Tag Archives: Suwannee River Water Management District

Draft Suwannee River Basin Management Action Plan 2017-11-14

Today, 6PM, in Live Oak, now with draft plan:

To: Suwannee River Basin BMAP Stakeholders
From: Terry Hansen, Basin Coordinator

The Draft BMAP for the Lower and Middle Suwannee River, Withlacoochee River, and associated springs to be discussed at the November 14th, 2017 meeting has been posted to:.

Figure ES-1. Suwannee River BMAP and PFA boundaries

http://publicfiles.dep.state.fl.us/DEAR/BMAP/Suwannee/DRAFT BMAP/

The Department requests that you please submit any comments on the draft document by COB Thursday, November 30th, 2017.

Meeting Reminder:

November 14, 2017, 6:00 PM,
Suwannee River Water Management District,
9225 CR49 Live Oak, FL 32060 Continue reading

Eric Draper from Audubon Florida to FL State Parks

Noah Valenstein, formerly SRWMD, now FDEP Secretary, has appointed Eric Draper of Audubon Florida to head Florida State Parks. The same Eric Draper who twice endorsed Sabal Trail in writing, and did nothing to stop Sabal Trail from drilling under the Suwannee, Santa Fe, or Withlacoochee (South) Rivers, nor under the Suwannee River State Park that he will now oversee.

Walton Outdoors, Blog, 2 November 2017, Audubon Florida’s former executive director Eric Draper now director of Florida State Parks,

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein today announced three key appointments to DEP’s leadership team, as part of its continued focus on the protection of Florida’s prized properties through the management of Florida’s world-renowned state park system and land acquisition and conservation. Eric Draper will join the DEP team as the Director of Florida State Parks, effective Nov. 28, and Callie DeHaven will serve as Interim Director of the Division of State Lands effective Nov. 27, subject to Governor and Cabinet confirmation. David Clark, who has previously served as Director of State Lands and has been acting Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation, has officially been appointed Deputy Secretary.

4593 E Spruce Dr, Dunnellon, FL 34434,
Aerial west across FL 200, down Withlacoochee (South) River, across Sabal Trail Marion County drill site, and Halpata Tastanaki Preserve. Photo by Jim Tatum on WWALS Southwings flight 7 February 2017.

As Florida State Parks Director, Draper will Continue reading

SWIM Plan Meeting, Live Oak 2017-10-03

Nitrates, agriculture, and silviculture were already in, and sewage, phosphate mines, and the Floridan Aquifer got added yesterday afternoon in Live Oak in public comments on updates to SRWMD’s SWIM Plans, plus new SRWMD E.D. Hugh Thomas spoke.

Audience with back of Hugh Thomas, Coastal Rivers Basin Presentation

Thanks to presenter Tom Singleton, the slides presented are on the WWALS website. Here are a few notes and pictures.

Floridan Aquifer

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Sierra Club Florida noted Continue reading

Public meeting, Live Oak, Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) 2017-10-03

When: 1:30PM to 4:30PM, Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Where: SRWMD Office, 9225 County Road 49, Live Oak, Florida

Event: Suwannee River SWIM Plan public meeting

Received this morning:

Suwannee River and Coastal Rivers SWIM Plan interested parties:

In 2016, the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) received funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to develop consolidated updates to the Continue reading

Please choose wisely about phosphate mine vs. water: Suwannee Riverkeeper to Union County, FL 2017-08-21

The biggest asset any of us, all together, will ever own, is water.

Phosphate mining is complicated, but your choice is not.

Please choose wisely and make your moratorium on phosphate mining permanent.

Sent to Union BOCC this afternoon as PDF along with copy of previous letter to Bradford BOCC.

Suwannee Riverkeeper banner at Bradford County Courthouse

August 21, 2017

To: James Tallman, Chairman
Union County Board of County Commissioners
15 NE 1st Street, Lake Butler, FL 32054
(386) 496-4241
ucbocc@windstream.net

Cc:
Scott R. Koons, Executive Director
North Central Florida Regional Planning Council
2009 NW 67th Pl, Gainesville, FL 32653
(352) 955-2200
koons@ncfrpc.org

Re: Phosphate Mine zoning and land use

Continue reading

Please accept assistance to choose wisely about phosphate mine –Suwannee Riverkeeper to Bradford BOCC 2017-08-16

Sent to Bradford BOCC this morning as PDF. You can send a letter, too, or come speak at the Commission meeting in Starke Thursday afternoon.

