The Book

My book on Florida water management combines a description of the “watery foundation” of the state, a history of water management in Florida, separate chapters on each of the five water management districts, and a series of issue chapters. I also included a lengthy chronology of water management and a detailed glossary. It is available from Amazon.

I hope the book meets the needs of people interested in Florida water management. Some comments are very gratifying:

Dr. Chris Meindl, USF Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Geography

All life and human activity requires water. Because mounting water resource problems are soon likely to rival those associated with energy, Florida’s Water ought to be required reading for all citizens. Tom Swihart distills a career’s worth of learning into one easy-to-read volume that highlights Florida’s water resource challenges—and many practical solutions to those challenges. The book’s focus is on Florida, but most of this state’s problems appear in one form or another throughout the U.S.

Water is one of the few issues which is common to all Floridians, and current legislative attention will undoubtedly affect how we manage, conserve and use water. The publication of “Florida’s Water” by Tom Swihart, therefore, is extremely timely and helpful in helping to show the way.

Dr. Katrina Schwartz, UF Department of Political Science

A highly informed, useful, and original perspective on Florida’s water challenges.. presented in a concise, well-organized and eminently readable package…I expect it to become a “must-read” within the primary audience, not only for individuals with a specific interest in Florida but for anyone with broader, comparative interest in water policy.

Steve Seibert, Collins Center, Senior Vice President for Strategic Visioning of Collins Center for Public Policy.  (Previously, Executive Director of the Commission for a Sustainable Florida and Secretary of the Department of Community Affairs.)

Swihart’s role as the former Administrator of the Office of Water Policy in the Florida DEP places him in a perfect position to make state water recommendations. The individual chapters on the five water management districts, for example, point to water management strengths and weaknesses in each region of Florida. His call for more water conservation, a state water use fee, addressing climate change, and “Getting the Water Right” (as they say in Everglades restoration) are serious proposals Floridians should consider.  This book can help us better understand our water resource problems and how to prepare this state for a better water future. And what can possibly be more important than that?

Richard Hamann, UF Center for Governmental Responsibility, SJRWMD Governing Board member

Anyone concerned about “Florida’s Water” should read the book, especially if they lack the background and experience of Tom Swihart. The history, the issues and the options are all here, as well as one informed answer to that essential question, “Will Florida get the water future right?”

Amy Vickers, author of the Handbook of Water Use and Conservation, founding board member of the national Alliance for Water Efficiency

Florida’s Water by Tom Swihart may be the first insider’s view of that state’s storied and costly relationship with its most voluminous natural asset. Once a watery subtropical paradise, sadly today the grandeur and fertility of Florida’s great fresh waters are disappearing fast, driven away by over 100 years of a twisted political, corporate, and engineering wreck in motion known as “Florida water management.” Drawing from a 30-year career in state government, Swihart acknowledges the state water management policies that have been beneficial, but his overall message is alarming: Florida is losing the battle to halt the continuing diminishment of its water quality and drinking water supplies. Scare tactics and short-term policies are not helping–action is needed, and now. Swihart challenges the notion that Florida faces a “water crisis,” repeated ad nauseam since the 1970s, pointing out that for a state deluged by over 50 inches of rainfall annually the real crisis is one of political will. Why has the state failed to prohibit and rout out excessive lawn watering, which represents over 50% of residential water demand, once and for all? Swihart’s conclusion, a practical outline for an aggressive and comprehensive statewide water conservation program, might very well be the remedy to tame Florida’s water woes–if only the state would do it.

Travis Leipzig, River Network, Water and Energy Program

In his chapter ‘Turning Up the Thermostat in Paradise,’ Tom Swihart conveys an exceptional understanding of the water-energy-climate nexus and the challenges that Florida’s water resources are up against in the face of climate change and energy development. He is dead-on with his conclusions in chapters ‘Water Supply is Easy,’ and ‘Saving the Water’ that water conservation and efficiency are the quickest and most cost effective strategies to manage the water supply “crisis” in an ever water-thirsty world. If Tom were giving the opportunity to take the reins of Florida’s water resource management in its entirety, great things would happen.

Jim Stevenson (Former Chief Biologist for the Florida State Park System and Coordinator of the Florida Springs Task Force)

Unfortunately, regulatory agencies will not be able to save Florida’s water due to political interference.  An informed citizenry will be required to save our springs, rivers, lakes, and drinking water.  While the DEP chemists and water management district regulators and hydrologists understand water management and protection terminology, it is not easily understood by the average Floridian.  Thomas Jefferson said that “When things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, the citizens, when informed, can be relied upon to set them right.”  Swihart’s “Florida’s Water” will inform the public of the steps that must be taken to protect the quality and quantity of Florida’s water.

Swihart’s career in the development, implementation, and political ramifications of state water policy, makes him well qualified to explain this complicated and important issue to the people of Florida.

Bruce Ritchie (Editor of and a senior writer with the Florida Tribune. He previously covered growth and environmental issues for the Tallahassee Democrat and the Gainesville Sun.)

It’s a must-read for lawmakers and anyone who cares about Florida and the water that we need for survival.

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