Florida’s water supply to be insufficient by 2070

November 22, 2016 -  By

Soon, California might not be the only state where landscape companies are forced to comply with water-conserving landscape practices.

A new study released Nov. 15 found that increased development across Florida could double the state’s water consumption over the next half century, the Miami Herald reports. Without massive improvements in conservation efforts, including landscaping practices, experts believe the state’s water supply will be insufficient and unable to meet the state’s demand by 2070.

“We’re concerned the future looks very dark for water in Florida, but I want to point out we have an array of solutions available to us,” said Cori Hermle, an environmental consultant with the state agriculture department. “It’s implementation of those solutions [that] is vital.”

The study, conducted through a partnership between the University of Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture and the “smart-growth group” 1000 Friends of Florida, is a follow-up to a September report that found the state stands to lose 15 percent of its green space to development over the next 50 years. At its current rate of growth, Florida’s population is also expected to reach 34 million by 2070. The group conducted the recently published follow-up study to see how this growth affects the state’s water supply.

Consumption by development adds up to about 3.1 billion gallons of water used per day, making the industry one of the state’s largest water consumers. If this growth continues across the state, consumption by development is expected to increase by about 6.5 billion gallons, while agricultural consumption, due to the loss of green space, will drop by 1.6 billion. In certain regions, like South Florida and Central Florida, consumption by development is expected to jump by more than 100 percent.

This, combined with the water supplies being increasingly threatened by saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels, makes the state’s water supply unsustainable at its current growth rate. The study found consumption could be reduced by controlling development sprawl and through stricter conservation measures. That said, water demand still likely rises by 27 percent—even under ideal circumstances.

“The situation does look dire, but I take good hope in the fact that there’s relatively simple things we can do as Floridians to dig us out of this hole,” Ryan Smart, president of 1000 Friends of Florida, told the Miami Herald. “But (it will) take much more commitment from the legislature and proactive government action.”


About the Author:

Dillon Stewart graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, earning a Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism with specializations in business and political science. Stewart is a former associate editor of LM.

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