WRAC: Many apply, few are chosen for water forum

WEST PALM BEACH — The latest version of the South Florida Water Management District “WRAC” had more than 50 applicants, but fewer than half were chosen.

WRAC originally stood for Water Resources Advisory Commission and more recently was called Water Resources Analysis Coalition. WRAC included representatives from South Florida businesses, water supply utilities, agriculture, public interest groups, local government and environmental organizations.

When Gov. Ron DeSantis took office, all of the WRAC meetings were canceled, leaving some stakeholders concerned that their views will no longer be considered by SFWMD officials.

At the April SFWMD meeting, members of the public asked SFWMD to bring back WRAC. At the Aug. 8 meeting, SFWMD announced the return of WRAC, which now stands for Water Resources Accountability and Collaboration. Applications for those interested in joining WRAC were available online.

This latest version of WRAC is a fact-finding body. Public participants were selected by the SFWMD executive director. Unlike a previous version of WRAC, this board has no authority to make recommendations to the governing board.

Applications on file
A public records search revealed SFWMD received 53 applications from those who wised to serve on the new board. WRAC members were selected by SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett.

At least one person who applied was not on the application list provided by SFWMD. According to Ramon Iglesias, Mary Ann Martin of Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina in Clewiston, applied online and a letter of support was sent by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and Congressman Mario Diaz Balart.

