-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Treasure Coast’s Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch appointed to SFWMD board by Gov. Ron DeSantis
STUART — “The soul of Florida is water,” said Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, who was appointed Thursday to the South Florida Water Management District board, promising to “leave all the children of South Florida with a better water future.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of the Sewall’s Point resident and longtime advocate for the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon on Thursday afternoon at the Florida Oceanographic Society’s Coastal Center on Hutchinson Island.
Thurlow-Lippisch recalled her youth spent playing pirates on a ship in the clear, sea grass- and oyster-filled water of the St. Lucie.
“Today such a thing is impossible,” she said. “There are few oysters, little sea grass and sometimes the water is toxic. Yes, toxic. Can you believe it? Toxic water.”
Thurlow-Lippisch said the district has been guilty of withholding information from the public by keeping it “too complex. And that’s how you keep control.”
She noted that, as a former teacher, she learned how to make complex concepts understandable for her students.
“I want to take information about South Florida’s water problems and share it with the public in a way we can all understand,” she said. “Then, if we have disagreements, we can duke it out in the court of public opinion.”
Asked for resignations
DeSantis asked all nine board members — all appointed by then-governor and now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott — to resign at a Jan. 10 news conference in Stuart.
When the board meets March 14, all the members will be DeSantis appointees. The previous board members either resigned or have terms ending in March.
Earlier this month, DeSantis appointed:
At a news conference Thursday at Naples, DeSantis added to the SFWMD board:
- Charlette Roman, a Marco Island councilwoman
- Carlos “Charlie” Martinez, retired home builder from Miami-Dade County
- Cheryl Meads, Islamorada village council member
Executive Director Ernie Marks of Palm City announced his resignation at the February meeting effective March 5.
At a news conference Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, at Flagler Place in Stuart, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced new water policies and asked all South Florida Water Management District board members to resign. Hannah Schwab, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thurlow-Lippisch, a Republican, served as a Sewall’s Point commissioner from 2008 to 2016 and the town’s mayor from 2011 to 2012. In 2016, she ran unsuccessfully for the District 1 seat on the Martin County Commission against incumbent Doug Smith.
Recommended by Mast
In early January, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Palm City Republican, told TCPalm opinion and engagement editor Eve Samples he had recommended Thurlow-Lippisch and former Florida Senate President Joe Negron, of Stuart, to DeSantis as board appointees.
Thurlow-Lippisch told Samples that if named to the board she would focus on having more “open and honest discussion” about environmental challenges facing our region.
“I feel like people on the board, they’re just under the iron hand of the governor — and that’s how it was with Gov. (Rick) Scott,” she told Samples. “It was an iron hand, because his only goal was jobs, jobs, jobs. And he achieved that goal, but there were sacrifices, and one of them was the natural environment.”
Negron told Samples he didn’t want the position, although he would continue to fight for the Everglades reservoir and “wholeheartedly support” DeSantis’ environmental agenda.
Mast called Thurlow-Lippisch a “stalwart” of the environmental movement, particularly for her advocacy for the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.
Leader, writer, photographer
Besides her membership in several environmental groups — including the Rivers Coalition and its youth branch the River Kidz — Thurlow-Lippisch writes a blog about South Florida water issues. She and her husband, Dr. Ed Lippisch, are known for taking photos to catalog damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges from the “River Warrior” plane he pilots.
“As our lakes, rivers and oceans — and the wildlife and ecosystems they support — suffocate from algae and toxic plumes, it is clear the status quo is no longer working or acceptable,” Thurlow-Lippisch wrote in an Oct. 26, 2017, column for TCPalm.. For too long, our state has tackled environmental problems on a case-by-case basis.”
Read the column:Right to clean environment should be in state constitution
“She’d be a really good board member,” said Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society and member of the Rivers Coalition leadership team with Thurlow-Lippisch.
“Jacqui is very knowledgeable when it comes to environmental issues and has been a stalwart in the local environmental community for years,” Perry said. “From her work at Sewall’s Point she’s gained an understanding of the political system and she’s really good at working with people on a board.”
- Commissioner: Sewall’s Point, from 2008 to 2016; mayor from 2011 to 2012
- Alternate member: South Florida Water Management District Water Resources Advisory Commission (now the Water Resources Analysis Coalition)
- Leadership team: Rivers Coalition representing about 300,000 residents in Martin and St. Lucie counties.
- Chairwoman: General Provisions Committee of 2017-2018 Florida Constitution Commission
- Chairwoman: Florida League of Cities’ Environmental and Energy Legislative Committee
- Board of directors: Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, a division of Florida Atlantic University
- Martin County High School graduate
- University of Florida, bachelor of arts degree in journalism and German
- University of West Florida, master’s degree in curriculum and development