SRWMD Needs Board Members– We Know of a Couple

 

ADMerrillee In: SRWMD Needs Board Members-- We Know of a Couple | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

The Suwannee River Water Management District Board needs members who are true environmentalists, not just someone who says “we are all environmentalists and stewards of the land.” Someone who does not take from the land but protects the land. Someone who knows and understands our water crisis and lives in reality.

Two great candidates have their names in– OSFR board member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Florida Springs Institute director Bob Knight.

If Gov. DeSantis wants to do his homework and do something really good for this state, he will pick both.

Read the complete article here in the Gainesville Sun.

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


Suwannee to discuss new budget

With only four members — a non-majority — action cannot be taken

By Cindy Swirko
August 9, 2019

Staff writer

Five of the nine members of the Suwannee River Water Management District

bobknight In: SRWMD Needs Board Members-- We Know of a Couple | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Bob Knight

Governing Board are gone, either booted off or not reappointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, just as the district is starting the process of approving its new budget.

Gone from the governing board are Charles Keith and Alphonsas Alexander, who were reappointed last year by former Gov. Rick Scott, but were “rescinded” by DeSantis. Their terms were supposed to end in 2022.

Also gone are Kevin Brown, Richard Schwab and Bradley Williams, who also were appointed by Scott to terms that ended March 1, but were extended.

District spokeswoman Lindsey Garland said board members can remain an added 180 days past their term ending. That extra time has expired for the three, so they are no longer on the board.

Meanwhile, a governing board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at district headquarters. Among the agenda items is the first public hearing on the 201920 budget.

Also on the agenda is a vote to authorize an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Regulation to receive grant money for springs’ projects.

But with only four members — a non-majority— action cannot be taken. Besides the Suwannee River Water Management District, the state has four other water management districts — the Northwest, St. Johns River, Southwest Florida and South Florida — that are all overseen by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which exercises general supervisory authority over the districts through a cooperative working relationship and guidance memos, according to the DEP’s website.

The four core mission areas of the water management districts are water supply, water quality, flood protection and floodplain management and natural systems, according to the DEP’s website.

Still, the district is planning to have the meeting with Garland saying an appointment could be made before Tuesday.

“We are expecting a meeting. The governor can appoint a member at any time for us to have the minimum of five. We’ll know when he provides us the board member,” Garland said. “We’re in touch with the governor’s office and the Department of Environmental Protection. We’re working with them and seeing what we can do.”

The lack of a quorum may cause some delays in district business if the meeting is not held, Garland added.

The Sun could not learn how many people have applied for the vacancies. But among them are Bob Knight, executive director of the Florida Springs Institute headquartered in High Springs; and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, a board member of Our Santa Fe River Inc. and owner of Rum 138 — a paddling outfitter, cafe and art gallery in Columbia County.

The failure to have a full board at a time when votes are needed on issues

such as the budget is disturbing, Malwitz-Jipson said.

“Having these seats vacant is a serious misstep by the governor’s office. They knew this was going on for months…and how this has come to this point is a misstep,” Malwitz-Jipson said. “This is a budget month. This is when you should have people in there creating a judgment for the future of our water management.”

Most of the members appointed by Scott were from forestry, agriculture or other businesses. None represented an advocacy group from springs and rivers or the tourism industry spurred by the waterways.

The Suwannee District generally includes western Alachua County and land along the Santa Fe River. Eastern Alachua County is generally in the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Attempts by The Sun to get more information from the governor’s office on the situation and on applicants, including when new members might be appointed, were unsuccessful last week….

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