St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District
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Awards and recognition for the District’s work

Award recognizes success of Lake Griffin restoration

NALMS Award

Among District officials accepting the NALMS award are, from left, John Miklos, Governing Board chairman; Joe Hill, former Board chairman; Mrs. Hill; Hans Tanzler III, executive director; Mike Coveney, supervising environmental scientist; Ed Lowe, chief scientist; Steven R. Miller, Land Management bureau chief; and David Watt, Public Works bureau chief.

The North American Lake Management Society (NALMS), a scientific society of international standing, has recognized the St. Johns River Water Management District with the societies’ Technical Merit Award for its work to restore water quality and habitat in Lake Griffin.

Lake Griffin had very poor water quality, degraded habitat and poor fishery. To address these issues, the District acquired farmlands that had polluted the lake and restored these lands to wetland and aquatic habitat. The District also implemented a large-scale harvesting program to remove gizzard shad that contributed to the poor water quality. In response to the District’s restoration work, the lake’s water quality improved dramatically, native vegetation recolonized the lake bottom, and fish populations rebounded, making the lake now among Florida’s best fishing lakes.

District recognized in Florida, nationally for procurement excellence

The St. Johns River Water Management District was recognized as one of only 13 organizations to receive the Florida Association of Public Procurement Officials’ 2013 Award of Excellence in Public Procurement. The District was also recognized as one of 179 entities nationwide with the National Procurement Institute’s Achievement of Excellence in Procurement award for 2013.

Both awards recognize agencies that meet or exceed benchmarks and best practices in the procurement profession and organizations that are recognized have obtained a high score on a rating of standardized criteria. The state and national programs measure innovation, professionalism, e-procurement, productivity and leadership attributes of the procurement organization. Among attributes recognizing the District were certification of each procurement staff member as either a certified professional public buyer (CPPB) or a certified public procurement officer (CPPO) and work to provide the public with electronic/online access and updates to procurement notices.

District receives SNAP award


SNAP Award

Accepted the SNAP award on behalf of the District in Brevard County on May 15 are Mike Register, division director for Regulatory Services, second from left; District Governing Board Chairman Lad Daniels, center; and John Juilianna, Palm Bay Service Center director. Also pictured are Paul Hanson, chairman of the Economic Development Commission (EDC), far left, and Ken Welsh, chair of EDC’s Development Council, far right.

The Space Coast Economic Development Council (EDC) in Brevard County honored the St. Johns River Water Management District with its SNAP (Simple, Nimble, Accelerated Permitting) designation, which is awarded to local governments that have demonstrated streamlined and efficient permitting processes. The District met the SNAP criteria through outstanding customer service, quick turnarounds, electronic submittals and excellent communication with the applicants, consultants and the general public. The Space Coast EDC is the primary recruiter of new businesses relocating to the Space Coast.

Budget document recognized for fifth consecutive year

For the fifth consecutive year, the Office of Budget and Management Reporting of the St. Johns River Water Management District was recognized with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The award is the highest in governmental budgeting, recognizing those government units whose budgets adhere to program standards. The annual award is presented by the Government Finance Officers Association.

Highest award received for budget document

The Government Finance Officers Association recognized the Office of Budget and Management Reporting of the St. Johns River Water Management District with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. It was the fourth consecutive year in which the District received the highest governmental budget award, recognizing those government units whose budgets adhere to program standards.

Budget document recognized for third consecutive year

For the third consecutive year, the Office of Budget and Management Reporting of the St. Johns River Water Management District was recognized with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The award is the highest in governmental budgeting, recognizing those government units whose budgets adhere to program standards. The annual award is presented by the Government Finance Officers Association.

Finance reports earn top awards

The St. Johns River Water Management District’s Department of Finance and Administration was recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for preparation and publication of two annual financial reports. The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting was awarded for the District’s comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). The Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting was awarded for the District’s popular annual financial report (PAFR). The Certificates of Achievement are the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, according to GFOA, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by the District and its management.

Upper Basin Project wins prestigious Australian award


Graham Accepts Award from Hobbie

Dave Hobbie of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, left, presented then Governing Board Chairman David Graham with a “commander’s coin” during the Oct. 14, 2008, Board meeting in celebration of the District’s partnership with the Corps for work on the Upper St. Johns River Basin Project. The coin is a token of commendation used through the U.S. Army, usually only presented by military officers in the rank of colonel or above. Behind them is Maurice Sterling, director of the Division of Project Management.

The St. Johns River Water Management District has won an international prize from an Australian river advocacy organization for its role in restoring the Upper St. Johns River Basin — the headwaters of the 310-mile-long St. Johns River.

