Florida Can Continue to Lead the Nation in Water Efforts

A Chinese proverb observes, “We know the worth of water when the well runs dry.” But when the well is dry, it’s too late. Faucets cannot quench thirst. Sprinkler heads cannot irrigate crops.  The wheels of commerce grind to a halt.

Fortunately, Florida is not in a water crisis. Unlike our brethren in California, Floridians do not face seemingly endless droughts and draconian water use restrictions. That does not mean we lack our fair share of water challenges.

For instance, in Central Florida, geologists believe the aquifer is unable to sustain the additional pumping of affordable fresh drinking water, so more costly alternatives must be found. In other areas, citizens face increased sewer bills to fund wastewater treatment upgrades necessary to protect and restore springs and other sensitive water bodies.

Meanwhile, demands on our water resources are projected to escalate. Florida’s revitalized business environment, vibrant agricultural base, and world class tourism industry continue to attract growth. The Florida Chamber Foundation predicts that our state will grow by an additional six million permanent residents over the next 20 years. That is the equivalent of the entire population of Maryland packing its bags and moving to the Sunshine State.

Thankfully, Florida is taking steps now to help ensure that water supply and water quality protection infrastructure is in place to meet the growing demands of all sectors. Comprehensive water legislation under consideration by the Florida Legislature will refashion the state’s longstanding, regionally managed water supply planning process into a more Florida will closely track expenditures and funding needs to develop alternative water supplies, phase out improperly sited septic tanks, and conserve water resources. The legislation also modernizes water management programs for Florida springs, the Northern Everglades, and other marquee waters.

These policy advancements build upon Florida’s legacy of leading the nation in water resource management. Florida has science-based regulatory programs for protecting and restoring water flow and water quality. Numerous rivers and lakes are subject to minimum flow and level requirements, which ensure that water use activities do not reduce water levels in a way that harms the environment or public recreation. In 2013, Florida established the nation’s most sophisticated, science-based nutrient water quality standards program, which will help prevent algae blooms and other biological harms associated with nutrient over-enrichment. Farmers implement state-adopted best management practices that facilitate efficient water and fertilizer use.

Effective water policy should keep the wells flowing, the rivers clean, and the economy humming. The state of Florida is positioned to hit that mark today and well into the future.

 

By DAVID W. CHILDS, Hopping Green & Sams, P.A.

Florida Chamber-Backed Water Bill Passes Senate Environmental Preservation Committee

The Florida Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee today unanimously passed a Florida Chamber-backed water bill that will help secure Florida’s water future.

The bill, SB 0552 by Senator Charles Dean (R-Inverness), will:

  • Help ensure clean and abundant water,
  • Reduce the prospect of “water wars” among users in resource-limited areas, and
  • Promote strategic partnerships between the public and private sector in achieving water resource development goals.

In testimony before the committee, Florida Chamber lobbyists David Childs of Hopping Green & Sams, P.A. explained that this bill will go a long way to ensure we have the water quality decision being made to ensure that, Florida isn’t decades from now, kicking itself and wishing that it would have done something.

“We’re on the home stretch of a very long journey,” Childs said. “This is not a victory lap, but a lot of hard work to ensure that in 20 years and 30 years from now, we look like Florida and not California who is dealing with water shortages.”

The House companion bill, HB 7005 sponsored by Representative Matt Caldwell (R-Lehigh Acres) passed its first committee stop two weeks ago.

With six million more residents expected to call Florida home by 2030, the Florida Chamber of Commerce believes that securing Florida’s water future is essential in preparing Florida’s infrastructure for smart growth and development.

The Florida Chamber thanks Senator Dean and Representative Caldwell for sponsoring this legislation, and we will continue to monitor its progress in the coming weeks.

 

Water Bill Will Help Secure Florida’s Water Future

With six million more residents expected to call Florida home by 2030, the Florida Chamber of Commerce believes that securing Florida’s water future is essential in preparing Florida’s infrastructure for smart growth and development.

Earlier today, the Florida Chamber testified before the House State Affairs Committee in support of an environmental resources bill (PCB SAC 16-01) sponsored by Representative Matt Caldwell (R- Lehigh Acres) that takes meaningful steps, using science-based solutions, to help ensure Florida’s water future doesn’t go the way of California.

