Department of Transportation
Haydon Burns Building, 605 Suwannee Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32301, Telephone (904) 488-8541
JACOB D. VARN
July 10, 1981
JUL 13 1981
Jacob D. Varn
D'PT. Of CO VAUNITY AFFAIRS
OJ E OF THE SECREUARY
On Saturday, July 25, I will be participating in a
Florida Law program on environmental law. I will be discussing
emerging issues involving water. I would appreciate it if you
would call or send me any suggestions or ideas relating to
this topic. I apologize for the short notice but I would
appreciate your thoughts and ideas. Thanks.
Question-Do water resources and water dependent natural systems (estuaries, wetlands,
floodplains) enjoy constitutional rights?
1. Yes, see Article II Section 7 ("conserve and protect natural resources")
2. But who protects those rights? our water policy and regulatory system
3. Implication: constitutional sanction to deny adverse consumption or use of
water or water dependent natural systems
4. Classic confrontation: constitutional right of resources protection vs
property rights of land owners?
Question-Is water a constraint to growth?
1. Yes and no in Florida.
2. Yes in absolute sense, i.e., people and agriculture die without it, but
3. Our record since statehood indicates answer is no, i.e., we've historically
drained, pumped, diverted and otherwise used our water resources to accom-
modate and even stimulate growth
4. Historical attitude of water managers: plenty of water, cost is issue
(see Miami Herald article, 7/5/81, quoting assistant director of South
Florida Water Management District: "There is no actual shortage of water
in South Florida. The question is-How much are you willing to pay for
5. As we reach limits of surface and groundwater supplies, which have been
traditional public facility/service functions for local governments, are
local governments obligated to find other water supply sources, such as
reverse osmosis and desalinization, i.e., is there ever a point where
government responsibility for water supply ends (when natural water supply
sources end), or will new growth always be the imperative for an ever-
widening search for new alternatives?
6. How often do you ever hear of a rezoning being denied due to lack of
Question-Can we limit urban growth due to lack of water?
1. As a police power right, yes
2. As a political choice, in a state where tourism and construction are major
economic forces, we haven't yet (except temporary rationing and moratoria
3. Interbasin transfer issue becomes crucial here
4. Practical fact is that people demand services, i.e., water supply
5. Doubt if water planning/management and most local land planning/management
is sophisticated and coordinated enough to sustain legal challenge
6. Not totally negative picture, Chapter 373 and 380 born in 1971 drought,
we know they don't prevent droughts but give us more sophisticated tools
to deal with water resources, still long way from perfect in managing
water resources in Florida.
Question-What water related problems are emerging in Southwest Florida?
-The drainage of floodplains for development has caused a change in the
hydrologic regiem of the Southwest Historic Fresh Water Marshes which
are now salt marshes
-Storm water drainage into rivers, lakes, and estuaries are causing
water quality problems
-Inadequate sewage treatment plants and tens of thousands of septic tanks
located in areas with a high water table or unsuitable soils are polluting
-These changes to the estuaries are threatening coastal and offshore fisheries
-Salt water intrusion is occurring due to heavy consumption and over drainage
-The winter influx of tourists and seasonal residents coincides with South-
west Florida's dry season
-There is growing concern over who will be allowed to use the available
water and for what purposes
-The expected doubling of the population in the Charlotte Harbor area by
2000 A.D. and the southward migration of the phosphate industry will put
a much greater demand on the already short water supply
-An existing 900,000 platted lots in Charlotte Harbor area represents even
greater future water supply needs