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H2O Coalition

AIF’S Florida H2O Coalition began as members from the Florida Water Alliance and AIF’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria Task Force recognized the need to look at Florida’s major water challenges holistically as opposed to reacting to individual water quality and quantity issues as they arose. The foundation of the Coalition is to identify key state and federal water issues and advocate for science-based solutions that are both economically and technically feasible.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

AIF’S Florida H2O Coalition will use the following guiding principles in the establishment of our positions on proposed water legislation and rules:

  • Support solutions based on the best available science and technical information relating to the specific issue

  • Support an annual dedicated source of funding for water quality and water quantity projects

  • Support the identification and development of Alternative Water Supply projects which grow Florida’s “water pie”

  • Support regional projects which utilize a menu of water quantity and water quality options

  • Support funding and projects which address water needs while recognizing the unique needs of public supply, agriculture and the environment.

FLORIDA’S WATER QUANTITY CHALLENGES

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) projects the state will need an additional 1.3 billion gallons per day by 2030. For example, in a five county Central Florida area it is projected there will be a ground water shortfall of roughly 250 million gallons per day. The Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI), an effort led by the big three water management districts, estimates it would take a nearly $3 billion investment to address the shortfall.

In South Florida, water managers continue to explore for new, non-traditional water storage alternatives to address excess rainfalls. One such successful example is the investment in the Dispersed Water Storage (DWS) program. The DWS program allows the water management district to execute agreements with private land owners to store water on their property. A recent Martin County project is designed to store an estimated 2.2 billion gallons of water.

In North Florida, declining groundwater flows have forced water managers to work with stakeholders to update long-term water supply plans. In addition, some groups have used this opportunity to challenge existing Minimum Flows and Levels established for springs and rivers in the area.

Although Florida is recognized as a leader in the utilization of recycled and reclaimed water, elected officials, regulators and stakeholders continue to wrestle with new policy ideas which encourage greater use of reclaimed and recycled water, where appropriate, to alleviate pressure on traditional water sources.

FLORIDA’S WATER QUALITY CHALLENGES

As the state and country continues to address the balance between potential human impacts and protecting our natural resources, Florida’s businesses, farmers and local government utilities will continue to face many state and federal water quality challenges.

AIF’S H2O Coalition was formed and earned its early battle scars advocating for a science-based Florida solution to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria. Using the lessons learned from the early days, the H20 Coalition is actively engaged in the following water quality issues:

  • Adopted under the previous administration, the Waters of The United States (WOTUS) rules significantly expanded the interpretation of “navigable” waters. Additionally, it expanded the nexus between those waters and the connectivity to other water conveyances to conservatively include traditionally exempted waters such as: farm ditches, intermittent creeks and streams. Under the newly elected administration, the existing WOTUS rules have been repealed and the EPA is actively seeking comments from states and stakeholders to develop a more workable and science-based rule.

  • Following the extraordinary rainfall through the summer and winter in 2014/15, excess fresh water from Lake Okeechobee was discharged east and west, thus exacerbating nutrient levels in the delicate coastal ecosystems. The events of 2014/15 underscore the need to accelerate full implementation and completion of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) including the construction of reservoirs on lands the state currently owns, rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike and construction of reservoirs and injection wells north of Lake Okeechobee.

  • Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) maintains the most comprehensive water quality data base in the country. Given Florida’s unique geology and hydrology coupled with the scientific and technical expertise employed by FDEP, the agency has actively sought federal program implementation delegated to the state.  Recognizing the tremendous work FDEP continues to conduct with both state authorized and federally dedicated programs, the H2O Coalition encourages FDEP to seek additional delegation of programs from the EPA.



BECOME A MEMBER OF THE COALITION

Membership in AIF’S Florida H20 Coalition is FREE. We invite interested parties and individuals that share in our mission to make science-based recommendations for state and federal water issues to join AIF’s Florida H2O Coalition today.