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Southwest Florida Water Management District News Releases (RSS)



Water resource related news stories and announcements.



 



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




District to Hold Workshop on Minimum and Guidance Levels for Lakes Letta and Lotela in Highlands County

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 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 Letta and Lotela 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 Letta and Lotela.

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 Letta and Lotela. 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 Letta and Lotela 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.

Draft reports 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 Donna Campbell at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4236.

Written comments regarding the minimum levels are also welcome. They can be submitted via mail or email to Donna Campbell, Environmental Scientist, Water Resource Bureau, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 or donna.campbell@watermatters.org




Governing Board to Meet in Tampa

Tue, 08 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 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 Schedules Prescribed Fires for Sarasota County

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management
District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of November and December on Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and neighboring Schewe Tract.

Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, which is jointly owned and managed by the District and Sarasota County, is located between Interstate 75 and US Highway 41. The Schewe Tract, which is located south and north of Interstate 75 just north of Deer Prairie Creek, is fully owned and managed by the District. Both of these parcels are located west of North Port. Approximately 600 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Highlands County

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of November and December on the Jack Creek Preserve in Highlands County. The property is located six miles northwest of Lake Placid, west of US Highway 27. Approximately 120 acres will be burned, in small manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Desoto County

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of November and December on the Deep Creek Preserve in Desoto County. The Deep Creek Preserve is located northeast of Port Charlotte, west of King’s Highway and north of Deep Creek Estates. Approximately 125 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Charlotte County

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of November and December on the Prairie/Shell Creek Preserve in Charlotte County. The property is located to the west of US Highway 17, north of Shell Creek. Approximately 140 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Hernando County

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management
District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of March at two preserves in Hernando County.

Approximately 400 acres at Weekiwachee Preserve will be burned in small, manageable units. The property is located west of US Highway 19 between Spring Hill and Hernando Beach. Some trails may be temporarily closed during prescribed burn events.

Approximately 300 acres at Annuteliga Hammock will be burned in small, manageable units. The property is comprised of several blocks and is located east of US Highway 19 and north of Centralia Road and south of the county line.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Sumter County

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management
District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of March on the Lake Panasoffkee Preserve in Sumter County. The property is located near Interstate 75 and State Road 44. Approximately 500 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Polk County

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management
District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of December on the Upper Hillsborough property in Polk County. The Upper Hillsborough property is located in the area of Chancy Rd. and S.R. 54 near Zephyrhills. Approximately 500 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Pasco County

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management
District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of March on the Weekiwachee Preserve in Pasco County. The property is located north of Hudson west of US Highway 19 and includes the Aripeka Sandhills (Aripeka Road) tract. Approximately 50 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

The District will be also be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of December at the Conner Preserve in Pasco County. The property is located south of State Road 52 and east of U.S. 41 near the town of Land O’ Lakes. Approximately 650 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Marion County

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of March on the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve in Marion County. The property is located two miles east of Dunnellon and seven miles northeast of the City of Hernando and is bounded by County Road 484 on the north, State Road 200 on the southeast and the Withlacoochee River on the southwest. Approximately 1,000 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Hillsborough County

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management
District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of December 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 600 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Citrus County

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of March on the Potts Preserve in Citrus County. The property is located approximately two miles east of City of Hernando and 3.5 miles north-northeast of Inverness. Potts Preserve is east and southeast of State Road 200 and north of Turner Camp Road and is bounded by the Withlacoochee River on the east. Approximately 200 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




Governing Board to Meet in Brooksville at 11:00 a.m.

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

Water Reuse Workshop to start at 9:00 a.m.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 25 at 11 a.m. The meeting will immediately follow an information workshop on reuse. Both meetings will take place at the District’s Headquarters, located at 2379 Broad Street in Brooksville.

To view the Governing Board meeting and workshop 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’s Sarasota Office Closed Tomorrow

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Sarasota Office will be closed tomorrow, Friday, October 7th in conjunction with Governor Rick Scott’s order to close state offices in the area due to Hurricane Matthew.

Earlier today, the decision was made to close the Brooksville and Tampa offices due to anticipated sustained tropical storm force winds associated with hurricane. The decision to close the Bartow and Lake Hancock offices was made yesterday.

All District offices are scheduled to re-open on Monday, October 10th.




District Brooksville and Tampa Offices Closed Tomorrow

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

All District managed lands closed

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (District) Brooksville and Tampa offices, in addition to Bartow and Lake Hancock, will be closed tomorrow, Friday, October 7th.The closures are due to anticipated sustained tropical storm force winds associated with Hurricane Matthew.

The District’s Sarasota office is scheduled to be open regular hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

District staff should check the emergency hotline after 8 a.m. Friday morning for the latest updates.

In addition, all District managed lands in Citrus, Charlotte, DeSoto, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter counties will remain closed until further notice.

