Let’s all do our part to keep Florida hydrated
Published: Sunday, September 25, 2011
Updated: Sunday, September 25, 2011 15:09
Flowing deep below the ground sits one of the most unique and productive natural formations in the world: the Florida aquifer. Water is a resource we generally take for granted. We shower in it, dump it in large quantities on our lawns and never really think twice about it. The problem is, it's looking more and more like the state of Florida could be running out of this life-sustaining resource, and fast.
Recently, Orlando was listed by 24/7 Wall Street as one of the top 10 cities at risk for running out of water. Our city has faced constant droughts and a quickly growing population. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in 2008 that the Orlando Utilities Commission has estimated that water demand will exceed supply by 2014 if no action is taken.
South Florida has been hit hard, as well. Three months ago, city officials from West Palm Beach warned that they only had 22 days left of fresh water, according to WPTV.
"Conditions are such that a significant threat exists to the public's health, safety and welfare," the report said. Thankfully, storms were able to increase the water supply in West Palm Beach, but the city narrowly dodged a bullet.
This lack of water supply is a particularly big hit to Florida. The backbone of our economy is based upon having a steady flow of water. With an economy heavily supported by agriculture, tourism and real estate, to run out of water would be very harmful to us.
On top of this, the geography of our state makes us vulnerable to permanent water loss. When water levels in the Florida aquifer run too low, salt water from either side of our great state begins to seep in, permanently over-salinating our water supply. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Hallandale Beach has already had to abandon six of its eight drinking water wells as salt water has now taken up two-thirds of the city's aquifer. In Broward County, salt water is as far as five miles inland in some places. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, we are at risk of the same thing in West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Miami.
The issue will only continue to get worse. West Palm Beach, the city that was going to run out of water less than two months ago, was listed by CNN as the fastest growing city in the United States earlier this year. Orlando was recently listed as the sixth-largest growing metropolitan area in the United States, according to information cited by UCF Today.
In fact, according to a study commissioned by 1,000 Friends Of Florida, our state is going to double in size in 50 years. This means more pressure on our water resources and more risk of depleting our water supply. This is a problem that isn't going to go away. It's an issue we must address quickly and completely.
The answer is not salt water purifiers, as the technology isn't there to produce potable water in cheap and effective ways yet. The only way to fix this problem is by reducing our demand for water. Personally, take less time in the shower and water your lawn less. Politically, pressure the state government to increase money to water management districts, implement more effective water retention standards and crack down on offenders.
From the swamps of what Florida once was, to the beautiful cities and people of what Florida now is, our great state has changed a lot throughout the years. We live in the greatest state in the country, in the greatest country in the world, at the greatest time in world history. The question is: Can we do what we need to do, to make sure it stays that way?