South Florida Water Management District
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is a regional governmental agency that oversees water resources from Orlando to the Florida Keys. The mission of the SFWMD is to manage and protect water resources by balancing and improving water quality, flood control, natural systems and water supply, covering 16 counties in Central and Southern Florida. It is the largest water management district in the state, managing water needs for 7.7 million residents. A key initiative is the restoration of America’s Everglades – the largest environmental restoration project in the nation’s history. The District is also working to improve the Kissimmee River and its floodplain, Lake Okeechobee and South Florida’s coastal estuaries.
The Governing Board consists of Daniel O’Keefe, Chair; Kevin Powers, Vice Chair; Rick Barber, Sandy Batchelor, Mitch Hutchcraft, James Moran, Juan Portuondo, Timothy Sargent and Glenn Waldman.
The Executive Director of the agency is Peter Antonacci.
In 1947, after years of drought, the state was deluged by rainfall averaging 100 inches along the lower east coast, almost twice the norm. Much of the ground was saturated when two hurricanes hit the state late in the year, and flooding throughout the region was devastating. Florida asked the federal government for a master plan to tame nature’s excesses. In 1948, the U.S. Congress adopted legislation creating the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project, the largest civil works project in the country. Construction began the next year and continued over 20 years as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the massive flood control plumbing system stretching from just south of Orlando to Florida Bay.
In 1949, the Florida Legislature created the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District, the predecessor to the South Florida Water Management District, to manage the C&SF Project. In 1972, with the Florida Water Resources Act (Chapter 373), the state created five water management districts, with expanded responsibilities for regional water resource management and environmental protection. In 1976, voters approved a constitutional amendment giving the districts the authority to levy property taxes to help fund these activities. All five of the state’s water management districts’ boundaries are determined by watersheds and other natural, hydrologic and geographic features. Today, the South Florida Water Management District is the oldest and largest of the state’s five water management districts.
A book detailing the first forty years of the South Florida Water Management District titled “Into the Fifth Decade” was written by Thomas E. Huser.
In the year 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan began to undo some ecosystem damage caused by the C&SF Project.
The SFWMD is the designated local sponsor for the Central and Southern Flood Control Project (C&S Project) Pub.L. 80–858—known as the Flood Control Act of 1948—pursuant to § 373.103(2), Florida Statutes.
The regional water management system – with nearly 2,000 miles of canals and more than 2,800 miles of levees/berms, 69 pump stations, 645 water control structures and more than 700 culverts – helps to protect regional water supplies and provide flood control.
Weather extremes dramatically affect South Florida’s water supply and flood protection actions. In response, the District actively operates and maintains the water management system, promotes water conservation and works with communities to develop alternative water supplies.
The management is currently working to restore water flow to the Everglades.
Southwest Florida Water Management District
The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District), unofficially nicknamed “Swiftmud” or SWFWMD, is one of five regional agencies directed by Florida state law to protect and preserve water resources. Established in 1961 the agency operates and maintains several large properties and flood protection projects, sometimes with other agencies. The District’s responsibilities have expanded to include managing water supply and protecting water quality and the natural systems — rivers, lakes, wetlands and associated uplands.
Area of jurisdiction
The District encompasses approximately 10,000 square miles (30,000 km2) in all or part of 16 counties in west-central Florida including Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, and Sumter counties, serving a population of more than 5 million people.
The District is divided into eight basins, which are based primarily on watershed or geographic boundaries. Seven of the District’s basins are administered by local Basin Boards, while an eighth — encompassing the Green Swamp — is managed directly by the District Governing Board because of its hydrologic significance.
Administration and funding
A 13-member Governing Board oversees District activities. Members are unpaid volunteers appointed by the Governor and conﬁrmed by the state Senate to four-year terms to set policy and administer the budget. The Board chooses an executive director who is approved by the state Senate. The executive director oversees a diverse staff of professionals, including engineers, geologists, biologists, attorneys, educators and administrators.
Funding comes from voter-approved ad valorem property taxes, along with state and federal funding such as the state’s Florida Forever Program. While there is a legislative limit on the tax levy of 1 mill ($1 for each $1,000 of assessed land value), actual tax levies have been less than the maximum.
Every year, about 2.5 million people visit public conservation lands acquired by the District and its partners to protect Florida’s water resources. Properties in the district include:
- Alafia River Reserve in Polk County
- Annutteliga Hammock in Hernando County
- Brooker Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve in Hillsborough County
- Brooker Creek Preserve in Pinellas County
- Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park in Charlotte County
- Chassahowitzka River and Coastal Swamps in Citrus County
- Chito Branch Reserve in Hillsborough County
- Circle B Bar Reserve in Polk County
- Cliff Stephens Park in Pinellas County
- Conner Preserve in Pasco County
- Cypress Creek Preserve in Pasco County
- Deep Creek Preserve in DeSoto County
- Edward Medard Park and Reservoir in Hillsborough County
- Edward W. Chance Reserve Coker Prairie and Gilley Creek tracts in Manatee County
- Flying Eagle Preserve in Citrus County
- McGregor Smith Boy Scout Reservation in Citrus County
- Withlapopka Community Park in Citrus County
- Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve in Pasco, Sumter, Lake and Polk counties
- Colt Creek State Park in Polk County
- East Tract in Sumter, Lake and Polk counties
- Hampton Tract in Polk County
- Little Withlacoochee Tract in Lake County
- West Tract in Pasco County
- Half Moon-Gum Slough in Sumter County
- Halpata Tastanaki Preserve in Marion County
- Jack Creek in Highlands County
- Lake Marion Creek Horseshoe Scrub Tract in Polk County
- Lake Panasoffkee in Sumter County
- Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal in Pinellas County
- Little Manatee River Lower Tract in Hillsborough County
- Little Manatee River Southfork Tract in Manatee County
- Little Manatee River Upper Tract in Hillsborough County
- Lower Hillsborough Wilderness Preserve in Hillsborough County
- Deer Prairie Creek Preserve, Flatford Swamp Preserve, and Myakka Prairie Tract on the Myakka River in Sarasota, Manatee, and Sarasota counties
- Myakka State Forest in Sarasota County
- Panasoffkee Outlet in Sumter County
- Potts Preserve in Citrus County
- Prairie/ Shell Creek in Charlotte County
- RV Griffin Reserve in DeSoto County
- Sawgrass Lake Park in Pinellas County
- Schultz Preserve in Hillsborough County
- Starkey Wilderness Preserve, Serenova Tract and Anclote River Ranch Tract in Pasco County
- Tampa Bypass Canal in Hillsborough County
- Terra Ceia Preserve Frog Creek in Manatee County
- Terra Ceia Preserve State Park in Manatee County
- Two Mile Prairie in Citrus County
- Upper Hillsborough Preserve in Pasco and Polk counties
- Weekiwachee Preserve in Hernando County
- Withlacoochee River Park in Pasco County
- Wysong Park in Sumter County
Southwest Florida Water Management District 2379 Broad Street Brooksville, FL 34604-6899 (352) 796-7211 or 1-800-423-1476 (FL only) TDD 800-231-6301