Gunster environmental and land use attorneys Elizabeth D. Ross and Deborah K. Madden authored an article providing a detailed look at some of the complications surrounding the use of alternative water supply sources in Florida. The article was published in the September/October 2016 issue of The Florida Bar Journal.
In the article, Ross and Madden discuss the balancing act that Florida’s water allocation program must juggle: public health and safety, environmental protection and the needs of water users.
Alternative water supply sources include reclaimed water (treated wastewater), stormwater and excess surface water – all of which depend on rainfall and are thus somewhat unreliable long-term. Of these, reuse of reclaimed water is the most complicated from an administrative, regulatory and financial perspective.
Reclaimed water can be reused for irrigation purposes and also acts as an environmental recharge, offsetting groundwater loss. However, the practice can be problematic, according to the article. Potential unintended consequences include a loss of planned recharge effect in some circumstances, and a “lock up” of allocations in another. All of which complicates wastewater utilities’ ability to provide reclaimed water to irrigation users, and is dependent on water quantity and storage availability.
Ross and Madden conclude the article with ideas on the funding of certain prioritized reuse projects, including industrial use of reclaimed water and projects providing storage, nutrient treatment, aquifer recharge or environmental recovery.
Before joining Gunster in 2015, Ross served as lead attorney for the South Florida Water Management District; she has more than 30 years’ legal experience pertaining to Florida water policy and resources.
Madden represents developers, agricultural interests and public and private companies in court proceedings and before administrative law judges on a variety of environmental permitting, compliance and regulatory claims issues.
Read the article: Finding certainty in the new world of alternative water supply sources (The Florida Bar Journal, September/October 2016, Vol. 90, No. 8, page 62)
Read related: Legacy Florida shows state’s commitment to land, water restoration (Gunster.com news 5/9/16)