President's Message

Walt Reigner, PE, CPESC
Black & Veatch
3405 W. Dr. M.L. King, Jr. Blvd., Suite 125
Tampa, FL 33607
  • 28 Mar 2018 10:05 PM | Jeremy McBryan (Administrator)

    AWRA Florida’s mission is to promote the understanding of water resources issues by providing a multidisciplinary forum for information exchange.

    In my view, the key word is “multidisciplinary”. The diversity of topics that AWRA Florida promotes and the breadth of knowledge of individuals that present at and attend our technical meetings is what appealed to me 15 years ago and continues to interest me today.

    In my experience, solutions to complex water resources challenges (or really any problem) are successful when conceptualized and developed by a diverse team of experienced and engaged stakeholders that bring a variety of skill sets and can make connections across disciplines.

    Many of the world’s most innovative and imaginative people -- Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Leonardo DaVinci, Steve Jobs -- pursued (and in many cases mastered) multiple disciplines – that is they studied biology, learned economics, played musical instruments, painted, observed the weather, wrote humorous prose and were inspired by mathematics.

    Leonardo Da Vinci’s art was informed by science – to create realistic detail in his paintings – and his inventions seemed to be based on an infatuation with engineering concepts.

    Steve Jobs was famous for going for walks – to connect with nature around him and other people – and those walks inspired his creativity. And his view was that successful technology must look beautiful.

    Ok, so you will probably not become the next Steve Jobs by being involved with AWRA Florida – but I can promise that the environment that AWRA Florida provides is fertile with concepts and ideas that are worth learning about and people worth interacting with.

    I'm looking forward to a great meeting on March 30 in Palatka at the St. Johns River Water Management District. Then we are headed to Brooksville on May 11 and will meet at the Southwest Florida Water Management District headquarters.

    “If you can stand at that intersection between the arts and sciences or between beauty and engineering. That’s where you’ll be the most creative.” – Walter Isaacson

    Jeremy McBryan

  • 04 Nov 2017 6:50 PM | Mark Diblin

    I am ready to head to Deland, Florida in the heart of our beautiful state for our November 17 meeting at Stetson University. The Stetson University Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience is one of our sponsors and we will hold the meeting at the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center. I hope to see you there!

    Oddly enough this is my last President's Message as it has been almost a year as your 2017 President. It is tough to figure out if the time flew by because of the great people and members that I work with that make this role both enjoyable and rewarding, or because I am older now and time just seems to fly by quickly. Either way we have had a great year with membership being up, all of our meetings averaging over 70 registrants per meeting, and all meetings being profitable which allows us to fulfill our mission of student support via scholarships, grants and travel expenses to meetings.  While I would like to take credit for all that, no leader is successful without having a great team around them. Therefore, thanks very much to the executive committee who really run the section and to our board of directors also. And of course no organization is successful without its membership and sponsors to support it and attend meetings.

    As we do each year, we have traveled the state to bring water resources education to our membership from Ft. Myers to Gainesville, Tampa to Key Largo, West Palm Beach to Deland. And in 2018 we plan to hold our spring meeting in Palatka at the SJRWMD and may be returning to Key West for our annual meeting. The organization is in great hands and we are working to continue to create value and stay current with meeting topics while meeting our mission. Please tell your friends about us and please join us again as a member and a registrant for our statewide 2018 meetings.

    For those who missed our West Palm Beach meeting, it was in the heart of downtown and was well attended with great speakers talking about the hot topics of the local area from septic to sewer, water quality improvements and stormwater master planning in the Loxahatchee River basin, and water issues relevant to South Florida. 

    I hope to see everyone in Deland at Stetson University on Friday November 17.  Until then stay safe and enjoy the quotes. 

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist

    If we grew our own food, we wouldn't waste a third of it as we do today. If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn't throw them out the moment we changed the interior decor. If we had to clean our own drinking water, we probably wouldn't contaminate it. - Mark Boyle, Irish activist & a.k.a. “The Moneyless Man”


    Mark C. Diblin, P.G.

  • 14 Sep 2017 5:30 PM | Mark Diblin

    As I write my September message our state is recovering from a visit by Hurricane Irma and many are still without power, some without a home. I hope and pray that all our AWRA friends and family are doing well and the storm has not gotten the best of you! Hang in there as we are a strong and resilient state & we will recover and be stronger as a result of this.

    The place of our last meeting – Key Largo – was in the path of Irma. Let’s hope all are well and that power is restored quickly in the Keys and they recover from the damage quickly. The annual meeting was a big success so “thank you” to all the sponsors, speakers and attendees who made the meeting a huge success. And a special thanks to our water management district Executive Directors for making the trip and updating us on the hot topics in each district. We do appreciate your attendance and hope to see you again next year.