August 17, 2017

Danny Riddick, Chairman
Bradford County, Florida, Board of County Commissioners
P O Drawer B, Starke, Fl. 32091
(904) 966-6327
bocc@bradfordcountyfl.gov
Re: HPS II Phosphate Mine proposal

Dear Chairman Riddick, Commissioners, and Staff,

White Sulfur Springs, Then and Now Thank you for your warm welcome at your meeting of July 20, 2017. The videos I took of the entire meeting are on YouTube as promised: http://wwals.com/blog/?p=35374

I look forward to seeing you all again this Thursday at your meeting of August 17, 2017.

In that meeting and in others, I urge you not to limit your review Continue reading

SRWMD kept money from Florida for “routinely anticipated budget shortfalls”

Where does the buck stop for these “routinely anticipated budget shortfalls”? Who let a budget include those? Isn’t the point of a budget to, well, budget for what’s needed? Or, given the history of deliberate downsizing of environmental agencies in Florida, maybe shortfalls were the point.

Noah Valenstein
Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. His previous job? Executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, which was flagged by state auditors for $22.5 million in “questionable costs”. The audit covered the time Valenstein led the district. He oversees the district in his new job. [Special to the Times]

Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald-Times Tallahassee Bureau, 14 July 2017, Auditors find millions in ‘questionable costs’ at water district,

Weak budgetary controls led to $22.5 million in “questionable costs,” auditors found. Officials had transferred $13.3 million of it into the district’s operating account without proper authority. They may have overspent some areas of the budget and directed money to other areas to make up for shortfalls. They set aside $3.8 million “in the event of an economic crisis” without authorization, and they steered $1.7 million “to cover routinely anticipated budget shortfalls” without explanation.

Contingency funds, sure, but “routinely anticipated”? And in an economic crisis, wouldn’t it be the legislature that should be authorizing funds?

Auditors concluded that accounts were “misclassified because district personnel misunderstood” standard accounting requirements and budget staff members were “somewhat new to the process” so they couldn’t explain how and why it happened.

That is what happens when a state massively defunds its environmental agencies and makes political tests and servicing economic development more important than competence. The article goes into that, rightly pointing a finger repeatedly at Governor Rick Scott, who said “ensuring that Florida’s precious water resources are protected and managed in the most fiscally responsible way possible” while:

The five districts, whose boards are appointed by the governor and operate under the oversight of the Department of Environmental Protection, were purged of hundreds of veteran professionals, and budgets were cut in half. They continued cutting their budgets through 2016. Suwannee, because of its small size, had proportionally fewer cuts.

The article discusses and quotes SRWMD staff, with some pretty amusing tidbits, including this one from “Roary E. Snider, the district’s chief of staff”, who

also disputed the auditor’s claim they don’t have documentation. “While we absolutely will provide these records, these documents were largely in hard copy,” Snider said. “Staff couldn’t assemble these additional records in time.”

SRWMD staff don’t know how to use a scanner? Or they didn’t know where they put those paper documents? Or maybe the dog ate them.

The article even quotes Eric Draper of Audubon Florida about “problems we’ve seen at the Suwannee River district with the change of leadership over the years,”. If Audubon Florida “works closely with the water management districts”, what did Audubon Florida know, when did they know it, and why are they only speaking up now?

The actual audit report lists on page 2:

Executive Director
Noah Valenstein from October 13, 2015
Carlos Herd, Interim, from May 14, 2015, to October 12, 2015
Dr. Ann B. Shortelle to May 13, 2015

The article mentions that:

The district is overseen by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which is now headed by Noah Valenstein. His last job was executive director of the Suwannee River WMD during the time the audit was underway.

Guess which fox the foxhouse is turning to for assistance:

The district said it would turn to the Department of Environmental Protection for advice on how to resolve the dispute over whether money is owed to the state.

“DEP has communicated with staff at the Suwannee River Water Management District, and they have informed us that they are reviewing accounting and land acquisition records for additional information,” said Lauren Engel, spokesperson for Valenstein.

“If it is determined that these funds should be returned to DEP, they would go to the trust fund from which the funding was issued, however, DEP would require spending authority from the legislature to use it.”

This is the same Noah Valenstein who told me shortly after he was appointed to SRWMD that he believes that Florida law requires him and SRWMD to provide water resources for economic development. Maybe he should have paid more attention to making sure the economic resources of the District were properly organized.

The Miami Times-Herald story as carried by tbo.com (Tampa Bay Times) has a bit more pointed headline and picture caption (see top of this blog post), Auditors find millions in ‘questionable costs’ at water district, but will it matter? Continue reading