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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

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 9 a.m. at District Headquarters, located at 2379 Broad Street in Brooksville.

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 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 Lake Alice in Hillsborough County

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center located at 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum and guidance levels for Lake Alice, located in Hillsborough County.

During the workshop, District staff will present the technical basis for the proposed minimum levels for Lake Alice. 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 December 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 Alice 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 can be submitted via mail or email to Mark Hurst, Senior Environmental Scientist, Water Resources Bureau, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604 or mark.hurst@watermatters.org




Water Management Districts, State continue collaboration to secure Florida’s water supply

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 00:00:00 EDT

MAITLAND, Fla., Oct. 10, 2017 — The Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) estimates central Florida will need an additional 250 million gallons of water per day by 2035 to meet the demands of a growing population. An update on the CFWI’s work to meet that demand through increased water conservation and alternative water sources was presented today to the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board. “Water conservation is the least expensive way to help meet a portion of our future needs,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We commend the efforts of residents, local governments and all water users who make water conservation a year-round priority. No action is too small.” “The District has worked collaboratively with the Polk Regional Water Cooperative to identify and cooperatively fund three potential alternative water supply projects expected to produce 30 million gallons per day by 2035,” said Southwest Florida Water Management District Executive Director Brian Armstrong. “We also are working diligently to ensure an emphasis on conservation throughout Polk County.” “Our District is also working with Polk County and all our partners within the CFWI in the development of alternative water supply sources,” said Dan O’Keefe, Governing Board Chairman of the South Florida Water Management District. “We are enthusiastic about these and other projects on the horizon which hold the promise of providing abundant water supplies in a way that protects Central Florida’s environment.” Knowing that water conservation and alternative water sources are critical elements, the CFWI has identified 150 project options that will help achieve needed water savings. Three of these projects, located in Osceola and Polk counties, were recently approved for funding consideration; a brief project summary was shared with the governing board. Other additional updates on the CFWI’s progress were presented, including: • Confirmed stakeholder approval for methodologies, with development of water use projections underway. • Development of an updated groundwater model to improve the accuracy of analysis is also underway, as well as the building of a database and identification of water monitoring locations. • An overview of work to establish water management district rules and regulations that address water conservation, public water supply and agricultural demands. • Calculations on water conservation savings and completion of a water conservation implementation strategy outline. • Public workshops were held during 2017 by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to engage the community and other stakeholder groups in the process of establishing consistent water use permitting rules within CFWI. Multiple agencies presented updates and information at the meeting, including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District, the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the St. Johns River Water Management District. About CFWI The CFWI encompasses five counties: Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk and Seminole. The state’s water experts project that this region will need an additional 300 million gallons of water per day by 2035. Through the CFWI, three water management districts — South Florida, Southwest Florida and St. Johns River — are working collaboratively with other agencies and stakeholders to implement effective water resource planning, including water resource and supply development and management strategies to protect, conserve and restore our water resources. To learn more, please visit cfwiwater.com. The South Florida Water Management District is a regional governmental agency that manages the water resources in the southern part of the state. It is the oldest and largest of the state’s five water management districts. Our mission is to prot[...]



District Reopens Majority of Managed Lands

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 00:00:00 EDT

***To see how staff are cleaning up District managed properties click here: https://youtu.be/Ir-hYWT1biQ
Feel free to use this video on your website or newscasts.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) has reopened the majority of District-managed lands throughout its 16-county region. The Districted closed all District-managed lands in September in anticipation of flooding and other impacts due to Hurricane Irma.

However, the following District-managed properties are still closed due to localized flooding, debris and blocked roads from Hurricane Irma:

• Chito Branch Reserve
• Deep Creek Preserve
• Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve – Oakridge and Washburn
• Upper Hillsborough Preserve
• Upper Hillsborough Preserve – Alston Tract
• Wysong Park

Also, the following campgrounds remain closed:

• Deep Creek
• Green Swamp East
• Green Swamp West including McNeil
• Potts Preserve – River Campground
• Upper Hillsborough Preserve
• Upper Hillsborough Preserve – Alston Tract




District Deactivates Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area, Returns to Normal Operating Conditions

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) has deactivated the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area (LHFDA), reopening the S-155 structure and allowing boat traffic to resume along that portion of the Hillsborough River. High water levels caused by Hurricane Irma have receded, allowing the Hillsborough River to return to its natural flow pattern.

