South Florida Water Management District

South Florida Water Management District

Seminole Tribe of Florida/South Florida Water Management District Joint Meeting to discuss the Water Rights Compact Cherise Maples, Director - Enviro...

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Seminole Tribe of Florida/South Florida Water Management District Joint Meeting to discuss the Water Rights Compact

Cherise Maples, Director - Environmental Resource Management Department, Seminole Tribe of Florida Michelle Diffenderfer – Lewis, Longman & Walker


Seminole Tribal Council


The Seminole Tribe’s Reservations


The Seminole Tribe of Florida The Seminole Tribe of Florida is federally recognized by Section 16 of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (25 U.S.C. §476). The Tribe and its reservation lands are also recognized by the State of Florida pursuant to Chapter 285, Florida Statutes. • Seminole Tribe has 5 Reservations that are home to approximately 3,600 tribal members • Total Reservations consist of over 90,000 acres of land: • • • • • •

Big Cypress Reservation (52,000 acres) Brighton Reservation (35,000 acres) Immokalee Reservation Hollywood Reservation Fort Pierce Reservation Tampa Reservation


Legal framework prior to Compact • The Seminole Tribe and the State had frequent and intense disagreements over the extent and nature of the Tribe’s water rights, neighboring water uses, management of surface waters and environmental impacts on and adjacent to Tribal lands. • State adopted the Water Resources Act of 1972 taking no account of the Seminole Tribe’s federal water rights • Tribe sued the state for water rights in 1978 among other issues, prolonged litigation ensued • Tribe and State settle the litigation which provides for lands to the State, lands and easement rights to the Tribe, funds to the Tribe and a water rights compact 5

The Water Rights Compact Three separate jurisdictions involved: • Inherent Tribal jurisdiction over water and environment on the reservations; • State jurisdiction over surface and ground water and environment within the state; • Federal jurisdiction over federal waters and environment. 6

Signing of The Water Rights Compact

May 15, 1987


The Water Rights Compact • Tribal Goals Achieved: • • • •

Preserved and acknowledged the Tribe’s sovereignty Secured recognition of federal water rights Allowed for development of reservation lands Provided protection from adjacent adverse impacts

• SFWMD/State Goals Achieved:

• Formalized the process for SFWMD’s input into the Tribe’s management of water in a process that respects the Tribe’s sovereignty • Mechanism obtained to have input into the management and development of Tribal lands in a manner consistent with Florida water and environmental laws 8

The Water Rights Compact United States Constitution

Federal Laws Water Rights Compact (both federal & state law)


Florida's State Constitution

Tribal Laws


State Laws

Tribal Water Code

Work Plans


Tribe's Constitution

Criteria Manual

Tribal Issued Permits

Applicant's Handbook

SFWMD Issued Permits


The Water Rights Compact • Ratified by Congress and the Florida Legislature and given the force and effect of both federal and state law • Comprehensive and effective system of regulations to protect the Tribe’s water rights and development potential • Provides for the protection of surface water and ground water within and outside of the Tribe’s Reservations and trust lands and addresses adverse environmental impacts and water shortage • The Tribe agreed to provide an annual Work Plan for activities and water use on its Reservations that is subject to review and comment by the District and the State 10

The Water Rights Compact • Water rights entitlements established for the Big Cypress and Brighton Reservations to ensure that the Tribe would receive its proportionate share of the available Basins’ surface water while allowing the SFWMD to accommodate the pre-existing permitted water uses in these basins • Water shortage provides for reduction in Tribal water uses on Reservations due to water shortages in same manner and percent as equivalent use, source and manner of withdrawal under the SFWMD water shortage plan (allows for variance). But no reduction more than the least restricted user of same source, use and method. • Water (Environmental) Resource Management Department created and responsible under the Compact for administration and compliance • Seminole Water Commission created in 1989 by the Tribe to oversee allocation of water and environmental resources – comprised of tribal members representing Hollywood, Brighton, Big Cypress and Immokalee Reservations 11

The Water Rights Entitlements Big Cypress Surface Water Entitlement

• Compact provided entitlement for withdrawal from any surface water resources on BC equal to the percentage of water available within the South Hendry County/L-28 Gap water use basin proportionate to the BC acreage in the basin • This amount was later quantified by SFWMD and agreed to by the Tribe in 1998 Agreement as 47,000 acre-feet per year, delivered in 12 equal monthly amounts (3,917 acre-feet/month) • This entitlement is delivered from the basins and Lake Okeechobee • Perfected through annual Work Plan process 12

The Water Rights Entitlements Brighton Surface Water Entitlement

• Compact entitles the Tribe to 15% of surface waters from the Indian Prairie Basin from specified canals • Tribe entitled to fractional share of surface waters from Lake Okeechobee proportionate to the Reservation lands within the Lakeshore Perimeter Basin • SFWMD maintains optimum levels in the C-40 and C-41 canals for Tribe • Reserved Lake Okeechobee water to be set aside for Tribe to satisfy SFWMD’s Brighton entitlement obligations from the Indian Prairie Basin which shall not be available for other users of water • Perfected through annual Work Plan process 13

Milestones of Success • History of compromises on both sides has avoided the Dispute Resolution mechanisms in the Compact for over 28 years • 29 Annual Work Plans and numerous amendments • Criteria Manual revised to include wetland mitigation concept • Development of Right-of-Way Agreement • SFWMD access to key areas for Everglades restoration (STAs) • Adoption of Water Quality standards • Allows for SFWMD projects on Tribal land • Water supply: Big Cypress entitlement quantified with operational plan and pump station to deliver the water 14

Issues on the Horizon • Brighton Reservation Entitlement • Water allocation for restoration of wetland systems • Lake Okeechobee - LORS, Forward Pumps, LOWP, BMAP projects • Northern Everglades restoration • Western Everglades restoration • Restoration of Water Conservation Area 3A • Preservation and Protection of Cultural Resources • Updates to the Criteria Manual – notice and comment procedures 15

Thank You

We wish to acknowledge the contributions and courtesy of the Seminole Tribe of Florida Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum for the historical background information and photographs contained in this presentation