So far in Florida, the issue of future sea level rise has been controversial, to say the least. Now, Florida politicians are fighting over the state’s existing water sources.
The Central Florida Water Initiative will soon come up for a vote. Three water management districts — St. Johns, South Florida, and Southwest Florida — have spent years drafting the initiative, which will govern the amount of water available to Central Florida in the decades ahead.
Because of this, Jacksonville official George Robbins claims the districts are vastly inflating their actual needs, a move he says will cost Florida taxpayers $2.8 billion. At present, Florida residents are using less water per person each year. But the districts counter that those estimates are essential to account for future economic growth.
“You can’t expect world-class attractions in Orlando to put billions of dollars into their parks if they don’t know whether they’re going to get an allocation for their newest water-based features,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said. “You can’t expect to bring in a Boeing, a Mercedes, whatever shiny economic-development prize that we want, if there is some question about whether the most fundamental element in economic development will be available to them.”
The final decision could have huge implications for Florida businesses that depend on water use. For instance, the national landscaping industry employs 398,383 people and will generate an estimated $80 billion in revenue this year, much of which will come from Florida landscaping companies.
The initiative will be voted on by all three water districts in November, but that’s not the only water war in Florida. Florida senators are also joining forces with Alabama politicians to ask for federal help in their ongoing feud with the state of Georgia.
Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson signed a letter this week addressed to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. The senators say that Georgia is using too much water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, and accused the Army Corps of Engineers of enabling Georgia’s water theft.
As Atlanta residents demand more water for themselves, less water has flowed downriver to Alabama and Florida. In the 1990s the states sued Georgia, and they’ve been fighting ever since.