In his latest announcement, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis named four more water managers to the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).
Governor DeSantis has appointed Marco Island City Councilor Charlette Roman to the SFWMD governing board. Roman is a retired U.S. Army colonel who is an At-Large Environmental Commissioner on the Collier County Planning Commission. She also serves on Marco’s City Council. As an elected official, Roman is known to take her time to study the issues, hear from experts and from the public and suggest solutions that result in a fair and balanced outcomes.
The appointments also included former Sewall’s Point Mayor Jackie Thurlow-Lippisch, an outspoken advocate for the clean-up of St. Lucie estuary and who served on the state Constitution Revision Commission; Miami investor Charlie Martinez and Islamorada City Councilwoman Cheryl Meads.
Earlier in January, right after being sworn in, DeSantis demanded the resignation of SFWMD’s nine-member governing board, all appointed by Governor Scott. To-date, DeSantis has appointed six members. Two of his earlier appointments are Chauncey Goss, a Sanibel City Councilor and Ron Bergeron, a businessman from Fort Lauderdale and former member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The SFWMD is directed by nine governing board members who reside within the agency’s 16-county region. They are unpaid citizen volunteers appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate with a four-year term. It is the oldest and largest of Florida’s five water management districts that stretches from Orlando to the Florida Keys.
It also encompasses two major watershed basins, the Okeechobee Basin and the Big Cypress Basin. The SFWMD is the State partner with the Federal government (Army Corps of Engineers) with a split responsibility.
Roman will also be the Collier County representative on the governing board and as part of that, she will also be the chairperson for the Big Cypress Basin Board (BCBB). According to Brad Cornell, Policy Director for the Audubon of the Western Everglades, the BCBB is a special taxing sub-district of the SFWMD. They have their own ad valorem taxing authority and their own staff.
Cornell added that, “We have some of the biggest restoration projects here in this district. The Everglades restoration project isn’t just on the East Coast – the Picayune Strand and the C-43 Reservoir, which is a massive project undertaken by the SFWMD. The reservoir will be a key component in the plan to restore the Everglades to something closer to its natural state.”
Just to tick off the areas vital for all Floridians: water planning supply for agriculture, recreation and public use; storm water management and flood protection; water supply in the event of droughts where there has to be enough water for all our wetlands and natural resources; water quality for all our estuaries like Rookery Bay, to name a few.