Balancing the needs of people and Florida’s natural environment for water is a critical part of the core mission work of the St. Johns River Water Management District.
The District works daily toward its core mission of ensuring the sustainable use of Florida’s water through its water supply planning process. In simple terms, a water supply plan quantifies the needs for water, identifies where that water can come from and provides a list of project options for delivering that water in a way that will ensure people and the state’s waterways, plants and animals have the water they need.
This work has come into higher focus in recent months as our District Governing Board approved the five-year update to the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) Regional Water Supply Plan. Staff are now working on regional plans for the Central Springs/East Coast planning region due in 2021 and the five-year update to the North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership region in 2022. Watch soon for opportunities to participate in public meetings/webinars and to offer comment on these draft plans.
Preparing a water supply plan is a complex and lengthy process. On average, it takes two to three years to gather and analyze data that go into helping our staff make the informed, science-based decisions that are laid out in these plans. Each time the team begins work on a plan or update, they gather a wealth of information, such as the latest population figures, water use numbers, environmental data, groundwater and surface water modeling results and more. Throughout the process, staff work with neighboring water management districts, other state agencies, local governments and utilities, the agricultural community and other stakeholders to evaluate this information.
This process began in 1996 when then-Gov. Lawton Chiles signed an executive order requiring development of 20-year plans to address water needs in the state. The Regional Water Supply Planning law was passed in 1997 and has been updated over the years. A collaborative statewide planning group created a guidance document that provides consistency while allowing plans tailored to the local regions and the conditions found there.
Once the District approves a water supply plan, the work continues with many partners, as approval sets in motion the requirement for local governments/utilities to update their facilities’ work plans to consider water supply options listed in a regional plan. Local governments may also have to update their own comprehensive plans.
Water supply planning is a balanced approach to meeting future water demands. With the help of our many partners and the public, water conservation and the continued development of alternative water sources remain priorities so we can meet these demands while protecting our water resources. Thank you for being part of the process.