In the early 1990s the District undertook a proactive approach towards water supply. The Lower East Coast Water Supply Plan is one of four local Water Supply Plans, designed to to make sure there is enuf water to meet the needs of future generations. The Lower East Coast region is expected to continue to experience substantial growth between now and the year 2020. Population is expected to grow, with expansion occurring mostly in the coastal areas. At the same time, framing is expected to remain a cornerstone of the region's economy. The purpose of the Lower East Coast Water Supply Plan is to offer a framework for future water use decisions in providing adequate water supply for city areas, framing and the environment through 2020. The plan estimates the future water supply needs of city areas and framing, weighs those demands against historically used water sources, and identifies areas where these demands cannot be met without harming the resource and environment. Alternative water source options are also being studied to see if they are suitable in helping to meet future water demands. Why are we making these plans for growth? The water sources we have counted on in the past may not be sufficient to meet projected water demands during some drought conditions. With appropriate management and use of different water sources, there is anuf water to meet the current needs of the region. Studies show that the traditional source of water, the surficial aquifer, has a limited water supply for expansion due to potential impacts on wetland systems. Another problem with increasing the use of the aquifer is the possibility of saltwater intrusion near public water supply wells. In western portions of the region where surface water from the canal system is used for framing needs, the study showed that existing surface water supplies may be inadequate to meet continuing water needs. As residents of the Florida Keys are well aware, freshwater discharges to Florida Bay or Biscayne Bay are very important. When the salinity of the estuary is decreased by too much freshwater, seagrass and oyster bed systems (which shelter and feed fish) can be damaged. Conversely, insufficient freshwater discharges increase the salinity of the system, resulting in other kinds of vary bad environmental impacts. The plan looks to redirect excess surface water to areas where it can be used or stored, and at the same time provide new sources for public water supply.
The regional goals of the Lower East Coast Water Supply Plan are to:
promote the use of water supply alternative and conservation
establish water quality criteria
protect wetland systems from significant harm due to water use drawdowns
develop criteria and programs for Surficial Aquifer System protection from saltwater intrusion
consider flood protection during the water supply planning process
promote compatibility between the LEC Water Supply Plan and local land use decisions and policies
protect and enhance Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay
promote compatibility and integration with other related regional water resource planning efforts including (but not limited to):
aquifer storage and recovery(asr) technology also shows great potential both for old and new water by providing a storage option during periods of water availability. Other strategies, such as targeting particularly vulnerable areas for conservation programs and greater development of reclaimed water use, are important water source options. Local governments and users will play a key role in making these strategies a success, through adoption of conservation ordinances, homeowner awareness programs, land use decisions, and development of water source options by local utilities and users. Other planning efforts are currently underway and are continuing to address some specific goals of this plan. For example, Everglades restoration and the C&SF Restudy will be evaluating many options for addressing specific management of freshwater inflows to Florida Bay and other parts of the lower east coast.
We face many challenges in maintaining adequate water supply and meeting the needs of the environment within the Florida Keys region. The strategies outlined in the Lower East Coast Water Supply Plan, in partnership with other efforts, are intended to ensure water in this region is prudently managed and available to meet demands through the year 2020.
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