Local news reports are once again being filled with drought warnings and talk of future water woes. But what is not being talked about are measures that could have helped the situation and were poised to be executed by the Water Management District.
To explain, a program known as dispersed water storage, or dispersed water management/water farming, has been vetted by the district and moved into contracting phase to allow shallow water storage of rain water to be held on various parcels of land. These shallow water storage projects hold water during times of high rainfall, allowing valuable storm water to be captured and stored in a more natural way, as opposed to letting it flood our rivers or run off in areas that cannot afford excess water.
These programs, while making it through the district's review process and contracting phase and also receiving funding by the Legislature, ultimately did not make it into the state's final budget. The reason? I believe that answer is simple. Misinformation about a new program and a stigma over public and private land use partnerships.
Dispersed water storage has been used since 2005 and is a science-based approach to storing water that engages public-private partnerships that identifies the best parcel of land with the most water storage possible — and in most cases we will find that on non-state owned land.
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The proponents and supporters of Amendment 1 called on lawmakers and the governor to invest in water conservation and preservation of land.
Whether or not any funds from that amendment are ultimately directed to these types of projects across the state, the message should be clear from Floridians. They want the state to focus on environmental projects that reap long-term benefits.
And what better project to add to that list to support than water storage projects that are science-based, already vetted and approved by the district and are shovel ready.
We encourage the Legislature, the governor and the water management district to advocate for these projects and provide tangible water storage solutions for South Florida before we end up in a water crisis yet again.
Brewster Bevis, chairman, Florida H20 Coalition, Tallahassee