Steverson out as lawmakers question 'runaway' legal expenses in water wars
Florida's top environmental regulator abruptly resigned Friday, two days after House budget officials expressed disapproval of his management of a legal contract that had ballooned by more than $54.4 million in the last two years over a water fight with Georgia.
Jon Steverson, who has led the Department of Environmental Protection under Gov. Rick Scott for the last two years, will step down effective Feb. 3 and go to work for Foley Lardner, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday. Download 1.20.17 Scott re Steverson Resignation (1)
Foley Lardner is one of the four outside law firms hired by the state to handle its 16-year lawsuit against Georgia over water rights to the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint River Basin. Florida sued Georgia in 2013 claiming the state’s excessive use of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers was endangering Florida’s oyster industry and harming the economy of North Florida.
Since 2001, the state has been billed $97.8 million on the water wars, according to an analysis by the House Appropriations Committee, and has spent $71.9 million to date.
Nearly $40 million of it was spent in the last two years after Florida asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and the court appointed a special master to resolve the dispute. Story here.