Kansas, Colorado, California…(Florida?)

With the current legislative talk about water, why is there no discussion of the need to develop a real state water plan, as we see in Kansas, Colorado, California and other states? Some of their ideas are quite interesting. One part of the draft Kansas draft plan, for example, focuses on “Reducing our vulnerability to extreme events.” The draft Colorado Plan says the goals are to “..defend Colorado’s compact entitlements, improve the regulatory processes, and explore financial incentives while honoring Colorado’s water values and to ensure that the state’s most valuable resource is protected and available for generations to come.” The new California Water Plan sets out “five things every Californian should know,” including “A Diverse Portfolio Approach is Required.

Those three state plans all have much more detail, of course, and reflect broad collaborative approaches. No such process is underway in Florida. The discussion of Florida water policy remains ad hoc and fragmented. It doesn’t have to be.

Taking the Long View

The good done by passage of the Land and Water Legacy amendment, if properly implemented, can far outweigh short term disappointments. If you believe this, you might be interested in listening to Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to the Wilderness. A sample track is below:

2010 Water Use: United States and Florida

The U. S. Geological Survey finally released their report on 2010 water use in the United States. The big message is that national water use has decreased significantly. Total fresh water withdrawals decreased by 13% between 2000 and 2010. Public water supply–down 5%. Irrigation (mostly agricultural)–down 9%.

The recent USGS report on Florida water use also quantifies striking trends of decreasing water withdrawals. Total fresh water withdrawals from 2000-2010 decreased by 22%, public water supply decreased by 9%, and agricultural withdrawals went down by 16%.

The national report also allows us to compare Florida to other states. Saline water use, primarily in thermoelectric plants, is far greater in Florida than anywhere else. (That makes sense because of cooling water opportunities on a long coastline.) Agricultural irrigation quantities in Florida, although much smaller than in some Western states, are nonetheless the largest in the East. Total groundwater withdrawals in Florida in 2010 (2,010 mgd) are exceeded only by California (2,830 mgd). The Florida groundwater total is 12.8% of all United States groundwater withdrawals-maybe that is why spring flows are in trouble?

The lack of growth in overall demand for water should allow attention to focus only on those areas and water use categories that actually are increasing rapidly. It also allows us to focus on what is presently a much more serious problem: water pollution.

Liking the environment

Mike Grunwald explains(?) Florida voters’ position on the Land and Water Legacy and on candidates for governor:

Why would that be so? It could be how much Rick Scott and his supporters spent to achieve a 1% margin of victory. According to a Wall Street Journal estimate, Scott outspent Charlie Crist by a margin of roughly two to one. The Scott campaign expenditures are said to be more than a hundred million dollars, including the $12.5 million that Scott himself added in the final days of the race. If his 70,496 vote victory margin were attributable solely to his last-minute personal contribution, it cost Scott $177 per vote.

For comparison purposes, the entire annual budget of the Suwannee River Water Management District is $33.3 million. Water issues, including climate change, are the biggest losers in this race.