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Ann Shortelle

Water For Fighting
Water For Fighting
Ann Shortelle

In the last episode of the season, Brett sits down with limnologist, business owner and two-time water management district executive director – Ann Shortelle.  They talk about building a family and career in Florida; being one of only three people to serve as executive director of two different water management districts; how she wants young women and girls to embrace math and science more; Notre Dame super fandom; and how she became a “Lake Doctor”. 

To learn more about the North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership, go here: https://northfloridawater.com

To learn more about the Central Florida Water Initiative, check here: https://cfwiwater.com and here: https://floridadep.gov/water-policy/water-policy/content/central-florida-water-initiative-cfwi

To find out more about DEP’s Office of Water Policy and Ecosystems Restoration, head here: https://floridadep.gov/water-policy

To see what they’re up to at the Suwannee River Water Management District these days, check out their website here: https://www.mysuwanneeriver.com

To wade through the Wikipedia page on the Rodman Dam and Reservoir, go here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodman_Reservoir

You can email Ann directly here: abshortelle@gmail.com

Our theme song is “Doing Work For Free”, by Bo Spring Band (Apple Music) (Spotify) (Pandora)


Water for Fighting, where we discuss the past, present, and future of water in Florida with the people who make it happen. I’m your host, Brett Seifers. I’ve decided to close out the season by talking to one of the smartest people I know, and easily my favorite limnologist, Dr. Anne Shortell. When I met Anne, she was just hired as the director of the Office of Water Policy at the Department of Environmental Protection, and she would go on to be one of only three people ever to serve as executive director of two different water management districts. She’s currently the co-owner 2030 Consulting out of Gainesville and even though we’re talking by phone, I couldn’t be more happy to have her on the show. So let’s get on with it. Anne, thanks so much for joining me today. Thanks for having me. I’m honored to be here and thanks for noting that I actually can’t keep a job. Oh boy. We’ll get to some of that. Trust me. Trust me. First of all, where are you at the moment? Dallas, Texas. And why are you in Dallas, Texas? Well, I have a daughter and son-in-law and twin granddaughters here and we are currently in the final days of Baby Watch for number three. Wow. Wow. That’s awesome. And we’ll get to a little bit more of that pretty soon, but I want to start with when you were born. And you were born in, let me see if I pronounced this correctly, Saul St. Marie? Is that right? Sue St. Marie. There you go. And that’s in Michigan. Yes. much about your beginnings because you’re an Air Force brat. So your family’s not actually from Michigan, right? Correct. They’re from upstate New York. Where in upstate New York? Because Ryan Matthews, who I spoke with last week, his family’s from Troy, New York. Uh, not too close to where my family is, has their roots, Janesden, New York is in the extreme western portion, close to Buffalo. really about 60 miles from Buffalo. Wow, cold times. And do you still have a lot of extended family up there? We have, you know, there’s cousins about and you know, once removed type family. It’s generally a fairly small family and most of my generation and the next generation have moved elsewhere. Okay, so do you consider yourself in any way a New Yorker or are you just, hey, I’m an Air Force brat And so I’m from everywhere. Air Force brat and no, I do not consider myself a New Yorker. Well, I mean, you’ve been in Florida for a long time. So I hate to try to bash you over the head with that, but sometimes it is what it is. So where did your parents end up after the Air Force days were over? Well, my dad’s last active duty station was Eglin Air Force Base out on the Panhandle. So he retired there. and my dad actually moved to Gainesville where we, Kevin and I were raising our family. Nice. So then tell me about young Anne. You end up as an accomplished academic, and I know for a fact that you’re a huge sports fan, especially Notre Dame football, but were you bookish as a kid? Did you enjoy the outdoors and sports more or was it both? Well, I always enjoyed the outdoors sports, but as a spectator, I’m not all that coordinated. And I enjoyed academics, but I don’t really consider myself bookish. Although, you know, I’ve read all the Nancy Drew mysteries from back in the day. So maybe I am. I think I started my scientific career when I was in grade school. Wow. Tell me about your, your favorite parts of exploring nature and the outdoors as a kid. Or was that, was that something that you like doing? So when we lived in Oklahoma, I could walk to school and you had to, you know, cross this little creek on the way to school. And in the, in the spring, I would pester my mom for mason jars and come home every day with tadpoles, probably decimated the population in the, in the creek. But for sure, I then spent hours, countless hours and days trying to rear these guys into little frogs, I admit to having lost some. But those, yeah, those were the beginnings. And by high school, we were moving around all the time. And by