“Breathe, Florida. Your water supply anxiety will make you sick.”

As I noted in my last post, there is reason to think that Florida (and California) can make it through severe meteorological droughts without severe harm. How about the pace of developing water supplies for ordinary times? Contrary to common understanding, a lot of that is already underway or accomplished.

The state’s 2012 report on water supply in Florida estimated that about 1.4 billion gallons a day of additional water would be needed by 2030. The 2013 report silently reduces that by 200 mgd to about 1.2 bgd. (And which follows the steady historical practice of reducing water use projections.) The estimate of 1.2 bgd of “new” water (if it happens) is a significant fraction of current withdrawals of 6.2 bgd. Development is far along, however:

Completion of all [currently] funded projects is expected to make available around 707 mgd of additional water, more than 50 percent of the projected 2030 needs. (p. 1)

That means the “deficit” of water supply development is down to about 500 mgd (1.2 bgd minus 707 bgd). If 500 more mgd in fact turns out to be necessary by 2030, it would amount to increasing water supply over current withdrawals by about 31 mgd a year (500 mgd/16 years). Not very much. It is only one-half of one percent per year of current withdrawals–a lot less than the required pace of expanding many other parts of Florida’s infrastructure. That is manageable.

What is not acceptable is how even current withdrawals are drying up springs and lakes. That is worth getting anxious and upset about. Rather than increase pumping by 1/2% per year, we should decrease it by at least that amount while also fixing serious water quality problems.

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