Title: Water War Heats Up
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00002437/00001
 Material Information
Title: Water War Heats Up
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Miami Herold
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Water War Heats Up, March 31, 1996
General Note: Box 10, Folder 19 ( SF Water Wars - 1975-2000 ), Item 13
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00002437
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text
itIi iL i ,


Ear SIami Hearalb

Waterwar Iheats up

A lot of things dis-
tinguish Florida M
from the West, I. "
ern states, one thing leglS
being 50 to 60 inches would in
of rai a year. A second
difference is Florida's pnciple
basic water law. It says belongs to
that water is owned by
all for the use and ben-
efit a .
A number of state legislators want to
junk that principle. They would create
and8ock in the "right" of those now
holding water-use permits to automatic
renewals :and presumably later sale.
That's how arid Western states "ration"
water. They. ina ago g uaant mvthe
wafer rights of those who arrived first
and told the next arrivals to buy what
That's why Los Angeles buys water
rights .i Colorado. For Florida's urban
water' ii it would be an expensive
change. For the Everglades it would be
ruinous, because water brokers ascribe
no value to preserving the environment.
The pressure for change wasevident
last week in the Florida House's Select
Committee on Water Policy. Much of it
stems from the 30-year water war, now
water panic, on Florida's West Coast.
There, overpumping has dried up lakes,
salt water is intruding into the aquifer,
and the Southwest Florida Water Man-
agement District has issued permits to
use- more water than studies now indi-
cate is available. That district also has
agreed that water-pectit holders may
"transfer" that is, sell them.
With Lt. Gov. Buddy
MacKay warning that the
House bill faces:a certain
and wholly justified i:'
veto if lawmakers under- i;
mine existing fundamental i
law, Committee Chairman ,
John Rayson, D-Pompano
Beach, beat back a number
of attacks. But not all.
Despite two years of
study, many committee a ,
members seemed to have *
only a muddled under-
standing of Florida water LECISLAT
law, how it is administered,


Sand the importance of
1 HT IAW implementing provi-
sions requiring water
proposals management districts
pril the to establish "minimum
at- w r flows and levels." This
Swater scidatific calculation
ill, for all. establishes how much
water can be with-
drawn from a lake,
river, or aquifer without permanent
harm. It is, or should be, an essential
planning tool, and it ought to undergird
issuance of water-use permits.
Yet cormitittee meis were treat-
ing the calcuation as economic or politi-
cal in ntlnot hydrologic. Half a
dozen. I proposed "to bal-
ance" thec onb with the "r'itt or
"economic benefit" of continuing to
pump or withdraw water regardless of
the impact on the water source. One
passed. best that's shortsighltd public
policy. At worst it is venal, esurnng the
destruction of the state's most precious
natural resource the water supply.
The place to balance economic inter-
ests is not in calculating theJitits of the
water resource but when issuing permits
to use that resource. Floridas water
maagiient clearly could be better. The
public as Well as its water managers must
understand better the limits of current
water resources. Strong incentives to
preserve, conserve, and increase fresh
water supplies utilizing desalination,
for examine should be in place. Land
use and water planning must be con-
neqV nd., d good arguments can be
made i sttd Igtoing the governor's
control over -- thus
accountability of water
Management districts.
Fundamentally, how-
ever, Florida's water laws
are good. They were devel-
S, hoped with the public inter-
est not private interests
in mind. Legislators
Must 1Qok wfor ways to
Improve their implementa-
S tion. No one or group of
Interests can be allowed to
hijack or abuse the water
IRE '96 resources on which allFlo-
IR 9 ridians depend.

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