For lands managed by District partners, please check with those partners for closure information.

Visit WaterMatters.org for the latest information on District operations or closures.




District Taking Preventative Action for Hurricane Matthew

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

In anticipation of the impacts of Hurricane Matthew, the Southwest Florida Water Management District is currently lowering several lake levels to provide for additional storage in the event the District’s region receives heavy rains.

In Polk County, levels are being lowered in Lakes Hancock, Arietta, Fannie, Smart and Lena.

In Highlands County Lake June-in-Winter is being lowered.

As a precautionary measure, the District has closed Cow House Creek, structure S-163, in Hillsborough County. Flow is being diverted to the Tampa Bypass Canal away from the Hillsborough River.

In addition, all District campgrounds are currently closed. Visit WaterMatters.org for the latest information on District operations or closures.




District Monitors Hurricane Matthew

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

Emergency Operations Center at Level 2 Activation

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

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 web site at WaterMatters.org.




District Approves Millage and Budget

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

On Tuesday, the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District adopted a FY2016-17 millage rate of 0.3317 mill, 4.9 percent lower than the current fiscal year. For the owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption, the District tax would be $33 a year, or about $2.76 per month. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017. The total FY2016-17 proposed budget for the District is $180.1 million.

The budget reflects the District’s commitment to protect Florida’s water resources and to improve Florida’s economic vitality. All programs and projects advance the core mission of the District and are designed to provide the highest quality service to residents within the District.

The budget includes more than $67 million for Cooperative Funding Initiatives and District projects. The District funds are leveraged with its partners’ resulting in a total investment of more than $120 million for water resource management projects.

Other key budget highlights include $13.3 million for springs protection budgeted by the District leveraged with an additional $2.8 million from local cooperators for a total investment of $16.1 million, $10.4 million for stormwater improvement to reduce flood risk and protect our citizens and $6.9 million for the Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) program to reduce groundwater use and improve water quality impacted by agricultural practices.




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

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 3 p.m. at the Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301 North.

A public hearing on the final FY2017 budget is scheduled for 5:01 p.m.

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 Public Meeting on Priority List and Schedule for the Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is soliciting stakeholder input on the annual update of the Priority List and Schedule for the Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels. A public meeting will be held at the District’s Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301 North on Monday, Sept. 19 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Minimum flows and levels (MFLs) are limits set by the District Governing Board for surface waters and groundwater. MFLs are intended to prevent significant harm to the water resources or ecology of an area that may be impacted by water withdrawals. Reservations set aside water from withdrawals for the protection of fish and wildlife or public health and safety. The Priority List identifies water bodies for which the District plans to establish minimum flows and levels and reservations.

Written comments on the draft Priority List and Schedule may be submitted to Doug Leeper, MFLs Program Lead with the District’s Natural Systems and Restoration Bureau via email at doug.leeper@watermaters.org or by U.S. mail at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, Florida, 34604-6899 no later than Oct. 7, 2016.

The current Priority List and Schedule and the draft 2017 Priority List and Schedule are posted on the District’s Minimum Flows and Levels (Environmental Flows) Documents and Reports web page at: http://www.WaterMatters.org/MFLReports.




District Reopens Hillsborough River to Boat Traffic

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) has reopened the Hillsborough River to boat traffic, east of the I-75 overpass. The river was closed on Monday, due to rising waters associated with Hurricane Hermine. The District anticipated activating the Tampa Bypass Canal system Monday night in response to heavy rains in the Tampa Bay area from Hurricane Hermine, however, the Hillsborough River has not reached an elevation of 25 feet above sea level, which triggers the Army Corps of Engineers activation level of the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention (LHFDA) area.



District Delayed Activation of Tampa Bypass Canal System

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) anticipated activating the Tampa Bypass Canal system Monday night in response to heavy rains in the Tampa Bay area from Hurricane Hermine, however, the Hillsborough River has not reached an elevation of 25 feet above sea level, which triggers the Army Corps of Engineers activation level of the Lower Hillsborough Flood Detention (LHFDA) area.

The Hillsborough River remains closed to boat traffic, east of the I-75 overpass, however flow has not been diverted at this time.

If and when the river reaches an elevation of 25 feet, the District will redirect the entire flow of the Hillsborough River away from the City of Temple Terrace and City of Tampa into the LHFDA, which will alleviate flooding from the Hillsborough River in Temple Terrace and the City of Tampa. Staff will close the S-155 structure, located north of Morris Bridge Road and east of I-75 which can be seen from I-75 as you cross the Hillsborough River. If the LHFDA is activated, the Trout Creek Park and Nature’s Classroom will be closed.




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

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on
Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Public 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 Lake Merrywater 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 review the technical basis for the proposed minimum levels for Lake Merrywater.

