At least one member of the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board won’t go away quietly.
Sam Accursio, a member of SFWMD’s Governing Board since 2015, said he has no plans to resign despite a request by Gov. Ron DeSantis for all members to tender their resignations effective immediately.
But Accursio said he will be happy to talk to the new Governor.
“If he has a good reason, and if he has a person to replace me that’s better than myself, I will discuss it,” Accursio said.
Accursio’s term ends in March anyway, so his own departure may mean little. The owner of Sam S. Accursio & Sons Farm, he was appointed to the board by Gov. Rick Scott to represent Miami-Dade County.
He said misinformation and misunderstanding impede the board now, and much of the criticism of governing board members remains misplaced.
Replacing the entire board would not solve the region’s water ills, he said: “I don’t see where that will help with the federal bureaucracy we are underneath.”
The real problems facing the water district more than discharge schedules, by Accursio’s telling, come from an inability to direct more natural water flow south except through a few state-controlled pinch points.
If federal partners and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allowed better access, Accursio said, that would do more than replacing board members at SFWMD.
“I’d like to see Fish and Game and Everglades National Park became partners and help us send it south. Without spending a dime we could triple the flow daily,” he said.
DeSantis for his part made his concerns about board direction known almost immediately after he was elected.
He and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast asked for the Governing Board to delay an extension of a land lease that could put off construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, infrastructure DeSantis believes will ease the need for discharges from Lake Okeechobee and in turn, reduce blue-green algae blooms in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.
The board, including Accursio, voted to extend the lease anyway. The lease was later nixed.
Accursio said DeSantis didn’t show up at an emergency meeting, where Mast simply relayed the then-governor-elect’s opinion.
Accursio said he respects the Governor and voted for him. He won’t speculate what’s motivating DeSantis’ call for the current board’s total departure.
“I’m very comfortable with the tone of the board,” he said. “I don’t distrust my fellow board members. Everyone has the state’s interest and the environment’s interest at heart.”