Good Water Infrastructure Bodes Well For Florida’s Future
A growing population means a growing need for vital resources such as water. Florida’s population is expected to grow by 5.4 million residents by 2030 and will need 20 percent more water to accommodate the projected population. From a single glass of water to fueling Florida’s large agriculture economy, water discussions must take into account the needs of the future.
Tetra Tech combines state-of-the-art technology applications and demonstrated best practices to help navigate all phases of the water cycle. The Engineering News-Record has ranked Tetra Tech number one in water projects nationwide for 14 consecutive years. Of all the engineering consulting firms in the U.S., they take on the most water projects, many of them cutting-edge, such as potable reuse projects.
Charles Drake, Vice President at Tetra Tech, believes the company has been able to maintain an elite level of visibility in the water industry because of the company’s commitment to its clients. He said Tetra Tech’s ability to meet client’s schedules and budgets has allowed them to build lasting working relationships.
“Our number one ranking in water is based on our revenue and reflects our firm’s market share in the water sector. We’ve been able to maintain that market share by providing innovative solutions for our clients,” Drake said. “By working in that manner, we’ve developed long-standing relationships and trust with those clients, which has allowed us to continue to work for them for many years.”
Tetra Tech was founded in 1966 and has been operating in Florida since 1977. The involvement of the company in several water issues has allowed them to develop a unique perspective on water infrastructure in Florida, over time. Drake said there are currently at least four water utility challenges the company is monitoring.
“The first two challenges are limited water resources and an increase in population growth. Those two things will drive innovative projects to conserve our water resources, not just for the environment, but for all types of water use,” Drake said. “We can develop alternative water supplies to meet those demands for all types of water use.”
The third challenge, Drake said, is climate resiliency and sea-level rise, which is impacting water management systems and freshwater resources. He said the final challenge is asset condition and management or “asset security.”
“We must focus on incorporating resiliency into the water supply so that they’re not impacted severely by those natural disasters, taking all of those things into consideration for future infrastructure projects by thinking well into the future about what could happen,” Drake said. “Communities are also interested in using advanced data analytics, including real-time data collection, so they can see what’s happening at that moment to different parts of their infrastructure. You could use smart water controls to manage those water resources during times of drought and floods.”
Tetra Tech is also seeing an increase in disaster management planning to address those mitigation strategies for climate-related hazards like floods, droughts, storm surges and sea level rise. According to Drake, those are the things the company is seeing more and more of over the past few years.
To combat these hazards, Tetra Tech is working on a water reuse initiative to provide sustainable potable reuse regulations for Florida. The initiative is promoted by WateReuse Florida, Florida Section AWWA and the FWEA Utility Council, and they organized the Potable Reuse Commission (PRC) to make recommendations to develop Florida’s potable reuse regulations. Drake said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Senator Wilton Simpson have sent letters of support to the PRC for their efforts.
“The commission is charged with developing a regulatory framework to safely implement and move forward potable reuse in Florida,” Drake said. “It is comprised of representatives from all of our utilities, the public health sector, agriculture, business and environmental groups to develop those regulatory frameworks to help lawmakers, policymakers and legislators.”
Securing Florida’s future will require changing the way we view issues such as water. With 5.4 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based solutions are the only way to ensure Florida’s water future is sustainable and provides the quality of life Floridians and our visitors deserve.