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 Lake Merrywater. 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 Lake Merrywater at the September 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.

Draft reports summarizing the proposed minimum levels are available for review and are posted on the District’s Internet site at WaterMatters.org under the Proposed Minimum & Guidance Lake Levels tab in the Minimum Flows and Levels (Environmental Flows) Documents and Reports section. In addition, digital copies of the draft reports will be made available at the workshop. For more information regarding the proposed minimum levels, please contact Donna Campbell at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4236.

Written comments regarding the minimum levels are also welcome. They can be submitted via mail or email to Donna Campbell, Environmental Scientist, Water Resource Bureau, at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 or donna.campbell@watermatters.org




District To Activate Tampa Bypass Canal System Tonight to Help Prevent Flooding from Hurricane Hermine

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will activate the Tampa Bypass Canal system tonight in response to heavy rains in the Tampa Bay area from Hurricane Hermine. This action will close the Hillsborough River to boaters, and boat barriers will be in place by 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 (LHFDA) area. This involves redirecting the entire flow of the Hillsborough River away from the City of Temple Terrace and City or Tampa into the LHFDA, which will assist with flooding from the Hillsborough River in Temple Terrace and the City of Tampa.

District staff will redirect 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, the Trout Creek Park and Nature’s Classroom will be closed. Again, the Upper Hillsborough River will be closed to boat traffic.

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.




All District Offices Closed Friday, Sept. 2

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

All District offices will be closed on Friday, Sept. 2 in conjunction with Governor Rick Scott’s order to close state offices as far south as Manatee County in response to Hurricane Hermine.

Staff members normally associated with emergency response may be placed on call and should contact their supervisor tomorrow morning.




Brooksville and Tampa Offices on Two-Hour Delay Friday

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District Brooksville and Tampa offices will be on a two-hour delay opening due to Hurricane Hermine.

The Bartow and Sarasota offices will open at their regular times.

All staff should check the emergency hotline after 8 a.m. Friday morning for the latest updates.




District Monitors Tropical Strom Hermine

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

Emergency Operations Center at Level 2 Activation – All District Offices Closed Thursday Afternoon

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

The District is continuing to monitor potential flooding that could occur throughout our 16-county region due to heavy and sustained rainfall expected through Thursday.

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.

All District offices closed Thursday at noon. Additional information concerning District-related meeting cancellations and office closures will be provided to the media and made available on the District’s web site at WaterMatters.org.




CANCELLED: District to Hold Public Meeting on Priority List and Schedule for the Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 00:00:00 EDT

Due to the deteriorating weather conditions of Tropical Storm Hermine, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is cancelling tonight’s public meeting soliciting stakeholder input on the annual update of the Priority List and Schedule for the Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels. The District will re-schedule the meeting as soon as possible.



RESCHEDULED: Public Invited to Help Identify Flood Prone Areas in Portions of Sumter County

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 00:00:00 EDT

Due to the deteriorating weather conditions of Tropical Storm Hermine, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is cancelling tomorrow’s public meeting regarding flood prone areas in Sumter County.

The meeting has been rescheduled to Thursday, September 22 beginning at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Bushnell Community Center, located at 407 E. Belt Avenue in Bushnell. The purpose of the meeting is to gather information to improve identification of flood prone areas in Sumter County.

District representatives will present preliminary flood prone area information, explain the basis behind the findings, and gather additional information that may be used to identify areas that are flood prone. After addressing public comments, flood prone area information will be finalized and presented to the District’s Governing Board for authorization to use the data for regulatory purposes. This flood prone area 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 updates to the DFIRMs.

The flood prone area information 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/. You can also call the District at (352) 796-7211, ext. 4297.




Governing Board Votes to Fund Conservation Easement in Manatee County

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:00:00 EDT

Today, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) Governing Board approved the purchase of a perpetual conservation easement of more than 1,088 acres of Triangle Ranch in Manatee County, in the upper Myakka River watershed. This action will prevent future development on this property by securing $2 million toward the purchase of the conservation agreement, and is a key part in the permanent protection of this important piece of land.

“The Board’s action today allows the District to spend tax payer dollars effectively, which contributes to our core mission of protecting water resources,” said Brian Armstrong, Executive Director. “This purchase increases the connectivity of conservation lands in the watershed.”

The District partnered with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast on this acquisition. The Foundation works to save land in conjunction with landowners, businesses, and government to protect the character and natural integrity of the bays, beaches, barrier islands and their watersheds on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“Today we celebrate the power of many working together for a common goal, and kudos to District officials who recognize the impact of saving Triangle Ranch for the vitality of our community,” noted Christine Johnson, president of Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast.

