Authored by: Molly Jennings, Manager of Governmental Relations, Southeast region, ScottsMiracle-Gro
Continuing to make waves across the state is the ongoing discussion over how to best meet Florida’s long-term water needs, including both the quality and quantity of this vital natural resource. An average of seven billion gallons of water are used each day in Florida and our state is home to the largest lake in the Southeastern United States, 400 miles of canals and 1,300 miles of coastline. Water use and strain on these water bodies will only grow as we lay out the welcome mat for six million new Florida residents by 2030 and nearly 100 million visitors each year.
The Florida Chamber has long understood and advocated for a sustainable, smart approach to addressing the ever-increasing demand for clean water while protecting those world-class environmental assets that make Florida the best place to live, work and do business. We must continue to improve water quality and quantity through enforcement of Florida-developed water quality standards – among the strictest in the nation, expanded use of alternative water supplies, new water storage efforts and conservation measures. Restoration projects and research that guides science-based solutions will also be essential if we are to effectively tackle the state’s water challenges.
However, there is a steep price tag associated with all these efforts. The Florida Chamber will continue to advocate for funding for springs protection legislation and work to ensure the Florida Legislature has the flexibility it needs to fund water projects that will have the greatest and most immediate impact on our state. Unique sources of funding, including investments from the private-sector, will be equally important.
Innovative partnerships, such as the one forged by ScottsMiracle-Gro with the Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA), are demonstrating that industry is willing to be a part of the solution. Through a half-million-dollar grant from Scotts, ORCA has begun an unprecedented study aimed at identifying the sources of pollution in the Indian River Lagoon and ways to improve the water’s health. In addition to financing ORCA’s groundbreaking research, Scotts’ “Florida Initiative” has helped fund Tampa Bay Watch’s saltmarsh restoration projects, and provided consumer and community tools that educate Floridians about healthy landscapes and healthy water.
To secure Florida’s future, the business community must continue to lead the way in shaping policies and engaging partnerships that can solve Florida’s water needs. Through innovation and collaboration, we can protect the integrity of our most abundant natural resource while creating jobs, promoting economic growth and creating a stronger Florida.