H2Oversight The Importance of Water Management

 Stretching south from Orlando, the Everglades are vital to sustaining Florida’s sensitive ecosystem. To this end, proper water management is critical to  maintaining equilibrium for residents, vegetation and wildlife. In a climate  like southern Florida's, well-planned and managed water management and drainage  systems are essential. Neglecting this can have devastating result from—flooding to mold to costly residential and commercial real estate damage.  

 While water management is a tiered system operating on many levels with various  oversight, it is true that water seeks its own level and thus what occurs in  one tier or segment of the management process impacts all tiers.

 Three Key Issues

 “We deal with the primary system. For example, we’re like I-95, the counties and municipalities are like the secondary roads, and  the HOAs are like the tertiary roads,” says Susan Sylvester, the chief of the Water Control Operations Bureau at the  South Florida Water Management District. “The flow of traffic is the same as with water management. We operate a system  that was built to operate flood control and that is our primary goal but along  with that we deal with water supply which is so very important due to the  Everglades and the environment.”  

 Mark Clark is a Wetlands and Water Quality Soil and Water Sciences specialist  and an associate professor at University of Florida. He explains that there are  three key issues related to water management: water supply, water quality and  flooding (eventually related to sea level rise associated with climate change).  While HOA’s are “tertiary,” boards have the ability to affect meaningful change.  

 “Water management relates to the demand for water from a finite water supply  available to South Florida,” says Clark. “HOAs often control landscaping and irrigation expectations in the common areas  of a community and influence the landscaping and irrigation expectations of  homeowners within the community. Since 40 to 60 percent of the water used in  residential areas is used for outdoor purposes, HOAs can have a strong effect  on the water supply issue.”  


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