SFWMD announces 2008 meeting dates

Continuing its commitment to public involvement and open government, the South Florida Water Management District's (SFWMD) Water Resources Advisory Commission (WRAC) announced its meeting schedule for 2008. In addition to meeting regularly at agency headquarters in West Palm Beach, a number of off-site meetings are scheduled to ensure public access and encourage constituent and stakeholder participation across the agency's 18,000-square-mile jurisdiction...

• Water Resources Advisory Commission improves public involvement in water management decisions

WEST PALM BEACH, FL, Dec. 21, 2007 -- Continuing its commitment to public involvement and open government, the South Florida Water Management District's (SFWMD) Water Resources Advisory Commission (WRAC) today announced its meeting schedule for 2008. In addition to meeting regularly at agency headquarters in West Palm Beach, a number of off-site meetings are scheduled to ensure public access and encourage constituent and stakeholder participation across the agency's 18,000-square-mile jurisdiction. Off-site meetings in 2008 are scheduled in Clewiston, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jupiter, Okeechobee and Stuart.

Chaired by SFWMD Governing Board member Mike Collins, the WRAC is an advisory body to the SFWMD Governing Board and to the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force -- the multi-agency group established by Congress to support Everglades restoration. With more than 50 members, the WRAC serves as a forum for improving public participation and decision-making on water resource issues throughout south and central Florida.

"By bringing together a diverse array of water users and stakeholders, the WRAC serves an important function in managing and protecting the water resources of South Florida," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Eric Buermann. "This conscientious and hard-working advisory group provides every competing interest in our District with a place at the table. It helps direct the District's decisions, prioritize our tax dollars and facilitate a meaningful connection with the citizens we serve."

WRAC members, appointed by the SFWMD Governing Board, represent a broad range of business, governmental, agricultural, environmental, tribal and public interests. The Commission typically meets once a month and holds topical Issues Workshops as needed.

The WRAC's dedicated Lake Okeechobee Committee helps direct the District's restoration, environmental and water supply decisions relating specifically to Lake Okeechobee. This committee also meets regularly and consists of 30 members -- 15 WRAC members and 15 concerned citizens from lakeside and estuarine communities, such as Okeechobee, Clewiston, Stuart and Ft. Myers.

The WRAC regularly assists in developing actions needed to restore, preserve and protect the greater South Florida ecosystem while providing for other water-related needs of the region -- including water supply and flood protection. Most recently, the WRAC hosted two Water Summits focusing on the operation of the South Florida system and water conservation. The Water Conservation Summit launched the development of a comprehensive and enduring water conservation program for South Florida.

"Water management policy is not for the faint of heart," said WRAC Chairman Mike Collins. "We study tough issues and make recommendations that are not always the easiest or most popular. But they always are in the best interest of providing long-term protection for the resource."

The 2008 WRAC meetings will be held monthly through October 2008. All WRAC meetings are open to the public. The SFWMD's 2008 budget allocates $150,500 to host the public involvement initiative.

For more information on the SFWMD Governing Board, the WRAC and a 2008 meetings and events calendar, visit www.sfwmd.gov or the WRAC homepage.

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional, governmental agency that oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state -- 16 counties from Orlando to the Keys.

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