Dec. 20, 2016

Eight schoolteachers received grant funding from the district’s new Blue School Grant Program for projects to enhance student development in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related topics. The program offers financial support for teachers working to promote water resource protection through hands-on learning opportunities. The Blue School Grant Program, now in its inaugural year, provides grants of up to $1,000 for water quality field study, water-conserving garden projects, community/school awareness campaigns or freshwater resources field study programs.

Dec. 14, 2016

The district, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection celebrated the rehabilitation of a water control structure at Taylor Creek Reservoir that provides flood protection and water supply benefits to Brevard and Osceola counties. Constructed in the 1960s, Taylor Creek Reservoir was part of the original federal Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project and was designed to capture and hold upland stormwater before it reached the river to reduce flood stages in the Lake Poinsett area of the St. Johns River. The reservoir provides drinking water to the city of Cocoa and its customers, and provides irrigation water to Deseret Ranches of Florida.

Taylor Creek Resevoir ribbon cutting event

Dec. 13, 2016

The district Governing Board approved the ranking of projects that will share in $5 million in cost-share funds to benefit water resources in Rural Economic Development Initiative communities and for projects that use innovative technology to provide data supporting future permitting and full-scale implementation of alternative water supplies.

Nov. 15, 2016

The Governing Board re-elected John A. Miklos of Orlando to serve as board chairman for a fourth year. The board also re-elected Fred N. Roberts Jr. of Ocala to serve a third term as vice chairman. Charles “Chuck” Drake of Orlando was elected to serve as secretary for a third year, and Ron Howse of Cocoa will serve as treasurer.

Nov. 15, 2016

District Governing Board members approved the rankings of projects that will share $1.5 million in agricultural cost-share funds to assist farmers, growers and ranchers in water conservation projects that conserve water and result in nutrient loading reductions. Projects span six counties and include irrigation retrofits, improved fertilizer application equipment, soil moisture sensors and ponds to capture water that can be reused for irrigation.

Oct. 24, 2016

District scientists installed four water quality monitors in the headwaters of the St. Johns River to help the district best manage the black water systems and marshes of the waterway. The monitoring stations will cover an area from south of Lake Hell’n Blazes north to State Road 50. The sensors collect real-time data on various water quality parameters, such conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen and water temperature. Data flows continuously from the monitors to the district’s telemetry network located at the district’s headquarters in Palatka.

Oct. 11, 2016

The district’s Governing Board approved two water permit renewals that reflect a decreased allocation of approximately 197 million gallons of water per year in central Florida. District staff worked with the cities of Belleview and Maitland on efforts to implement water-saving measures, including greater use of reclaimed water, system leak detection and water conserving rate structures, resulting in significant reductions to their consumptive use permits.

Oct. 8, 2016

Following Hurricane Matthew, the district assisted state and local governments with recovery efforts. District assistance activities included conducting flooding assessments and pumping excess water, inspecting and clearing public lands of debris, inspecting construction sites, levees and structures, answering questions and issuing emergency waivers.

Staff meeting about Hurricane Matthew

Sept. 28, 2016

The district launched an audio guide for visitors to its Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The audio guide, which can be streamed through mobile devices, provides visitors with a narrative on the area’s history, wildlife and district-led restoration efforts. The audio guide includes 11 stops along the drive. Numbered signs correspond with audio files and there are several vehicle pullovers, which provide opportunities for stopping.

Lake Apopka North Shore audio tour

Sept. 27, 2016

The district’s Governing Board approved its fiscal year 2016-2017 budget, providing funds for cost-share projects and major programs to support the agency’s core missions of water supply, water quality, natural systems and flood protection. The board also voted to reduce the millage rate for taxpayers for a fourth year. The 0.2885 millage rate (rolled-back rate) would generate $84.1 million in revenue that will be part of a total $164.6 million budget for the budget year that began Oct. 1, 2016.

Sept. 9, 2016

More than 50 scientists and engineers with the district and University of Florida (UF) met to report on progress made in the second year of a three-year partnership to enhance the scientific foundation needed to develop solutions to restore and protect Florida’s springs.

Aug. 23, 2016

The district and its partners celebrated the completion of the Upper St. Johns River Basin Project. Four decades after it was first conceived, one of the largest wetland restoration projects in the world is now complete, although operation and maintenance of the award-winning project will continue.

Aug. 11, 2016

Putnam County schools and the cities of Bunnell, Hawthorne and Palatka benefitted from dozens of items surplused by the district — from laptops and filing cabinets to floor jacks and bench grinders to tractor fenders and disc blades.

