Construction dealing with water usually has Swiftmud involved

THE SCOPE OF SERVICES offered by Tucker Paving, Inc., has expanded quite a bit since the company was founded as mostly a paving operation almost 23 years ago, and we’re very pleased about that. We like doing and building a lot of different things here in Polk County and greater Central Florida.

On our website, most of our services are listed on the home page at www.tuckerpaving.com. Another page, www.tuckerpaving.com/services, includes some details about five categories of services — preconstruction, site construction, design-build assistance, asphalt sales, and recycled aggregate.

Back on the home page, in the bullet list of services, is this item, which deals with some of the work we do both above the ground and below the surface:

• Facility maintenance with asphalt patching, asphalt resurfacing, asphalt sealing, existing water/sewer/storm pipe maintenance, and maintenance pertaining to SWFWMD.

Raise a hand if you know what “SWFWMD” is all about. If you can raise your hand, you’ve likely lived around these parts for a while. If you can’t raise your hand, you’re likely a newcomer or perhaps someone who just doesn’t pay attention to the “alphabet soup” of the day.

SWFWMD is short for Southwest Florida Water Management District, the government body concerned with all things H20 (water) in this part of the Sunshine State. The body’s name is a mouthful, so people often will just call it “Swiftmud” — an unofficial nickname pronounced the way it’s written (swift-mud) — and write it the same way on second reference (usually in news stories).

The regulators at Swiftmud want to know how the region’s precious water supply (from Florida’s underground Aquifer) is being used, how much water is being used, and where and how rainwater (stormwater) is being discharged, among other H20 matters. It’s a rare thing for a major construction project to move forward without Swiftmud review and approval, so it’s almost needless to say that our team at Tucker Paving is in regular communication with the district staff and managers.

Swiftmud also is the agency that closely monitors drought conditions in west-central Florida and tells us when we can and can’t irrigate our lawns.

Here are some key facts about Swiftmud:

• Swiftmud is one of five regional agencies authorized by Florida state law to protect and preserve water resources.

• Swiftmud and the four other water management districts were established in 1961.

• The district’s responsibilities have expanded through the years to include managing water supply; developing alternative water supply resources protecting water quality and natural ecosystems, such as rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

• Swiftmud encompasses approximately 10,000 square miles in all or parts of 16 west-central Florida counties — Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Sumter.

• The district serves a population of more than 5 million people.

• The district has headquarters in Brooksville (Hernando County).

• Swiftmud is divided into eight basins, seven of which are administered by local basin boards. The eighth basin board, incorporating the critical Green Swamp, is administered directly by Swiftmud.

• A 13-member governing board oversees district activities. The board members are unpaid volunteers who are appointed by the governor, confirmed by the state Senate, and serve for four years each. Two of the current board members, Paul Senft, Jr., and James Murphy, are from Polk County.

• Swiftmud has an executive director, Brian Armstrong, who reports to the Board of Governors. The executive director is appointed by the board, with state Senate approval.

• The Swiftmud staff of professionals, includes engineers, geologists, biologists, attorneys, educators, financial experts, and administrators.

• District funding comes from voter-approved ad valorem property taxes, and federal and state sources, including the state’s Forever Florida program.

• The district’s final 2016-17 budget plan was set at $180.1 million.

• Swiftmud and its partners own many tracts of conservation land to help protect Florida’s water resources. In Polk County, the conservation land includes the Alafia River Reserve, the Circle B Bar Reserve, Colt Creek State Park, the Hampton Tract, the Lake Marion Creek Horseshoe Scrub Tract, the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve (also partly in Pasco, Sumter, and Lake counties), and the Upper Hillsborough Preserve (also partly in Pasco County).

For more about Swiftmud (phone 1-800-423-1476, and to get an update on the district’s current water restrictions, you can hop on over to the agency’s information-rich website at www.swfwmd.state.fl.us or, more easily remembered, www.watermatters.org.

Sources: Swiftmud, Wikipedia, Florida Department of State