The Politics of Water in Florida

All-   The next time Governor Crist brings an interstate lawsuit about water use involving Florida, Alabama and Georgia or avoids Executive intervention for an intrastate lawsuit involving conservation of water bodies versus utility and municipality extractions….. or speculates about the need for Florida to mimic ‘western’ water use policies….let him think upon the following article about Mexico and extrapolated social meanings of migration/immigration *extracted* from water politics. 

    The stresses of water politics are universal and at the heart of each controversy is the philosophy of water as a human right versus water as an economic commodity. 
 Two telling points in the extreme illustration:

  a)   The problem with U.S. water negotiators is that they do not see water as a basic human right: they see water as a commodity in this war over natural resources; this view is reinforced by a decade-long catastrophic drought in the Colorado River Basin and the entire region of southwestern United States and northern Mexico. There are other nails, of course, in the coffin of Mexico’s water future: a mega-drought induced by global climate disruptions; chronic lack of funding for water infrastructure and utilities throughout the country; rapid development and population growth; increasing pollution; water privatization and inequality in water allocation ; and in general, governmental corruption, incompetence, infighting, and mismanagement of water.

  b)  But will water negotiators and water lobbyists representing U.S. stakeholders have compassion for the plight of Mexico’s poor and subsistence farmers? Or even have the foresight to see that it is in its long-term self-interest to help Mexico’s poor? Water is not only a human rights issue-it is also a national security issue for Mexico. With increasing hunger and malnutrition, poverty, and political instability in Mexico, this water crisis will worsen Mexico’s food crisis, leading to more food riots, which may just trigger a national security crisis for Mexico. Don’t think for a minute that the United States can be insulated from Mexico’s crises.

Don’t think for a moment that *extraction* can be divorced from conservation need within Florida, don’t think for a moment that Georgia and Alabama use can be divorced from Florida within the southeast, don’t think for a moment that 1986 Cadillac Desert warnings for the western US can be divorced from the 2007 Mirage warnings about the eastern US…. all are contextually embedded within a global scale of public policy interests and scarcity has caught up with us all.   Our national near future will be the western hemisphere and water resources as much as weaning away from oil and the middle east and substituting alternatives to fossil fuel energy.

 David Wiles
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