The district’s Dr. Jennifer Mitchell leads a virtual training for community association managers.
Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) are everywhere in Florida. Often numbering in the hundreds of homes per association, HOAs, or community associations, can significantly impact the state’s water resources through their water conservation and stormwater management practices.
The St. Johns River Water Management District’s Dr. Jennifer Mitchell is using the power of webinars to connect with community association managers (CAMs) to help them improve how they manage their communities. The bonus: Mitchell’s webinars are accredited and offer continuing education units, which helps CAMs maintain their required state certifications.
“HOAs are an important audience and not always easy to reach through general messaging,” Mitchell says. “We certified the district with the sole purpose of being able to offer an accredited course offering them ways to improve water conservation and reduce stormwater runoff in their communities.”
Typically, HOAs or community association managers are responsible for maintaining common areas, including stormwater ponds and conservation easements. One of Mitchell’s goals is to help them understand the connection between lawn fertilizer, stormwater runoff and Florida’s aquifers, the source of most of the state’s drinking water.
“I’ve found that many don’t understand how stormwater ponds aid in flood protection or how excess nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers can cause algal blooms in the ponds,” Mitchell says. “Targeting community association managers responsible for maintaining these common areas can result in water quality improvements as they modify their landscaping and maintenance practices.”
Samie Mannina is a licensed community association manager and the property manager for Julington Creek Plantation in northwest St. Johns County. One of the largest community development districts in Florida, it boasts more than 5,800 homes and encompasses more than 4,000 acres. Mannina and her staff of eight participated in one of Mitchell’s webinars and found it to be enlightening.
“My team advised that they were interested in finding out that the Floridan aquifer is unique from other states and that they had no idea about the importance of stormwater management and runoff in preventing flooding during hurricanes and excess rains,” Mannina says. “They liked the presentation, as it was not too technical and yet very thorough for easy understanding.”
Zsuzsanna Noviello is the general manager of Atlantic Terrace Resort, a timeshare community in Daytona Beach Shores.
Noviello decided to attend the webinar because the resort plans to update its landscaping after its pool deck gazebo rebuilding project is complete, sometime in fall 2020. She was amazed by the amount of information she learned about landscaping choices, water impacts and the district’s irrigation rules.
“In the past, we contracted professional landscapers to maintain the property. Currently, we take care of our landscaping in-house with the help of our maintenance staff. As a result, we became a lot more involved in the process, and we are trying to make educated choices,” Noviello says. “I was surprised to learn about all the effects that irrigation can have on our water supplies and on our aquifer. The webinar was a real eye-opener.”
Learn more about the district’s upcoming webinars at www.sjrwmd.com/education.