This measure:

  • Will help ensure clean and abundant water,
  • Reduce the prospect of “water wars” among users in resource-limited areas, and
  • Promote strategic partnerships between the public and private sector in achieving water resource development goals.

During testimony before the committee, Florida Chamber lobbyist David Childs of Hopping Green & Sams, P.A., pointed out that this proposed bill will allow Florida’s planning process to become a “water supply, water quality problem solving process” and in doing so, will help Florida focus on creating “clean water to drink and clean water to recreate in,” and allow our state to become a “leader in the nation in water supply and water quality.”

The Florida Chamber thanks Representative Matt Caldwell and the legislature for proposing this bill and will continue to monitor its process in the coming weeks.

 

Did You Know Florida Will Consume 1.3 Billion More Gallons of Water a Day by 2030

Did You Know?

By the year 2030, Floridians will need 1.3 billion more gallons of water every day, more than a 20 percent increase compared to 2010 demands?

With six million more residents and 100 million visitors on the horizon, our state must remain focused on making sure we can meet this growing need.

As a state surrounded by water, it’s often times difficult to picture Florida as having long-term water challenges. But as a state that receives more than 70 percent of our rainfall within just three months, there are several months where there is little to no rainfall at all – leaving our state in a vulnerable position when it comes to drinkable water.

“Rain water is what recharges and fills our lakes, streams and fresh waters aquifers, and these are what supply our drinking water as well as sustain the environment,” explains Philip Waller, Vice President at MWH Americas on the latest Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise.

Throughout the past 20 years, Florida has become a national leader in the reuse of water. Approximately 719 million gallons per day of reclaimed water was reused for beneficial purposes in 2013.  This conservation effort saved an estimated 139 billion gallons of potable quality water and added more than 85 billion gallons back to available ground water supplies.

By creating sustainable water conservation solutions, our state can meet needs while protecting our valuable natural resources.

Families and businesses can participate in water conservation easily, by installing moisture sensors on irrigation systems, watering only when needed or installing water efficient toilets, faucets and showerheads.

By working together, Florida can responsibly plan for a new generation of water users.

“The good news is we have really robust science-based programs that are already in affect that protect our water resources,” David Childs, water policy expert with Hopping, Green & Sams, said recently on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line. “I expect the Legislature will continue to support the implementation of those programs and ensure that our resources are protected.”

Tell Us What You Think:

What measures does your business or family take to conserve water? Send an email to jparrish@flfoundation.org to share your story.

If you are interested in other infrastructure conversations on the horizon, join the Florida Chamber Foundation at the 2015 Transportation Summit on January 29.

Are you interested in your community joining a Six Pillars Caucus or becoming a Six Pillars Community? Want to learn how The Florida Scorecard can work for your organization? Let us know by emailing us at TLowe@flfoundation.org.

About the Florida Scorecard Did You Know:

The Florida Scorecard, located at www.TheFloridaScorecard.com, presents metrics across Florida’s economy? Each month, the Florida Chamber Foundation produces a Scorecard Stat that takes an in-depth look at one aspect of Florida’s economy. If you would like additional information on the Weekly Scorecard Stat or on the Florida Scorecard, please contact Dr. Jerry Parrish with the Florida Chamber Foundation at 850.521.1283 or jparrish@flfoundation.org. You can also follow the Florida Chamber Foundation on Twitter at @FLChamberFDN.

The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line Featuring David Childs

“It’s All About Planning”

Did you know, Florida currently uses more than 7 billion gallons of water each day? But with 5 to 7 million more residents expected by 2030, Florida’s water demand will increase by 28 percent- putting a strain on our state’s water infrastructure. On this episode of The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, one of Florida’s leading water policy experts, David Childs of Hopping, Green & Sams, tells us that sustainable water policy is “all about planning, and meaningful planning.”

The bottom line?

“If we don’t have water, you aren’t  going to have the growth that we all hope we have in this state.”

Join the Water Conversation

Join the Florida Chamber’s Board of Governors Capitol Days in Tallahassee, March 4-6 2015 as we lead discussions on how water policy will impact your business. Register here today.