The 10th Annual Florida Water Forum was held on August 29-30 at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando.
The issues surrounding water and environmental policy are of critical importance to the future of Florida. Our business climate, ability to grow as a state and our quality of life are all directly tied to the availability and sustainability of our water resources and a healthy environment. These issues and more were discussed during the 2019 Florida Water Forum. As The Voice of Florida Business representing employers in Florida, AIF will continue to lead the discussion on water issues.
Florida’s water quality continues to receive increased focus due to recent impacts from algae blooms and red tide across the state. This was not lost on Governor DeSantis who, on his first full day in office, hit the ground running by releasing Executive Order 19-12, an aggressive series of policy objectives addressing environmental, economic and health impacts throughout the state. Simultaneously, Governor DeSantis moved swiftly to change the leadership at the South Florida Water Management District.
With the constant 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 2019 Florida Water Forum, where you will have a unique opportunity to hear from Florida’s top experts, policymakers and elected leaders.