During a September ceremony in Brisbane, Australia’s International River foundation announced the District as the winner of the Thiess Riverprize — the world’s largest award in its field. Maurice Sterling, director of the District’s Division of Project Management, and a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accepted the award in Australia.

After 10 years of planning and almost 20 years under construction, the Upper St. Johns River Basin Project — now in the final stages of completion — balances environmental sustainability with the need for reliable flood protection in Brevard and Indian River counties. The 247-square-mile project is one of the most ambitious wetland restoration projects of its kind in the world. The project is co-sponsored by the District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A Cypress Dome in the Blue Cypress Water Management Area, Upper Basin

Cypress domes like the one above dot the landscape throughout the upper St. Johns River marsh.

“The Upper St. Johns River Basin Project is a model of modern floodplain management — balancing the needs of the river with the people and creatures who depend on it,” says Sterling. “Our efforts to restore the river have shown that working with nature is often preferred to working against it.”

Riverprize Judging panel chairman, Professor Paul Greenfield, said the groundbreaking results achieved by the St. Johns River Water Management District were outstanding and those involved in delivering the project should be very proud of their efforts, according to a news release issued by the Riverfoundation.

Noting that the upper basin project addresses environmental degradation and flood control issues in the river’s headwaters, Greenfield said, “It is one of the largest river restoration projects in the United States and has been a 30-year collaboration between state and federal water managers.”

Greenfield added, “The project uses innovative approaches in design and management to combine environmental benefits with flood control over 60 kilometers of river length and 60,000 hectares of floodplain.”

“The inspirational outcomes of this initiative exemplify the spirit of the International Thiess Riverprize and it’s an honor to reward a project that has done such a brilliant job taking river and water issues into its own hands and delivering such exceptional results,” Greenfield said in the news release.

Prize money is (AUD) $350,000, or about $220,000 in U.S. currency. The District will earmark the money for ongoing wetland restoration, enhancement and river cleanup programs throughout northeast and east-central Florida.

Judges chose the Upper Basin Project over two other outstanding international finalists — Lake Macquarie in New South Wales and the Swan Canning River System in western Australia.

Audubon of Florida presents Robert Christianson with “Florida Special Places” Award

St. Johns River Water Management District’s Director of Department of Operations and Land Resources lauded for special achievement in land conservation.


Robert Christianson accepts award from John Hankinson

John Hankinson of Audubon of Florida, left, presents Robert Christianson with the Florida Special Places award in October 2008.

Photo provided by Charles Lee

Audubon of Florida today announced that it has named Robert Christianson of the St. Johns River Water Management District as this year’s “Florida Special Places” Award recipient. The award, presented at the Audubon Assembly in Crystal River Oct. 24, recognized the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Director of the Department of Operations and Land Resources for his work to protect hundreds of thousands of acres of wild lands in Florida. Previous winners of this prestigious award include Eva Armstrong, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Division of State Lands Director, and State Senator Lee Constantine.

“Robert gets the job done, pure and simple. He has helped protect vast swaths of wild land, and he has done it with incredible creativity,” said Eric Draper, Audubon of Florida deputy director. “He is constantly looking for ways to solve problems by creating partnerships, and he has built a land management program that both protects the environment and provides tremendous recreational opportunities.”

Christianson has devoted 25 years of service to the state of Florida, with 15 years implementing the land acquisition program. Since he began implementing the District’s land acquisition program in 1994, more than 371,000 acres of land have been protected and approximately 100,000 acres of the total are now conservation easements.

Christianson pioneered the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology in identifying lands important for acquisition to protect water resources in Florida. In the late 1980s, he spearheaded efforts for all water management districts to develop water management plans with an emphasis on natural systems protection.

“Robert has really been the father of the District’s land management program,” said Kirby Green, District executive director. “For 15 years, under Robert’s leadership, the District’s land acquisition program has conserved an average of 2,200 acres of land per month. The success of our land management and acquisition programs, along with other District programs that help to protect our resources, demonstrates our commitment to environmental stewardship.”

Most recently, Christianson is spearheading the District’s climate change initiative addressing water and energy conservation.

“This award is a tribute to the professionalism and dedication of the team of District staff working on these programs,” said Christianson. “The District also owes much of its success to the numerous partnerships with local, state, and federal governments, and non-governmental organizations.”

District program a finalist for state sustainability award


The St. Johns River Water Management District’s Florida Water StarSM program is among the best in Florida at promoting sustainable practices, a panel of judges has decided. The program was recognized June 9, 2008, at the 10th Annual Sustainable Florida Best Practice Awards ceremony held in Tallahassee at the Florida State University Alumni Center.