District donating equipment as part of the REDI program

June 25, 2016

More than 50 community volunteers helped plant 1,000 bald cypress trees at the district’s Lake Apopka North Shore the weekend of June 25. Cherry Lake Tree Farm in Groveland worked with local nonprofit Keep Lake (County) Beautiful to donate the trees and help raise awareness about the importance of the area’s natural systems.

June 14, 2016

The district was awarded the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its fiscal year 20152016 budget from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. District Budget Director Mary-Lou Pickles was also recognized for her leadership and contributions to the process.

June 14, 2016

An external audit of the district’s financial statements gave the agency high marks for its latest annual financial report and showed the agency in compliance with state law and accounting standards. This most recent independent audit contained no adverse findings and issued no exceptions on the fairness of the district’s financial statements.

June 14, 2016

The district’s governing board approved the project ranking for 59 projects to share in more than $30 million in cost-sharing funding from the district for alternative water supply, water quality, water conservation and flood protection construction cost-share projects.

May 27, 2016

Hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders by the dozen joined the district for a first look at the Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area in Marion County during a ribbon-cutting ceremony and official opening of the property.

May 10, 2016

The district’s Governing Board approved additional funding for the city of Rockledge for the removal of 143 failing septic tanks situated near the Indian River Lagoon. The septic tank to sewer conversion will eliminate approximately 4,433 pounds per year of nitrogen and approximately 715 pounds per year of phosphorus from reaching the lagoon.

May 5, 2016

Construction began on a project that will help improve water quality in Lake Jesup and Soldiers Creek in Seminole County. The district contributed $800,000 to Seminole County’s Lake Jesup Nutrient Reduction Facility as part of a cost-share program. The project retrofits an existing stormwater facility and pond with technology that facilitates nutrient removal using aluminum sulfate to remove phosphorus, nitrogen and suspended solids.

April 26, 2016

About 700 homes in St. Augustine began receiving new automatic water metering technology allowing the city and homeowners to track their water conservation efforts through real-time data collection and identify leaks more quickly. The pilot project is a cost-share partnership between the district and the city of St. Augustine. The new technology will eventually allow the city to read all 13,000 water meters in the city in two or three days rather than once every 30 days.

April 12, 2016

The district’s purchasing division was recognized for excellence by the Florida Association of Public Procurement Officials Inc., as one of only 13 agencies in Florida to receive the Award of Excellence in Public Procurement for 2016. The Award of Excellence in Public Procurement recognizes organizational excellence in procurement and identifies agencies that meet or exceed benchmarks and best practices in the procurement profession.

April 7, 2016

Representatives from local and state governments celebrated the opening of a new segment of recreational trail in Lake County. The district partnered with Lake County to build the new 2-mile trail connection that joins the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook and Trailhead with the Lake Apopka Loop Trail, expanding opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking and bicycling.

March 30, 2016

To celebrate April as Water Conservation Month, the district asked employees and the public to pledge to help reduce water use, launching an online pledge program to raise awareness about simple changes anyone can make to help conserve Florida’s water supply. The district also encouraged local governments to adopt proclamations declaring April as Water Conservation Month, with the majority of the 119 local governments within the district participating.

March 28, 2016

A recent partnership between the district and the city of Ocala has saved more than 4 million gallons of water in five months, savings achieved after implementing a water-savings WaterSmart program in October 2015 across 5,000 residential utility customers.

March 14, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott appointed John Browning Jr. of East Palatka to the district’s Governing Board. Browning takes the place of George Robbins of Jacksonville.

March 15, 2016

The district expanded the recreational opportunities available to visitors at the Sunnyhill Restoration Area in Marion County, opening the new 3,401-acre South Tract Trail. The tract is home to seven miles of new hiking and biking trail, as well as additional parking.

March 8, 2016

The district’s governing board continued to demonstrate its commitment to springs protection, approving for the third consecutive year a proclamation designating April as Springs Protection Awareness Month. The annual designation helps increase awareness about the importance of Florida’s springs and encourages residents and stakeholders to participate in enhancing the quality and flow of springs.

March 8, 2016

Board members, from left, are Ron Howse, Fred Roberts Jr., Chairman John Miklos, Doug Bournique, Doug Burnett, George Robbins and Chuck Drake.

The district’s governing board approved a proclamation that designates April 2016 as Water Conservation Month to heighten awareness about the importance of water conservation, a designation made for the past 18 years in Florida.

Feb. 22, 2016

Native plants continue to expand in Lake Apopka thanks to a variety of restoration projects aimed at improving the health of Florida’s fourth-largest lake. An analysis conducted by the district reveals native submersed aquatic vegetation is expanding, an indication of improving water quality.

