Late last year, a bill was filed in the Florida Legislature to dissolve all of the state's 58 Soil and Water Conservation Districts.The reason? “They just don’t do that much,” says Senator Hutson.
Every year, Florida SWCDs conserve billions of gallons of water and actively fight the effects of climate change in the state, which are severe. So are they really "not doing that much?"
The SWCDs have come under intense pressure with politicians picking through the district's websites and social feeds to use as evidence to undermine the good work they do, with the implications ranging from complete dissolution of the districts to loss of control of their boards.
The original plan for SB 1078/HB 783 was to dissolve all Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), with the state's water management systems taking over their duties.
As it stands, the bill will not immediately dissolve or consolidate all SWCDs. Rather, give the districts the opportunity to comply with a brand new set of regulations, and continue to operate, as long as they remain compliant. The new regulations will inevitably impact the structure of the districts and reduce control over day-to-day functions.
The lack of awareness about the essential services districts provide has always been a challenge, and the risk of dissolution will always exist. But there are ways to combat this and ensure your constituents know the value you bring to your community.
We often speak with folks at special districts who feel that “promoting” the district (whether via a website, social media, or other means) is unnecessary because - and this is a direct quote: “We aren’t competing with anyone.”
Nothing could be further from the truth! As we have seen in Florida, educating the public about the important work your district does is vital.
Check out our blog, "The importance of getting the positive attention your district deserves" >