In its early stages of development, FLOW, or Florida Leaders Organized for Water, are doing just that, getting organized.
At the March 12 meeting, the board of directors heard from several different environmental groups, as well as concerned citizens, offering their support to FLOW. Representatives from the Suwannee River and St. Johns River water management districts and Department of Environmental Protection also addressed FLOW and the audience.
John Dinges, SRWMD, and Al Canepa, SJRWMD, updated the directors on the progress of the North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership. The two talked about the updates on the regional groundwater flow model; minimum flows and levels; review and evaluation of existing science, data, needs and analysis; regional water supply plan; and stakeholder involvement.
Dinges announced that the minimum flow levels for the lower Santa Fe River and its priority springs, Ichetucknee River and the head springs of the Ichetucknee should be done by this summer. He said they have begun work on the upper Suwannee River, Suwannee Springs and White Sulfur Springs.
Mary Helen Wheeler, representing the Santa Fe Lake Dwellers, expressed her concern over the Partnership between the two water districts and worried aloud that the “merging efforts of the two districts are not some indication of where we’re headed statewide.”
“As wonderful as that sounds, I couldn’t help but think in the back of my head, this may be an instance where the big fish might eat the little fish. I think we have to be diligent and watching to make sure that we keep those bodies separate because they are two different regions with different needs,” Wheeler said.
The directors spoke at length about FLOW’s application to participate on the North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership Stakeholder Committee. The Partnership was formed between the two water districts and DEP. Initially there was talk about picking two people, one from each district, to apply for one of each of the elected officials seat on the committee. There was also lengthy discussion about FLOW applying as an environmental group as well. In the end, it was a consensus that anyone on FLOW that was interested in applying for a seat on the Stakeholder Committee may do so on his or her own as an elected official, and that FLOW would write a letter to the Partnership to ask for an additional seat on the committee designated for FLOW.
The next meeting will be on April 9. The location has yet to be announced.