Call to action: Tell Gov. DeSantis we need this clean-water advocate back

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch speaks at the Bluefield Grove ribbon cutting in St. Lucie County in this August 2021 photo.

One of the most passionate clean-water advocates in South Florida just got kicked to the curb.

As we detailed last week, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch had been a member of the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board since 2019. The Sewall’s Point resident was reappointed to another term by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year.

But the Florida Senate declined to hold a confirmation hearing. Unless DeSantis intervened — and so far he hasn’t — that meant Thurlow-Lippisch was out. 

Her last day was June 19, and her at-large seat is now open, just as we stare down another huge algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee and the prospect of another “lost summer” along the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.

Yet there’s still a way to right this wrong. Because the Senate didn’t vote her down, and simply declined to hold a hearing, Gov. DeSantis can still appoint Thurlow-Lippisch to the slot. You can urge him to do so by calling (850) 717-9337 or emailing

Naming Thurlow-Lippisch and other members of the SFWMD Governing Board was one of DeSantis’s first acts upon entering office. That garnered cheers from conservation groups, and Thurlow-Lippisch was a key component of the new board’s new approach.

But in recent months DeSantis sat on his hands while legislative leaders schemed to sideline Thurlow-Lippisch. A spokesperson for sugared-up Senate President Kathleen Passidomo told a reporter last week that legislators were rankled when Thurlow-Lippisch, during debate over the heinous Senate Bill 2508, said legislators were acting as if they were “God,” handing down edicts from on high in Tallahassee.

And because Thurlow-Lippisch so disrespected our august Legislature, Passidomo’s spokesperson said, lawmakers were affronted — and opted not to hold a confirmation hearing.

We ain’t buying it.

This whole thing smacks of politics. When SB 2508 went down in flames, Big Sugar lost a chance to solidify its iron grip on Lake Okeechobee water management decisions. Powerful special interests aren’t used to losing in Florida — and they don’t like it.

Meanwhile, DeSantis got everything he wanted out of the Legislature this session; maybe it was time to help the legislators who helped him, if only by sitting this one out.

Or perhaps it’s simply not on his radar; he’s thinking about Donald Trump, not Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch (you can help change this with your call or email).

Whatever the specifics, a water warrior has been sidelined, even as Florida’s water problems are intensifying.

It’s like a football team removing a key player from the lineup at a crucial point in the game.

In sports, we’d call that stupid. When it comes to Florida’s water politics, we call it business as usual.

But again: Gov. DeSantis can still rectify this and appoint Thurlow-Lippisch to the board. You can urge him to do so by calling (850) 717-9337 or emailing

If Thurlow-Lippisch is not reappointed, the seat could sit vacant, or someone else could get the nod.

Few others could match Thurlow-Lippisch’s dedication, curiosity and, after four years on the board, her experience. We’re unlikely to find anyone better.

But given the stakes, and the intense interest the likes of Big Sugar have in the outcome — we could wind up with someone much worse.