Feb. 10, 2016

Project partners celebrated the completion of an innovative project in Clay County to protect drinking water supplies and to reduce wastewater discharges to the St. Johns River and Black Creek. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at a 22-acre site in Green Cove Springs, Clay County Utility Authority (CCUA) and the district formally launched the operation of nine rapid infiltration basins at CCUA’s Mid-Clay Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Ann B. Shortelle at the ribbon-cutting ceremony

Feb. 3, 2016

For the second time in four years, the district’s permitting program was recognized for excellence by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast in Brevard County.

Jan. 29, 2016

The district partnered with college students in an effort to share their knowledge and expertise about prescribed burns. Twenty students from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point’s Fire Crew visited the district for hands-on training managing prescribed fires.

Jan. 25, 2016

The district’s governing board voted to move forward with two pilot projects to reduce freshwater flows and prevent thousands of pounds of nutrients from reaching the Indian River Lagoon. Collectively, the projects are estimated to annually capture nearly 9,000 pounds of phosphorus, nearly 60,000 pounds of nitrogen and treat an average of 23 million gallons of water daily.

Jan. 13, 2016

The district donated 71 surplus computers, laptops and tablets to the Putnam County School District. In December, district staff contacted the economically disadvantaged Rural Economic Development Initiative communities within its boundaries to gauge interest in receiving its surplus items as donations.

Dec. 16, 2015

Dozens of people from state and local government, the forestry industry and the environmental community celebrated the purchase of Silver Springs Forest, which placed the 4,900-acre tract north of Silver Springs into public ownership and protecting the Silver Springs and the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. The district, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Conservation Trust for Florida partnered on the $11.5 million purchase from Rayonier, Inc.

Fred N. Roberts Jr. speaking at the Silver Springs Forest celebration

Dec. 4, 2015

A new Web page was launched to better serve members of the media, demonstrating the district’s commitment to being transparent and keeping residents better informed. News releases, photos, b-roll and interviews are available on the page ( to empower members of the media with the news they need to keep viewers, readers and listeners well informed.

Nov. 20, 2015

The district hosted a special opportunity deer hunt Nov. 17–19 for three combat wounded veterans that included guided deer hunts and camping as part of Operation Outdoor Freedom, a program of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and includes several partnering state agencies.

Nov. 20, 2015

District staff began inserting new man-made homes for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers into 32 pine trees at Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park in east Orange County. While other woodpeckers will bore out cavities in dead trees, the red-cockaded woodpecker is the only one to make its home in live trees, primarily mature longleaf pines.

Nov. 13, 2015

A water quality project to improve both the St. Johns River and Indian River Lagoon was highlighted for its positive impacts during a celebration in Palm Bay. District staff and many partners celebrated the completion of the first phase of the innovative stormwater project that is restoring historic flows to the St. Johns River while simultaneously reducing nutrients and fresh water flows in the Indian River Lagoon.

Nov. 10, 2015

The district’s governing board unanimously re-elected John A. Miklos of Orlando to serve as board chairman for a third year. The board also re-elected Fred N. Roberts Jr. of Ocala to serve as vice chairman, Carla Yetter of Fernandina Beach as treasurer and Charles “Chuck” Drake of Orlando as secretary.

Headshot of John Miklos

Nov. 10, 2015

The district’s governing board approved the amended Regional Water Supply Plan (RWSP) and the draft 2035 Water Resources Protection and Water Supply Strategies Plan for five counties in central Florida. The RWSP charts a long-term course for water supply in the Central Florida Water Initiative region. The plans call for more aggressive water conservation programs, expanded and more efficient water reuse projects and a comprehensive menu of alternative water-supply project options to ensure adequate water supplies for the region through 2035.

Nov. 6, 2015

Five new water quality monitoring stations were deployed in the Northern Coastal Basins, helping district scientists develop a long-term management plan for the region’s waterways. The stations contain sensors that collect real-time data on water quality parameters, such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, chlorophyll and pH. The monitors provide real-time access to water quality data, which provides a keener understanding of the complex interactions taking place within the waterway.

Oct. 30, 2015

The district’s 2015 Lake George gizzard shad harvest removed more than 1 million pounds of rough fish, resulting in removal of more than 9,000 pounds of phosphorus and 27,000 pounds of nitrogen from the lake in Volusia and Putnam counties (part of the St. Johns River system). The gizzard shad harvest took place from May 4–Sept. 30.

Oct. 30, 2015

The Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) Steering Committee voted to accept the amended Regional Water Supply Plan and the draft 2035 Water Resources Protection and Water Supply Strategies Plan, sending the documents to the governing boards of three central Florida water management districts for consideration in November. More than 6,000 stakeholders attended public meetings and provided comments that helped shape the documents during the past five years. The documents also include input from dozens of experts in the water-supply field.

Oct. 13, 2015

District Governing Board members approved a new $5 million cost-share program that will reward rural communities and innovative projects that support the district’s missions.

