Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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FL Leaders Organized for Water (FLOW):
After over a year of meetings, is the rush over FLOW now a trickle?

FLOW played to a sparse crowd last night. Closest to the camera are Alachua's Lee Pinkoson and the Mayor of High Springs, Sue Weller, who are featured below.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night Florida Leaders Organized for Water (FLOW) met in the Columbia County School Board Administrative Complex Auditorium. FLOW is represented by many communities of North Central Florida and while the rush of the public has dwindled to a trickle, the group has come up with a draft strategic plan and a draft position paper called, "Florida's Water Future." Unfortunately, none of this was available to the public before the meeting, nor was it posted on the Columbia County or the FLOW website. FLOW has a staff member on the payroll to take care of this.

What became clear last night was that after one year of meetings the group has large disagreements that it has not been able to solve.

Flow Position Paper*
Flow Strategic Plan*
Flow Website*

They discussed a potential position paper, but they could not reach any agreement. Flow continued its ongoing discussion on science, but it has not been able to determine what kind of science to pursue.

FLOW's draft strategic plan appears to represent a tremendous effort, but again the group has not been able to reach any agreement.

Alachua's Commissioner Lee Pinkoson and High Springs Mayor Sue Weller

After the meeting, your reporter spoke with Alachua's County Commissioner, Lee Pinkoson and High Springs Mayor, Sue Weller. Both are their community's representatives on FLOW.

The Observer asked, "Do you think there is anything happening here besides meetings?"

Commissioner Pinkoson responded, "The biggest obstacle is that we haven't met enough. I think that if we had a workshop that might take care of a lot of issues."

Mayor Weller added, "Our legislative committee developed legislation. It took a lot of time to get the legislation done and it's probably too late to do anything this year. We still can do a position paper to educate the legislature on what the issues are. Then you have to move forward from there."

Commissioner Pinkoson followed up, "The biggest accomplishment is we are going to meet with the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday. They have been given a position paper. We're going to refine our message so that we can actually, maybe, do some good or have some clout. I think this group is going to have its biggest impact at the state level."

Mayor Weller agreed that the group will be most effective working at the state level.

Commissioner Pinkoson said, "I don't want anybody to take this the wrong way, but the worst thing that happened is that we got a lot of rain. This has caused a loss of urgency."

Commissioner Pinkoson added, "We have gotten the Suwannee River Water Management District and the St. John's River Water Management District to sit down and talk. Nobody has been able to do that before and I believe that this group is responsible for that."

The Observer asked, "The fact that nobody's here doesn't mean that FLOW is going down to a trickle?"

Mayor Weller answered, "No. Getting all these representatives to come to these meetings is a great accomplishment."

* At post time neither document was posted to the FLOW website, the "Get Involved" link was a blank and there were not any minutes nor agendas posted.

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