high school, nationally, we had the National Environmental Policy Act. And I kind of felt like I was an environmental sleuth. I mean, as a teenager, I probably arrested with my little brownie camera outside of, you know, outside the gates of some ne’er-do-well looking industries taking shots and speculating what was really going on there. Little did I know, right? Yeah, exactly. And so just to pull on that thread a little bit, was there a place that you were looking at that you were sleuthing out to end up being a ne’er-do-well? an exercise of that curiosity that stayed with you? For me, it’s mostly curiosity. There was one place in my high school days that looking back, I can see, well, I wasn’t far off on that one. But in general, most industries are trying to do the right thing. They’re trying to improve environmentally, whether it’s air, whether it’s water, all the different things. I mean, back in the day, folks were what was usual and customary and we didn’t understand all the consequences, you know, 50 years ago. So yeah, that seems fair. And we have tons of examples of that, you know, in Florida, where you had the, I think most specifically the federal government, you know, thinking you’re doing the right thing. And in the end, I’m thinking of straightening the Kissimmee River, you know, all the way down to Lake Okeechobee and what a mess that made. Absolutely. So where family when you graduated from high school? You mentioned high school? In Georgia, Robbins Air Force Base, one in Robbins, Georgia. Is that, gosh, was that Atlanta or Macon? It’s just south of Macon. Okay. And so you go on to study both biology and chemistry in college. And I was going to ask how you ended up at Mercer for that, but I think I know the answers because it was close by and it’s a really good school. Is that right? arrogance associated with it. It turns out, you know, back in the day we were we were schooled, you know, you can be anything, you know, study hard, the world is your oyster, you can do whatever you want. And I was just arrogant enough to assume that that meant I only needed to apply to the college that I wanted to go to. Go to the college of your choice. Well, I didn’t get in and by then it was It was so late. It was too late to you know kind of go away to school all all of these other choices that I’ve looked at And eliminated because of course I was going to the one school but Mercer had and it is a good school by the way But they had a reciprocal any of the counties adjoining they had you know kind of this admission policy I maybe they assumed you weren’t gonna live on campus I did but I mean Mercer because I had not gotten the college of my choice. You mentioned that three times now, not getting into the college of your choice. So you do not want to mention it? I was trying to avoid mentioning William & Mary, but now I’ve said it. Also a lovely school, but known for chemistry and biology or you want to study something else at William & Mary? years old, you’re not necessarily making these choices based on how the programs look. Grad school, yes. You know, undergraduate, not so much. I just fell in love with it when I visited there and eliminated all my other choices and that was not a good thing. Of course, I got my revenge, if you will, my admissions revenge when they, because I kept my application active. the first semester of my freshman year at Mercer and you know had a little party and burned the thing and As one does when they’re when they’re young. Yes, and so When did the plan to become as as our mutual friend John? Stevenson says when he refers to you as a lake doctor. So when did that materialize? Well, I had many wonderful teachers and professors along the way and in my sophomore year at Mercer, one of my professors who was a University of Michigan graduate said, you know, Ann, you ought to look at going to their field station. University of Michigan’s got this field station up at Douglas Lake. I think you’d like it. I think it broadened your horizons. Long story short, I applied, I went, took my first Limnology class, and I realized at that time I’ve found the career when in fact I couldn’t have articulated, I didn’t even know what a limnologist was. For people either who don’t know, I said lake doctor, but it’s slightly more complicated than that, I understand. What is a limnologist for folks out there that don’t know? Well, so classically, it’s the physical, chemical, and biological science of lakes and reservoirs, surface waters. including myself, are happy if our feet are wet. So we’ve branched out into rivers and streams and wetlands. You know, we pretty much stop at the estuary, you know, where as things start to get salty, we’re less in a comfort zone. Interestingly, it’s generally less about groundwater, or it was, radically over the last 50 years as we realized the interaction between the surface water and the groundwater. Yeah. And that’s especially true here in Florida, obviously, and especially true in two places where you headed up. We’ll talk about that pretty soon. But I want to stick for a second on your choices that you’re making here, which are endlessly fascinating now. So you have this professor you really like, and he says, you’ve got to go to Michigan and you say great, but what I’m actually gonna do is go to the school that is the arch enemy of the University of Michigan. I guess maybe second to Michigan State, which is Notre Dame, but there’s a lot of kismet, luck, fate involved in that as well, I assume? Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, and as you already mentioned, I’m a big college football fan, so that helped too. Although, you know, Michigan would been would have been a good choice as well. But I did end up doing my graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame. Yeah and so you’re at Notre Dame and that’s how I know you more than anything else is that you are all Irish and and so you went to Notre Dame and you meet a dashing young engineer there named Kevin has two degrees from Notre Dame. He went there as an undergraduate and became an electrical engineer, a systems engineer, moved away, worked for a while, came back to graduate school and that is indeed where we met. His family is from Connecticut. He had from back in the day, our girls just found his acceptance letter to you know Notre Dame. So he got into the college of his choice. Unlike me, but it was a match made in heaven. We dated and got married after I finished my degree at Notre Dame. So did you end up in Florida right after that? Tell me because I’ll give you where I’m at in terms of my knowledge of Anne Shortell and Kevin Shortell history. I meet you in 2011. I know you went to Notre Dame. two periods and that’s a that’s a fair number of years there. So what happened after you graduated and you both got married and moved on? So he had already finished and had moved to the Boston area and he was a little bit more of a homebody than me. Recall I’m an Air Force brat, I’ll go anywhere, right? Right. And he grew up in the same house in Connecticut, you know, for his entire childhood Boston, not far away. So I followed him there when we got married. That was a big career decision point, right? You know, do I do a postdoc, da da da da da? We made the decision, well, we’re going to start out in Boston. And we loved Boston. We were all over New England, having, you know, the time of our lives as newlyweds. And, you know, life just intervenes in those times. was skyrocketing, my mom got sick. I mean, you know, my dad and mom had retired to Florida. Our best friends up there at the time were Bill and Wendy Graham. Wendy Graham was, who’s the University of Florida’s head of the Water Institute there now. Back in the day, they had, they had come up and she was at MIT for her doctorate and Kevin and Bill you know, worked at the same small firm. And so we were all fast friends. And they were coming back to Florida and we were looking at the housing and saying, you know, we could do really well in Florida. And Kevin’s like, Florida? Are you, you know, what? But the rest is history, as they say. We moved to Gainesville and stayed there for the entire time we raised our family. And so, yeah, you mentioned raising a family. You have two daughters. What are their names? And So Janet was born in 89 and Jennifer was born in 91. And so you go straight to Gainesville. Are you living in the, or is the house that you have now, is that the same one that you’ve lived in the entire time or have you moved around a little bit since you were there? No, we found that house and that’s been our homestead all this time. Wow, that’s very cool. Yeah, exactly. I can relate, that’s for sure. I’m the son of two Navy brats. But I picked up from my mom the desire not to move all the time. So that’s kind of stuck. My dad used to love, boy, he loved moving. But you’re now both in the private sector, right? And so tell me a little bit about that. Tell me about the work that you did before you ended up in government service. You know, kind of for me, classic environmental consulting, developing clients, trying to help them be successful, mindful of choices that they need to make to develop their product or to deliver energy or whatever their particular challenges were in a cost-effective way, but also in an environmentally responsible way. France all over the country. And there were some fantastic folks that I met along the way, and really with very, very few exceptions, the folks that I was trying to do the right thing. So that was successful. I had fun for a long time. Nice. And then you decide to give all that fun up and come into government at DEP, no less. Yeah, exactly. I mean, when you got there, it was, you know, the trumpets and bugles, a calling, and everyone is very excited to get you in the building, myself included. How did that happen? Yeah, well, serendipity is a real thing, right? Governor Scott was elected. I was invited to be on his transition team. He was looking for a scientist. He got me. Now what are the odds? And my eyes were opened during that time period of, you know, the whole government, the workings of government and the policy aspects. Just, you know, those doors kind of cracked open for me and I saw what some of the possibilities were. And I’m also, you already know this, easily bored. to work in that administration. And, you know, DEP would be the obvious place to start. But as you know, I went there as green as a turnip or something. I don’t think green, I guess the leaves are green. In terms of policy, and you and John Stevenson, who was not the secretary yet, affairs director, schooled me up and taught me everything I know. I mean, basically, you know, just tried to keep me from running my mouth too much in inappropriate times. We’ll get, we’ll get to a little bit of that as well. But I w what I