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SFWMD seeks public input on water plans

One of the SFWMD’s stated priorities is water restoration. It was involved in a recently restored portion of the Kissimmee River, located in the south-central part of the state that forms the northern part of the Everglades wetlands area. (Photo via SFWMD).

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is a government agency with a big influence on water issues across a wide swath of the state. It recently published a draft of its five-year strategic plan and is seeking public comment on it until Aug. 23.

The 19-page plan is a broad outline of the agency’s priorities from 2022 to 2027, involving ecosystem restoration, flood prevention and the water supply needs of many South Florida communities. The agency is also involved in decisions about the timing and quality of water flows from Lake Okeechobee and reservoir storage projects that are overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The SFWMD is one of five water management districts in the state. The governor appoints its board and the Legislature is involved in setting its policy direction.

Gov. Ron DeSantis tasked the SFWMD to carry out his executive order dubbed “Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment,” early in his administration. The order called for billions of dollars toward Everglades restoration and protection of water resources. It also called for the establishment of a blue-green algae task force to help reduce the impacts of algae blooms on affected communities.

The SFWMD’s strategic plan is described as a blueprint and is updated annually. One of its stated goals is to forge public and private partnerships. The strategic plan in its current form does not mention the Seminole Tribe or Miccosukee Tribe. Both tribes have considerable interest in water distribution, water quality, flooding concerns and other potential environmental impacts. The Seminole Tribe’s Heritage and Environment Resources Office (H.E.R.O.) helps protect the tribe’s cultural resources and water rights, including for future planning projects within the region.  

For more information and to submit a comment or question to SFWMD about its five-year strategic plan by the Aug. 23 deadline, click here.

Tribal community members who have additional questions can contact H.E.R.O. Community Engagement Manager Quenton Cypress at quentonncypress@semtribe.com or (863) 677-1598.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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