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Water-Related News

Environmentalists missing from state's water-management boards

By Kevin Spear

For the first time in nearly three decades, none of the Florida's water-management agencies — which are supposed to safeguard the state's wetlands, rivers and aquifers — has a board member who is an environmentalist.

Environmental activists are troubled because the boards are dominated by representatives of agribusiness, real estate and development industries.

"It is indeed a concern that there are no environmental representatives on any of the boards, when other interest groups are adequately and sometimes abundantly represented," said Rae Ann Wessel, policy director at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. "Because Florida's economy depends on its unique environment."

Gov. Rick Scott recently chose not to reappoint for a second term on the governing board of the St. Johns River Water Management District a University of Florida water-law expert known for his environmental advocacy.

It was the latest move by the governor to make the state's water-management agencies smaller, weaker and, now, less environmentally minded; none of the five water districts' combined 49 board seats is filled by someone readily identifiable as an active environmentalist.