Stop Giving Away Florida’s Water

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!

Ryan Smart
Ryan Smart signed this petition

Florida’s springs are suffering significant flow declines as a result of the over-pumping of groundwater from the Floridan Aquifer. It is the responsibility of Florida’s water management districts to protect our water resources and manage them in our interest. They have failed this charge, irresponsibly giving away Florida’s most precious resource and destroying our world class springs.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that groundwater use from the Floridan Aquifer has increased by more than 400%, from 630 million gallons per day to 3.4 billion gallons per day, from 1950 to 2010.

During the same time, average spring flows in Florida have declined by an estimated 32%. Despite these sobering statistics, water management districts throughout the state continue to issue new consumptive water use permits with astonishing impunity.

Florida’s springs are one of our state’s most iconic and important resources. Healthy springs are essential habitat for manatees to survive, providing critical warm water sanctuaries in cooler months.

They are also important cultural and economic hubs, and the Floridan Aquifer provides drinking water for most of Florida’s 21 million residents. We must be better stewards of these ecological gems or we risk losing them entirely.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District, St. Johns River Water Management District, Suwannee River Water Management District and Northwest Florida Water Management District should set a goal of restoring all Outstanding Florida Springs to a minimum of 95 percent of their historical levels within 10 years.

To achieve this goal, the Districts must stop issuing new consumptive water use permits in Outstanding Florida Springs recharge areas until:

  • flows for each Outstanding Florida Spring are within 95% of their historic levels,
  • protective minimum flow and level rules and corresponding prevention and restoration plans
    have been adopted and implemented for each Outstanding Florida Spring, and
  • the Districts have adopted a protective uniform definition of “harmful to water resources” to be
    used in future water use permitting decisions as required by law.

Additionally, in severely impacted springs systems, District Governing Boards should take measures to limit withdrawals by existing permittees during times of drought and water scarcity. These steps are allowed by statute but rarely – if ever – used to protect water resources in practice.

For too long Florida’s water resources have been managed for special interests, not the public’s interest. Until the Districts’ Governing Boards and Governor DeSantis address the priorities and operations of the water management districts , only a moratorium on new consumptive use permits can protect Florida’s springs and water resources.