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Columbia County Observer

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North Central Florida News

Katelyn Potter Presents the SWIM Program
It's Your Water – You Can Contribute to the Plan

LAKE CITY, FL – The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council played host to the Suwannee River Water Management District's Katelyn Potter at its monthly meeting on Thursday evening. After years of minimal and no funding, the Water Management District's decades old SWIM program found new funding from the Gulf Oil Spill proceeds. Ms. Potter updated the Planning Council members and in the conversation that followed, Gainesville City Commissioner Helen Warren told the Planning Council, "The water resources in this area are critical. Let's take our conversation a little bit deeper and ask, 'How can we help each other?'"

The Planning Council's Executive Director Scott Koons introduced the Suwannee River Water Management District's Katelyn Potter and the SWIM program. He told the Council, "The Swim Program has been around for several decades, but has recently been revitalized." SWIM: Surface Water Improvement and Management (Program).

The complete PowerPoint presentation is available here.

Ms. Potter, the Communications Director for the Suwannee River Water Management District, introduced herself to the Council members and got right down to business. "The Suwannee River Water Management District encompasses all or parts of 15 counties in north-central Florida," she said.

The district is over 7 thousand square miles. (click to see the district)

"We are looking at what are the human impacts..."

Ms. Potter explained that the Water Management District combined the six existing SWIM plans into two plans: one plan covers the Suwannee River Basin, the other the coastal rivers.

She continued, "The SWIM program was created in the late 80's and was fully funded by the legislature for ten years. After that, funding went away and districts updated the plans as they were able to."

"As a result of Gulf Oil Spill money The Suwannee River Water Management District received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to be able to update our plan."

"We are looking at what are the human impacts on the surface water issues," she said.

Public Comment on the Plans: Happening Now

"Public comment on the plans is happening now." The plans can be reached from here (read down the page).

Ms. Potter said that the District is looking to add projects to the plans that pertain to surface water improvement.

Ms. Potter explained that the former director of the District, Noah Valenstein, believed that "what was good for the environment was good for the economy."

Mr. Valenstein is now the head of the Department Of Environmental Protection.

Planning Council Resources


Helen Warren: Gainesville City Commissioner

Gainesville City Commissioner Helen Warren wanted to know if the resources of the Planning Council could be used to protect the environment and water quality while enhancing economic development.

She said, "I don't want to put anybody on the spot; I don't expect an answer tonight, but I would ask, 'Is that not something that we could combine our resources in a different way?' ... The water resources in this area are critical. Let's take our conversation a little bit deeper and ask, 'How can we help each other?'"

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