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Environmentalists Question Top Pick To Head St. Johns Water District

The St. Johns River. Photo courtesy the University of North Florida.
The St. Johns River. Photo courtesy the University of North Florida.

Environmentalists are expressing concern about the St. Johns River Water Management District's top candidate for executive director.

They say her prior experience at the state Department of Environmental Protection points to growing state influence in regional water issues.

The water district's board is expected to vote this week to appoint Ann Shortelle as executive director. Shortelle heads the Suwannee River Water Management District. Shortelle previously was director of water policy at the DEP.

St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman worries Shortelle is too close to the DEP.

"The water districts were originally set up to take the politics out of important water supply and water quality decisions. And so if you get more centralized control you have more political influence on these decisions that should be based on science."

Her appointment would come after a shake-up of the St. Johns River Water Management District's leadership. Four senior managers resigned as its executive director also stepped down.

The St. Johns River Water Management District regulates water use and protects waterways and wetlands in central and north Florida.


Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.
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