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Florida’s plentiful freshwater resources are indispensable to the state’s municipal, agricultural, and environmental interests. As such, decision-makers presiding over complex water management decisions wield extraordinary powers. The Water Resources Act of Florida vests these powers in five water management districts drawn according to hydrological (not political) boundaries. The water management districts have robust technical, financial, and regulatory powers, and hold the key to Florida’s sustainable development. But with the stakes so high, Florida’s water management districts are at the center of a broader fight for control of water resources. In particular, transboundary water conflicts, political pressure, and ecological needs show that while the water management districts are institutionally mature, external forces can exert significant influence on basin-level water management.