Sunday, August 28, 2011

Citrus County Chronicle: We’re Worried About SWFWMD

The Citrus County Chronicle gets it. 
CEO-governor Scott’s endless calling for the district to “get back to its core mission”, frankly, means only that he wants the district to do less.  He just doesn’t seem to grasp that the district’s mission is whatever the legislature tells it to do and the district has been told to do a lot.
Maybe the CEO-Gov should check with the legislature to see just which of the responsibilities they’ve delegated to SWFWMD they might now want to be dropped.
The Chronicle is correctly worried that all the recent slicing and dicing is going to curtail the district’s ability to do what remains important: environmental protection, as well as, health, safety and welfare of the public.
And with the deep-sixing of the basin boards, who’s going be in control of where Citrus County’s local water tax dollars are going to be spent?  With the larger counties of the Tampa Bay area having the most representation on the governing board, it’s more than pretty obvious.  The counties around Tampa Bay are.
Privatizing water?  Is that now in the wind?
 Here’s the editorial.

Enfeebling of water board concerning
Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 12:00 am (Updated: August 27, 12:08 am)
THE ISSUE: Water management district.
OUR OPINION: Agency losing effectiveness.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature’s move to cut the Southwest Florida Water Management District funding and promise to shift the agency’s core mission is troubling.
We understand voters sent a clear message last election that they want taxes cut and government spending curbed. However, the amount being cut from the budget of the water management district, commonly known as Swiftmud, will effectively curtail the agency’s effectiveness and lead us dangerously close to a centralization of power.
Swiftmud has had its problems, but it has accomplished a great deal of good. An example is the upcoming Three Sisters Springs storm-water project that is being paid out of Swiftmud’s budget.
The loss of local control and input regarding vital water projects with the legislative changes is very disconcerting. The basin boards have been eliminated and now all requests will be handled by the larger governing board. Smaller counties like Citrus will not have equal representation on the larger governing board, which means whatever available funds there are will go to the larger counties.
Gov. Scott sees privatization as an answer to many government woes and, while that makes sense in many areas, it appears quite likely he intends to push water governance in that direction, where water becomes a commodity vs. a resource.
By their very nature private enterprises are, first and foremost, concerned with the bottom line. While the success of businesses and their ability to function without unnecessary government intrusion are critical factors in a free-enterprise society, matters related to health, safety and welfare — to include water resources — are best left to government. Otherwise, profits get more attention than what’s best for the broader community.
We lament the loss of local control over our water projects and are concerned about the future of Swiftmud and the future of our environment.

Here’s the link to the original Citrus County Chronicle editorial:

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