With the passage of the 2016 Water Bill (SB 0552) and the influx of money from Florida’s newest constitutional provision – the Water and Land Conservation Amendment – Florida is devoting the time, money, and attention to water that it has not done in many years. Time is of the essence, as our state is facing some significant challenges with some of its largest economic regions having to plan for running out of affordable, sustainable groundwater in the not-too-distant future.
Florida inches closer to water shortages and the associated acrimonious and expensive litigation among water users, challenges to water management district permits, restrictions on new economic development, and in some areas a continued decline in natural resources. The challenges have not grown any less daunting. Southeast Florida must still balance water supply with environmental needs, both heavily dependent on Lake Okeechobee, and face saltwater intrusion concerns. Southwest Florida remains wrapped in a water-use caution area and is also vulnerable to saltwater seeping into the aquifer. Central Florida is still planning for a long-term groundwater shortage, and North Florida continues to see controversy and concern stemming from its abundant springs.
Innovative solutions and expanded infrastructure hold a great deal of promise. Does Florida embrace these possibilities, or slide further toward problems like those in California? These issues and more will be discussed during the 2016 Florida Water Forum, where you will have a unique opportunity to hear from Florida’s top technical experts, policymakers and elected leaders.