can be found online at Watermatters.org and click on the “Boards, Meetings & Events Calendar” link.




District Aims to Reduce Risk of Wildfires by Scheduling Prescribed Fires for Hillsborough County

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s recent drought. That’s why the Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of July, August, and September on the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area (LHFDA) in Hillsborough County.

The LHFDA property is located in the area of U.S. 301 and Morris Bridge Rd. near Thonotosassa. Approximately 725 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Reducing overgrown plants which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires
  • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants
  • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat
  • Maintaining access for public recreation

The District’s land management section conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year. Click here for a quick look at what it’s like along the fire line.




District Aims to Reduce Risk of Wildfires by Scheduling Prescribed Fires for Pasco County

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s recent drought. That’s why the Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of July, August, and September at the Conner Preserve in Pasco County.

Conner Preserve is located south of State Road 52 and east of U.S. 41 near the town of Land O’ Lakes. Approximately 600 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Reducing overgrown plants which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires
  • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants
  • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat
  • Maintaining access for public recreation

The District’s land management section conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year. Click here for a quick look at what it’s like along the fire line.




District Aims to Reduce Risk of Wildfires by Scheduling Prescribed Fires for Polk County

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s recent drought. That’s why the Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management
District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of July, August, and September on the Upper Hillsborough property in Polk County.

The Upper Hillsborough property is in the area of Chancy Rd. and S.R. 54 near Zephyrhills. Approximately 950 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Reducing overgrown plants which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires
  • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants
  • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat
  • Maintaining access for public recreation

The District’s land management section conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year. Click here for a quick look at what it’s like along the fire line.




Coleman’s Landing Boat Ramp To Reopen on Lake Panasoffkee

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Coleman’s Landing boat ramp on the east side of Lake Panasoffkee will reopen to the public on Saturday, July 15. The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has completed an aquatic plant removal project which required the temporary closure of the boat ramp.

Aquatic plants were harvested to create boat access trails across the lake through areas of dense vegetation. For more information, please call the Operations Section at the District’s Brooksville Headquarters at 1-800-423-1476 or (352) 796-7211, ext. 4537 or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 352-726-8622.




CFWI Projects Taking Shape Throughout Region

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Bartow, Fla., July 11, 2017 — Drilling more than half a mile below ground to find new sources of water in the Lower Florida aquifer (LFA). Finding new ways to reuse reclaimed water. Combining stormwater and reclaimed water to build a sustainable supply. These are some of the innovative projects the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) is developing to meet the growing water needs of the five-county Central Florida region while also protecting the region’s water resources. Water experts project the region will need an additional 300 million gallons of water per day by 2035. Only about 50 mgd will be available from traditional sources without harming the water and related natural resources like wetlands and lakes. “We have to be creative and collaborative if we want to ensure that our citizens have the water they need and that our natural resources, which define our quality of life, are protected,” said Brian Armstrong, Southwest Florida Water Management District executive director. “By working together on alternative water supply projects that benefit the CFWI region we help extend our future water supply,” said St. Johns River Water Management Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “It’s through this type of collaboration we can ensure residents and our natural resources have the water needed to thrive in the years to come.” “It is very encouraging to see this region’s water supply planning now being implemented in projects underway and on the horizon,” said Dan O’Keefe, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board chairman. Hers’s a look at four unique regional water supply projects breaking new ground throughout the region: OSCEOLA COUNTY – Cypress Lake Wellfield Project The Cypress Lakes Wellfield is a collaborative effort between the members of the Water Cooperative of Central Florida (WCCF, composed of the Tohopekaliga Water Authority, Orange County Utilities, Polk County Utilities, and the City of St. Cloud) and Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID). This proposed project will develop a nontraditional LFA groundwater wellfield in central Osceola County. The project includes the construction of a new water treatment plant, wellfield and raw water transmission systems, concentrate disposal well(s), and the construction of the distribution water mains to convey water among the WCCF partners. The project has been identified as having a 15 mgd and 30 mgd finished water construction phases. The project has been permitted and is in design. Final design is anticipated to begin in 2020 with construction in 2022. POLK COUNTY – Southwest Polk County Wellfield Project The Southeast Polk County Wellfield project includes the construction of a new water treatment plant and associated infrastructure. This project is a collaborative effort among Polk County Utilities and municipalities within Polk County. The proposed project will develop a nontraditional Lower Floridan aquifer (LFA) water public supply wellfield in southeast Polk County. The project includes the construction of a new water treatment plant, wellfield and raw water transmission systems, concentrate disposal well(s), the construction of distribution water mains to the project partners, and internal system upgrades by individual project partners. The project is proposed to be built in three phases, with 10 mgd, 20 mgd, and 30 mgd finished water construction phases. The project partners will take the water from this wellfield project to meet their demands. This water will be used in lieu of additional future withdrawals from the traditional supply source. The project has been permitted and design[...]



District Acquires Rainbow River Ranch Property

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Purchase Made in Partnership with The Nature Conservancy

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) has closed on the purchase of the environmentally important Rainbow River Ranch.

This important land acquisition is about 16 percent of the eastern bank of the Rainbow River, and along with existing public ownership, will allow the District to continue its mission of protecting water resources and this important natural resource. This property and its shoreline of marshes, wetlands and giant bald cypress trees is the last major undeveloped property along this natural river corridor.