In September, the Hillsborough River reached an elevation of 25 feet above sea level, which triggered the Army Corps of Engineers activation level of the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area (LHFDA). This involved stopping the flow of the Hillsborough River, before it reached the City of Temple Terrace and City of Tampa, and redirected the water into the LHFDA, which was instrumental in preventing flooding from the Hillsborough River in Temple Terrace and the City of Tampa.

District staff redirected the flow of the river by closing the S-155 structure. The S-155 structure is located north of Morris Bridge Road and east of I-75 and can be seen from I-75 as you cross the Hillsborough River.

The Tampa Bypass Canal system was constructed in response to massive flooding caused by Hurricane Donna in 1960. The system is designed to divert flood waters from the Hillsborough River into the 16,000-acre LHFDA. As the detention area fills with water from the river and the surrounding 450-square-mile area, the flows then enter the Tampa Bypass Canal and are safely diverted to McKay Bay, bypassing the cities of Temple Terrace and Tampa.

The system is made up of five flood control structures located along the 15.7-mile canal. In addition to providing flood control, the Tampa Bypass Canal also serves as a water supply source to help meet the drinking water needs of the Tampa Bay area.




District Approves Rolled Back Millage Rate Saving Taxpayers $6.7 Million

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

For the seventh 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 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 budget for the District is $183.7 million, and includes more than $79.7 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.




District to Hold Series of Hog Hunts in 2017-2018, Permits Will Be Available Online

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

District land managers plan to hold a series of hog hunts on District lands throughout the year to help reduce the wild hog population.

Wild hogs, which are not native to Florida, can cause damage with their broad snouts and can leave an area looking like a plowed field. They also prey on native wildlife, compete with native species for food and transmit diseases to other wildlife, livestock and humans. Additionally, hogs may facilitate the spread of exotic plant species by transporting seeds and/or providing germination sites through rooting.

The District has a three-phased hunting system. The first two phases of hunts will have separate registration processes. The single top producer from each Phase 1 and Phase 2 hunt will be asked to participate in hog management activities for Phase 3.

All hunts will adhere to the hog-dog format. No still hunts will be available. The program works like this:

Phase 1 Hunts
• Registration will occur 9 a.m. on Oct. 2, 2017.
• Includes six hunts that occur October through December 2017.
• Permits are transferable.
• The top producer on each Phase 1 hunt will be placed on the District’s “top producer” list and will be contacted between March and October 2018 to take part in feral hog management hunts on an as-needed basis, free of charge. We no longer award free admission into Phase two for our top two producers of the phase one hunt.

Phase 2 Hunts
• Registration will occur 9 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2017.
• Includes six hunts that occur January and February 2018.
• Permits are transferable.
• The single top producer on each hunt of Phase 2 will be placed on the District’s “top producer” list and will be contacted between March and October 2018 to take part in feral hog management hunts on an as-needed basis, free of charge.

Phase 3 “As-Needed” Management Hunts
• Includes management hunts that may occur March through October 2018.
• Only those registrants that qualify as top producers following the Phase 1 and 2 hunts will be contacted to take part in management hunts during this period.
• Management hunts offered to top producers will be free of charge and non-transferable.
• All 12 Phase 1 and 2 top producers will be offered participation in a minimum of two management hunts throughout the non-hunting season.

The District-managed properties will be temporarily closed to the public during the hog hunts. Only permitted hunters will be allowed access.

Prospective hunters can purchase permits for Phase I hunts beginning at 9 a.m. on Oct. 2 on the District’s hoghunts.watermatters.org. Permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until they are sold out. The cost is $75 for each permit. A complete list of hunts with locations and dates is also available online.

This is the ninth consecutive year for the hunts. Last year’s hunts removed 560 hogs on 10 different tracts of land throughout the District.




Water Shortage Order Expiring in Northern Region

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Year-Round Water Conservation Measures in Effect Districtwide

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Governing Board is allowing once-per-week watering and other stringent water restrictions in the District’s northern region to expire on Oct. 1, 2017. This region includes Citrus, Hernando, Sumter and portions of Lake, Levy and Marion counties.

All 16-counties throughout the District’s boundaries are now on year-round water conservation measures, with lawn watering limited to twice-per-week unless your city or county has a different schedule or stricter hours. Local governments maintaining once-per-week watering by local ordinance include Hernando, Pasco and Sarasota counties.

Under the District’s year-round measures, even addresses may water on Thursday and/or Sunday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. and odd addresses may water on Wednesday and/or Saturday before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.

Additional details regarding the watering of new lawns and plants, reclaimed water and other water uses can be found at WaterMatters.org/Restrictions. To learn more about how you can conserve water, please visit WaterMatters.org/Conservation.




