“It’s the biggest issue we have, but it’s not a crisis,”
These words from a local politician reflect the mindset which is the very reason we most certainly do have a crisis, and that is because our state agencies from local on up through the governor and legislator do not protect our water resources. For whatever reason, whether they do not really see a crisis, or because they just want to sell out to industry and big water users, the result is identical.
This same local politician criticizes Alachua County for its water regulations, when it reality this county is on the forefront in protecting our environment and politicians should take a good look at them and use them for a model.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Complacency causing state water crisis
While some Florida lawmakers wait for a full-blown crisis to take the state’s water woes more seriously, a new report shows they are creating one through their complacency.
The “Water 2070” study shows the inadequacy of Florida’s water-planning efforts. A water bill passed last session was a giveaway to big business and big agriculture, relying on voluntary “best management practices” to reduce water use.
Lawmakers such as Gainesville Republican Rep. Keith Perry, newly elected to the state Senate, are quick to congratulate themselves for what they’ve done and diminish concerns that it is not enough. In a pre-election interview with a radio station, Perry said the public must rely on data and not emotion when it comes to water.
“It’s the biggest issue we have, but it’s not a crisis,” he said.
The “Water 2070” report provides more than enough data to show lawmakers are creating a crisis by their inaction. Perry criticized the Alachua County Commission for its regulations of new and renovated irrigation systems, but the report found significant reductions could be accomplished by cutting irrigation use and improving the efficiency of irrigation systems.
“The single most effective strategy to reduce water demand in Florida is to significantly reduce the amount of water used for landscape irrigation,” the report stated.
But Perry is right that limiting lawn watering isn’t enough. The report — a joint project of the Geoplan Center, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the nonprofit environmental group 1000 Friends of Florida — also called for indoor and outdoor water efficiency standards for new construction and additional conservation efforts.
It also called for more compact development patterns, something that have become harder to accomplish since Gov. Rick Scott came into office in 2011. The Republican-led Legislature passed and Scott signed bills that year that dismantled the state’s major land-planning agency and limited the state’s role in reviewing local planning decisions.
Here in Alachua County and Gainesville, we’re lucky to have local officials working to address these issues. UF’s recently released Strategic Development Plan calls for concentrating development near campus, exactly the type of development patterns encouraged by the report.
The diminished flow and water quality of our region’s springs should have been enough of a warning sign for our lawmakers. Hopefully the data cited in the new report will help shake them out of their complacency. They can squabble about what constitutes a crisis, or make sure that one doesn’t happens by taking more serious steps to curb sprawl and reduce water use. — This editorial was written by Gainesville Sun opinion editor Nathan Crabbe and represents the opinion of The Sun’s editorial board.