The acquisition consists of 112 acres and includes nearly a half mile of river frontage. The transaction also included provisions to protect an additional 620 feet of shoreline associated with existing private landholdings from more intense development. The District’s Governing Board approved the contract to purchase the property in March.

Rainbow Springs is the largest first-magnitude spring in Florida which feeds the Rainbow River, and flows for approximately 5.7 miles until it merges into the Withlacoochee River.

The total purchase price for this property is $3,813,875 with the conservation lands being purchased using Florida Forever Funds and a grant by The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy provided $250,000 toward the purchase of the Rainbow River Ranch tract through its Private Grant Agreement for Land Assist program. In Florida since 1961, The Nature Conservancy has helped to protect more than 1.2 million acres of vulnerable lands and waters across the state.

The District will work cooperatively with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Florida Park Service to develop an agreement to manage the park as part of the adjoining Rainbow Springs State Park.




District to Hold Workshop on Minimum and Guidance Levels for Lake Easy in Polk County

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Wednesday, July 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the City of Lake Wales Commission Chambers located at 201 W. Central Ave. in Lake Wales. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum and guidance levels for Lake Easy in Polk County.

During the workshop, District staff will present the technical basis for the proposed minimum levels for Lake Easy. Minimum levels are established to protect lakes and wetlands and the minimum level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment.

The workshop is an opportunity for local government, citizens, and others to provide input regarding the proposed minimum and guidance level. Information will be summarized and made available to the District’s Governing Board. At the Board’s August meeting, Board members will choose whether to recommend adoption of the minimum levels into District rules. Governing Board meetings are open to the public, and brief oral comments are permitted on meeting agenda items.

The Florida Legislature requires the District to set minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for priority water bodies within the District. Minimum flows are established to protect streams and rivers from impacts associated with ground water and surface water withdrawals, while minimum levels are established to protect lakes and wetlands. Minimum flows and levels serve as guidelines for the District’s permitting programs and for development of water resource projects.

A draft report summarizing the proposed minimum levels for Lake Easy is posted on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/MFLreports. For more information regarding the proposed minimum levels, please contact Donna Campbell at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4236.

Written comments can be submitted via mail or email to Donna Campbell, Environmental Scientist, Water Resources Bureau, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 or donna.campbell@watermatters.org




District Deactivates Emergency Operations Center

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) officials have deactivated the District’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from a Level 2 to a Level 3. In April, the District activated the EOC to Level 2 in coordination with State Emergency Response Teams who requested and directed District resources during Florida’s wildfire emergency event. The EOC provides direction and controls District activities during an emergency event.

Level 3 activation is utilized when a specific situation has been detected that must be monitored or a general state of monitoring exists, such as during the hurricane season. Level 3 is a monitoring–only activation level, and the EOC will:

• While the situation is being monitored, place all District emergency personnel on standby during normal business hours.
• Check equipment and resources to ensure all is ready if needed.
• Monitor water levels and operate water control structures on water bodies throughout the District’s 16–county area as needed.
• Maintain direct communications with the state EOC as needed.
• Ensure current emergency management information is distributed to all District staff.

The EOC also directs District field crews, responds to requests from the state EOC, and provides water resource updates to state and local emergency management agencies, the media, and the general public.




Governing Board to Meet in Brooksville

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 27 at 9 a.m. at District Headquarters, located at 2379 Broad Street in Brooksville.

To view the Governing Board meeting online, visit Watermatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials are posted one week before the meeting, and can be found online at Watermatters.org and click on the “Boards, Meetings & Events Calendar” link.




Guest Editorial by Executive Director Brian J. Armstrong - Springs need our help; let’s focus on the real problems

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board recently approved minimum flows (or MFLs) for both the Rainbow River and the Crystal River/Kings Bay systems. A minimum flow is the limit at which withdrawals will cause significant harm.

Some recent guest editorials and letters have suggested the water management district arbitrarily sets these limits and offers a “blank check” to pump unlimited amounts of water out of the aquifer. In fact, MFLs are an important tool that provide additional protection for water resources by placing caps on withdrawals. MFLs do not authorize withdrawals. Anyone wanting to withdraw water must still go through the water use permitting process. The MFL is an added protection to that process.

Our District scientists have been studying waterways for more than 30 years. We follow where the science leads without any presumption of what the outcome will be. The science and consistent approach used by District experts to set MFLs have been supported by nearly 20 independent peer review panels composed of other scientific experts.

Each of the major spring systems in our District is unique and each one is experiencing impacts from various causes. Scientific data shows the impacts to water quality are unrelated to groundwater withdrawals. Water quality impacts are attributed to several factors including septic tanks, storm water and urban/residential fertilizer.

We are addressing the problems with Crystal River/Kings Bay and all of the major springs systems in our region. We have worked with a diverse group of stakeholders including local governments, state agencies, environmental organizations, public suppliers, agriculturalists and others to develop individualized plans for each spring. The plans identify the issues, causes, quantifiable objectives, helpful management actions, ongoing projects and proposed projects to help protect and restore these important water resources.

It’s understandable that people are concerned about these incredibly wonderful natural systems. They need our help. But they won’t get better unless we focus and attack the real causes of the problems. I encourage anyone who is interested in protecting our water resources to get informed, get involved and get engaged in protecting our springs. You can find more information about the individual spring plans and other springs data on our website at WaterMatters.org/springs.

