Good Structure Beats Good Plans

watery foundation copy In: Good Structure Beats Good Plans | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
On September 07, 2014 at 04:14PM, Tom at Watery Foundation published the following article:

I claimed last week that the basic structure of Florida’s water management system is intact and still one of the nation’s best. Is it better than what the California Legislature recently adopted for groundwater regulation? I think so.

The current pump-as-you-please practice in California has drastically depleted aquifers and threatens both that state’s economy and environment. The new groundwater legislation is called “historic.” Good for them. However, the legislation has many challenges to success. Aquifer withdrawals don’t have to be sustainable for twenty years or more. The designated management agencies for the new groundwater responsibilities are a still-evolving mix of local agencies. The legislation provides no funds for local governments to perform this major new function. (It is hard to see how local elected officials can withstand pressure from big water users to continue excessive withdrawals.) Lastly, although the state retains authority to step in and take over groundwater management responsibilities case-by-case, that intervention is bound to be very contentious and messy.

The Florida structure makes a lot more sense: Regional agencies with appointed boards empowered to levy taxes and adopt clear water use permitting rules. Maybe what appears to be a weaker structure in California can be made to work over time. Or perhaps improvements can be adopted in the future as problems become apparent.

Meanwhile, don’t muck with the more rationalized and systematic water management structure in Florida.

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1 Comment

  1. Tom, you are right about the good structure we have in Florida, thanks to the foresight of the people who wrote the excellent model water code many years ago. The problem is that our water managers do not interpret correctly the criteria, such as the three-prong test. Also, after more that 40 years, we still do not have an accurate minimum flows and levels established to guide us in water withdrawals. Until we correct these issues, we are headed straight and swiftly down the road toward California.

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