A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Five Directions for Water Management in Florida

I'll be speaking about water issues at Ringling College tonight so posting some of my thoughts about water is probably a good idea.

Strengthen regional approaches to water
•The legislature has chosen to rein in the water management districts precisely at the time we are realizing they have a far larger job to do. Water challenges and opportunities must be approached regionally.

Move towards restoring Florida’s original hydrology
That includes raising aquifer levels, rehydrating wetlands, and watershed protection
•Develop and implement a strategy to restore the Floridan and other aquifers to historic levels that support spring and river flows
(EX: Restore Kissengen Springs!)
• Undo some of the more egregious hydrologic mistakes of the last century.
• Continue land acquisition that restores wetlands, safeguards watersheds, and gets people and potential homes out of floodplains

Per capita demand reduction
• Develop strategies for further reduction in per capita water demand, including efficiencies and paying people to use less water. This will no doubt include both carrots and sticks – more water-frugal appliances, increased awareness/feedback, and tiered conservation rate structures
(EX: Use telemetry to enable households to visualize water use in real time and include data regarding comparable neighbor households in water bills.)
• Wean Floridians off water consumptive landscapes, particularly turf.
(EX: Consider banning use of treated potable water for turf irrigation.)

Broaden the mission with more comprehensive analysis
• Previous analysis did not take into account total energy, energy source, and carbon implications of water supply projects.
•Timing of flows needs to be recognized as important as quality and quantity of water
• Work with health departments to bring water safety assurance to every home and develop strategies to address new quality concerns

Decentralization of water supply
• Make progress on household-scale point-of use water systems for both potable and non-potable uses.
• Chart a course of transition from central utilities to hybrid systems that maintains the economic viability of central supply without charging users more money for less water. (EX: One solution might be to shift more charges for central supply to fire service protection. Another might be to financially reward utilities that conserve water and consequently avoid major project costs.)