Brian J. Armstrong, P.G.
Executive Director
Southwest Florida Water Management District

Brian Armstrong has more than 15 years of experience in water resource management serving in various leadership roles with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. He is a licensed professional geologist, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Geology and his Master’s Degree in Hydrogeology from the University of South Florida.




Public Invited to Help Identify Flood Prone Areas in Portions of Pasco County

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is gathering information to improve identification of flood prone areas in Pasco County. Residents living in the Double Hammock Creek watershed are invited to attend an open house on Monday, June 26 at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will take place at Pepin Academies, located at 9804 Little Road in New Port Richey.

District representatives will present preliminary data for flood prone areas, explain the basis behind the findings, and gather additional information that may be used to identify additional areas which may be prone to flooding. After addressing public comments, information will be finalized and presented to the District’s Governing Board for approval to use the data for regulatory purposes. This information is not currently being incorporated into the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs), however, it may be used in future DFIRM updates.

The information which identifies areas prone to flooding can be used by local governments for land use and zoning decisions, to help manage development in and around floodplains and wetlands, to reduce flood risks, to preserve land and water resources, and for emergency planning. It will also provide valuable information to the public for decisions about purchasing and protecting property.

For more information or to find out which watershed you live in, please visit WaterMatters.org/FloodRisk/ or call the District at (352) 796-7211, ext. 4297.




All District Managed Campgrounds to Reopen

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will reopen all District managed campgrounds throughout our 16-county region on Wednesday, June 14, due to increased rainfall and the reduced threat of wildfire. The District closed these properties in April during Florida’s wildfire emergency event.

The following District managed campgrounds will be reopened:

  • Cypress Creek Preserve
  • Deep Creek Preserve
  • Flying Eagle Preserve
  • Green Swamp – East Tract
  • Green Swamp – Hampton Tract
  • Green Swamp – West Tract
  • Lake Panasofkee
  • Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve
  • Potts Preserve
  • Starkey Wilderness Preserve – Serenova Tract
  • Upper Hillsborough Preserve – Alston Tract
  • Upper Hillsborough Preserve – Upper Hillsborough Tract

The District will start to process reservations on these properties beginning June 14. To make a reservation please visit watermatters.org/reservation




District to Hold Workshop on Minimum and Guidance Levels for Lake Aurora in Polk County

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Tuesday, June 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lake Aurora Christian Camp and Retreat Center located at 237 Golden Bough Road east of Lake Wales. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum and guidance levels for Lake Aurora in Polk County.

The Florida Legislature requires the District to set minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for priority water bodies within the District. A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment. Minimum flows are established to protect streams and rivers from impacts associated with ground water and surface water withdrawals, while minimum levels are established to protect lakes and wetlands. Minimum flows and levels serve as guidelines for the District’s permitting programs and for development of water resource projects.

During the workshop, District staff will present the technical basis for the proposed minimum levels for Lake Aurora. This is also an opportunity for local government, citizens, and others to provide input regarding the proposed minimum and guidance level. Information will be summarized and made available to the District’s Governing Board.

Proposed minimum levels for Lake Aurora will be presented at the District’s July Governing Board meeting. Governing Board members will choose whether to recommend adoption of the minimum levels into District rules. Governing Board meetings are open to the public, and brief oral comments are permitted on meeting agenda items.

A draft report summarizing the proposed minimum levels is available for review and is posted on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/MFLreports. For more information regarding the proposed minimum levels, please contact Mark Hurst at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4271.

Written comments regarding the minimum levels are also welcome. They can be submitted via mail or email to Mark Hurst, Senior Environmental Scientist, Water Resources Bureau, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 or mark.hurst@watermatters.org




Governor Reappoints Henslick to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Governor Rick Scott reappointed John Henslick to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board. Henslick represents Manatee County.

Henslick, 66, of Myakka City, is the owner and president of Henslick & Associates, LLC. He received his bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville University and his master’s degree from the University of Florida. Henslick is reappointed for a term beginning June 5, 2017, and ending March 1, 2021.

Governing Board members are unpaid, citizen volunteers who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The Governing Board sets policy for the District, whose mission is to manage the water and related resources of west central Florida to meet the needs of current and future water users while protecting the environment.




District Temporarily Closes Two Airboat Slides in Citrus County

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) has temporarily closed the Moccasin Slough and Wysong-Coogler airboat slides in Citrus County due to safety concerns associated with low water levels.

Current low water levels have exposed the ends of the airboat slides, causing the slides to be impassable. Attempts to use the slides in current conditions could damage airboats or injure passengers.

Staff will continue to monitor conditions and will reopen the slides as soon as water levels rise.

The District operates one additional airboat slide in the area, the Brogden Bridge slide. It is currently open, but could be temporarily closed in the future if water levels continue to fall.

For more information, please call the Operations Section at the District’s Brooksville Headquarters at 1-800-423-1476 or (352) 796-7211, ext. 4578.




