Utilities unite to try to stop climate change from shrinking water supply
By Kevin Spear
It's now a common nightmare for Florida's water utilities: An endless drought takes hold, the weather turns persistently hotter and rising sea levels poison underground wells with salt. So just as the warmer weather boosts demand for water, the supply of water shrinks.
The name of that bad dream is climate change, a phenomenon already beginning to play out and gain momentum, according to urgent warnings from many of the nation's leading climate-and-environment scientists.
But how might climate change play out at a local level? Will the amount of fresh water in the Floridan Aquifer or the Kissimmee and St. Johns rivers shrink to critically low levels? And which coastal cities' wells are most likely to become fouled by seawater?
Spurred by that lack of location-specific knowledge, a half-dozen Florida water utilities, along with state water managers and some university scientists, have formed a grass-roots alliance to do what otherwise isn't being done: Figure out what climate change will do in different parts of Florida and devise ways to ensure enough water for the state's counties and cities in the years and decades to come.