remember the most was your sticky note whiteboard. So you have a whiteboard that people normally use to write on, but you decided to put what had to been a couple hundred sticky notes, a dollars all over it because you’re trying to work through some issues that the state’s been struggling with for many years, the biggest of which is consumptive use permitting. So water quantity. You also were worried about water quality, but the big thing that you were sticking in was the consumptive use permitting process as well as the Central Florida Water Initiative. Do I have that right? Am I remembering correctly? You are remembering correctly. the useful sticky note model is you can, the thoughts that are all on these sticky notes can still just be moved around. It was in part was an organizational challenge. How do we crack this nut? And you’re right, it had been avoided for many years. I mean, it’s one thing for government to recognize an issue. to actually wrangle the cats together and try and make progress to solve an issue. So sticky notes were useful to me and yes, a lot of people thought it was old school and of course that was also true. I guess that’s the benefit of being, as you say, green is you bring something completely different to some of these questions and maybe that’s exactly what it took. because you had some pretty good successes there in terms of dealing with Consumptive Use Consistency as well as the Central Florida Water Initiative, the CFWI. Do you feel like that that’s what happened in the end? That’s what it seemed like to me, but I want to get your take on that. Yeah, I think there were a lot of aha moments, both for myself, for our staff, groups that we were dealing with because we were posing questions in a, you know, not that these were radically new questions, but I think folks just hadn’t been facing them for a while or maybe ever. And sometimes fresh eyes can point out things that help the various entities that are impacted by rules and regulations and environmental advocates. fresh eyes and a fresh way of looking at things can sometimes be helpful. The one that sticks out to me is helping people understand that we didn’t need to fight to the death over every consumptive use permit. Right. You know, that there’s lots of perfectly appropriate, smaller consumptive use permits. People are doing the right thing. They’re conserving the water that they can. volume of the water coming out of the ground is tied up in a few big permits. And by a few, I would pose it as 20% of the permits as opposed to looking at the other 80%. Not that you don’t look at those, but your staff could spend literally all of their time on small permits. Do a fabulous job. move the needle on water supply. Right. And it just took some spreadsheet manipulation and a few bar charts to start to show people that you know we need to focus is is is off. We’re trying to we’re trying to be perfect with every single permit that we touch and we need to focus on a big picture and we moved the needle when we started doing that. Yeah I agree and and to the extent that that happened, you end up, I guess I’ll accuse you of it, because I think you left first, of breaking up the band. So you go to the Suwannee River Water Management District. I go to end up going to the Northwest District. And it seemed like you took that exact same attitude, that approach to some of those challenges and you’re having significant ones. It’s a small water management district, Suwannee, with enormous challenges. is water quality. Now, obviously water quality is a big deal as well, especially with how many springs there are in the Suwannee River District. But my memory of those days was you were always looking for a way to build better mousetraps, to work better with stakeholders, to find solutions to putting more water back into the aquifer than was there before without the giant battles. Am I remembering that correctly as well? And, you know, there were some bloodied encounters over that general issue. But yes, we’re not going to continue to make progress, you know, over and over time if we’re not continually looking for ways to build better mousetraps, do things more efficiently, look for dual benefits. Not just water quantity. resilience piece now and you add that in and water quality ever present in the work that we’re doing on some of these projects. But it was important to take the battle from, it’s not my water, it’s not your water, it’s my water, and move it to how do we manage the resource that we have and help nature replenish each year as the rains come and that there’s enough for everybody because that’s what the water laws of Florida intend. But in practice, it had gotten, you know, kind of swords drawn and, you know, people in different interest groups, you know, battling back and forth in a nonproductive manner. And I know that the minimum flow and minimum level laws and program can lend themselves to those kinds of fights, especially when things are getting scarcer in terms of water resources, but I think you really did a good job of trying to work your way around that. And that’s what I took away from, not just there, but also your work at the St. Johns River Water Management District as well. And so I want to just kind of segue into that and try to kind of get a sense of your overall philosophy and we’re getting a taste of some of that. But you moved to the St. Johns River Water Management