CFWI focuses on collaboration with utilities to extend water supply

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Built on the concept of collaboration, the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) works with the area’s 83 utilities to scale water conservation efforts and promote alternative water supplies for a growing population. “The CFWI is focused on regional, multijurisdictional solutions that serve more than one utility, and by extension more residents, businesses, the agricultural community and other water users in the region,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We remain focused on ensuring sustainable use of Florida’s water, knowing that coordination is key to successfully implement a water supply plan of this size and scale.” “This unique partnership can be a model for other communities across the country,’” said Southwest Florida Water Management District Executive Director Brian Armstrong. “We are proud to work together to develop strategies to meet our region’s growing water demands.” “As a longtime Central Florida resident, I can personally attest to the crucial importance of water supply,” said South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “Our Governing Board is enthusiastic to play a part in this major collaborative effort to find every available way to ensure water supply for future generations.” Through partnerships with utilities, the CFWI has developed a methodical approach to implementing large-scale water conservation and alternative water supply sources. • Throughout the CFWI, the use of reclaimed water has grown along with population increases. By building the infrastructure and using reclaimed water, utilities and the communities they serve conserve traditional freshwater supplies and provide an environmentally responsible alternative to disposal of wastewater. • Water savings incentive programs, like Florida Water Star, help utilities promote water conservation by offering customers rebates and incentives to install water-efficient appliances, landscapes and irrigation systems. • Water management districts provide a variety of opportunities for utilities within the CFWI to share construction costs for projects that assist in meeting a variety of goals, including creating alternative water supplies and enhancing conservation efforts. • Utilities and water management districts participate in leak detection programs, which conserve water and increase a utility’s operational efficiency by inspecting and detecting leaks in public water system pipelines. • Development of a list of water supply project options for the CFWI Planning Area in coordination with utilities and other stakeholder groups. • Utilities encourage water conservation on a local level by implementing ordinances that promote irrigation restrictions, as well as using tier-rate billing to urge water savings indoors and outdoors. The goal of CFWI is to develop strategies to meet water demands while ensuring water resources are protected, conserved and restored in the 5,300-square-mile area. Public supply is currently the largest use category in the CFWI Planning Area, with use expected to increase by approximately 40 percent by 2035. To address this increase, water management districts work with utilities as well as other stakeholder groups to address these water supply needs. The CFWI is a joint effort b[...]



Governor Reappoints Three to Governing Board

Tue, 30 May 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Governor Rick Scott reappointed Bryan K. Beswick, Mark C. Taylor and Michelle Williamson to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board. All three have been appointed for a term beginning May 25, 2017 and ending March 1, 2020 and the appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Beswick, of Arcadia, represents DeSoto, Hardee and Highlands counties. He is a grove manager with Premier Citrus Management LLC.

Taylor, of Brooksville, represents Hernando and Marion counties. He is the president of TTG Properties Inc.

Williamson, of Dover, represents Hillsborough County and is a manager at
G & F Farms.

Governing Board members are unpaid, citizen volunteers who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The Governing Board sets policy for the District, whose mission is to manage the water and related resources of west central Florida to meet the needs of current and future water users while protecting the environment.




Governing Board Elects Officers

Thu, 25 May 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management Governing Board voted Tuesday to re-elect the same slate of officers for the 2017-2018 term.

Randall S. Maggard was re-elected chair of the Governing Board. Maggard represents Pasco County and is vice president of Sonny’s Discount Appliances Inc. in Dade City. Maggard was appointed to the Board in October 2011.

Jeffery M. Adams was re-elected vice-chair of the Governing Board. Adams represents Pinellas County and is an attorney and partner with the law firm of Abbey, Adams, LLP, in St. Petersburg. Adams was appointed to the Board in April 2010.

Bryan K. Beswick was re-elected secretary of the Governing Board. Beswick represents DeSoto, Hardee and Highlands counties and is a grove manager of Premier Citrus Management in Arcadia. Beswick was appointed to the Governing Board in March 2013.

Ed Armstrong was re-elected as treasurer of the Governing Board. Armstrong represents Pinellas County and is an attorney with Hill Ward Henderson in Clearwater. Armstrong was appointed to the Governing Board in June 2014.

The new officers will serve a one-year term beginning 24 hours before the next Governing Board meeting.

Governing Board members are unpaid, citizen volunteers who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The Governing Board sets policy for the District, whose mission is to manage the water and related resources of west central Florida to meet the needs of current and future water users while protecting the environment.




District Tightens Water Restrictions throughout 16-County Region

Tue, 23 May 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Governing Board voted today to increase water restrictions throughout the region. The modified Phase III water shortage order affects counties throughout the District’s boundaries including Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter.

District hydrologists report a rainfall deficit of 11-inches since the start of the dry season last October. In fact, this is the driest dry season in the past 103 years.

Under the new water shortage order, lawn watering is reduced to once-per-week and allowable watering hours also are reduced. Micro-irrigation and hand watering of non-lawn areas are still allowed any day, if needed. Additionally, there are now limits on car washing and homeowners’ associations may not enforce any deed restrictions which could cause an increase in water use. The restrictions will remain in effect through August 1, 2017. Additional details regarding the watering of new lawns and plants, reclaimed water and other water uses can be found at WaterMatters.org/restrictions.

The District considerers both natural water resource conditions and the viability of public supply when deciding to declare a water shortage order. For the past 20 years, the District has worked diligently with its partners to develop alternative water supplies. Even though the region is experiencing drought conditions, there is adequate public water supply available.

Florida’s dry season runs October through May. The District encourages water conservation year-round, and offers many tips to reduce water use and additional information at WaterMatters.org/conservation.




Governing Board to Meet in Brooksville

Thu, 18 May 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 23 at 9 a.m. at District Headquarters, located at 2379 Broad Street in Brooksville.

To view the Governing Board meeting online, visit Watermatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials are posted one week before the meeting, and can be found online at Watermatters.org and click on the “Boards, Meetings & Events Calendar” link.




