Forum: Collaboration needed to counter looming water shortage
If Florida's population continues to grow, the state's drinking water supplies could be 1 billion gallons a day short of meeting the demand by 2030, a state senator warned about 120 people gathered at a forum on regional water issues Thursday.
"We have to be proactive," Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater, Republican chairman of the General Appropriations Committee, said during a program hosted by the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority and attended by county commissioners, utility managers and others interested in protecting but also expanding potable water sources.
Floridians should not "wake up one day in 2030" and realize the opportunity to "build significant water infrastructure" has passed, State Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Lakeland, said. "We need to build coalitions," the chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee advised. "We need to raise the bar."
Latvala, Albritton and other speakers agreed that the Peace River Manasota authority sets an example that other regions in the state need to follow.
Instead of fighting over existing and potential water supplies, the local governments in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto governments decided to collaborate 25 years ago.
Today, the regional authority has become instrumental in connecting public utilities so water can be shared throughout the four-county region - especially in times of emergencies.