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From completing five and breaking ground on a half-dozen more Everglades restoration projects… to completing the total 102,061-acre land acquisition needed to finish Kissimmee River restoration…to successfully launching a new Small Business Enterprise program, the South Florida Water Management District notes a number of significant accomplishments achieved in 2006.
“Speeding construction of Everglades restoration projects through the state’s $1.8 billion Acceler8 program was a top priority for the South Florida Water Management District this year,” said Kevin McCarty, District Governing Board chairman. “And we did just that -- faster and at substantial savings to taxpayers using Certificates of Participation funding. We are the first agency in the country to use COPs for a natural resources project with the first $546 million issued this year.”
Charged with the multi-mission challenge of restoring natural environments including the Everglades, protecting communities from extremes like flood and drought, ensuring water supply for future generations, and safeguarding water quality for wildlife and people, the South Florida Water Management District delivered in 2006.
“2006 was a phenomenal year,” said Carol Ann Wehle, executive director for the District. “Our achievements are a huge testament to our dedicated staff, both on the resource protection and business operations sides of water management. We’ve been able to launch and complete many projects and take ecosystem restoration, flood control, and water resource planning and protection to new heights while continuing to hold millage rates steady.”
With a total fiscal year budget of just over $1 billion – including the $546 million borrowed funds needed for Acceler8 – and a staff of 1,771 employees across 16-counties from Orlando to the Keys, the South Florida Water Management District reports a banner year in a long list of accomplishments. Everglades restoration and water quality construction starts and completions, Kissimmee River restoration land acquisition completions, Lake Okeechobee and estuary recovery initiatives, water control system/structure refurbishments and cutting-edge water supply policy implementation top the list of priorities and accomplishments this year.
“This was definitely a year of action and progress despite the on-going challenges presented by Mother Nature,” Wehle added. “For example, a few years ago we had the worst drought ever followed by two years of multiple hurricanes and the highest Lake Okeechobee levels on record. Now we’re in-between. Only Mother Nature is certain of what she’s going to throw our way, but we are prepared to handle the cards she deals us.”