The Central Florida Water Initiative Rule Development Workshop took place today July 9, 2020 as a virtual meeting. The meeting was hosted by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and was well organized and presented.
For the curious and uninformed, the CFWI is a mini water district within the Central Florida region where three water management districts (St. Johns, South Florida and Southwest Florida) come together. It is not an official district, but the three districts combine with the DEP, ( Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and other mostly commercial groups, cities and other water users. The website says environmental groups are included, but does not say which one(s.) The area includes Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and southern Lake counties.
In the words taken from the CFWI website, “Fresh traditional groundwater resources alone cannot meet future water demands or current permitted allocations without resulting in unacceptable impacts to water resources and related natural systems.”
The CFWI Regional Water supply Plan, which goes to 2035, predicts that by that date the area will have a shortfall of about 300 million gallons per day (mgd.)
From this we have the meeting to address new rules on Consumptive Use Permits. The usual DEP and water district procedure is to examine the many ways to draw more water from our resources without “significant harm” to the river, aquifer or whatever source is targeted.
Again, per the usual procedure, we find no penalties or accountability for failure to meet quotas: in the PowerPoint presentation which asks the question as to what happens if you do not meet the 100 per capita figure, the answer only points out that you have such and so many years to meet the deadline. The question of what happens goes unanswered. We assume the answer is “nothing.”
Perhaps what happens may be that numbers are jumbled, new models are found, and better science determines there is now more water available to pump without the dreaded significant harm.
Our suggestion during Public Comments was to put a moratorium on new Consumptive Use Permits until quotas could be met. This obvious option was nowhere to be seen in the presentation.
What does the CFWI have to do with the Santa Fe River? Geographically it is distant, but the concept applies. Our problems are the same, our water districts and our DEP are the same. The proffered solutions and lack of obvious solutions are the same.
The emperor should be told he has no clothes. The DEP and the water districts should be told to stop ground water pumping and to stop allowing our rivers and springs to be destroyed.
And you can tell them. You may submit comments at OWP_rulemaking@floridadep.gov until July 24, 2020. Let those who determine our water quantity know they must stop the pumping.
The meeting went from 1 pm to about 2:30. Some dozen speakers offered public comments, most of whom were commercial or municipal water users who were concerned about their water supply. Your historian was the only one who spoke for the environment.
A followup meeting will be held on August 12, 2020 from 9 – ll am.