Unfortunately, I was unable to attend last Saturday’s Florida Conservation Coalition event at Silver Springs. It definitely had great attendance and generated good feelings.
Even before the event, the Coalition asked asked Governor Rick Scott to establish a “Resource Planning and Management Committee” for the Silver/Rainbow River systems (section 380.045, F.S.). Bruce Ritchie got an immediate negative response from FDEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard because that would be just “an opportunity for delay.” Vinyard prefers that people work instead with the “Stakeholder Advisory Committee” of the FDEP/WMD “North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership.” The Coalition alternative is far superior. The “Resource Planning and Management Committee”:
- Would have much broader participation. A previous Committee on the Suwannee had over 50 members and was regarded as a great success.
- Would report to the Governor (and cabinet) rather than FDEP.
- Must look at land use connections, such as needed “principles for guiding development” and possible changes in local comprehensive plans and special permitting requirements.
- Would be coordinated by the state “Land Planning Agency” (now the Department of Economic Opportunity”) rather than FDEP.
- Would not assign FDEP the role of “arbitrator” of disputes between the St. Johns River and Suwanee River Water Management Districts. Those three would be the only parties making real decisions via an “Advisory Committee.”
- Would have direct responsibilities for making recommendations rather than merely “advising” FDEP and the WMDs.
- Would have decisions made in the public arena rather than in private by the agencies after thanking everyone for their comments.
Where would the power lie in these two alternatives? And which would have the stronger kind of stakeholder buy-in likely to prevent problems and delays?
Conservation Coalition petition available here.
[Addition: Video of Bob Graham's remarks at the event is now available here.]