| Water Management Districts Aim to Clean, Store, and Conserve Water|
|The Water Quality, Supply and Treatment Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, (R- St. Johns), heard presentations from the executive directors of the five Water Management Districts (WMD) across the state. They shared details about their primary charge of water supply and flood control while also highlighting programs and projects unique to their district.|
Where did Water Management Districts originate?
In 1972, after advocacy from Audubon and other conservationists, the Florida Legislature passed the Water Resources Act that created Florida’s five modern-day water management districts. The legislation tasked the districts – along with the Department of Environmental Protection – with managing water as a public trust on behalf of all the people of Florida. Our water management districts have carried out their charge, diligently trying to balance the water needs of all stakeholders while conserving water for the growing population. In addition, they are faced with managing water and minimizing flooding in our communities as we are faced with intensifying storms and rising seas.
- The Northwest Florida and the Suwannee WMDs primarily serve rural and agricultural customers and they highlighted the technological improvements in irrigation, water, and fertilizer use that help reduce water use and nutrient runoff.
- The Southwest Florida WMD highlighted its work in water conservation and the use of reclaimed water. Currently, 16% of the water used within the District comes from reclaimed water. The District utilizes close to 57% of the reclaimed water that is produced and is working towards 75% utilization, a laudable goal considering the pace of population growth in Central Florida.
- The St. Johns River WMD manages the St. Johns River basin, which is 310 miles long and is the largest river entirely contained within the state. The District’s executive director highlighted their work on environmental resource permits for stormwater, land management of over 615,000 acres of conservation land, and their public-facing data portals.
- The South Florida Water Management District is the oldest and the largest in the state and was formed to update the Central and South Flood Control plan. This District, together with DEP, FDACS, and the Army Corps of Engineers, manages the world’s largest restoration initiative: Everglades restoration. In addition, this District oversees the development of large stormwater treatment areas on the southeast and the southwest coasts to hold and manage water to minimize harmful discharges to the estuaries.