Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

February 2012 Prez Sez

Annual Winter Shorebird Survey.

Thanks to all that participated in the annual Winter Shorebird Survey.  Although we were down in the number of birds over last year, you can only count what you see.  On the positive side, we had more people counting than last year.  Ken did a yeoman job of getting volunteers from the club, the Halifax River AS, the West Volusia AS and the Marine Discovery Center.  The folks from the MDC were first time counters and kayaked the inland waters to find the shorebirds.  All the new folks expressed their thanks for the opportunity, that they really enjoyed the experience, and indicated they would like to do it again.  That is what it is all about – getting new people enthusiastic and involved in understanding and protecting our environment.  Thanks Ken for all your hard work.

Whose water is it? 

Does the water under our feet that ends up in your faucet belong to the people, to the state, the cities, the water utilities, or anyone who wants it like the companies that would suck the aquifer dry to put water in plastic bottles without paying for it?  How should water be apportioned?  Who should do that job? 

Remember the water wars of a few years ago between Florida and Georgia involving drawing water from the Okefenokee and its tributaries?  And how about the discussions in the state house about creating a pipeline to move water from water-rich areas of the state to water-poor areas that are developing faster than their water supplies? 

Kevin Spear wrote a seminal article in the Orlando Sentinel on Dec 24, 2011 in which he states the original philosophy about water management:

  “The long-standing approach has been to protect increasingly scarce supplies, including the nearly tapped-out aquifer that serves most of the state, for the benefit of Florida's residents, its environment and as an essential element of life that nobody can claim to own.

As you probably know, the water management districts were tasked with the responsibility to protect our water resources and with the authority to allow or deny permits for consumptive use of water in their areas of influence.  Governor Scott’s business-friendly administration severely cut the budgets of the water management districts and reorganized them, making it more difficult for them to deny permits in the future.

Former Gov. Bob Graham recently launched the Florida Conservation Coalition to thwart what he calls the "privatizing" of water supplies.  You can check out his website here.  According to the website:

“The Florida Conservation Coalition is devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife and water resources that are essential to the well-being and quality of life of the residents of this state, and for its long-term economic prosperity. Florida’s natural resources are a treasure to be conserved for the people of Florida and must be managed judiciously, not squandered.

Other people are getting on the bandwagon as well.  Remember the Florida Hometown Democracy campaign to give citizens a right to vote on major changes to local comprehensive plans before they were approved by local and county governments?  That amendment (Prop 4) failed in the last general election but the people who were involved generated a website called the Price of Sprawl.

Their site is an interactive tool to help Florida taxpayers assess the hidden costs of over-development including the costs of infrastructure & services, the decline of home values, and shortages of drinking water. They selected 100 cities & counties to illustrate the costs to taxpayers of continuing unrestrained residential development. Schools & roads are the biggest financial costs to taxpayers, and drinking water supplies are inadequate for Florida’s projected growth. 

One of the cities highlighted is Edgewater.  If you click on the button representing Edgewater, you will get a popup that shows we will not have enough drinking water for the anticipated 2030 population. 

The proposed desalination plant for Flagler County is basically defunct.  More and more wetlands are being filled in for commercial and residential development.  The aquifer is running dry and will be soon affected by salt-water intrusion.  Alternatives include pumping water from the St John’s and other rivers.  You know as well as I that these rivers are polluted with herbicides, pesticides, cattle excrement and oil and gas residue from boat motors.  How can those waters be made safe to drink?

This will obviously be a contentious issue.  I urge you to read Kevin Spear’s article, and the Florida Conservation Coalition and Price of Sprawl websites and keep informed on the state of our water.  It will not be a renewable resource forever.