The resolution also urged the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott to “support adequate funding” of the districts.
The county’s move was prompted by a measure in the Florida Senate that advanced last week in the influential Budget Committee that would give the Legislature authority over the budgets of the water districts and more control over which programs receive funding.
Last Tuesday, Commissioner Mike Byerly said environmental groups had requested a resolution and he believed the county should take a stand against what he called more “politicized control” over water supplies.
While the resolution had the narrow focus of keeping regional control over the districts, concerns voiced Tuesday touched on broader concerns of water wars and the fear that centralized state control could lead to piping water from areas such as rural North Florida to densely populated areas.
In his first meeting, newly appointed Commissioner Winston Bradley questioned the rationale behind those concerns since the resolution noted that water resources belong to all the citizens of the state.
“I see this as being selfish,” he said. “This is ours, you just go without. Suppose this was reversed and we needed water and they just said, ‘No, you go without.’ ”
Last year, the Legislature and Scott mandated cuts to budgets and property tax revenues for four of the five water districts.
County Environmental Protection director Chris Bird on Tuesday said the funding cuts already are being felt.
He noted that the Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board was considering water withdrawal permits without minimum flows and levels (mfls) being set for areas of the Santa Fe River and some springs along it. Those levels set the point from which further water withdrawals will lead to environmental harm. Without them, Bird said the district board was in a position of considering permit applications “without really knowing what the long term consequences of the withdrawals would be.”
Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or [email protected]