Governor Appoints Schleicher and Smith to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board

Mon, 15 May 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Governor Rick Scott appointed Joel Schleicher and Rebecca Smith to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board. Schleicher represents Charlotte and Sarasota Counties and Smith represents Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

Schleicher, 65, of Sarasota, is the founder and executive chairman of Focal Point Data Risk, LLC. Schleicher received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. He is appointed for a term beginning May 12, 2017, and ending March 1, 2019.

Smith, 57, of Tampa, is the president and chief executive officer for the A.D. Morgan Corporation. Smith received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida. She is appointed for a term beginning May 12, 2017, and ending March 1, 2021.

Governing Board members are unpaid, citizen volunteers who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The Governing Board sets policy for the District, whose mission is to manage the water and related resources of west central Florida to meet the needs of current and future water users while protecting the environment.




District Declares Phase I Water Shortage throughout 16-County Region

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Governing Board voted today to declare a Phase I Water Shortage for all 16 counties throughout the District’s boundaries. Included in the order are Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter counties.

The primary purpose for a Phase I water shortage is to alert the public that watering restrictions could be forthcoming. The order also requires local utilities to review and implement procedures for enforcing year-round water conservation measures and water shortage restrictions, including reporting enforcement activity to the District.

Phase I water shortage order does not change allowable watering schedules, however it does prohibit “wasteful and unnecessary” water use.

The District considers both natural water resource conditions and the viability of public supply when deciding to declare a water shortage order – that means, restricting the amount of water the public can use. For the past 20 years, the District has worked diligently with our partners to develop alternative water supplies. Even though we are experiencing drought conditions, there is adequate water supply available to the public.

Florida’s dry season runs October through May and April is historically one of the driest months of the year. The District encourages water conservation year-round, and offers many tips to reduce water use and additional information on our website WaterMatters.org/conservation.




District to Hold Workshop on Minimum Flow for Crystal River/Kings Bay in Citrus County

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Thursday, April 27 at 5 p.m. at Crystal River Middle School, located at 344 N.E. Crystal Street in Crystal River. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum flow for the Crystal River/Kings Bay system in Citrus County.

The Florida Legislature requires the District to set minimum flows and levels for priority water bodies within the District. A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment. Minimum flows are a protection measure established to protect streams and rivers from impacts associated with groundwater and surface water withdrawals. They serve as guidelines for the District’s permitting programs and for development of alternative water resource projects.

The District has been developing a minimum flow for Crystal River/Kings Bay system for many years. The District’s experienced scientists use numerous tools to collect, develop and analysis data before proposing a minimum flow. Their work is then evaluated by an independent peer review panel. During the workshop, District staff will review the technical basis for the proposed minimum flow for Crystal River/Kings Bay.

The workshop will also provide an opportunity for local government, citizens, and others to comment on the proposed minimum flow for the system. Through this open and transparent process, information gathered at the workshop will be summarized and made available to the District’s Governing Board. District staff anticipates presenting the proposed minimum flow for Crystal River/Kings Bay at the May Governing Board meeting, where the Governing Board may choose to recommend adoption of the minimum flow into District rules. Governing Board meetings are open to the public, and brief oral comments are permitted on meeting agenda items.

Draft reports summarizing the proposed minimum flow are available for review and are posted on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. For more information regarding the proposed minimum flow, please contact Gabe Herrick, a Senior Environmental Scientist with the District’s Springs & Environmental Flows Section at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4275.

Written comments regarding the minimum flows are also welcome. They can be submitted via mail or email to Gabe Herrick, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 or gabe.herrick@watermatters.org




Governing Board to Meet in Haines City

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 25 at 10 a.m. at the Lake Eva Banquet Hall, located at 799 Johns Avenue in Haines City.

To view the Governing Board meeting online, visit Watermatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials are posted one week before the meeting, and can be found online at Watermatters.org and click on the “Boards, Meetings & Events Calendar” link.




All District Managed Campgrounds Closed

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) has closed all District managed campgrounds throughout our 16-county region during Florida’s wildfire emergency event.

The following District managed campgrounds are closed until further notice:

• Cypress Creek Preserve
• Deep Creek Preserve
• Flying Eagle Preserve
• Green Swamp – East Tract
• Green Swamp – Hampton Tract
• Green Swamp – West Tract
• Lake Panasofkee
• Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve
• Potts Preserve
• Starkey Wilderness Preserve – Serenova Tract
• Upper Hillsborough Preserve – Alston Tract
• Upper Hillsborough Preserve – Upper Hillsborough Tract

Additional information about District properties closed due to wildfires can be found on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. As a reminder, you can find the latest information on Twitter.com/SWFWMD




District Monitors Wildfires Across the Region

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 00:00:00 EDT

*Emergency Operations Center at Level 2 Activation*

Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) officials are monitoring a series of wildfires throughout our 16-county region and have raised the activation level of the District’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to Level 2. This action is consistent with the State of Florida’s level of EOC activation, and the District will coordinate with the State Emergency Response Teams to direct District resources and activities during Florida’s wildfire emergency event.

The EOC provides direction and controls District activities during an emergency event.

Level 2 activation is utilized when a specific emergency event has reached a point where the District may be adversely affected. Level 2 is a partial activation, and the EOC will:

• Mobilize appropriate District emergency personnel to support EOC activities. The rest of the District remains at normal operating conditions.
• Monitor existing wildfires throughout the District’s 16–county area as needed.
• Maintain direct communications with the state and affected county EOCs.
• Ensure current event information is distributed to all District staff.

