Problems: Florida is a giant, saturated sponge. Some people say we have no shortage of water here, and in some ways that is true. Just like our blue planet as a whole has plenty of water, it is not all accessible. In Florida, our draw down of the Floridan aquifer is occurring faster in many places than it can be recharged. Particularly near our coasts, the relatively shallow freshwater lens that is our groundwater supply is increasingly contaminated by saltwater that is intruding further and further inland. Every drop we pump out invites more salt water to shift that saltwater-fresh water horizon upward. Across the state, over-pumping of groundwater draws down lakes and wetlands, reduces spring flows, and contributes to sinkhole formation. These are huge problems that are created largely by overconsumption and land use changes that convert permeable land into impermeable surfaces (parking lots, roads, buildings, compacted lawns) where surface water can’t percolate back into the ground. Droughts also exacerbate this, of course.
Solutions: We know the solutions, and several state and county regulations exist that enforce and educate about those. Several not-for-profit organizations also promote awareness!
- We must protect as much acreage of natural areas and wetlands as we can to maximize our groundwater recharge area.
- We must encourage Low Impact Development strategies like rain gardens and bioswales, permeable pavements, reduction of curbs and long-distance stormwater diversion, and protection of natural areas within development zones to facilitate recharge.
- We must encourage as much as possible the use of captured stormwater plus water reclaimed from wastewater treatment facilities for irrigation and other non-potable uses.
- We must encourage aggressive conservation strategies inside our homes and businesses to reduce our demand on our clean groundwater supplies, including domestic uses as well as industrial cleaning and evaporative cooling water uses.
- We must support fair and equitable, progressive pricing structures for water that reward conservation and ask those who use more to pay higher rates for their additional use.