The Amy H Remley Foundation  

October 2nd, 2007.

The following article appeared in the Citrus County Chronicle as an editorial under the headline "Region's water supply must be protected".

Region's water supply must be protected

With groundwater supplies in Central Florida increasingly stressed by population growth, a recent meeting of 37 cities in the region, hosted by the St. Johns River Water Management District, was another wake–up call that Florida's water supply is finite.

During the meeting, the Withlacoochee River was conceptually discussed as a possible alternative water supply source. Given that conceptual discussions can be a precursor to planning, the Withlacoochee Regional Water Supply Authority and its local government members of Citrus, Hernando and Sumter counties and the city of Ocala should heed this wake–up call by planning now for the inevitable.

The first step in planning for the inevitable is for the authority and its member governments to develop a plan for future water needs based upon projected consumption and supply. Such a plan would enable better management of future water needs and provide a factual basis for resisting any water transfers in the future.

The next planning step is for the authority and its member governments to identify and assess alternative water supply sources. In this regard, two alternative sources stand out –– conservation and desalination.

The husbanding of our water resources through the application of water conservation measures is the region's most effective and least costly alternative water supply source. Accordingly, the region's general indifference toward water conservation must end before its precious water resources become priceless commodities.

Conservation–oriented rate structures rewarding stewardship should be adopted. Permitted water allowances and lawn–watering restrictions should be enforced. Reuse water for golf course irrigation and rain sensors for residential irrigation should be the norm. Deed–restricted communities should embrace Florida–friendly landscaping. And residents should make every drop count by practicing common–sense water conservation measures.

A regional desalination plant, as publicly proposed by Citrus County Commissioner Gary Bartell in September 2000, also makes environmental, economic and political sense.

Environmentally, a desalination plant would contribute to the preservation of our fresh water supply and the ecosystems it sustains by reducing the demand on our ground and surface waters.

Economically, co–locating a desalination plant with Progress Energy's Crystal River energy complex would optimize its power generation capacity and make it economically feasible for the producer and consumer.

Politically, the region would strengthen its hand against the possibility of any future water transfers by practicing the "local sources first" principle that water transfers must only occur after all alternative means have been exhausted.

Given the growing demand on the state's water supply and the recurring eyeing of our region's waters, it is crystal clear that Florida's water resources are no longer inexhaustible.

Thus, it is imperative that the Withlacoochee Regional Water Supply Authority and its local government members move forward with conservation and desalination as the planning cornerstones for the region's future water supply.

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