The EOC also directs District field crews, responds to requests from the state EOC, and provides water resource updates to state and local emergency management agencies, the media, and the general public. The District EOC will expand to include additional emergency personnel as the situation demands.

Additional information about District properties closed due to wildfires can be found on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org.




District to Temporarily Close Airboat Slide for Maintenance and Repairs

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will temporarily close the Wysong-Coogler Dam airboat slide for maintenance and repairs beginning Tuesday, April 18 for approximately two weeks. The airboat slide is located on the Withlacoochee River in Citrus County. Temporary closure signs will be posted during the repairs.

The District operates two additional airboat slides in that area, the Moccasin Slough slide and the Brogden Bridge slide. Both slides remain open and can be used as during the Wysong-Coogler Dam slide closure.

For more information, please call the Field Operations Section at the District’s Brooksville Headquarters at 1-800-423-1476 or (352) 796-7211, ext. 4578.




District to Hold Workshop on Minimum and Guidance Levels for Deer Lake in Hillsborough County

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on
Monday, April 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lutz Branch Library, located at 101 W. Lutz Lake Fern Road in Lutz. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum and guidance levels for Deer Lake in Hillsborough County.

The Florida Legislature requires the District to set minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for priority water bodies within the District. A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment. Minimum flows are established to protect streams and rivers from impacts associated with ground water and surface water withdrawals, while minimum levels are established to protect lakes and wetlands. Minimum flows and levels serve as guidelines for the District’s permitting programs and for development of water resource projects.

During the workshop, District staff will present the technical basis for the proposed minimum levels for Deer Lake.

The workshop will also provide an opportunity for local government, citizens, and others to be part of the development of the proposed minimum levels for Deer Lake. Information obtained at the workshop will be summarized and made available to the District’s Governing Board. District staff anticipates presenting the proposed minimum levels for Deer Lake at the May Governing Board meeting, where the Governing Board may choose to recommend adoption of the minimum levels into District rules. Governing Board meetings are open to the public, and brief oral comments are permitted on meeting agenda items.

A draft report summarizing the proposed minimum levels is available for review and is posted on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org under the Proposed Minimum & Guidance Lake Levels tab in the Minimum Flows and Levels (Environmental Flows) Documents and Reports section. For more information regarding the proposed minimum levels, please contact Mark Hurst at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4271.

Written comments regarding the minimum levels are also welcome. They can be submitted via mail or email to Mark Hurst, Senior Environmental Scientist, Water Resources Bureau, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 or mark.hurst@watermatters.org




10 Tips to Save Water for Water Conservation Month

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 00:00:00 EDT

While the Southwest Water Management District encourages water conservation year-round, there is extra emphasis each April for Water Conservation Month. April is historically one of the driest months of the year and typically marks the peak demand season for public water suppliers.

With 10 simple tips, you can lower your monthly water bill and do your part to save hundreds of gallons of water:

INDOOR
• Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they are full.
• Use the shortest clothes washing cycle for lightly soiled loads; normal and permanent press wash cycles use more water.
• Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave, not under running water.
• Scrape, don’t rinse, your dishes before loading in the dishwasher.
• Install high-efficiency showerheads, faucets and toilets.

OUTDOOR

• Check your home’s irrigation system for leaks.
• Turn off your irrigation system and only water as needed.
• Don’t leave sprinklers unattended. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn sprinklers off.
• Use a hose with a shutoff nozzle when washing the car.
• Consider installing a rain barrel with a drip irrigation system for watering your landscaping. Rainwater is free and better for your plants because it doesn’t contain hard minerals.

Leaks are the biggest water waster, both inside and outside of your home. You can use your water meter to check for leaks. Turn off all faucets and water-using appliances and make sure no one uses water during the testing period. Wait for the hot water heater and ice cube makers to refill and for regeneration of water softeners. Go to your water meter and record the current reading. Wait 30 minutes. (Remember: no water should be used during this period.) Read the meter again. If the reading has changed, you have a leak.

For more information about water conservation, please visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/conservation/.




District Purchases Portion of Rainbow River Ranch Property in Partnership with The Nature Conservancy

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Governing Board has approved a contract for the purchase of a significant portion of the eastern bank of the Rainbow River. The parcel proposed for acquisition consists of nearly 115 acres and includes nearly a half mile of river frontage. The contract also contains provisions to protect an additional 620 feet of shoreline associated with existing private landholdings.

Rainbow Springs is the largest first magnitude spring in Florida which feeds the Rainbow River, and flows for approximately 5.7 miles until it merges into the Withlacoochee River.

This important land acquisition is about 16 percent of the eastern bank of the Rainbow River, and along with existing public ownership, will allow the District to continue its mission of protecting water resources and this important natural resource. This property and its shoreline of marshes, wetlands and giant bald cypress trees is the last major undeveloped property along this natural river corridor.

The total purchase price for this property is $3,914,893 with the conservation lands being purchased using Florida Forever Funds and a grant by The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy has committed $250,000 to the purchase of the Rainbow River Ranch tract through their Private Grant Agreement for Land Assist program. In Florida since 1961, The Nature Conservancy has helped to protect more than 1.2 million acres of vulnerable lands and waters across the state.

The District will work cooperatively with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Florida Park Service to develop an agreement to manage the park as part of the adjoining Rainbow Springs State Park.




