Rally Brings Water Managers, Educators and the Community Together

attendees at rally

District staff, members of the academic community, elected officials, the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and other members of the community joined together in Tampa during March to share ideas about water supply and alternative supply sources.

The Water Rally featured informative presentations, an interactive panel, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Wes Skiles’ video.

Heidi McCree, Governing Board chair, provided opening comments while David Moore, District executive director, and Gene Heath, District assistant executive director, both spoke at the rally. Jerry Maxwell, Tampa Bay Water general manager, provided an overview of water supply in the region.

“Bringing together representatives from the District and academia, elected officials and members of the community at the rally was beneficial because it gives each group a better perspective on what we need to do to work together and protect our water resources,” said McCree.

Moore’s goal was to give the audience members a better understanding of some of Florida’s water management issues and how changing weather patterns affect rainfall and severe storm activity. He also spoke about water quality issues, including rising nitrogen levels in our water and what people can do to prevent these levels from growing.

“Controlling point-source nitrogen loading, like pollution from industry, is easier to control than nonpoint-source loading, like fertilizer from lawns and golf courses,” said Moore. “That’s where you come in. By teaching about proper fertilizing techniques and the other Florida-friendly landscaping techniques, you really are doing your part.”

In addition to the presentations and interactive sessions, attendees also had the opportunity to learn more by visiting environmental education booths in the exhibition hall.

One of the booths featured a Girl Scout Gold Award project. Completing the project is similar to completing a Boy Scout Eagle project. The project, being completed by four scouts, focuses on springs preservation.

Kathryn Swisher, a student from Tampa Catholic, and three other girls are teaching young people how important Florida’s springs are.

“Some people don’t know there is more to Florida than theme parks,” said Swisher. “We want them to know about the springs, that they are beautiful and need to be protected.”

Water rallies are being planned for other geographic areas of the water management district over the next year. The rallies are coordinated through the District’s Community and Legislative Affairs Department.