Deirdre Irwin, coordinator of the Florida Water StarSM program in the District’s Office of Communications and Governmental Affairs, attended the ceremony to accept a “finalist award” on behalf of the District.

“Though the District did not receive the top award, we are honored to have the Florida Water StarSM program considered a finalist among so many distinguished nominees,” says Irwin.

In the award ceremony program, Tim Center, vice president of sustainable initiatives for the Collins Center, said, “This program is designed to recognize and honor the best efforts to create a more sustainable Florida. This year, the word sustainability became part of everyone’s vocabulary. We received more than 70 nominations from across Florida. Each nominee was outstanding. Each is a champion of sustainability and is leading by example. The combined effort of these and many others promises great potential for this and future generations.”

District efforts earn top honors


Two St. Johns River Water Management District programs developed to inform the public about the importance of water conservation garnered top honors at the fall conference of the Florida chapter of the American Water Works Association. The District received Awards of Excellence, “Best in Class,” in November, 2007, for its Water Conservation Public Awareness Campaign and its new Florida Water StarSM program.

Market research shows us that the six-year-old Water Conservation Public Awareness Campaign is helping to change people’s water use habits. The District believes that the Florida Water StarSM program will show as much success as the Water Conservation Public Awareness Campaign as it continues to grow.

The water conservation campaign is launched each spring. The campaign includes television advertisements, newspaper ads, radio ads, billboards, a website and supporting outreach documents.

Florida Water StarSM is a points-based, new home certification program, similar to the federal Energy Star program, that focuses on the economic and environmental benefits of water efficiency inside and outside the home. The program is being expanded to include certifications for commercial properties and communities.

Minimum Flows and Levels Program wins award


The St. Johns River Water Management District’s Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) Program won a Technical Excellence Award from the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) in fall 2007 in recognition of outstanding research in lake restoration, protection and management.

Establishing MFLs is an important step in the District’s work of planning to avoid a variety of adverse impacts on water supplies. MFLs are set to prevent significant harm from water withdrawals.

The District’s program has been under way for more than 15 years, setting MFLs on more than 130 water systems throughout the District’s 18-county area. Dozens of technical reports and papers have been written to support the adopted MFLs. This work also has spawned considerable research on a diverse range of topics, including climactic cycles, and habitat requirements of selected aquatic species such as fish, macroinvertebrates and manatees.

Legacy program recognized at national level


Legacy Program Award

At the Sept. 15, 2006, ceremony are, from left, Take Pride Executive Director Michelle Cangelosi, Secretary of the Department of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Wilkinson Junior High School Legacy teacher Karen Smith (Clay County), USA Freedom Corps Director Desiree Sayle, and Jeff Cole, director of the District’s Office of Communications and Governmental Affairs.

A St. Johns River Water Management District program that uses Florida’s public lands as classrooms and helps safeguard them for Florida’s future — the Legacy Water Resource Education Program — received two national awards from Take Pride in America.

The Legacy program is a cooperative educational venture in which the District works with educators and their students to make public lands more accessible. Public lands serve as living laboratories where students take the lead in managing land for their community while learning about natural resources. Fifteen schools in 11 counties use Legacy on 23 different tracts of public land, with 100 teachers and more than 2,500 students participating.

Wilkinson Junior High School Legacy teacher Karen Smith and the Dunnellon Middle School Legacy’s Promoting Awesome Watershed Stewardship (PAWS) program received Take Pride in America National Awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in September, 2006.

Take Pride in America is a national partnership established by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Smith received one of just five individual awards nationwide, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to education and Florida’s natural resources.

In addition to being a District Watershed Action Volunteer, Smith has led the Legacy program at Wilkinson Junior High School for more than six years.

With the assistance of fellow teacher Gayle May and District staff, Smith and students have helped manage and develop the northern 900 acres of J.P. Hall Conservation Area along the St. Johns River near Green Cove Springs. They have designed, constructed and maintained miles of interpretive hiking trails, constructed and designed interpretive kiosks, and monitored the health of the river by performing annual inventories of its flora, fauna and water quality.

Dunnellon Middle School students were recognized as a youth group for their efforts at Rainbow Springs State Park in Marion County. Jointly sponsored by the St. Johns River and the Southwest Florida water management districts, PAWS has been working to protect the environment since it began as a single research class at Dunnellon Middle School five years ago, under the direction of teacher Sande Haynes.

PAWS has dozens of projects based in academic service learning, a method of teaching that blends community service with classroom curriculum goals.

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St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street, Palatka, FL 32177
(800) 725-5922