Pope, Eppenstein vying for seat on water district board

 

(Note: Consider, please: Is "water quality" or "the environment" the issue, or is it control of the water?)

 

March 2, 2007

 

By Tara Danahy For The Herald news@highspringsherald.com or 386-454-1297

 

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Two men from the Crescent Communities are seeking an appointment from the governor to sit on the board of the Suwannee River Water Management District.

David Pope, of Alachua, has served two 4-year terms on the board and has served as chairman for the past six years.

Kirk Eppenstein, a High Springs city commissioner and former mayor, has applied for a seat on the board because, he said, of his "extreme interest" in protecting the area's water resources, and because he feels he will benefit the region with his small town point of view.

Both men have applied to the governor's office for the position that will be open when Pope's term ends on March 1.

Pope is employed by N.G. Wade Investment Co. as an agricultural manager and serves on the Florida Farm Bureau's Statewide Natural Resource Advisory Committee.

Kirk Eppenstein, in addition to serving as city commissioner, is on the Urban Planning Committee, which is part of the Florida League of Cities, and also serves on the Alachua County Tourist Development Council.

He also studies and attends classes as a student in the aviation sciences program at Santa Fe Community College, aspiring to be a commercial pilot.

Still, despite all of Eppenstein's current commitments, he feels confident that he is capable of taking on a new role.

"If you want something done," Eppenstein said, "give the task to a busy man."

Pope said that working in the agricultural industry prepared him well for his seat on the board of the water management district.

"I didn't know everything," Pope said, "but I knew something about all of it."

Eppenstein said he would bring his interest in the environment and his experience as a High Springs commissioner to the board if appointed.

"I've been working very hard in High Springs to try to protect the environment and water quality," Eppenstein said, giving nods to his fellow commissioners who do the same.

"Water quality is of paramount importance to us."

Eppenstein said that over the past few years, Floridians have learned just how porous the state's geology is and how special that system is.

"We have to protect the water we drink, or no one can live here," he said.

With current information regarding the water supply and with the new legislation that is being passed, along with additional funding that has been allotted to the district, Eppenstein said he would have an exciting time as a member of the board.

"We have a chance to break some new ground," Eppenstein said. "We can set policy that allows for growth, and yet protects our environment and manages our resources wisely."

Pope's eight years on the board have given him much to be proud of, he said.

One of the programs he is most proud of is the Minimum Flows and Levels Program.

The program, which aims to protect and ensure the availability of water for now and into the future, began because, as Pope said, "This board saw that competing uses of water was becoming more prevalent in the district."

Other highlights for Pope from his two terms include taking part in the development of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, which runs from one end of the river to the other, as well as the Quality Communities Program, which offers assistance to local communities in terms of wastewater, storm water management and other such projects.

Pope said that though he would like to continue to sit on the board, he trusts that the new governor will make a good choice.

"I will be at peace whatever his decision," Pope said.

 

Copyright 2007, High Springs Herald.

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