National Audubon Society Ordway-Whittell Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary o R1"'rwQ6~ C,---r~lf rnso f-q_ ~. 203rd Ave. ,: ii/ L,r ~ J, f L ,-, "9k@eehel:,@@, liL ~497J 1 J, b \~ l (941) 467-8497 March 11, 1998 Dear Attorney Koblegard: As you are aware, we have been trying to resolve some drainage problems in Okeechobee County around our properties. One problem has been that about 11.5 square miles of the headwaters of Fish Slough are impounded on the Audubon Sanctuary and David Durando's property. Much of the impounded water subsequently backs across the Audubon Sanctuary into Sevenmile _ Slough, creating water problems for people in Sevenmile Slough. Landowners in Sevenmile Slough and Fish Slough hired an engineer to design an equitable water management plan for all, and the engine~r has come back with his recommendations. Some landowners in Fish Slough have complained that they do not want to get Fish Slough water. Meanwhile, the water continues to flow toward Sevenmile â€¢ Slough. Tomorrow, several ofus will address the governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District to try to resolve some of these issues. What often gets lost in the arguments about who in Fish Slough will take what, is that as long as they argue, people in Sevenmile Slough are being damaged with water that is not theirs-and David Durando' s property and Audubon are used as reservoirs. If you could send a FAX to Sam Poole, Executive Director of the SFWMD before 8:30AM and tell him something to the effect, "please do something to keep the Fish Slough water in Fish Slough," it might help the District move forward. It seems in the efforts to protect the interests of people downstream in Fish Slough, we end up penalizing Sevenmile Slough landowners. Thanks, if you have any questions, please call me at 941-467-8497 W, or 941-655-1459 H.
South ~lorida Water Management Pistrict Okeechobee Service Centerâ€¢ 205 E. North Park Streetâ€¢ P.O. Box 2033 â€¢ Okeechobee, FL 34973-2033 (941) 462 5260 â€¢ Suncom 761-5260 â€¢ 1 (800) 250-4200 â€¢ Fax (941) 462-5269 GOV 14-02-02 RF: 98322 March 25, 1998 R. N. Koblegard, III, Esq. Fee, Koblegard & DeRoss 401-A South Indian River Drive Fort Pierce, FL 34950 Dear Mr. Koblegard: Thank you for your March 12, 1998 letter expressing your concerns. The South Florida Water Management District (District) appreciates your interest in the water resource problems impacting the drainage basins of northwestern Okeechobee County. The District shares your concerns. Over the past 50 years private landowners in the area have attempted to solve surface water runoff problems through dikes and ditches. One of the major activities was the construction by the military of an earthen dike (now known as the Military Grade) for access to target practice areas in 1938. In 1984 the National Audubon Society entered into an agreement with the IO I Ranch which addressed the control of flows through the Military Grade. As a result of this agreement, the Sanctuary and lands to the north have very little drainage to the south into Fish Slough. Additional mechanical works to the north and west in the headwaters of Seven Mile Slough have compounded the drainage problems for these lands north of the Military Grade, including the Sanctuary. The District has been working with landowners, in both the Seven Mile Slough and Fish Slough basins as a partner in a mediation process that formally began in July 1996. I understand that you have spoken with Gary Ritter on numerous occasions about this issue, and my records indicate that you were invited to participate in this process when it began. The purpose of this effort is to restore the hydrology in Fish Slough and Seven Mile Slough to provide storage and conveyance of surface water for the lands to the north of the Military Grade. To date the following has been accomplished: â€¢ Landowner representatives have met on several occasions at the District's . Okeechobee Service Center to discuss the problems, solutions, and associated funding needs. Gov e rning Board : Frank Williamson, Jr., Chairman Eugene K . Pettis, Vice Chairman Mitchell W. Berger Vera M . Carter William E. Graham William Hammond Richard A. Machek Michael D . Minton Miriam Singer ~ Samuel E . Poole lII, Executive Director Michael Sl~yton, Dep u~ Executive Director John J . Morgan, Jr., Okeechobee Service Center Director District Headquartersâ€¢ 3301 Gun Club Road , P.O. Box 24680, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4680 â€¢ (407) 686-8800 . FL WATS 1 -8 00-432-2045
R. N. Koblegard, m, Esq. March 25, 1998 Page 2 An experienced water management-consulting firm has been retained by the landowners and the District to develop a regional, watershed based solution. After numerous site visits and consultation with the affected landowners, a water management plan has been developed by the consultant. This plan identifies key activities that will need to occur on both public and private lands, including increase on-site storage of surface waters. The District has issued an environmental resource permit to the Di-vision of Parks and Recreation, Florida Department of Environmental Protection which authorizes work to re-establish historic surface water flows from the Sanctuary and surrounding lands (north of Military Grade) to the west through Seven Mile Slough. Due to the unseasonably wet conditions in this area, the District has embarked on an effort to identify and implement short-term actions to relieve the high water conditions in the Sanctuary and surrounding lands. We continue to meet with all the parties to discuss these short-term initiatives and seek landowner commitments. Our hope is to foster a consensus based approach among the affected landowners. However, if this approach fails, the District is prepared to initiate legal action to obtain the necessary injunctive relief. We firmly believe that all the landowners can benefit from a permittable, regional water management solution. If you need further assistance, please contact me or Gary Ritter at (941) 462-5260 or (800) 250-4200. J.Morgan Director, Okeechobee Service Center South Florida Water Management District