Governing Board to Meet in Tampa (note: 3:00 p.m. start time)

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. at the Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301 North.

A public hearing on the tentative FY2018 budget is scheduled for 5:01 p.m. The final budget hearing will take place on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 9:30 a.m., also at the Tampa Service Office. Both budget meetings were rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma.

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 Reschedules Meetings and Hearings due to Hurricane Irma

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) officials have rescheduled several meetings due to impacts from Hurricane Irma.

The Governing Board tentative budget hearing has been rescheduled to Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 5:01 p.m. at the Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301 North.

The Evaluation Committee Meeting in connection with Request for Proposals No. 007-17, Investment Advisory Services, has been rescheduled to Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. at the District’s Brooksville Headquarters, located at 2379 Broad Street in Brooksville.




Brooksville Office Reopens Friday, Sept. 15, All Other Offices Remain Open

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) Brooksville office is now fully operational and will reopen on Friday, Sept. 15 following Hurricane Irma. All other District offices remain open.

Information regarding District-related meeting cancellations will be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. As a reminder, you can find the latest information on Twitter.com/SWFWMD.




Brooksville Office Partially Open Thursday, Sept. 14, All Other Offices Remain Open

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) Brooksville office will be partially open on Thursday, Sept. 14. Portions of the campus remain closed as a result of an ongoing power outage due to Hurricane Irma. All other District offices remain open.

Information regarding District-related meeting cancellations will be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. As a reminder, you can find the latest information on Twitter.com/SWFWMD.




Brooksville Office Closed Wednesday, Sept. 13, All Other Offices Open

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) Brooksville office will be closed on Wednesday, Sept. 13 due to impacts from Hurricane Irma. All other District offices will be open.

Information regarding District-related meeting cancellations will be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. As a reminder, you can find the latest information on Twitter.com/SWFWMD.




All District Offices Closed Tuesday, Sept. 12

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

All Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) offices will be closed on Tuesday, Sept. 12 due to impacts from Hurricane Irma.

Information regarding District-related meeting cancellations will be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. As a reminder, you can find the latest information on Twitter.com/SWFWMD.




District Postpones Sept. 12 Governing Board Tentative Budget Hearing

Sat, 09 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) officials have postponed its Sept. 12 Governing Board tentative budget hearing due to emergency conditions facing the District from Hurricane Irma. The public hearing will be rescheduled at a later date.

Information concerning District-related meeting cancellations and office closures will also be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. As a reminder, you can find the latest information on Twitter.com/SWFWMD.




All District Offices Closed Monday, Sept. 11

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

All Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) offices will be closed on Monday, Sept. 11 in accordance with Governor Rick Scott’s direction to close state offices for Hurricane Irma. The District will continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Irma to determine if future closings are necessary.

Information regarding District-related meeting cancellations will be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. As a reminder, you can find the latest information on Twitter.com/SWFWMD.




District Raises Activation Level of Emergency Operations Center

Fri, 08 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) officials have raised the activation level of the District’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to Level 1 as they continue to monitor Hurricane Irma. The EOC provides direction regarding District activities during an emergency weather event.

The District is evaluating potential impacts from the storm that could occur throughout its 16-county region. Numerous lake levels in Northwest Hillsborough County were above normal operating levels. Water control structures have been and remain open, which is increasing water storage capacity. The District continues to monitor all lakes within its jurisdiction and respond appropriately to prepare for the event.

Level 1 activation is utilized when a specific weather situation has developed into an emergency. Level 1 is full activation, and the EOC will:

  • Engage appropriate District emergency personnel to support the EOC operations.
  • Suspend normal departmental functions throughout the District that might interfere with emergency operations.
  • Monitor water levels and operate water control structures on all District-managed water bodies throughout the District’s 16–county area.
    Present daily situation reports to the State EOC and 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.

Information concerning District-related meeting cancellations and office closures will also be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org.




All District Offices Closed Friday, Sept. 8

Thu, 07 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

All Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) offices will be closed on Friday, Sept. 8 in accordance with Governor Rick Scott’s direction to close state offices in preparation for Hurricane Irma. The District will continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Irma throughout the weekend to determine if future closings are necessary.

Information regarding District-related meeting cancellations will be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. As a reminder, you can find the latest information on Twitter.com/SWFWMD




All District-Managed Lands to Close

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will close all District-managed lands throughout its 16-county region on Wednesday, Sept. 6 in anticipation of impacts from Hurricane Irma.

