Water woes in Florida
“State officials say there will be no additional water from the Everglades for Florida‘s population”.
That means utilities will now be forced to develop alternative means of production.It is the first time in history that Everglades water has been deemed off-limits.
South Florida water suppliers in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties currently depend on an estimated 500 (m) million gallons each day from the Everglades.
I had been reading lately a lot about water problems in Florida, an apparent paradox to anyone who might think of Florida as a very wet place. To better understand it, I have looked around and found a very interesting post at the blog “Eye on Miami“, recuperating an award winning series from the Orlando Sentinel. I have tried to condense it here (in dark blue), but for a full understanding of the situation I recommend heartily reading the whole thing.
Florida sits atop one of the world’s most prolific sources of fresh groundwater. Hydrologists think there are more than a quadrillion gallons of fresh groundwater beneath Florida. Besides, it is a state that gets 53 inches of rain a year.
With this amount of water, how could there be a shortage? Simply put: because this apparent abundance is an illusion.
From the supply side, much of the state’s water is needed just to maintain its springs, wetlands, lakes and rivers. Then, the rain isn’t evenly distributed. For example, more rain falls in the Panhandle than in Tampa, where water demands are higher. Rain also falls mostly during the summer, leaving short supplies in drier months
From the side of demand, there’s a water shortage because of overuse and chronically poor planning as the state’s human population grew from 2.7 million to 16 million in just the most recent half-century. The main three areas of concern are:
• Water supply: Rapid population growth and unbridled development
• Water quality: More people, more pollution
• Long-term solutions:
Adjusting consumption – through conservation, e.g. using reclaimed water (recycled wastewater)
Finding new water supplies: Reservoirs, diversion of rivers, more desalination plants… There are other more complex ideas, such as directing storm water into areas where it’s likely to seep into the ground and recharge the aquifer
Tensions are building, especially in Central Florida, where the battle line is drawn over exactly how much more water can be taken from the Floridan aquifer.
I believe most of these solutions are being tried out in one way or another. In the Tampa Bay area, the remediation of the desalination plant – after some deficiencies in the original design – is nearing completion. It is the largest seawater desalination facility in North America, though it will lose that condition to the one planned for Huntington Beach, California.