The 6th Annual Florida Water Forum was held in Orlando, FL on September 24 – 25, 2015. This meeting provided participants with the most current information from Florida’s policy leaders in the legislature and state government on issues relating to water policy. Experts and policy makers in the industry served as guest speakers and panelists and provided a solid agenda of the on-going, critical issues facing our state.
The Florida Water Forum has garnered overwhelming recognition by business community leaders, regional and local government officials and members of the general public.
Florida is now devoting the time, money, and attention to water that it has not in many years. The state is facing some significant challenges, as some of its largest economic regions are planning to run out of affordable, sustainable groundwater in the not-too-distant future. With the influx of money from Florida’s newest constitutional provision – the Water and Land Conservation Amendment – and with legislative leadership supporting a comprehensive water policy rewrite, 2015 was supposed to be the “Year of Water.”
Instead, 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? The answer will determine Florida’s economic future.