On Columbia County agenda 2016-02-04? Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge

Why is the SRWMD Executive Director on the Columbia County agenda a few days before the SRWMD board meeting with the Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge project?

Under “Presentation of Ministerial Matters Not Requiring Public Comment”, on the February 4th agenda for the Columbia Board of County Commissioners:

Noah Valenstein, Executive Director, Suwannee River Water Management District

   (1) Introduction

Introduction of what? Of the SRWMD E.D.? Or of Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge? Both? Other? Even though Columbia County put its entire 99-page board packet online, there’s no further detail about this Columbia County agenda item.

Regarding the previous WWALS blog post about the Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge project, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, OSFR, 25 January 2016, Aquifer Storage and Recharge at SRWMD 2016-02-01,

Quarterman’s questions are all pertinent and need to be answered. A discussion with Dr. Robert Knight revealed one further observation, that the water being put into the aquifer with this proposal will not be pure rainwater, but instead dark river water with its tannin and other additives which are not found in our pure aquifer water.

Remember both SRWMD and the St John’s River Water Management District boards meet 9AM Tuesday 9 February 2016, and SRWMD has the $48 million dollar Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge Project and its 48-inch 11-mile water pipeline on it.

Who is Noah Valenstein? SRWMD PR in Suwannee Democrat, 14 September 2015, Noah Valenstein named water management head,

Noah Valenstein has been selected to be the new executive director for the Suwannee River Water Management District (District). Valenstein was among three other top candidates for position. ¨Valenstein has served as the environmental policy coordinator for Governor Rick Scott. He comes to the District with 13 years of public service experience with governmental agencies. Valenstein also brings an abundance of experience with public private partnerships. ¨Valenstein was born in Gainesville, Florida. He graduated with honors from the University of Florida’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. He also has a law degree from Florida State University. ¨Valenstein is subject to the approval of the Governor and confirmation by the Senate.

Christopher Curry, Gainesville.com, 8 September 2015, Suwannee board picks Scott official for new executive director,

The Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board has picked a Gov. Rick Scott administration official as the district’s next executive director.

With no discussion Tuesday, the board unanimously selected Noah Valenstein, Scott’s environmental policy coordinator, as executive director.

The hiring will not be final until the district and Valenstein negotiate contract terms.

In his resume, Valenstein wrote that he now “oversees the budgets and significant policy decisions for all of the water management districts and five state agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.”

Valenstein has also worked as a legislative lobbyist with the DEP, an environmental attorney in the private sector, a policy analyst in the Florida House, the owner of a political polling and consulting company, the director of legislative affairs for the Everglades Foundation and an environmental policy consultant for Scott’s 2014 campaign.

That story also remarks: “The permanent executive director position has been vacant since May when Ann Shortelle moved to become executive director of the larger St. Johns River Water Management District.” Is that related to this Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge project that started when Ann Shortelle was with SRWMD now being linked to SJRWMD where she went?

This is also interesting, considering WWALS’ experience in WWALS v Sabal Trail & FDEP:

Scott’s administration has taken increased control over water management district budgets, property tax rates, operations and permitting policies during his time in office. There is also precedent for a Scott official taking over as the executive director of a water management district.

Shortelle was the Florida DEP’s water policy director under Scott before spending three years as the executive director of the Suwannee district.

What are these former DEP employees trying to accomplish through SRWMD and SJRWMD with this Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge Project, and the other ones also on the agenda for February 9th, and perhaps for February 4th in Columbia County?


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