    Proceeds from our annual meeting allow us to continue our support to students and water resources education throughout Florida. Again we held our silent fundraiser for our scholarship programs and raffled off a Yeti cooler and “cheer” that again was a big success. Unfortunately for all in attendance, Ray Scott won 2nd prize (Yeti tumbler) and 1st prize taking the cooler and cheer. Party at Ray’s house!

    Our next meeting is Friday, September 29 in West Palm Beach at the City Hall. Sam Palermo and his team have done a fantastic job lining up sponsors as well as developing a great technical program focused on water quality issues. It is sure to be a very informative program. We will close out the year on November 17 in DeLand at the Stetson University Institute for Water and Environmental Policy. Ray Scott and his team continue to develop this technical program.

    In the coming months we will hold elections for three new board members for 2018. I want to thank Gary Howalt for his years of service as part of the executive committee. Gary is a past president and treasurer and I am sure he wishes he had the new financial transaction and reporting capabilities we have today back when he was the treasurer. We also say goodbye to Garrett Wallace as he focuses more on his new job with the Nature Conservancy. Thank you Garrett for always making the annual meeting run so smoothly. Lastly we say thanks to Rick Creech who has been a part of numerous committees and has been a big supporter of AWRA Florida for many years. I want to thank them all for their service and wish them well in the future. Each of you have an open invitation to come to all our meetings and return whenever you want. I hope you will all stay involved in some way. We have had tremendous interest from many people wishing to serve on our board so this is great news. The bad news is we have 7 people interested in 3 open positions. Therefore we are in an enviable position but obviously cannot add everyone. I see this as a sure sign of the great work our board is doing and the success of our meetings in bringing state and local government officials together with industry and academia to discuss the pertinent water resource issues affecting our state. Additionally our membership sees the value in the organization and is stepping forward to support. Please watch for an email in the coming months for you to go online and vote.

    I hope to see you all in sunny West Palm Beach at months end! I will close with some words of wisdom as I always do.

    “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.” - Unknown

    “Let us drink for replenishment of our strength, not for our sorrow.” Cicero

  • 25 Jul 2017 10:00 PM | Jeremy McBryan (Administrator)

    As we head towards our annual meeting in Key Largo August 10-11, I wanted to briefly look back at our May meeting in Tampa. Thanks to Randy Smith, Allison Lewis and the entire meeting team for an excellent meeting and celebration and remembrance of Buddy Blain’s life and accomplishments. The technical meeting was focused on the Tampa Bay estuary recovery with numerous presentations providing examples of successful restoration projects. In attendance were many of Buddy’s family and friends that helped us remember Buddy with inspiring words and funny stories of times spent with Buddy. Thanks again to all who helped put the meeting together and make it special in so many ways.

    We now move to our annual meeting in Key Largo where we will again host the executive directors from around Florida in a panel discussion addressing each district’s priorities and hot button issues. We will again hold our banquet feast and have the always enjoyable “Eco Tour” (snorkeling trip) on Friday afternoon. We hope you will all join us in the keys for this meeting.

    We again will hold our student scholarship fund raising event by raffling off our “cooler of cheer” in its very own Yeti cooler. This event was well received and was one of the highlights of our banquet. If you are interested in sponsoring the cooler or the event check our web page or get in contact with one of our 2017 officers.

    During May and June we received and reviewed the applications for our various scholarships and reached conclusion on our various awards. Once again we had a great group of applicants and deliberations and discussions were as difficult as always. The winners will be announced soon. Again AWRA Florida is on track to give to needy students via scholarships, poster contest prizes, travel reimbursement for meetings and student chapter support awards totaling $20,000. Thanks to all our sponsors and members who make the development and nurturing of our future water resources professionals possible.

    With each passing meeting we are also seeing our membership rise and we are on track to surpass our membership total from 2016 of 382 members. This would give us 5 straight years of increasing membership! I would say part of the appeal of AWRA Florida is the high quality technical meetings and diversity of attendees across the water resources community that draw many of our members to us. I encourage you all to ask a friend or peer to join AWRA Florida or attend a meeting with you. The value for the dollar cannot be beat with any other organization. I hope to see you all in Key Largo wearing your best tropical attire!

    “May neighbors respect you, Trouble neglect you, The angels protect you, And heaven accept you”. Irish Drinking Toast.

    “Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret nor observes a promise”. Miguel De Cervantes.

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