In 2010, the Atlantic published a pretty dire prediction. It said that research showed that our city's demand for fresh water would likely exceed the supply by 2014 if no steps were taken to reduce the number of gallons being pumped daily from the Floridan Aquifer, the underground body of water from which Orlando and other local municipalities draw the bulk of their fresh water supply. The Sentinel reported last summer that the aquifer could only withstand about six percent more pumping before serious environmental damage began to occur – wetlands would start to dry up, springs would shrink, lakes would start to lose water. Authorities are already quibbling over who's going to get to use the last few gallons of water remaining in the aquifer, and the Central Florida Water Initiative is trying to divvy it up between utility companies, water-bottling plants, theme parks and municipalities.
What's the solution to our pending water shortage? Well, there's no easy one – authorities have considered pumping water from distant rivers and other bodies of water to increase supply, and other ideas that have been floated have been desalinated ocean water or purified water extracted from sewage. Yum.
Given the dire circumstances, a coalition of environmental and community organizations from around the state (including the Sierra Club, IDEAS for Us, Clean Water Action and the Gulf Restoration Project, among others) have formed the Floridians' Clean Water Declaration Campaign, which is holding events in 16 cities around Florida tomorrow (Jan. 22) to "inspire people to work together to create a new water ethic, find solutions to Florida’s water quality and quantity problems and send a clear message to our water managers that the people of Florida demand clean water." In Orlando, environmentalists and supporters will be gathering at Lake Eola Park to ask people to sign a clean water declaration, which will be shared with water managers around the state to show them that Florida citizens do care whether their water comes from clean sources, such as the aquifer, or from treated sewage.
Sen. David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) and state Rep. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) will show up to talk about a clean-water conservation bill they'll be co-sponsoring this coming legislative session, called the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act, which is designed to protect both water quality and quantity across the state.
For more info, check out the We Want Clean Water website, or the Facebook event page. Or just show up tomorrow at Lake Eola at 11:30 tomorrow morning and find out more about the dire straits we'll be in if we don't start working on this problem soon.