The 9th Annual Florida Water Forum, held in October in Kissimmee, Florida, was a resounding success, with two half-days of important discussion on the issues that surround Florida’s water and water policy. We were joined by several legislators that led important panels discussions made up of more than 25 of Florida’s top water experts and policymakers. This year’s Forum covered topics ranging from water utility challenges to the latest on the reuse of potable water.
The issues surrounding water and water policy are and will continue to be of critical importance to the future of Florida. Our business climate, our ability to grow as a state, and our quality of life are all directly tied to the availability and sustainability of our water resources. As The Voice of Florida Business representing employers in Florida, AIF will continue to lead the discussion on water issues.
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With recent, major hurricanes hitting the state, and the media coverage of sewage spills and freshwater discharges impacting our estuaries, there is growing public support for the need to upgrade aging water infrastructure. The additional influx of money from Florida’s Water and Land Conservation Amendment has been tapped over the last few years for a variety of projects, and Florida’s leadership continues to devote significant amounts time, money, and attention to water. Time is of the essence. Our state is facing significant challenges with some of its largest economic regions as they struggle with water quality concerns and are forced to plan for the loss 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 water quality and natural resources. Southeast Florida must still balance water supply with environmental needs, both heavily dependent on Lake Okeechobee, and faces growing 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, but impacted 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 2018 Florida Water Forum, where you will have a unique opportunity to hear from Florida’s top experts, policymakers and elected leaders.