VOLUME 7 - 2014-2015 - ISSUE 1
7 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 73 (2015).
FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICTS AND THE FLORIDA WATER RESOURCES ACT: THE CHALLENGES OF BASIN-LEVEL MANAGEMENT
Article Written By: Ryan B. Stoa
Florida's plentiful freshwater resources are indispensable to the state's municipal, agricultural, and environmental interests. As such, decision makers presiding over complex water management decisions wield extraordinary powers. The Water Resources Act of Florida vests these powers in five water management districts drawn according to hydrological, not political, boundaries. The water management districts have robust technical, financial, and regulatory powers, and hold the key to Florida's sustainable development. With the stakes so high, Florida's water management districts are at the center of a broad fight for control of water resources. In particular, transboundary water conflicts, political pressure, and ecological needs show that while the water management districts are institutionally mature, external forces can exert significant influence on basin-level water management.
Florida's water management districts have broad statutory authority that provides them with relative autonomy from both local and state control. The districts also have technical staff with expertise in a wide range of disciplines and the most plentiful financial resources of any state or regional agency managing water in Florida.' The districts can build structures for drainage or water supply, buy land, conduct studies and develop management plans, control pollution, and, perhaps most importantly, issue the permits required to use water.o Water management districts provide an insightful case study of what basin-level water management can look like when a state couples decentralization with meaningful regulatory and financial power. This article examines Florida water law and water management to identify lessons for the IWRM approach to water management. Specifically, this article focuses on the limitations of basinlevel institutions.