Governing Board to Meet in Brooksville

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 28 at 9 a.m. at District Headquarters, located at 2379 Broad Street in Brooksville.

To view the Governing Board meeting online, visit Watermatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials are posted one week before the meeting, and can be found online at Watermatters.org and click on the “Boards, Meetings & Events Calendar” link.




District Declares Phase I Water Shortage Order in Portions of Lake, Marion and Sumter Counties

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:00:00 EST

In Marion County, order is limited to the city of Dunellon and the area encompassed by The Villages.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Governing Board voted today to declare a Phase I Water Shortage effective March 10 for portions of Lake, Marion and Sumter counties. Due to an Interagency Agreement with the St. Johns River Water Management District, this order in Marion County would be limited to the city of Dunellon and the area encompassed by The Villages.

The District monitors regional drought indicators. Currently, groundwater levels in Lake County are extremely abnormal and levels in Marion and Sumter counties are classified as severely abnormal. In addition, short- and long-term flows of the Withlacoochee River and 12-month and 24-month rainfall levels in all three counties are severely abnormal.

Phase I water shortage order does not change allowable watering schedules from current year-round conservation measures. The primary purpose for a Phase I water shortage is to alert the public in a specified area that additional watering restrictions could be forthcoming. The order also requires local utilities to review and implement procedures for enforcing year-round water conservation measures and water shortage restrictions, including reporting enforcement activity to the District.

For additional information on the Phase I water shortage and year-round conservation measures, please visit WaterMatters.org/Restrictions.




Governing Board to Meet in Sarasota

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 00:00:00 EST

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 28 at 10 a.m. at the District’s Sarasota Service Office, located at 6750 Fruitville Road.

To view the Governing Board meeting online, visit Watermatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials are posted one week before the meeting, and can be found online at Watermatters.org and click on the “Boards, Meetings & Events Calendar” link.




District to Hold Workshop on Minimum Flow for Rainbow River System in Marion County

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 00:00:00 EST

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 4:30 p.m. at Dunnellon City Hall, located at 20750 River Drive in Dunnellon. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum flow for the Rainbow River System in Marion County.

The Florida Legislature requires the District to set minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for priority water bodies within the District. A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment. Minimum flows are a protection measure established to protect streams and rivers from impacts associated with groundwater and surface water withdrawals. They serve as guidelines for the District’s permitting programs and for development of alternative water resource projects.

The District has been developing a minimum flow for the Rainbow River for many years. The District’s experienced scientists use numerous tools to collect, develop and analysis data before proposing a minimum flow. Their work is then evaluated by an independent peer review panel. During the workshop, District staff will review the technical basis for the proposed minimum flow for the Rainbow River.

The workshop will also provide an opportunity for local government, citizens, and others to comment on the proposed minimum flow for the system. Through this open and transparent process, information gathered at the workshop will be summarized and made available to the District’s Governing Board. District staff anticipates presenting the proposed minimum flow for the Rainbow River System at the March Governing Board meeting, where the Governing Board may choose to recommend adoption of the minimum flow into District rules. Governing Board meetings are open to the public, and brief oral comments are permitted on meeting agenda items.

Draft reports summarizing the proposed minimum flow are available for review and are posted on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. For more information regarding the proposed minimum flow, please contact Kym Rouse Holzwart at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4295.

Written comments regarding the minimum flows are also welcome. They can be submitted via mail or email to Kym Rouse Holzwart, Senior Environmental Scientist, Springs & Environmental Flows Section at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 or kym.holzwart@watermatters.org




District Reports Gains in Seagrass Coverage in Sarasota Bay

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 00:00:00 EST

Scientists with the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Surface Water Improvement and Management, or SWIM program, released the results of the 2016 seagrass mapping study showing Sarasota Bay now supports 13,469 acres of seagrass beds; an increase of 180 acres in seagrass coverage.

Sarasota Bay waters includes five bay segments made up of Manatee and Sarasota County waters. Three of the five bay segments gained seagrass from 2014 to 2016 with an overall 1.4% increase since 2014.

Sarasota Bay contains more seagrass as of 2016 than it has at any other time in the history of the District mapping program; the largest amount of seagrass measured since the 1950s.

The District maps seagrass in five estuaries spanning the five coastal counties of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte.

Documenting the extent of seagrass and how it changes overtime is a valuable tool for scientists throughout Florida. Seagrasses are an important barometer of a bay’s health because they require relatively clean water to flourish, thus they are sensitive to changes in water clarity and quality.

The District’s maps are used as a tool for measuring and tracking biological integrity of estuaries as it relates to water quality conditions. Seagrass generally grows in waters less than 6 feet deep, but in the clear waters around Egmont and Anclote Keys it can be found in water ten feet deep or more.

The District began its formal seagrass mapping program in 1988. As part of the program, SWIM scientists assess seagrass in five Gulf coast estuaries. Every two years maps are produced from aerial photographs and then verified for accuracy by conducting field surveys. The results are used to track trends in seagrass and to evaluate ongoing water quality improvement efforts.




District Reports Consistent Seagrass Increases in Tampa Bay

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 00:00:00 EST

Scientists with the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Surface Water Improvement and Management, or SWIM program, released the results of its 2016 seagrass mapping study showing Tampa Bay now supports 41,655 acres of seagrass beds. This increase continues the success of the previous mapping efforts reported in 2015, supporting the largest amount of seagrass measured since the 1950s.

