Water Supply Plan Available for Comment

workshop attendeesJaney Baldwin, secretary of the Withlacoochee River Basin Board, left, talks with Jay Yingling, District senior economist, at the Regional Water Supply Plan public workshop for the Northern Planning Region.

In an effort to plan for future water supplies and demands in our area, the District is updating the 2006 Regional Water Supply Plan (RWSP). This document was first published in 2001, in accordance with Florida Statute 373.0361, and is updated every five years. The main goals of the plan are to outline demand projections, inventory existing water supply projects and list as many feasible water supply projects as possible for a 20-year time frame.

“This plan update was completed through a collaborative effort of District staff and water supply planning partners throughout the region,” said Roy Mazur, District planning director. “We reached out to a number of key stakeholders, including utilities, municipalities and water supply authorities throughout the region, to compile a comprehensive set of existing data to consider when creating this plan.”

A team of more than 25 District staff members were involved in the writing and review of the document to ensure the data is both current and valid. The information in the 2006 version of the plan was reviewed and, if necessary, replaced with more current data.

In addition to updated information in the plan, the structure of the RWSP has changed as well. For the first time the plan is divided into four volumes, corresponding geographically to the Northern, Tampa Bay, Heartland and Southern regions. This structural change will make a more user-friendly document by allowing readers to focus on one particular area at a time. The District is also creating community sheets, documents that break down the RWSP on a community level to help local governments produce 10-year water supply facilities work plans. Every community located within the boundaries of a RWSP is required by law to create a work plan within 18 months of the Governing Board’s approval of the RWSP.

This is the first time the District’s northern six counties — Levy, Marion, Citrus, Sumter, Hernando and Lake — are included in the overall planning process.

“We invited local governments, civic groups and industry and agricultural representatives to participate in a Northern planning region work group,” said Cara Martin, District community affairs program manager. “This group was able to meet and discuss the RWSP and its timeline. The District believes it is imperative to obtain feedback from different segments of the community during the planning process.”

The current draft version of the RWSP is now available to view on the District’s web site at WaterMatters.org/RWSP. This new, interactive web page is divided into regional sections and provides easy navigation through the document. Interested members of the public are encouraged to review the plan and submit their comments through the web site or mail them to the District at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604, Attn: Planning Department. The deadline for submitting comments is Friday, July 16.

After all comments are addressed, the final RWSP will be presented to the District’s Governing Board for approval. This will occur before the end of the year.

“The final product of this plan will benefit from extensive collaboration between multiple District departments and our key stakeholders,” said Mazur. “We appreciate all comments on this plan, and I am grateful for the commitment of the many District staff members who have worked together to ensure its success.”