Although precipitation rates in Florida vary from year to year, most years Florida receives nearly half of its rainfall during the months of June, July and August. This is important because although Florida receives more rain than most states, much of the rainfall is lost as storm water runoff. Florida has many months where there is little rainfall, so being able to capture rain water and use it during the drier months will help Florida prepare for the expected increase of 28 percent more water by 2030.
Data Source: Florida State University Climate Center
According to Michael Minton, Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) member, and Chair of Dean Mead’s Agribusiness Industry Team, Florida’s water management system was designed to drain rainfall from inland areas to the coast as rapidly as possible to keep land usable for commercial and residential development, agriculture, and other land use needs. To continue to grow, Florida must move from a water drainage system to a water storage system.
The challenge for Florida will be how to prepare for population increases, ever-more visitors with four years of record visitation to Florida and further increases expected, as well as more business expansions and relocations to Florida.
“I believe water is the biggest long-term issue facing Florida. If we don’t have a sustainable, high-quality, affordable source of water to support environmental and economic development initiatives, then Florida as we know it ceases to exist,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Florida is the national leader in reusing water, most of which is used for residential and golf course irrigation. As of 2013, there are 482 facilities providing recycled water in our state.
Studies indicate that Florida will need $32.4 billion in new drinking and wastewater infrastructure spending by 2020, as well as $750 million over the next 10 years for capital improvements and maintenance for flood control.
Florida also has the opportunity to expand its leading positions in fruit and vegetable production, if water resources in our state are developed properly for the future. With recurring droughts in other states, Florida could produce even more healthy food for our families as well as those in other states and other countries. Florida is already the number one state in value of production of oranges and grapefruit as well as fresh market snap beans, cucumbers, sweet corn, tomatoes, and watermelons.
According to Commissioner Putnam, “When our communities work together with our water districts, Florida can be prepared not only to produce more fresh Florida food, but we can also be prepared for increases in the population and more business activity and tourism.”
The Florida Chamber’s Capitol Days will be held March 4-6 in Tallahassee, and will feature leaders from the Legislature and experts from around the state on many topics, including Securing Florida’s Water Future. Click here to view the agenda. Click here to register for the Florida Chamber’s Capitol Days.
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How is your business engaged in exporting Florida-origin products? Share your story by contacting the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Chief Economist Jerry Parrish at email@example.com.