This increase in seagrass has surpassed the recovery goal of 38,000 acres bay wide, set 24 years ago by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

District scientists report a 3.4 percent increase in seagrass coverage in Tampa Bay, which totals 1,360 acres of seagrass between 2014 and 2016. This is the fifth consecutive survey to show increases for the Tampa Bay system.

The District maps seagrass in five estuaries spanning the five coastal counties of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte. Map results for the other four estuaries are also available.

Documenting the extent of seagrass and how it changes overtime is a valuable tool for scientists throughout Florida. Seagrasses are an important barometer of a bay’s health because they require relatively clean water to flourish, thus they are sensitive to changes in water clarity and quality.

The District’s maps are used as a tool for measuring and tracking biological integrity of estuaries as it relates to water quality conditions. Seagrass generally grows in waters less than 6 feet deep, but in the clear waters around Egmont and Anclote Keys it can be found in water 10 feet deep or more. The District began its formal seagrass mapping program in 1988. As part of the program, SWIM scientists assess seagrass in five Gulf coast estuaries. Every two years, maps are produced from aerial photographs and then verified for accuracy by conducting field surveys. The results are used to track trends in seagrass and to evaluate ongoing water quality improvement efforts




Governing Board to Meet in Tampa

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 00:00:00 EST

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 9 a.m. at the Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301 North.

To view the Governing Board meeting online, visit Watermatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials are posted one week before the meeting, and can be found online at Watermatters.org and click on the “Boards, Meetings & Events Calendar” link.




District Welcomes New Government Affairs Program Manager

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 00:00:00 EST

Joel Brown has joined the Southwest Florida Water Management District as a Government Affairs Program Manager.

Brown will serve as a liaison between the District and the constituents of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. He will work closely with county governments, municipalities and community organizations.

Prior to joining the District, Brown worked as West Central Florida Regional Manager for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and the Department of Financial Services and later as Press Secretary to the CFO and the Department at the State Capitol. Previously, he served as District Administrative Assistant to the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young of Pinellas County.

Originally from Tampa, Brown is a graduate of the University of South Florida where he majored in Political Science and minored in Leadership Studies.

Brown will work from the District’s Tampa Service Office. He can be reached at (813) 985-7481, ext. 2015 or Joel.Brown@WaterMatters.org.




District to Update Water Control Structure in Citrus County

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 00:00:00 EST

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is planning to perform maintenance on the S-353 water control structure located in northern Citrus County on the Tsala Apopka outfall canal, between the northern extent of the Hernando pool of the Tsala Apopka Chain-of-Lakes and the Withlacoochee River.

The work will begin December 21 and will continue through June 1, 2017. During that time, public access to the structure will be limited for safety reasons. As part of this work, a temporary berm will be constructed in the canal upstream of the structure to prevent loss of water from the Hernando pool during the maintenance.

This project will be the first major refurbishment of the aging structure, which was built in 1968. Improvements will include work to increase the life of the structure and reduce future maintenance requirements, including concrete repair, gate refurbishment, electrical upgrades, and site maintenance. The maintenance does not include any activities that would change the size of the structure or its ability to convey water.

The structure’s gates are remotely operated to help maintain optimum water levels in the Hernando pool of the Tsala Apopka Chain-of-Lakes. The canal serves as the main outfall for the lake chain during potential flood events.

For additional questions, please call the District at 352-796-7211.




Governing Board to Meet in Tampa

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 00:00:00 EST

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 9 a.m. at the Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301 North.

To view the Governing Board meeting online, visit Watermatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials are posted one week before the meeting, and can be found online at Watermatters.org and click on the “Boards, Meetings & Events Calendar” link.




District to Hold Workshop on Minimum and Guidance Levels for Lakes Jackson and Little Jackson in Highlands County

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on
Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 5:30 p.m. at the Jack Stroup Civic Center, located at 355 W. Center Ave. in Sebring. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum and guidance levels for Lakes Jackson and Little Jackson in Highlands County.

The Florida Legislature requires the District to set minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for priority water bodies within the District. A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and/or environment. Minimum flows are established to protect streams and rivers from impacts associated with ground water and surface water withdrawals, while minimum levels are established to protect lakes and wetlands. Minimum flows and levels serve as guidelines for the District’s permitting programs and for development of water resource projects.

During the workshop, District staff will review the technical basis for the proposed minimum levels for Lakes Jackson and Little Jackson.

The workshop will also provide an opportunity for local government, citizens, and others to be part of the development of the proposed minimum levels for Lakes Jackson and Little Jackson. Information obtained at the workshop will be summarized and made available to the District’s Governing Board. District staff anticipates presenting the proposed minimum levels for Lakes Jackson and Little Jackson at the December Governing Board meeting, where the Governing Board may choose to recommend adoption of the minimum levels into District rules. Governing Board meetings are open to the public, and brief oral comments are permitted on meeting agenda items.

A draft report summarizing the proposed minimum levels will be available for review and posted on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org under the Proposed Minimum & Guidance Lake Levels tab in the Minimum Flows and Levels (Environmental Flows) Documents and Reports section. For more information regarding the proposed minimum levels, please contact Mark Hurst, M.S., at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4271.

Written comments regarding the minimum levels are also welcome. They can be submitted via mail or email to Mark Hurst, M.S., Senior Environmental Scientist, Water Resources Bureau, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 or mark.hurst@watermatters.org