Water conservation program to build conservation culture
Recognizing the need to protect South Florida's water resources and help ensure sustainable water supplies, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board approved a Comprehensive Water Conservation Program that will guide efforts to develop a lasting, water conservation ethic throughout South Florida...
• Plan proposes regulatory, financial incentives and educational strategies
WEST PALM BEACH, FL, Oct. 1, 2008 -- Recognizing the need to protect South Florida's water resources and help ensure sustainable water supplies, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board approved a Comprehensive Water Conservation Program that will guide efforts to develop a lasting, water conservation ethic throughout South Florida.
"South Florida is at a critical turning point," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Eric Buermann. "Population growth -- coupled with weather extremes that include periodic drought -- remind us that the days of cheap and unlimited water are over. We all must adopt a culture of conservation to protect and sustain our region's water resources."
The Comprehensive Water Conservation Program fosters a conservation culture with regulatory, voluntary and financial incentives as well as education and marketing strategies.
All components of the Comprehensive Water Conservation Program are designed to build on and complement successful water conservation initiatives at the local, state and national levels. The dynamic and flexible program also is designed to evolve with any changes in Florida law and the District's progress in environmental restoration.
Components and key strategies of the plan include:
• Goal-based conservation planning, implementation and improved reporting for large, permitted water users.
• Conservation-based rate structures for utilities designed to encourage water savings and discourage high-volume use.
• Retrofitting of outdated, water-guzzling plumbing devices.
• Year-round landscape irrigation measures.
• Adopting and incorporating Florida-friendly landscaping principles.
• Water conservation education strategies, including classroom education, social marketing and professional development.
• A call for governments and large users to lead by example.
"Residents and businesses have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to reduce water use during times of adversity," said SFWMD Executive Director Carol Wehle. "Now, thanks to the foresight of the Governing Board, we are building on that positive momentum, actively turning a short-term challenge into an opportunity for long-term change."
The new conservation measures are designed to accomplish a measurable change in water use. According to the latest U.S. Geological Survey water use report:
• South Florida residents consume 179 gallons per person per day -- the highest usage in the state.
• Up to one-half of all potable water produced in our region goes to outdoor irrigation.
• More than 50 percent of the water applied to lawns is lost to evaporation or run-off because of over-watering.
By 2025, six million new residents are projected to make Florida their home, swelling the state's population to more than 24 million. More than half of these new residents will settle in South Florida.
Work on the plan began in October 2007 when the Governing Board called for a public Water Conservation Summit and a series of stakeholder meetings. The summit was held on December 4, 2007, to gather information and input from local, state and national experts on the components of an achievable, meaningful and lasting water conservation program.
The Summit also launched an intensive stakeholder-driven process to gather input from a wide variety of interests for development of a comprehensive plan. The District identified and assembled a diverse group of 21 members representing 13 water use groups and interests. The stakeholder group met monthly from December 2007 through May 2008 with the goal of assisting the District in developing a proactive and achievable water conservation program.
The South Florida Water Management District is a regional, governmental agency that oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state -- 16 counties from Orlando to the Keys. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts.