Ann Shortelle: Conserve water to sustain our supply and fragile resources


Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 7:49 p.m.

A clean and dependable supply of water is vital to our environment, economy and quality of life, today and into the future. Water conservation is the most important step that each of us can take to meet our future water needs and sustain our fragile water resources, such as our springs.

That is why I am committed to fostering a water conservation ethic throughout the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). We can all be part of the solution by doing our part to conserve our precious water resources. Every drop does matter.

SRWMD is emphasizing water conservation education and other efforts to assist in instilling a water conservation ethic for everyone to embrace. SRWMD places an emphasis on water conservation for all water users on a year-round basis. Large users, including agriculture, commercial, industrial and public supply are required to implement water conservation measures.

In addition, SRWMD assists our water users in implementing water conservation and efficient use projects through a variety of programs. For example, this fiscal year the SRWMD has established cost-share programs to assist agriculture producers and local governments in the protection of water resources and water conservation efforts.

As a result, farmers and ranchers are participating to reduce groundwater pumping by an estimated 1,976 million gallons of water annually, and local governments are estimated to conserve about 160 million gallons of water per year. This is an excellent start, but we expect that future years will yield additional annual savings as water conservation technologies continue to improve.

We have also realized success in our partnerships with local governments to beneficially reuse wastewater to offset groundwater withdrawals. The SRWMD has partnered with cities throughout our region to implement reclaimed water programs. Approximately 9.6 million gallons of groundwater are saved each day through these partnerships. We also celebrate the water conservation accomplishments of our large industrial water users who have reduced groundwater pumping through process improvements by over 20 million gallons of water per day.

Our commitment to water conservation is stronger than ever before. In March, the SRWMD's Governing Board adopted a proclamation recognizing April as Water Conservation Month, joining Florida in this traditional effort.

We encouraged all local governments within our region to join us in promoting water conservation by adopting a similar proclamation. So far we have 100 percent participation from our 15 counties and have received word that several cities and towns have adopted a proclamation as well. Local governments are recognized on our website at www.mysuwanneeriver.com for their support.

In addition, we are encouraging schools within SRWMD to learn about water conservation during the month of April. The SRWMD has provided resources for teachers and ideas for student projects on our website. Participating schools will be recognized on our website and at our board meeting on May 16.

There is much more to be done. Collectively we are all responsible for water conservation, and together, we make a difference. We can all do our part to protect our precious water resources by practicing and promoting water conservation measures, both indoors and outdoors, at home and at work. Thank you for working together with us to conserve water and protect our water resources.

Ann B. Shortelle is executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District.

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