U.S. Water News Online
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As a way to cut back on water use,
one day Floridians who sell their homes could be required to first
upgrade them with low-flush toilets, low-flow shower heads, and other
plumbing fixtures that save water.
The proposal was among several dozen discussed by business,
government, and agriculture leaders at the second meeting of the
Water Conservation Initiative workshop.
The task force's goal is to find ways business owners and private
citizens can save water and take better care of the supply. It's part
of the Drought Action Plan, proposed by Gov. Jeb Bush in February, to
develop strategies to deal with the effects of the longlasting
Recent rains in Florida have eased three years of dry conditions,
but the groundwater supply remains below normal in central and
southwest Florida. South Florida's Lake Okeechobee, the primary water
source for surrounding farms and towns, is 2 feet below normal.
Water-use restrictions which limit lawn watering and car washing
remain in effect throughout much of the peninsula.
``There's more demand than there is supply,'' said Jim Duncan, a
senior engineer with Hillsborough County's water department.
The task force is studying conservation methods that would reduce
the need for expensive desalinization and reverse osmosis plants that
increase the cost of water.
``If you can make that groundwater supply last longer, the overall
costs are lower for the consumers,'' said Jay Yingling, a senior
economist with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Florida is projected to increase its water use by 23 percent from
1995 to 2020, or from 7.2 billions of gallons per day to 9.4 billions
of gallons per day, the state Department of Environmental Protection
The agency will release the task force's draft proposals in
November, with the final report due in February.
Other suggestions include:
``What we're not after is making people do without,'' said Janet
Llewellyn, deputy director of DEP's division of water resource
management. ``What we're doing is trying to find ways to use water
smarter with technology.''
Several of the suggestions have already been implemented at the
For example, Melbourne residents have received a $50 rebate from
the city since 1996 to replace their toilets with newer ones that use
less water. So far, 500 toilets have been installed that save an
estimated 5 million gallons of water per year, said Jennifer Wilster,
the city's conservation officer.
The task force recommendations could be implemented through
legislative or local government action, statutory changes or
incentive programs, Llewellyn said.
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