What do politicians running for re-election in 2014 say about water issues?
To the immediate north of Florida, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal‘s campaign website has two paragraphs on “natural resources” that includes a commitment to “continued water conservation efforts” and to “protect Georgia’s water from outside entities.” Alabama Governor Robert Bentley‘s website does not mention natural resources or water.
In Florida, Governor Rick Scott‘s website explains that he is the best friend that the environment or water management ever had. Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam‘s website has no mention of water or environment concerns. (This omission conflicts with his usual claim that “every corner of Florida now has some type of water conflict.”) Same omission for Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s website. House of Representatives Speaker-Designate Steve Crisafulli‘s website calls for a “comprehensive, statewide approach to address water issues” and insists that “we must make sure we promote policies that encourage, not hinder, agricultural production.”
In their different ways, all of the re-election websites attempt to attract as many campaign contributions and votes as possible.
The Water Engineer, the Water Planner, the Water Lawyer, and the Water Oracle went to inspect the troubled spring. The Engineer said, “Hey, we can fix this flow problem! Just run a small pipeline from that lake down the road.” The Water Planner said, “Not so fast. It would be better to reduce some current withdrawals by making them more efficient.” The Water Lawyer said, “Let’s sue the living daylights out of them for polluting this beautiful spring!” The Water Oracle said, “We need to re-imagine our relationship with water.”
The Engineer, the Planner, and the Attorney were struck silent. The three of them headed back into town to devise a combined strategy. On the way, they decided to add a Water Politician to the Team.
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.