Water management in Florida is seldom straightforward because people find many ways to get around the laws of hydrology and economics. A few examples:
- The biggest irrigated “crop” in Florida is lawn grass and other ornamental landscapes.
- Even with immense numbers of natural springs, rivers, lakes, and sandy beaches, Florida has more “water parks” than any other state.
- Most bottled water in Florida starts as tap water.
- People will pay more for one brand of bottled water than another.
- The biggest water using sector accounts for less than 2% of state domestic product.
- Hay growers in north Florida deposit nutrients into local aquifers in order to feed thousands of recreational horses in south Florida.
- Billions of dollars are spent for Everglades restoration while doing relatively little to prevent submergence from rising sea levels.
- Water body “restoration” in Florida involves many gigantic pump stations.
- “Dispersed water” payments to farmers in south Florida often involve storing water on land that has been artificially drained for agriculture.
- The director of the Florida Park Service thinks that logging, cattle grazing, and hunting could be a pretty good idea for state parks.
- Many purchases of conservation “land” in Florida are actually done for water resource reasons.
- Everybody agrees that water is oh-so-valuable but withdrawals are free.
- Wastewater treatment plants are highly regulated but millions of septic tanks have little oversight.
- Municipal drinking water systems are required to test water quality regularly for many possible contaminants but the millions of Floridians on individual wells have infrequent and limited tests of water quality.
Moral(?): The path to effective water management is long and crooked.