South Florida Water Management District

The Alliance for Innovation would like to welcome one of its newest members, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Below is a brief spotlight on SFWMD—help us in welcoming them into our community of practice of local government members working to advance community excellence through the discovery and application of leading ideas and practices.

ARTICLE | May 23, 2011

New member spotlight on South Florida Water Management District

What is the population of your community? Provide a brief description of the community. 

With headquarters in West Palm Beach, the South Florida Water Management District oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state – all or part of 16 counties from Orlando to the Florida Keys – and serves a combined population of 7.7 million. It is the oldest and largest of the state’s five regional water management districts. The South Florida community encompasses a mosaic of diversity… from landscapes and habitats to people and cultures. The region covers nearly 18,000 square miles and includes vast areas of agricultural lands, water conservation areas and urban development.

What are some innovative programs or recent projects happening in your community? 

Charged with safeguarding the region’s water resources, the SFWMD is responsible for managing and protecting water quality, flood control, natural systems and water supply. A primary role is to operate and maintain an extensive, federally built water management network of canals and levees, water storage areas, pump stations and other water control structures. The SFWMD is also the lead agency in the federal-state initiative to restore America's Everglades – the largest environmental project in North America. Unprecedented in both size and scope, restoration of the Everglades will not only return a more historic flow of water to the remnant “River of Grass” and revive the native habitat for dozens of threatened and endangered species, it will also naturally replenish the underground aquifers that supply drinking water to the population.

 Just as important as carrying out its regional resource protection and flood control mandates, the business side of water management remains focused on public accountability. To be as efficient and effective as possible with taxpayer dollars, the agency has instituted a number of enhanced business practices. In addition, the procurement and permitting processes have been streamlined and simplified to assist the business community.

What are some obstacles and challenges your city has faced and how did your organization approach them? 

The complex nature of balancing flood control and water supply needs with ecosystem restoration responsibilities is central to the ongoing challenges faced by the agency. Working with federal partners and balancing/improving water and land-related resources within a multi-county area is a daily challenge that requires active information exchange, open dialogue and effective partnerships at all levels. Direct interaction and strong working relationships with other governments, organizations and  community and business leaders are vital to carrying out shared water resource stewardship obligations.

 Are there additional facts about your community or any unique attributes that we might not find on the web site that you would like to share? 

Initially created in 1949 as the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District, the agency has evolved at the direction of the Florida Legislature into the multi-faceted South Florida Water Management District of today. With its long history and unique expertise, the agency has demonstrated its ability to adapt and change to best meet the needs of South Florida’s environment and citizens.

Which website(s) can your peers visit for more information about your organization and your community?  www.sfwmd.gov

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