President Obama says that a key part of his foreign policy is “Don’t do stupid stuff.” That seems a modest goal until you remember that we invaded the wrong country in 2003.
We don’t have to do stupid water stuff either. Many current policies damage water resources in Florida while also inflicting huge costs on everyone:
- Installing WMD governing board members with enormous built-in conflicts of interest. This generates mistrust, as well as misguided decisions.
- Not imposing even a modest fee on water withdrawals and fertilizer purchases. This promotes unnecessary water supply projects and widespread water quality degradation.
- Ignoring the realities of climate change. This ensures a much worse water future for Florida.
- Subsidizing economic activities that use immense quantities of water. This violates common sense and incentivizes the wasteful use of water.
- Refusing to make the state plumbing code more efficient by allowing the sale only of WaterSense devices.
Improved water policies would have to be only a tiny bit smarter.
This weekend, from Friday through Sunday, you have an opportunity to avoid sales tax on purchases of water-saving WaterSense products (as well as energy-saving Energy Star appliances). The Florida Department of Revenue has the official information here.
Certified and labeled WaterSense products have to undergo independent testing and perform well while being at least 20% more water-efficient than conventional products. If you have been thinking of buying WaterSense products, this weekend would be a good time to do so.
Following up on the previous post about Rick Scott’s cuts in WMD taxes, I checked on whether he boasts about this at his campaign site. Doesn’t seem too. He claims generally to have cut taxes more than 40 times and also spent lots of tax dollars on water resources. Will Scott brag about cutting water management district revenues in the coming gubernatorial debates? We’ll see.
When Rick Scott got into office, the water management districts were forced to lower their taxation rate, regardless of current rates or water needs. Even though the Northwest Florida Water Management District tax rate was only a small fraction of the four other districts, they too had to cut. Northwest had always imposed a tiny millage rate of 0.05 mills. That amounted to a tax of $7.50 tax per year on a $200,000 home (using a standard $50,000 homestead exemption). That doesn’t seem like a lot for regional water resource management.
Too much for Rick Scott though. In his first year as governor, he made NWFWMD reduce their rate from a tiny 0.05 mills to an even tinier 0.04 mills. That homeowner in NWFWMD now pays $6.00 a year, saving a grand total of $1.50. In this election year, even more tax reduction is mandatory at the WMDS. Northwest is reducing the tax level again, to a rate of 0.039 mills. The homeowner’s annual tax will be $5.85, saving 15 cents per year.
Northwest Florida homeowners like me will have to decide whether to spend or invest our 15 cents. Personally, I wish it went toward improved regional water management.
The most recent “Long Range Program Plan” for the Department of Environmental Projection expects no measurable improvement in overall groundwater quality in the next four years:
Not very ambitious.