Thoreau noted in Walden that, “In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.” If we look at current water policy efforts in Florida, we see that they are aiming much lower than in even the very recent past.
Take the 2008 “Water Congress,” organized by the former Century Commission, for example. This assembly in Orlando produced 18 sweeping recommendations. Some of these were big ideas, like:
- Set a per capita target or goal for water use and quantifiable best management water practices.
- Achieve dramatic improvements in landscape irrigation efficiency.
- Minimum flows and levels (MFLs) must be set for all surface water bodies where consumptive use permits are sought.
There also are many creative ideas in the report that the Florida Chapter of the American Water Works Association released in 2010 (“Water 2030).” For example,
- Per capita use in urban areas will be significantly less [in 2030] than today.
- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection must use its existing authority to facilitate creation of multi-jurisdictional water supply entities.
- Utilities must anticipate, plan for and adapt to the potential effects of climate change.
State water policy development has shrunken since these major efforts. You can see this in the “WMD Policy Documents” published by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Some of these are worthwhile but they focus almost entirely on relatively minor managerial changes: closer supervision of the districts, making existing rules more consistent, smoother planning for water supply expansion, and treating permit applicants kindly. Big ideas like those from the Water Congress and FS/AWWA are absent.
Too much information for many readers, I know. The key point is that focusing primarily on close WMD oversight means that is the only target you hit. You won’t hit, or even aim at, the big reforms needed in Florida’s water future.