We talk about water issues on this blog a lot. After all, gutters are meant to deal with rain water, and so it’s natural for us to notice these issues and to pay attention to them.
So when The Tampa Bay Times started talking about our disappearing Florida springs, we took notice.
It’s worth reading the whole story, but here are some of the highlights.
Jason Polk, a geoscience professor at Western Kentucky University, has been diving in Florida’s springs and sinkholes since 2004, doing research in underground caverns in Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Marion counties. He has seen stark changes over the years.
“You go in a cave where there’s no longer any water at all,” he said. “Places you used to swim through, now you have to walk through. It’s a permanent decline. It’s just gone.”
Where did it go? The evidence points to too much pumping of fresh water — millions of gallons a day sprayed on suburban lawns and farmers’ fields, run through showers and flushed down toilets, turned into steam to crank turbines for electricity, or siphoned into plastic bottles for sale around the country.
Floridians use 158 gallons of water a day per person, about 50 more than the national average. Meanwhile agriculture draws more water out of the ground for irrigation than any state east of the Mississippi. As a result, between 1970 and 1995, withdrawals from the aquifer increased more than 50 percent and by 2005 hit 4.2 billion gallons a day.
The report also mentioned that saltwater is encroaching into Florida’s aquifiers, directly impacting the water that we use and drink every single day.
This is why it’s so important to monitor your own water footprint, and why we encourage residents in our service area to “use their gutters for good” so to speak.