Oct. 9, 2015

The district and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced a partnership to continue the state’s commitment to springs protection by working with three central Florida cities on six projects to protect the springs of the Wekiva River, as well as projects with Volusia County to protect Blue Spring. The district, DEP and the cities of Apopka, Longwood and Winter Garden will work on $11.9 million worth of water quality and water supply projects that will benefit the Wekiva River’s network of springs, which includes Wekiwa and Rock springs. In Volusia County, DEP announced $3.47 million in funding for a project to decommission the Four Towns Wastewater Treatment Plant and direct wastewater to the county Southwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility, improving the level of treatment and producing 222,000 gallons per day of reuse. The district contributed $2 million toward the project, while Volusia County contributed $2.7 million.

Sept. 22, 2015

The St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board on Sept. 22 adopted a fiscal year (FY) 2015–2016 budget of $169.4 million that expands partnership programs to conserve water, develop water supplies and protect water quality in springs and priority water bodies. The Board also adopted a millage rate of 0.3023, which reduces the rate for taxpayers for a third consecutive year and is approximately 4.5 percent less than the FY 2014–2015 tax rate.

Sept. 8, 2015

The district began live streaming its Governing Board meetings and workshops following a successful trial run in August. The streaming — broadcasting over the Internet — allows the public greater access to the district and insight into the discussions among Board members as they deliberate on district business.

Aug. 11, 2015

The district’s Governing Board approved $25 million in cooperative funding for 50 local projects that when leveraged with local partners’ funding represents more than $98 million in total project investment. The projects will conserve more than 1.7 million gallons of water a day (mgd), develop more than 56 mgd of alternative water supplies, reduce total nitrogen loading to waterways and springs by nearly 540,000 pounds per year and reduce total phosphorus loading by more than 113,000 pounds per year.

July 14, 2015

More than $3.5 million in cost-share funding for 22 agricultural projects was approved by the district’s Governing Board. The projects are estimated to offset groundwater use by more than 250 million gallons of water per year, and to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loading to area waterways by more than 200,000 pounds per year. The projects approved for funding are spread over nine counties and include irrigation retrofits, tailwater recovery and reuse, rainwater harvesting, soil mapping, variable rate fertilizer spreaders, soil moisture sensors and telemetry.

May 21, 2015

The district’s Governing Board unanimously selected Dr. Ann Shortelle of Gainesville as the agency’s new executive director. She began serving as executive director on June 1, 2015. Shortelle has more than 25 years of professional experience in lake, riverine and reservoir management for water quantity and quality. Her experience also includes surface water/wetlands restoration, surface water modeling, permitting and environmental assessments. “Dr. Shortelle’s vast experience in water resource management in both the public and private sectors will be invaluable as we work to accomplish our core missions in the most effective and efficient manner possible,” said Governing Board Chairman John Miklos.

Portrait of Dr. Ann B. Shortelle

May 5, 2015

The district opened an 11-mile, self-guide wildlife drive at its Lake Apopka North Shore property in Orange County, expanding opportunities to view wildlife and restoration of the lake’s wetlands. A portion of the wildlife drive intersects with the Lake Apopka Loop Trail where hikers, bikers and other users share the road.

Picnic shelter at the Lake Apoka North Shore

April 17, 2015

Work began on a $6 million project to connect the reclaimed water distribution systems of Volusia County and the cities of DeLand, Deltona and Orange City to help conserve fresh groundwater and benefit Volusia Blue Spring. The collaboration provides reclaimed water in the cities, reducing withdrawals from the aquifer and improving flows for Blue Spring.

April 8, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott appointed Ronald Howse to the district Governing Board. Howse, of Cocoa, is a self-employed investor, licensed civil engineer and land surveyor. He was appointed for a term beginning April 8, 2015, and ending March 1, 2018.

March 27, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott reappointed Charles “Chuck” Drake and Frederick “Fred” Roberts Jr. to the district’s Governing Board. Drake, of Orlando, is the vice president and a hydrogeologist with Tetra Tech Inc. He was reappointed for a term beginning March 27, 2015, and ending March 1, 2019. Roberts, of Ocala, is an attorney with Klein and Klein LLC. He was reappointed for a term beginning March 27, 2015, and ending March 1, 2019.

Feb. 13, 2015

The district partnered with the city of Vero Beach on a project to help improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon. The hybrid Septic Tank Effluent Pumping System (STEP) project will divert septic system effluent, currently entering the groundwater along the Indian River Lagoon, to a central facility for treatment, preventing up to 40,500 pounds of nutrients per year from entering the groundwater and reducing the amount of nutrients flowing to the lagoon from septic systems near the shallow estuary.