We must protect and conserve Florida’s water | Opinion

South Florida Water Management District

Water continues to make headlines, from rising sea-levels to toxic algae blooms to saltwater in our drinking aquifer, to the latest news about the Trump administration’s repeal of the 2015 water rule.

This returns the U.S. to water standards put in place in 1986 — a time when we were draining millions of acres of wetlands that help supply our drinking water.

Here in Florida, the land of sunshine, clear waters and pristine beaches, we’re already at a historic environmental crossroads. This latest water rule repeal has the potential to put every single resident at the forefront of its profound negative impact — all to benefit polluters.

We need to not only take action to preserve our freshwater resources but actively push for leaders who champion economic growth that does not put the environment at risk.

There are three simple ways every Floridian can contribute to avoiding a water crisis:

<bullet>First, educate yourself and your community about how this repeal impacts our state. From exposing Floridians to higher cancer risk to hurting our economy and closing beaches.

For example, the simple act of eating fresh seafood will become a hazard, as toxins that accumulate in fish and shellfish are passed along to humans who consume them.

As you may recall just three years ago, Florida regulators reduced water quality standards that allow more regulated chemicals in our drinking water. The acceptable level of toxins was increased for more than two dozen carcinogens, including benzene, which is found in the wastewater of oil and gas hydraulic fracturing operations.

<bullet>Second, make your voice heard. Contact your local politicians about the repeal of the Clean Water Rule. Do not allow the administration to define for us which water bodies deserve federal protection, and which bodies of water deserve to be polluted (without a permit). Urge your leaders to move swiftly and decisively.

<bullet>Third, make it a priority to conserve water. As a Miami-based business owner, I’ve made it my mission to prove that conservation is good for business. With the EPA estimating 20 percent of all toilets leak up to 200 gallons per day, I built a business model around fixing leaks and reducing usage by changing out toilets, faucets, showerheads to low flow models. Anyone can do this at their own home.

Not only can you save hundreds of gallons of fresh water, but you can save on your water bill, which is expected to be unaffordable to one-third of the US population by 2022.

The regulations on our most precious resource should not be lightened in support of economic growth. Our economy and our livelihood rely on clean water. Economic growth and the conservation of water — one of the necessary elements to sustaining life on this planet — should not be mutually exclusive of one another. Your efforts aren’t just a drop in the proverbial bucket, because with what Floridians and our bodies of water are facing — every drop matters.

Richard Lamondin, Jr. is co-founder and CEO of Miami-based EcoSystems.