The following properties will be closed until further notice:

• Annutteliga Hammock
• Chassahowitzka River – Burnt Bridge Road entrance
• Chito Branch Reserve
• Conner Preserve
• Cypress Creek Preserve
• Deep Creek Preserve
• Ed Chance Reserve- Coker Prairie Tract
• Ed Chance Reserve- Gilley Creek Tract
• Flying Eagle Preserve
• Green Swamp East including Hampton Tract
• Green Swamp West
• Hálpata Tastanaki Preserve
• Lake Panasoffkee
• Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal
• Little Manatee River -Southfork Tract
• Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve – Oakridge and Washburn
• Masaryktown Canal
• Panasoffkee Outlet
• Potts Preserve
• Prairie/Shell Creek
• Starkey Wilderness Preserve- Serenova Tract
• Tampa Bypass Canal
• Upper Hillsborough Preserve
• Upper Hillsborough – Alston Tract
• Upper Myakka -Flatford Swamp Preserve
• Weekiwachee Preserve
• Withlapopka Park
• Wysong Park

Information concerning District-related meeting cancellations and office closures will also be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org. As a reminder, you can find the latest information on Twitter.com/SWFWMD




District Monitors Hurricane Irma

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

Emergency Operations Center at Level 2 Activation

Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) officials are monitoring Hurricane Irma and have raised the activation level of the District’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to Level 2. The EOC provides direction regarding District activities during an emergency weather event.

The District is continuing to monitor potential impacts from the storm that could occur throughout its 16-county region. Due to heavy rainfall this summer, many area lakes and waterways are at maximum levels, and District staff are operating structures based on current and anticipated water levels.

Level 2 activation is utilized when a specific weather situation 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 report to the EOC for 8–12 hour shifts. The rest of the District remains at normal operating conditions.
• 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 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.

Information concerning District-related meeting cancellations and office closures will also be provided to the media and made available on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org.




District Activates Tampa Bypass Canal System to Help Prevent River Flooding

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) has activated the Tampa Bypass Canal system in response to heavy rains in the Tampa Bay area. This action closes the Hillsborough River to boaters. Boat barriers were put in place at approximately 8 p.m.

The Hillsborough River has reached an elevation of 25 feet above sea level, which triggers the Army Corps of Engineers activation level of the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention Area (LHFDA). This involves stopping all or part of the flow of the Hillsborough River, before it reaches the City of Temple Terrace and City of Tampa, and redirecting the water into the LHFDA, which will help prevent flooding from the Hillsborough River in Temple Terrace and the City of Tampa.

District staff redirected the flow of the river by closing the S-155 structure. The S-155 structure is located north of Morris Bridge Road and east of I-75 and can be seen from I-75 as you cross the Hillsborough River. As a result of activating the LHFDA, Trout Creek Park and Nature’s Classroom will be closed.

The District has been in contact with Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation, the City of Tampa, Tampa Bay Water and the Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center and the City of Temple Terrace to notify them of this action.

The Tampa Bypass Canal system was constructed in response to massive flooding caused by Hurricane Donna in 1960. The system is designed to divert flood waters from the Hillsborough River into the 16,000-acre LHFDA. As the detention area fills with water from the river and the surrounding 450-square-mile area, the flows then enter the Tampa Bypass Canal and are safely diverted to McKay Bay, bypassing the cities of Temple Terrace and Tampa.

The system is made up of five flood control structures located along the 15.7-mile canal. In addition to providing flood control, the Tampa Bypass Canal also serves as a water supply source to help meet the drinking water needs of the Tampa Bay area.




District to Hold Public Workshop on Ranking Water Bodies

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is seeking public input about the order in which minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for lakes, wetlands, rivers, streams and aquifers in the District will be determined. Legislation requires the District to review and, if necessary, revise the schedule each year.

A public workshop will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Aug. 30 at the District’s Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301.The workshop will provide an important opportunity for local governments, residents and others to be part of the scheduling of minimum flows and levels for priority water bodies.

A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources or environment. The District Governing Board sets these limits as part of achieving the balance between meeting water needs and sustaining Florida’s natural systems.

The adopted Minimum Flows and Levels Priority List and Schedule for 2017 is available on the District’s website here. The draft 2017/2018 list will be published on the site following the Governing Board’s August meeting. The revised schedule will be considered for adoption at the Board’s meeting in October.

Written comments on the draft Priority List and Schedule may be submitted to Doug Leeper, chief environmental scientist, at doug.leeper@watermatters.org or to 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, Florida, 34604 no later than Oct. 6.

For more information, please contact Doug Leeper at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4272.




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 [...]



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 construc[...]



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 pr[...]



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.