District, which is bigger, more You’ve got a lot of moving parts, but in the end, I guess, let me ask you this first. Why did you take the St. John’s River job? All of those things that you just articulated were part of that calculus. But in reality, our leaders in Tallahassee understood that there were still issues, not only between Suwannee and St. John’s, but in the St. John’s footprint. that needed additional attention. And I was happy to go there because I think it’s important in St. John’s, especially in the northern half of that district, to have Suwannee’s perspective coming in. But yes, I’m sure you’re aware, I got a call from Secretary Stevenson, asked it a couple of governing board chairs, et cetera, et cetera. issue. That the reason for you being there, the perspective you bring going from Swinburne to St. John’s, because I think there are two elephants in the room there, right? You have one which is South Georgia, not just consumption, but also waste water coming down. And the other elephant in the room is an enormous place called Jacksonville and the consumptive use by perfectly decent folks, but heavy use nonetheless in that JEA territory. Am I capturing that correctly? Yes, there are utilities there, JEA being the largest one, but every all the utilities were trying to do their job. And we needed a regional solution. A secretary of vineyard at the time got that started very early on, recognized that and got those two water management districts together with their swords in their sheaths mostly. have water management leaders like myself that could articulate both sides geographically, if you will, of those issues. And because otherwise, you know, it’s just human nature. You get pretty myopic. St. John’s was doing a great job on so many things. But the groundwater doesn’t stop at the borders. And those highly professional scientists at both districts understand how it works together and that having two separate models that don’t get the same answers at the border is just not going to climate. Right. Yeah. And is that part of, I wanted to ask in the next few questions about your management style, but let’s pause there then. You have perspectives coming from two different places. You have a big task at hand. You have, I’ll probably screw this up. It’s another initiative. What is the… That’s close. North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership. Okay. Now I know why I couldn’t remember it. That’s a lot of words. Okay. Did that predate your work over there? I’m trying to remember my timeline, but was that a function of Secretary Vineyard’s creation and your implementation? Yes. When I was at DEP, I mean, that came on early because JEA had, at the time, had a very, right before I got there had been successful in getting a giant large modification on their consumptive use permit. You know, the Swanny folks who were already very concerned about their water supply sort of lost it over that. And yes, wisely, Secretary Vineyard, who was from Jacksonville, was seeing the bigger picture there and got the chairs and the executive directors in and got that kicked off because, you know, it was just not a tenable position for the state to have water management districts at drawn swords at the borders. Right. He used to say, you got to have the right people on the bus. I think he felt like you were one of the most important pieces on the bus. And I think the reason maybe because it’s one of the things I like about you the most is that I’ve never had to wonder what you’re thinking when I’m in a room with you. me when you’re my boss at DEP and it also helped when we were both district EDs. So you get these these calls and meetings together and you know to know that you are going to be engaging honestly but also assertively in whatever the task was at hand especially when it had to overlap between between districts and I think that’s one of the things that that Herschel saw in you as well. Do you think that’s you think that’s right or am I just supposing? I think that’s probably fair. I mean, I never really had a very good filter. But if you’re trying to solve regional problems, the folks that are going to be partners in that effort, whether it’s governmental partners or various stakeholder groups, there has to be a level of honest communication share so that everyone understands, you know, the different points of view, and then you’re always driving towards that common ground. But the underpinning has to be based in how the water works, right? I mean, you can’t come up with a solution that doesn’t, isn’t viable because it doesn’t actually work. And Secretary Vineyard also had his saying of, we’ve got to get the water right. And he was absolutely right about that. And so would you describe those traits as part of your general management style as well? Because we’re talking about problem solving, but we’re also talking about you heading up one large office in DEP and big issues and then heading up two agencies altogether with enormous challenges. Is that a part of your management style, which is being honest and attacking problems with common sense solutions. How would you describe your management style? I mean, I think that’s kind of it in a nutshell. It doesn’t always work well. It can be a rocky road at times. Folks are not necessarily used to that level of, I don’t know, just sharing, I’ll say. But it’s important. I mean, the way I was always trying affect