The applicants included (those selected for the new WRAC are in bold):
• D. Albrey Arrington, executive director of the Loxahatchee River District, of Jupiter;
• Joseph Atterbury, board member with Florida Wildlife Federation, of Jupiter;
• Milton Block, vice mayor of the Town of Jupiter Inlet Colony Commission, chairman of the Palm Beach County Water Resources Task Force and vice president of Sustainable Palm Beach County, of Jupiter;
• Douglas Bournique of Fort Pierce;
• Laurene Capone, of EAA Research & Management Inc. of Loxahatchee;
• David Ceilly, courtesy faculty member and research associate for Florida Gulf Coast University; senior ecologist for Johnson Engineering Inc.; member of Angler Action Foundation; of Fort Myers;
• Newton Cook, president of United Waterfowlers Florida Inc.; member of FWC Deer Technical Advisory Group; member, FWC Waterfowl Technical Advisory Group; board member, Future of Hunting in Florida Inc.; of Tequesta;
• Mike Elfenbein, executive director of the Foundation of Balanced Stewardship; delegate to Everglades Coordinating Council; board member of the Future of Hunting in Florida;
• Adam Gelber, of the Department of the Interior, past member and director of the Office of Everglades Restoration Initiatives; of Davie;
• Cheryl Grieb, chairwoman of the Osceola County Board of Commissioners; member of the Florida Association of Counties Water Policy Committee; member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Aquatic Plant Management Technical Assistance Group; member, County Coalition for the Responsible Management of Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries and the Lake Worth Lagoon; of Kissimmee;
• Thomas Harding, treasurer of the Key Colony Beach Utility Board; president of the Sea Isle Condominium Association; of Key Colony Beach;
• Ricou Hartman, member of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association; member of the Martin County and Florida Realtors Association; of Palm City;
• Louis Johnson, Florida Floodplain Management Educational Committee member; member of the American Public Works Association; member of the Association of State Floodplain Managers Inc.; of Okeechobee;
• James Kirby, retired Florida professional engineer, of Port St. Lucie;
• Adam Locke, Indian River Lagoon Council CAC member representing St. Lucie County; former member of the board of directors, U.S. Sailing Center, Martin County; owner and moderator of the Indian River Drive Facebook page; of Fort Pierce;
• John Maehl of Stuart;
• Deborah Manzo, town manager of the Town of Lantana; of Lantana;
• Maria Marino, mayor of Palm Beach Gardens; of Palm Beach Gardens;
• Kimberly Mitchell, executive director of Everglades Trust; of West Pam Beach;
• Neal Montgomery, partner in Pavese Law Firm; board member of Tiger Bay; board member, Building Industry Association; of Fort Myers;
• Richard Pinsky, member of the Akerman, LLP Water Task Force; president Blueway Trail Inc.; of West Palm Beach;
• Beth Rappaport, officer of the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations; officer, Colony Preserve HOA; of Boynton Beach;
• Ryan Rossi, director, South Florida Water Coalition; of Boca Raton;
• Robert Salerno, director of utilities, Fern Crest Utilities/Tinndal Hammock Irrigation and Soil Conservation District; of Plantation;
• Alissa Schafer, board member Broward Soil and Water Conservation District; member, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; member, Miami Climate Alliance; of Miramar;
• David Schuldenfrel, member of the board of directors of the Florida Economic Council; three times past president of Sanibel/Captiva Association of Realtors; member of the Sanibel/Captiva Chamber of Commerce; of Fort Myers.
• Tommy Strowd, executive director of the Lake Worth Drainage District; member of the Palm Beach County Water Resources Task Force; member of the Southeast Florida Utility Council; board member of the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades; of Delray Beach;
• Terry Torrens, member of the Kissimmee Osceola Chamber of Commerce; of Orlando;
• Brandon Tucker, board president of Faith Farm Ministries; community board member for Seacoast Bank; of Palm City;
• Taren Wadley of Winter Haven;
• Pat Whidden of Fort Myers;
• David Zuhusky, member of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation; member of the Ding Darling Wildlife Society; of Sanibel;
• Grant Lanham, staff member of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida; of Belle Glade;
• Peter D’Aiuto, aquatic biologist with USDA Agriculture Research Service of Palm City;
• Jessica Namath, member of the Environmental Advisory Committee for the Village of Tequesta; of Tequesta;
• Rachelle Litt, alternate appointed member for League of Cities to the Palm Beach County Water Task Force; vice mayor, City of Palm Beach Gardens; of Palm Beach Gardens;
• Ryan Orgera, chief executive officer Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation; of Sanibel;
• Theodore Reese of Fort Myers;
• Pete Quasius, president of the SW Florida Chapter Izaak Walton League of American; president co-founder 2008, coordinator of outreach for Eco-Voice; vice chair of foundation board, Angler Action Foundation aka Snook Foundation; past president and member of the board of directors for Audubon of Southwest Florida; of Babcock Ranch;
• Joseph Hubbard, board member of the Palm Beach Chapter of Golf Course Superintendents Association; National Environmental Committee member for the Florida Golf Course Superintendents/Golf Course Superintendents Association of America; member of the Florida Turf Grass Association; of Wellington;
• Melissa McKinlay, Palm Beach County commissioner; of West Palm Beach;
• Lori Vinikoor, executive vice president of the Alliance of Delray Residential Associations Inc.; of Delray Beach;
• Brian Hamman, board member of the Florida Association of Counties; board member of the West Coast Inland Navigation District; board member, Foundation for Lee County Public Schools; of Fort Myers;
• Allen Steward, founder PASOP.org; founder ASBRO LLC; of Punta Gorda;
• Cara Capp, senior Everglades Restoration Program manager, National Parks Conservation Commission; of Hollywood;
• Charles LaPradd; Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources; Dade County Farm Bureau member; of Cutler Bay;
• James Evans, City of Sanibel; of Sanibel;
• Geoffrey Mullins, of the Everglades Foundation; of Palmetto Bay;
• Robert Maya, manager of Environmental Resources Division, city of Cape Coral; of Cape Coral;
• Benita Whalen, president of Dispersed Water LLC; Water and Environmental Manager, Florida Cattlemen’s Association; member of the Florida Section Agricultural and Biological Engineers; member of the Eagles Nest Property Owners Association; of Jupiter;
• John Lai, president and CEO, Sanibel and Captiva Chamber of Commerce; member, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association;
• Gary Ritter, Florida Farm Bureau Federation; of Okeechobee;
• Doug Gaston of Audubon Florida; of Lighthouse Point;
• James Erskin, Everglades coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; of Tallahassee;
• Daniel Andrews, executive director, Captains for Clean Water; of Fort Myers;
• Gene Duncan Jr., tribal representative, Miccosukee Tribe; of Miami;
• Wayne Meland, member of Rotary International; member of Conservancy of South Florida; member of Bonefish and Tarpon Trust; member, Captains for Clean Water; of Naples;
• Nyla Piples, executive director, One Florida Foundation; member, Florida Sportsmans; advisory board member, Eco-Voice Daily; of Port St. Lucie;
• Ann Broadwell, district environmental manager, Florida Department of Transportation; of Fort Lauderdale;
• David Denham, board member for the Florida Trail Association; of Miami;
• Mark Generales, of Bonita Springs;
• Drew Martin (no other information given);
• Reinaldo Diaz (no other information given);
• Anthony Janicki of the Florida Storm water Association; of St. Petersburg;
• Lee Hefty of the Division of Environmental Resources Management for Miami-Dade; of Miami; and,
• Herbert Raybourn, manager of environmental permitting, Walt Disney Resort; of Orlando.

Three persons named to the board were not among the applicant list provided in the response to the public records request. They are:
• Susan E. Gosselin, Osceola County Stormwater Program manager, of Kissimmee;
• Todd Hiteshew of the South Florida Utility Council; of Fort Lauderdale; and,
• Alexander Johns of Brighton, representing the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Randy Smith, of the SFWMD public relations office, said these selections came after the SFWMD executive director’s office reached out to the Seminole Tribe, the South Florida Utility Council and Osceola County about WRAC.

Also on the forum are Angela Chelette of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Inger Hansen, of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; and, Lt. Col. Todd Polk of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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