AIF’s Florida H20 Coalition brings together stakeholders from the Florida Water Alliance and AIF’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria Task Force that worked on water supply and water quality issues over the last 10 years. Rather than focus on a single water quality or supply issue, it is time to look at Florida’s major water problems in a comprehensive way. The purpose of the coalition will be to select significant state and federal water issues of interest and advocate for the science-based recommendations.
AIF’s Florida H20 Coalition will use the following guiding principles as key elements when supporting or opposing proposed water legislation or rules:
- Support solutions based on the best science for that particular problem or site.
- Support an annual dedicated source of funding for water quantity and water quality projects.
- Support Alternative Water Supply projects that enlarge Florida’s “water pie.”
- Support regional projects that use a menu of water quantity and quality options.
- Support funding and projects that provide adequate water supply for public supply, agriculture and the environment.
FLORIDA’S WATER QUANTITY CHALLENGES
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) projects statewide that the state will need an additional 1.3 billion gallons of water per day by 2030. AIF’s Florida H20 Coalition will support funding for developing additional water supplies. Below are a few of the areas that are contributing to that projection:
- In Central Florida, five counties are predicted to have a shortfall of 250 million gallons per day of groundwater by 2030. The Central Florida Water Initiative sponsored by the three large water management districts has estimated that to address this shortfall it will take close to $3 billion.
- In South Florida, last year’s above average rainy season made things difficult by causing large amounts of run off to canals and estuaries that create both water quantity and quality problems. In response, the South Florida Water Management District expanded its Dispersed Water Storage Program. Under this program, the district enters into an agreement with private landowners to store water on their property in times of excessive rainfall. In Martin County, a recent project is designed to store more than 2.2 billion gallons of water. Additional funding is being request from the Legislature.
- In North Florida, a decline in groundwater has the Suwannee River Water Management District and the St. John’s River Water Management District working with stakeholder to develop a long-term water supply plan. This North Florida area was always thought of as” water rich” until studies showed otherwise.
- Impact of setting minimum flow and levels on many springs and rivers over the next two years will provide data on how much additional water needs to be developed to meet these new minimum flow levels.
FLORIDA’S WATER QUALITY CHALLENGES
Florida’s businesses, farmers and local government utilities face a number of state and federal water quality issues over the next few years. Hopefully, the experience gained by successfully supporting a Florida science-based solution to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Numeric Nutrient Criteria (NNC) issue will help AIF’s Florida H20 Coalition members to face some of the following water quality problems:
- Once again, the EPA has decided to develop guidance for determining the extent of federal jurisdiction over “Water of the U.S.” The finished product would be developed into a regulation that would apply nationally. Like the NNC issue, it does not appear to consider the many unique factors that make up Florida waters. Additionally, because of Florida’s flat terrain, the regulations could subject large areas of Florida to federal wetlands jurisdiction. Experts say that this potentially has greater impacts on Florida than the NNC issue.
- Implementation of Florida NNC rules should went into effect in the second half of 2014, While the state rules are much better than the ones proposed by EPA, difficult issues will be presented in permitting, including MS4, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and environmental resource permits (ERP). The state’s Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) Program willalso be affected by the new NNC rules.
- DEP proposed expanding its water quality criteria to include human health. One proposal would put strict limits based on assumption of a high fish consumption level in Florida. The Environmental Regulatory Commission recently voted to require additional research, and the DEP should begin workshops in the near future. This issue is important since it affects numerous water quality criteria and; thus, can affect permitting.