Be Informed.

SJRWMD Survey Results Demonstrate Strong Support for Ocklawaha River Restoration

Following is a press release from the Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition concerning the recent survey of public opinion on the fate of the Ocklawaha River and Rodman Dam.

Our water management districts continue to solicit public opinion on controversial water issues despite the blatant and total disregard of nearly twenty thousand negative letters against the Ginnie Springs/Nestle withdrawal.

The Spanish language has an apt word for this, and it is sinvergüenza.  The word literally means “without shame” but carries an tremendous force in Spanish which unfortunately flies far above the empty heads of water management “leaders.”

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum

ocklawahalogo In: SJRWMD Survey Results Demonstrate Strong Support for Ocklawaha River Restoration | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River


Press Release 

For Release Nov. 9, 2021 

Contact: Margaret Hankinson Spontak, Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition for Everyone Email:

Phone: (352) 229-2887

SJRWMD Survey Results Demonstrate Strong Support for Ocklawaha River Restoration 

The recent month-long, online public survey launched by St. Johns River Water  Management District (SJRWMD) regarding the future of the Kirkpatrick Dam and Rodman  Reservoir resulted in 10,482 responses. Initial analysis of the results indicated overwhelming  support for restoration. Of 9,793 submittals answering the question “What would you like to  see happen with the Rodman Reservoir and Kirkpatrick Dam moving forward?” over 86.5% of  the respondents expressed a desire to restore a free-flowing Ocklawaha River, and 5.9% were  in favor of retaining the dam and reservoir. The remaining responses did not reflect a clear pro restoration or pro-dam and reservoir position.


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According to the SJRWMD press release launching the survey, the process was designed  “to collect feedback from local community members and stakeholders regarding the Kirkpatrick Dam and Rodman Reservoir” and “to help inform future key decisions regarding the best path  forward — continued management and operation of the structures or an alternative  restoration strategy.” The complex survey requested written answers to four questions. SJRWMD posted the raw online survey results at

“In addition to the extremely positive pro-restoration responses survey-wide, we were  very pleased to see the strong pro-restoration results from Marion and Putnam counties, two  counties bordering the Rodman Reservoir and Ocklawaha River,” said Margaret Spontak, Free  the Ocklawaha River Coalition for Everyone. The initial analysis revealed that 63.6% of survey respondents in Putnam County indicated they were pro restoration of the Ocklawaha River with 19.5% supporting retention of the dam and reservoir. In Marion County 75.3% of respondents  logged in pro restoration answers with 15.6% responding in support of maintaining the dam  and reservoir.

Elizabeth Neville, Defenders of Wildlife and co-chair of the coalition’s advocacy team,  enlisted a professional data analyst volunteer to help review the survey response data. “While  our preliminary analysis was very careful and conservative, we are thrilled to see that such a  strong majority of stakeholders support restoring the Ocklawaha — a project that will greatly  benefit fish, manatees and other wildlife.” she stated.

Demonstrating statewide and national interest, survey respondents came from sixty-six  of Florida’s sixty-seven counties plus 17.23% or 1,327 total survey completers came from out of-state. National stakeholder groups such as Bassmaster, American Rivers, and Defenders of  Wildlife solicited comments from members beyond Florida.

The coalition plans are to engage a professional survey group to produce a more  detailed analysis of the full survey responses. “Our team is very interested in what subjects and  outcomes are of interest to stakeholders of all backgrounds and positions. By better  understanding everyone’s point of view, we can continue to identify shared solutions and  recreation amenities that can meet a variety of user group needs,” shared Spontak.

The stakeholder survey resulted in many responses from a variety of stakeholders with a keen interest in this subject. This is unlike more formal scientific surveys that pull data from a  small, random sampling of targeted individuals that may not have deep engagement in the  survey topic. Neville also explained, “The survey question structure provided open-ended  qualitative, not quantitative data. In our review of the raw data, every effort was made to be  objective, all-encompassing, and precise; however, with so many individual responses there is  no perfect way to summarize this type of qualitative data.” A forthcoming holistic, manual  analysis of the full survey responses will provide additional findings.

A short video briefing on the preliminary survey results and next steps for the coalition  will be posted at by 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 9.



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1 Comment

  1. I am very encouraged by the fact that “demonstrating statewide and national interest, (the) survey respondents came from 66 of Florida’s 67 counties….” Also, the St Johns River WMD survey results demonstrated strong support for Ocklawaha River Restoration.

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