The Case for Universal Water Fees in Florida
“Even though it’s one of the rainiest states in the Nation, Florida faces as many water challenges as any state. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Florida is one of 14 states predicted to face “high risk” water shortages by the year 2050. The aquifers which supply most
of the State’s residents and industries have long been over-pumped, compromising both environmental and ecological health and the future sustainability of the resource. And since water quantity and water quality are inextricably linked, falling groundwater levels along with manmade chemical inputs contribute to the increasing pollution of Florida’s springs, rivers, and estuaries.
These problems have been widely documented in the press, and are recognized by environmental scientists and a good share of the public. They are also acknowledged by the State’s political leaders, who have created and funded an array of “recovery” programs aimed at developing new
potable water supplies and at cutting back on nutrient pollution. As well-intentioned as these programs may be, the reality is that groundwater levels, spring flows, and nutrient pollution concentrations are not going to return to healthy levels in many if not most areas of the State for the foreseeable future. The causes of the problems are so deepseated, the fixes so under-funded, and growth in the State so inexorable, that these “recovery” programs may never catch up with the ongoing rate of degradation. As one prominent Florida business leader characterizes the water problem in Florida: “We are heading right for a brick wall”.
Given this backdrop, it is almost inconceivable that one of the fairest and most effective means of restoring water supplies is not part of the restoration tool-kit. In fact, it is hardly discussed in the press, and mention of it is anathema to our political leaders. We are referring to water-use fees. It is clearly time for a serious analysis and debate over the merits of these fees.”