Natural Resources Committee

The LWV of Alachua County/Gainesville Natural Resources Committee is currently focusing on water supply issues in our region. This webpage lists information and resources for LWV members and the public to learn about these issues. The LWV; at the national, state, and local level; has a long history of studying environmental issues, educating the public on these issues, and advocating for environmental protection.


Current Year Program (October 2016 – May 2017)

October 2016


  •   •  The proposed short-term goal was to defeat Amendment 1 to the state
           constitution, an anti-renewable/pro-fossil fuel initiative, sponsored by
           the   public utilities



  • Decided to continue last year’s study of local water issues, beginning with the county’s updated stormwater management plan

November 2016

  • Presentation by the county’s Environmental Protection Department of the updated stormwater management plan: the proposed plan details stormwater treatment at its source, not after it has entered area creeks, lakes, rivers (and ultimately the Floridan aquifer)
  • In 2000 county residents voted to add to the county charter measures insuring clean water and air; LWV supported this charter amendment, however the County Commission never established regulations following the wishes of the electorate

December 2016

  • Wes Wheeler described the LWVFL solar co-op program and our League’s participation
  • Drafted wording of LWVAC/G resolution supporting the county’s updated stormwater management plan
  • State report on solar co-ops: program is being well received throughout FL
  • 3 initiatives to be followed during the 2017 FL Legislative Session: proposed reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to hold water to reduce E/W impaired discharges/clean up Everglades, fracking and proposed Amendment 1 (funds slated for land-buying and other conservation-driven initiatives) expenditures
  • Decided to take on restoration of the Ocklawaha River as our next study area


February 2017    

  • History of Silver Springs/Paradise Park
  • Description of the Cross Florida Barge Canal: its beginnings and present state by Jim Gross, Executive Director Florida Defenders of the Environment)
  • Reasons to restore the Ocklawaha River and economic consequences of dam removal to local residents
  • Increased ecotourism as a revenue source once river is free flowing: 3- to 5-year window as a start, 20-year to restore former tree canopy
  • Other benefits of restoration: ecological, biological, geological, hydrological
  • What can we as LWV members do to help?  LWVFL long supported restoration
  • LWVFL: solar co-op program moving ahead; FL Legislature: numerous bills damaging to the environment with funding slated to use Amendment 1 monies (if all funded the result would be minus $66,000,000/year from Florida Forever) 


March 2017

  • Economics of restoring the Ocklawaha River: study by Tatiana Borisova et al (Recreational Use of Ocklawaha River and Rodman Reservoir): Phase 1
  • 2-year survey of visitors and vehicles to Rodman Lake and sites along the Ocklawaha; companion data local/regional economic impacts, and present and future recreational value of the area
  • 2-year survey of visitors and vehicles to Rodman Lake and sites along the Ocklawaha; companion data local/regional economic impacts, and present and future recreational value of the area
  • Revenue (about ¾) from fishing, reflected also in jobs created
  • 54% favored the maintaining the dam, 17% removal (remainder no opinion)
  • Rationale for dam removal: upstream migratory/diversity of fish, esp. at Silver Springs (improve fishing throughout the system), appearance of ~ 20 springs presently hidden by the lake, enhanced quality of Silver Springs, removal of management costs of the tri-yearly drawdown and maintenance/repair of the aging dam/associated lock



April 2017

  • Ditch of Dreams, discussion with the authors Steve Noll and David Tegeder: a historic, economic, political description of the Cross Florida Barge Canal
  • Idea started with first settlers but not until the 1930’s with the New Deal did it begin to become a “reality” with jobs as the driver; canal was to be 220 miles long, 30’ deep and 200’ across: to carry 25 ships per day; funding ended 1936
  • Prior to this, during the late 19th/early 20th centuries, tourist riverboats ran between Jacksonville and Silver Springs along the St. John’s, Ocklawaha and Silver Rivers
  • Later, size of canal, coupled with locks and dams, reduced to carry only barges: depth 12’
  • Defense became the driver during WWII with the sinking of SSGulfAmerica off the north FL coast
  • Early 60’s political pressure to complete the canal; a tank-like “crusher” employed to remove the cypress to build the Rodman Reservoir leading to a “horrifying” spectacle
  • Marjorie Carr and several like-minded biologists saw the travesty and began a campaign to stop the canal and restore the Ocklawaha River
  • Florida Defenders of the Environment was founded, suing the government and the Army Corps of Engineers in 1969 to stop the canal; in 1971 President Nixon stopped construction and in 1986 the canal was de-authorized by Congress
  • The question remains to date if the dam will be removed, allowing the Ocklawaha to run free


May 2017

  • Final meeting: review of topics covered
  • Participation in the LWVFL solar coop program: FLSUN/Alachua
  • Two very successful public information meetings: April 30th (~90 participants) and May 21st (~30 participants); July 28th, final date to sign up
  • Restoration of the Ocklawaha: current strategy work on economics of “river recreation” as the economic engine for Putnam County
  • Deterioration of the dam taking place which may hasten its eventual removal
  • Presentation of county’s updated stormwater management plan designed to reduce further impairment of area’s creeks, lakes and ultimately the aquifer
  • Co-hosted forum with EPAC and ACEL on the plan

Solar Co-op (Wes Wheeler, Chair)

LWVFL Solar Co-op Program (2016-2017)

  • Partnered with FL SUN (Florida Solar United Neighborhood), which is part of the Community Power Network, a grassroots organization working to build a network of locally based renewable energy projects and policies
  • FL SUN representative will speak with local groups interested in joining a co-op to add solar as part of their energy package
  • Advantages of a co-op: reduce the individual cost of a solar system by bulk purchasing of the component parts
  • A co-op would designate an installer, who would work with each co-op member in setting up an individualized solar system
  • LWVAC/G has established a steering committee of “stakeholders.” Individuals whose expertise, experience, or participation in solar power makes them particularly helpful in guiding our marketing efforts.  These Steering Committee members, and local solar installers, were invited to a “kick-off” meeting on February 13, 2017.  This gave Committee members a chance to meet Angela DeMonbruen, with FL Sun, and to discuss the April 20 launch date.
  • On a completely separate, but related, note, the Gainesville Unitarian Universalist Church is hosting a March 26 “Solar Solutions & Climate Change Forum.”  Wes Wheeler will be one of three speakers who will speak on solar power and he will encourage attendees to join the cooperative on, or after, April 20, 2017. 


Fall-Spring 2015-2016

  • Proposed Floridians for Solar Choice amendment discussed; Committee tied on whether to support; individuals could continue to collect signatures
  • Early 2016 LWVF initiates soEalar co-op program
  • Study area for local NR Committee: water with a local focus
  • Whitey Markel (SSJ Sierra Club) presented “Water Works-Stand Up and Act Now”: facts from the Tri-County team (Citrus, Marion, Levy) on commercial, residential and recreational water use and the importance of eco-sensitive development, and on the citizen’s tax burden resulting from development
  • Viewed “The Last Call of the Oasis”, a sobering film about diminishing water supplies worldwide coupled with increasing industrial and agricultural pollution
  • Bob Palmer of the Florida Springs Council (FSC) spoke about the disastrous “big ag” water bill and the four amendments the FSC attempted to add; the bill passed the FL legislature without the amendments
  • Jim Gross, Executive Director of Florida Defenders of the Environment, presented “Up and Down the Floridan Aquifer”; he defined an aquifer, the extent of the Floridan, recharge vs discharge, current groundwater supply and the impact of increasing population on withdrawals
  • Hot Topics: Commissioner Robert Hutchinson: “Re-envision Alachua County”: a plan to develop employment opportunities in Gainesville along Waldo Road with a land exchange between the state and Weyerhauser for the Tacachale State Hospital and the timber lands in eastern Alachua County 
  • Solar initiatives: Amendment 4 (August 2016) and Amendment 1 (November 2016 ballots)