change was to get people in a room and we could say anything in that room, I mean respectfully, but say anything in that room, battle it out, it might take a while. But once the decisions are made, folks are theoretically on the same page and we know what our next plan into the future is to solve that problem. Sometimes that’s difficult, haven’t gotten solved because you’ve got to sort of step out on faith to get some things done and sometimes government employees, it’s safer if you will to do good work but not necessarily take that leap. If you’re not from that organization, it’s easier to take that leap. and then a private sector person by nature. And you give a decade of that, which is assertive, common sense, drive forward, try to fix problems. That’s what you’re there for, that’s what you’re trying to do. And so you give 10 years of that, but then you hang up your bureaucrat spurs, I’ll call them, and then head back to the private sector, back to those roots, so to speak. Tell me about that transition back to business owner work-life balance with the grandkids in the equation now? It was difficult, Brett, very difficult for me. I had been managing, as you pointed out, big things and scads of wonderful people. And that change was more challenging for me than I thought it would be, probably because I was just being Pollyanna and hadn’t really thought it all through. I don’t regret the decision to retire from public service and to kind of split my time with being new Nana and also back in the private sector. But it was a big adjustment for me personally. You know, hey, it’s all good. Decisions have new adventures and we got through all of those new adventures. I needed to keep my hand in scientific innovation jar. I wasn’t ready to let that go. that go and that it was, I was surprised by how much I missed some of the things that I would have told you before I retired, I wouldn’t have missed at all. What are the things that you do take on? What scratches that edge for you at the moment? Are you very selective in terms of the work that you take on? Pretty selective. And part of that is I don’t have, you know, I’m not a full-time consultant anymore. So, and it’s a gift at this stage of my career to be able to be selective. I told you when I was in the private sector before that the vast majority of my clients were trying to do the right thing, but not every one of them. And now I can tell the ones that I’m not that interested in working for because of whatever reason that I’m just too busy. And I’m probably being sincere. I am too busy. on projects, still focused on clients who are willing to innovate. It’s not every client that wants to be first at anything. You know, they might want to be third if something is panning out, but they don’t want to be first. Well, I’m concentrating on the folks that are willing to step out with me and others who are trying to connect lots of dots that will benefit Florida Water over along and along. So given that status and how you look at things now, I want you to look back on what you’ve done so far. Is there a professional accomplishment that you’re most proud of or something that’s maybe, some people have trouble picking out one thing and so is there something that would kind of fit in your top three? I thought about that a lot and I keep returning to something because most of the accomplishments your period were not mine. They were, you know, just a cast of thousands working together and, you know, pulling in the same direction. And I would not want to point to any of those and say that was my best accomplishment. But I do feel like I kept bringing up wherever I was, but particularly at the water management to encourage students, younger people, to envision themselves as a water scientist, as a water engineer, to, you know, it’s that STEM pulse. And even at Swani, we started there with small grants for teachers to get some of these things into their schools. We also, during the summer, would bring groups out to springs and different places, Springs, but to see how do we measure things about springs? How do we use maps? All the different technology. That wasn’t really happening there when I got there. We then also took that and it morphed into a slightly different form, but we had a program like that at St. John’s too. That’s not to say that there weren’t fabulous teaching opportunities beforehand, like as a woman scientist, I could speak to diversity and you know student encouragement in a way in a voice that that maybe they hadn’t heard before. So I am, I don’t know if proud is the right word, but I feel good about the progress that we made in that arena. What do you tell a young woman, a girl, or a young man about doing, whether it be public service or just the environmental sciences as a whole. What do you tell them? What kind of advice do you give them? Well, I think it’s important for any young person to really try and lay the table with a buffet, sample the buffet and see when do the light bulbs go on. And then you know where to sort of focus is a fabulous thing if you love what you’re doing. You’re not really working. But you have to find that. And I didn’t want, whether it was women, young women, girls, minority students that maybe hadn’t been exposed to some of these things before that others are, I didn’t want them to feel that there was anything out there that they couldn’t put on the buffet. And I didn’t want folks