Florida Senate Confirms Appointments of Governing Board Members

The Florida Senate has confirmed the appointments of five Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) Governing Board members.

  • Jack Bispham represents Manatee County and his term ends March 1, 2021.
  • Joel Schleicher represents Charlotte and Sarasota counties and his term ends March 1, 2023.
  • Kelly Rice represents Citrus, Lake, Levy and Sumter counties and his term ends March 1, 2023.
  • Roger Germann represents Hillsborough County and his term ends March 1, 2022.
  • Seth Weightman represents Pasco County and his term ends March 1, 2023.

Governing Board members are unpaid, citizen volunteers who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The Governing Board sets policy for the District, whose mission is to protect water resources, minimize flood risks, and ensure the public's water needs are met.


Weekiwachee Preserve Closed Due to Large Gatherings

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be closing the WeekiWachee Preserve, located in coastal Hernando County, effective Thursday, April 2 for all uses until further notice.

The District took steps to remind recreational users to follow the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis and to uphold the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to practice social distancing by avoiding gatherings larger than 10 people and distancing themselves a minimum of six feet from others.

However, the District has received multiple reports from law enforcement officials that some members of the public have not followed these guidelines and have been gathering in groups larger than 10 at the Weekiwachee Preserve. The District’s decision to temporarily close the Weekiwachee Preserve is in the interest of protecting public health and safety as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Other District-managed recreation lands remain open for individual and small group day use in the 16-county region as long as recreational users avoid gatherings larger than 10 people and distance themselves a minimum of six feet from others. The District appreciates the visitors who have followed these rules and encourage them to continue doing so.

We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we prioritize the protection of public health and safety. We look forward to welcoming recreational users back to WeekiWachee Preserve as soon as possible.

Visit WaterMatters.org/Recreation to learn about social distancing guidelines and other District properties that remain open.


10 Tips to Save Water for Water Conservation Month While You Shelter at Home

While the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) encourages water conservation year-round, there is extra emphasis each April for Water Conservation Month. April is historically one of the driest months of the year and typically marks the peak demand season for public water suppliers.

While we shelter at home to stay safe, here are 10 simple tips to lower your monthly water bill and do your part to save hundreds of gallons of water:


  • Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they are full.
  • Use the shortest clothes washing cycle for lightly soiled loads; normal and permanent-press wash cycles use more water.
  • Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave, not under running water.
  • Scrape, don’t rinse, your dishes before loading in the dishwasher.
  • Install high-efficiency showerheads, faucets and toilets.


  • Check your home’s irrigation system for leaks.
  • Turn off your irrigation system and only water as needed.
  • Don’t leave sprinklers unattended. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn sprinklers off.
  • Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle when washing the car.
  • Consider installing a rain barrel with a drip irrigation system for watering your landscaping. Rainwater is free and better for your plants because it doesn’t contain hard minerals.

Leaks are the biggest water waster, both inside and outside of your home. You can use your water meter to check for leaks. Turn off all faucets and water-using appliances and make sure no one uses water during the testing period. Wait for the hot water heater and ice cube makers to refill and for regeneration of water softeners. Go to your water meter and record the current reading. Wait 30 minutes. (Remember, no water should be used during this period.)  Read the meter again. If the reading has changed, you have a leak.

For more information about water conservation, please visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/Conservation.



District Recreation Lands Remain Open, Public Reminded to Practice Social Distancing

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will keep District-managed recreation lands open for individual and small group day use in its 16-county region to provide the public with a place to get outside and exercise. However, all campgrounds and campsites remain closed.

(Please note, some lands are managed in partnership with other agencies. Please visit the individual property’s webpage to see if it is managed by another agency, and check property closings with that agency before visiting the property.)  

Recreational users are reminded to follow the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis and to uphold CDC guidance to practice social distancing by avoiding gatherings larger than 10 people and distancing themselves a minimum of six feet from others.

As long as recreational users follow this guidance, the District will be able to provide recreational opportunities while protecting public health and safety associated with the spread of COVID-19, unless otherwise directed by an emergency order. 

The District and its partners have acquired more than 450,000 acres of conservation lands primarily through the state's land acquisition programs to protect the 16-county region's water resources. Approximately 99 percent of this land is open for public recreation. Many of these lands are maintained directly by the District and offer a more natural experience, while some of these properties are managed as county and state parks and offer a broader range of amenities.

For more information on District recreation lands, visit WaterMatters.org/Recreation.



District to Treat Hydrilla on Lake Panasoffkee Outlet River in Sumter County

The Southwest Florida Water Managemet Distrit (District) in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be treating hydrilla on the Lake Panasoffkee Outlet River March 31 and April 1, weather permitting.

Hydrilla will be controlled on the Outlet River, which flows from Lake Panasoffkee to the Withlacoochee River. The aquatic herbicide Aquathol K will be applied. There are no restrictions on the use of treated water for swimming, fishing or irrigating turf, ornamental plants and crops. Do not use Aquathol K treated water for chemigation. Notices of the treatment will be posted at public access points along the river.

Hydrilla is a troublesome, invasive aquatic plant from Southeast Asia that was introduced into Florida lakes and rivers during the late 1950s. It is a fast-growing submerged plant that expands quickly and produces dense mats at the water surface, which impacts boating, recreation, water flow, native plant communities and dissolved oxygen levels. This treatment has been scheduled to control dense stands of hydrilla, which may impede water flow.

For more information, please call the District at (352) 796-7211 or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (352) 726-8622.

For general waterbody information, aquatic plant control operation schedules and annual workplans, fishing forecasts, virtual tours, boat ramp information and more, visit the “What’s Happening on My Lake” website at myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/habitat/invasive-plants/.




Governing Board Meeting to be Conducted Remotely

Public participation will be provided through online viewing or conference call options

The Southwest Florida Water Management District's Governing Board will hold its monthly meeting Tuesday, March 24, at 10 a.m. remotely.

Following the Governor’s directions to reduce public gatherings and practice social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19, in-person attendance by Board members and staff will be limited. With the exception of the Governing Board chair, all other Board members will be participating remotely. Only staff that are necessary for the meeting will attend in person at the Brooksville Headquarters, located at 2379 Broad Street in Brooksville.

To view the Governing Board meeting online, visit WaterMatters.org and click on the “Live Video Stream” link. The video stream link becomes active and the live video feed begins approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.

For any members of the public who wish to provide input to the Governing Board, call in at 1-888-585-9008, then enter conference room number 551-666-434. You will also be able to hear the proceedings there. If possible, please use a landline for the best connection. Please do not use speakerphone or put your phone on hold. Please be sure to mute your phone when you are not providing comment. During the conference call, *2 will mute or unmute your call.

If you are calling in to provide input but also want to see the meeting presentations, we recommend you use the Skype option available on our website at WaterMatters.org rather than our traditional livestream. The livestream is slightly delayed so it wouldn’t be in sync with the phone call. When logging in to Skype, you must select “Don’t join audio.” Make sure to also mute your Skype device audio to avoid feedback loop. Use the telephone numbers listed above to listen to the meeting.

The meeting agenda and meeting materials are posted one week before the meeting, and can be found at WaterMatters.org by clicking on the “Go to District Calendar” link.


District to Close All Campgrounds to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will close all campgrounds throughout its 16-county region to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Beginning Wednesday, March 18, at 1 p.m., all District campgrounds and campsites will be closed for 30 days. Recreational day use activities will still be allowed at this time.

The health of our staff and stakeholders is our main priority. Call 1-800-423-1476 or visit WaterMatters.org should you have questions.