Water pollution blankets the state. Blue-green algae toxins and the stench of red tide threaten human and animal health and drive tourists (and their dollars) away. Florida's springs, lakes and rivers continue to deteriorate, and our iconic springs — a window into the heart of the aquifer that sustains us — are polluted and suffer significant reductions to their historic flows to the benefit of corporate bottom lines.
Most of Florida's peninsula lies within what are known as Water Resource Caution Areas as a result of overpumping and overdraining. That means the aquifer and many surface water bodies have reached their sustainable limits as sources of water to support additional residential, commercial and industrial development and intensive agricultural uses.
It is more important than ever to support the enactment and enforcement of strong water policies in Florida.
Elections matter. The governor appoints members of the governing boards of the five water management districts. The governing boards make decisions on water-use permits, minimum flows and levels for water bodies and aquifers, water conservation projects and more. Legislators consider laws affecting the protection of water resources.
Public involvement matters. It is important to monitor water management district agendas and to speak when important water policy and permitting issues come before water management district governing boards and the Florida Legislature.
Conservation matters. There are a number of proposals to develop so-called alternative water sources in an effort to continue business and usual when it comes to development policy in Florida. Nevertheless, using less water and using water more efficiently remains the cheapest approach. However, conservation programs have lagged in many areas and we should advocate for better conservation measures. One important target should be lawn irrigation, which is poorly regulated and monitored and accounts for the bulk of unnecessary residential water use.
Equity matters. The so-called alternative water supply projects that include exploiting deeper portions of the aquifer and treating its poorer quality water, treating sewage to drinking water standards and treating and storing stormwater runoff or sewage underground to restore aquifer levels or to retrieve later for consumption come with big price tags. We should monitor whether the costs of these projects are allocated fairly so that the financial burden does not fall disproportionately on residents — especially those in front-line communities — who did not create the problem.
Floridians' Clean Water Declaration Campaign
Learn more about the Floridians' Clean Water Declaration Campaign and how you can get involved in this collaborative effort driven by dozens of civic and environmental organizations from around the state.