Water management “performance measures” may appear to be neutral administrative instruments but in fact are value-dependent and deeply ideological. Measures also can vary in how closely they are connected to reality. Florida’s present measures are an illusion because they have little to do with Rick Scott’s implicit water goals:
1) Unrelentingly please the biggest water users and water polluters. [There is no way to thank “job creators” enough for what they are but let us try. ]
2) When not in contradiction to 1), please those ideologically opposed to either gummint or the 21st century. [Let’s Get to Work to repeal reality.]
3) Get me re-elected. [Give me money, big water users and polluters.]
These unspoken goals explain devastating water management budget cuts, the attacks on rulemaking, the successful attempts to demoralize water agency staff, failing to fix septic tank regulation, and the lack of new initiatives. This is why the biggest water users and polluters overwhelmingly favor Scott’s re-election. He has delivered what they want.
A different set of values would lead to much different goals:
1) Please future generations of Floridians by assuring long-term water sustainability.
2) Help strengthen the participation of all Floridians in their government, including water management.
For the first goal, performance measures and objectives might include:
1a) A 30% reduction in per capita water use by 2030.
1b) Allocating water mostly to activities with the highest economic productivity.
1c) Achieving a large quantitative reduction in fertilizer use via a meaningful tax on fertilizer and other measures.
1d) Inspection and regular pumping out of all septic tanks.
1e) Becoming a world leader in programs that reduce the emission of the greenhouse gases which threaten the entire state.
For the second goal, progress could be determined or assisted by:
2a) Reforming the Florida campaign finance system that now allows legal bribery of the elected officials that write water management laws.
2b) Recognizing that water management and environmental justice cannot be separated.
2c) Revitalizing the independence of the regional water management districts so not all decisions are made in Tallahassee.
2d) Assuring that WMD governing board membership reflects Florida diversity.
2e) Forbidding the general conflicts of interest now allowed for GB members.
These new goals and measures would set Florida water management on a better path because they relate to better goals.