This Thursday, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board will vote on their 2014 budget. After years of deep cuts, they are considering decreasing revenues even more.
The SFWMD is the state partner in Everglades restoration. It is also in charge of South Florida’s water resource projects, water conservation, and land stewardship. You can take action right now by emailing the governing board to urge them to protect Florida’s water resources by not decreasing revenues. See the email list below.
Over the past few years there have been significant cuts to water conservation programs, vegetation management programs that help bird habitat on Lake Okeechobee, and science and modeling programs for the Everglades and coastal ecosystems. Funding for climate change science and adaptation programs is slim to none.
While there has been some good funding for recent Everglades projects, restoring revenue would allow important projects like the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project Cutler Floway to move forward. This project, which will help restore freshwater flows to Biscayne Bay to improve estuarine habitats, is fully designed, and is currently sitting on the shelf waiting for funding.
Audubon Florida Board member Lida Rodriguez Tasseff’s recent editorial in the Miami Herald puts the situation in perspective. She states:
Do we really want to force a public agency to choose between updating levees to hold back flood water or completing a restoration project that supports our future population’s water supply? Is it really a bright idea to significantly deplete funding water conservation programs and alternative water supply projects? SFWMD is even considering selling off lands acquired for conservation purposes to help fill in the budget gaps. They shouldn’t have to be in this position.
The ironic thing is that budget cuts are supposed to help property owners from paying more taxes. But instead, it exposes property owners to heightened risks from flooding, water shortages, and long-term loss of value. The difference in property tax for the average homeowner is minimal – less than the cost of a slice of pizza. That is a small price to pay for certainty in water management.
The Everglades needs your help. Let the Governing Board know that you want your water resources protected. Send your email right now:
- Chair Dan O’Keefe: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vice Chair Kevin Powers: email@example.com
- Juan Portuondo: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sandy Batchelor: email@example.com
- Tim Sargent: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mitch Hutchcraft: email@example.com
- Frederick Barber: firstname.lastname@example.org
- James Moran: email@example.com
- Glenn Waldman: firstname.lastname@example.org