John Martin: Water security 'road map' needed


Published: Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 10:32 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 10:32 a.m.

Florida is running out of water. This is a statement few would have believed even ten years ago but now it is an undeniable truth. Several years ago, because of my participation in the effort to stop the transfer of water rights from our region to Tampa, I became very well aware of our water problems. The situation has only worsened since then.

More recently, South Florida was talking again about piping water from North Florida, and now Jacksonville has been granted a permit that allows JEA to withdraw up to 155 million gallons a day from the Suwannee Water

Management District and divert it to their customers in the St. Johns Water Management District for the next twenty years.

Recently, I attended the meeting in Lake City sponsored by Columbia, Hamilton and Suwannee Counties concerning ground water in our region. The meeting solidified that Florida is running out of water, Alachua County included. Our springs no longer flow at their same magnitude and our lakes are drying up. I left this meeting realizing that only state-wide solutions have a chance of preventing the inevitable water wars that will surely come if we stay on our present course.

From cities to rural areas, from coastal to the interior this problem affects us all. The solutions must address ecological issues, especially preserving a healthy aquifer. Economic issues must be addressed including agriculture, tourism, industry and commerce, growth and development. And a road map must be provided that

prevents recurring disputes with border states-Alabama and Georgia.

Yes, this will be expensive but, just as roads are our responsibility, so is Florida's water future. We must be open to solutions such as expanded water reclaim and re-use programs. Desalinization and recharge programs must be investigated as well as reservoirs such as those that helped mitigate the problem in Tampa. In short, all possible solutions must be on the table.

More and better data needs to be gathered. There are bills in the legislature such as Representative Elizabeth Porter's HB 157 and the companion SB 560 by Senator Charlie Dean which require the water management districts to work together. Locally Alachua County should collaborate with its neighboring counties and be a leader in this most important issue. As citizens we all need to get informed and stay involved. Our future depends on it.

John Martin,

Hawthorne

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