Protecting Triangle Ranch is integral to the environmental strength and economic vibrancy of our region. Triangle Ranch is listed on the Florida Forever list of crucial properties to protect in Florida, and is essential to the protection of the Myakka wetlands, the Myakka River’s water quality and biodiversity, as well as flood protection in our region. More than three miles of the Myakka River flows through Triangle Ranch and conserving the ranch protects and provides the opportunity to enhance the natural functions of the surrounding land, water and wetland systems.

“I think the Board and the District staff have done a great job pulling this together, and we admire very much the land acquisition efforts that are occurring here at the Southwest Florida Water Management District,” said Charles Lee, Director of Advocacy for Audubon Florida.

More than 120 species of birds and numerous animals from the endangered Florida panther to the threatened crested caracara call Triangle Ranch their home. In protecting the land and waters of Triangle Ranch, we ensure our natural areas, from beaches to prairie hammocks and woodlands, stay inviting to people and wildlife.




Governor Appoints Taylor, Williamson and Reappoints Beswick to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 00:00:00 EDT

Governor Rick Scott appointed Mark Taylor, Michelle Williamson and re-appointed Bryan Beswick to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board. Taylor represents Hernando and Marion Counties, Williamson represents Hillsborough County and Beswick represents Desoto, Hardee and Highlands Counties.

Beswick, 49, of Arcadia, is a grove manager with Premier Citrus Management LLC. Beswick received his bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern College. He is reappointed for a term beginning August 26, 2016, and ending March 1, 2020.

Taylor, 57, of Brooksville, is the president of TTG Properties Inc. Taylor received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida. He is appointed for a term beginning August 26, 2016, and ending March 1, 2020.

Williamson, 53, of Dover, is a manager at G & F Farms. She is appointed for a term beginning August 26, 2016, and ending March 1, 2020.

The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

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 to Hold Public Meeting on Priority List and Schedule for the Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is soliciting stakeholder input on the annual update of the Priority List and Schedule for the Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels. A public meeting will be held at the District’s Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301 North on Thursday, Sept. 1 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Minimum flows and levels (MFLs) are limits set by the District Governing Board for surface waters and groundwater. MFLs are intended to prevent significant harm to the water resources or ecology of an area that may be impacted by water withdrawals. Reservations set aside water from withdrawals for the protection of fish and wildlife or public health and safety. The Priority List identifies water bodies for which the District plans to establish minimum flows and levels and reservations.

Written comments on the draft Priority List and Schedule may be submitted to Doug Leeper, MFLs Program Lead with the District’s Natural Systems and Restoration Bureau via email at doug.leeper@watermaters.org or by U.S. mail at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, Florida, 34604-6899 no later than Oct. 7, 2016.

The current Priority List and Schedule is posted on the District’s Minimum Flows and Levels (Environmental Flows) Documents and Reports web page at: http://www.WaterMatters.org/MFLReports. The draft FY2016 Priority List and Schedule will be made available at the same web page on Aug. 31, 2016.




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

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is gathering information to improve identification of flood prone areas in Sumter County. Residents living in the Bushnell watershed are invited to attend an open house on Thursday, September 1, beginning at 4:00 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Bushnell Community Center, located at 407 E. Belt Avenue in Bushnell.

District representatives will present preliminary flood prone area information, explain the basis behind the findings, and gather additional information that may be used to identify areas that are flood prone. After addressing public comments, flood prone area information will be finalized and presented to the District’s Governing Board for authorization to use the data for regulatory purposes. This flood prone area 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 updates to the DFIRMs.

The flood prone area information 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/. You can also call the District at (352) 796-7211, ext. 4297.




District to Hold Workshop on Minimum and Guidance Levels for Lake Eva in Haines City

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) invites the public to a workshop on Tuesday, August 23, at 5:30 p.m. at the Lake Eva Community Center located at 555 Ledwith Ave. in Haines City. The purpose of the workshop is to allow for public comment on the proposed minimum and guidance levels for Lake Eva in Haines City.

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. Minimum flows 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 Eva.

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 Lake Eva. 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 Lake Eva at the September 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.

Draft reports summarizing the proposed minimum levels are available for review and are posted on the District’s Internet site at WaterMatters.org under the Proposed Minimum and Guidance Lake Levels tab in the Documents and Reports section. In addition, digital copies of the draft report will be made available at the workshop. For more information regarding the proposed minimum levels, please contact Mark Hurst at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4721.

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




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Hillsborough County

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of 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 700 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Polk County

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of September on the Upper Hillsborough property in Polk County. The Upper Hillsborough property is located in the area of Chancy Rd. and S.R. 54 near Zephyrhills. Approximately 200 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.




District Schedules Prescribed Fires for Pasco County

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 00:00:00 EDT

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns now through the month of September at the Conner Preserve in Pasco County. The property is located south of State Road 52 and east of U.S. 41 near the town of Land O’ Lakes. Approximately 700 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.