to be afraid of math or afraid of science. I mean, they some folks just assume they can’t do it. And in some cases, not only can they do it, but they’re brilliant at it. You know, so you you try to foster that inquisitive nature that we have and see where it leads and then follow it. Is there anything about your government service that you feel was left or even underdone? Almost everything. You know, we’re not finished. List them all. But I’ll throw one out there. This is, you know, the sort of the classic Pollyanna Anne who thinks, oh, we can do this. When I got to St. John’s, I made no secret of the fact that we had something that we could do that would really cross so many different groups groups in St. John’s and lots of people would feel good about it. And that was reestablishing the riverine connection of the largest tributary to the St. John’s River by taking out Rodman Dam, the dam itself. Holy smokes. Oh my goodness, you stepped in it, didn’t you? Now, you know, as I was preparing for retirement, I’m thinking, gosh, now we’ve got this dam assessment out there. dams have water control structures all of them have to be refurbished they have lifespans you know engineering 101 dam safety 101 right can’t you don’t wait for the catastrophe you’ve got to take action and it’s not that reservoirs are bad hey I like bass fishing in reservoirs but there are lots of can be offline, not midline. Lots of lessons over the past 50, 75 years how to do this and water control structures and dams are coming down all over the country for various reasons, not the least of which are things like fish that need to go up and down and manatees and others. But I’m not the most patient on the planet. You probably remember that from back in the day. I remember that, yes. And I was at St. John’s for six years and we didn’t get it over the finish line, but there’s a lot more genuine conversation now than there was and we’re still trying to help the stakeholders that have a different point of view to see the regional water-related ecosystem benefits that would accrue from such a change. But yeah, there were a lot of things undone. That certainly was one. That’s a good one. That one may last a bit longer as well. Are you optimistic about the future of the environment and natural systems in Florida? And why? Yes. Well, I’m an optimist. I have a professional career from its earliest days that nature can heal and people can help that process. We need more people to understand that it’s important. We’re not going to run out of water, but we’re running out of that plentiful, clean, fresh water to support all of our various activities. So things need to be innovative, and sometimes that might be a little more economically challenging, but Absolutely nature nature finds a way and I am an optimist I do try to help people to understand that it’s not There isn’t a switch that we can throw that are that’s going to solve these challenges. It’s it’s an incremental day in and day out Do better each day each year each decade To begin to see the improvements, but there’s you know, gosh over the globe where like-minded people have brought aquatic ecosystems back from the brink. So on the other side of that coin, what, if anything, keeps you up at night regarding Florida’s environment? All of those things that aren’t done. Because my mind is still going to be looking for the next innovation, the next policy change particular innovation to be more useful and who do I need to talk to next or you know who does the secretary need to talk to next to begin to move that issue down the road. I do sleep pretty well though. Well that’s good. Finally, how can folks get in touch with you if they want to take a shot at getting some of your time at a GEO 2030? Well my email address is I probably on LinkedIn, a, b, short, at gmail.com very simple or give me a call that number hasn’t changed in a long time. It’s been a while. Yeah so I love hearing from folks and I do get calls from many of the wonderful people that I’ve interacted with especially over the last decade just to kind of talk through issues and I love to do that too. Awesome. Ann Shortell, thank you so much for coming on the show and being the season closer for us. Thank you for having me. Well, that’s it for both this episode and our very first season. I can’t thank you enough for listening to Water for Fighting. If you’re enjoying the show, tell a friend and please be sure to subscribe on whatever platform you use. Oh, and don’t forget to leave a five star rating and review. You can follow the show on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram at FL WaterPod. And you can reach me directly at FL WaterPod. gmail.com with your comments and suggestions for who and or what you’d like to know more about. Production of this podcast is by Lonely Fox Studios. Thank you to Carl Sworn for making the best of what he had to work with and to David Barfield for the amazing graphics and technical assistance. A very special thank you goes out to Bo Spring from the Bo Spring Band for giving permission to use his music for the podcast. The song is called Doing Work for Free and you should check out the band live or wherever great music is sold. Please join me back here in about we’ll have more phenomenal guests including a few curveballs along the way. Until then, keep your whiskey close and your water closer.

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