Study warns of deepening Florida water shortage issues

Reporter: Corey Lazar
Published: Updated:
The impact of the severe drought affect much of Southwest Florida can be seen in this Lehigh Acres canal. The water source for Lehigh was at a 40-year-low in March 2017, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

FORT MYERS, Fla. Water shortages that have plagued Florida this year are projected to get worse in the years to come.

A newly released study warns of problems as the state’s population grows from 20 million to 35 million, and as water consumption jumps from 5 billion gallons a day to 8 billion by 2070.

The report, called Water 2070, was jointly authored by the state Department of Agriculture, the University of Florida and 1,000 Friends of Florida, a nonprofit geared toward sustainability.

“If we continue as we are, we’re going to have some severe problems, some severe shortages,” said University of Florida professor Peggy Carr, one of the researchers who contributed to the study.

Much of Southwest Florida is in the midst of a severe drought that has persisted for months. It’s left wells dry in Lehigh Acres and prompted Cape Coral to restrict lawn watering to only one day a week. It’s also helped contribute to the state’s worst wildfire season in at least six years.

The issue isn’t affecting Cape Coral’s drinking water, which comes from a different source than its irrigation supply. The city estimates it has enough drinking water to last 15-20 years.

But if Cape Coral or other Southwest Florida municipalities need to turn to a new drinking water source, the next closest option is the Avon Park aquifer. It could cost an average of four to five times more per household to bring water in from there, Cape Coral Water Production Manager Andrew Fenske said.

For more information, visit Florida-Friendly Landscaping.

WINK News Anchor Corey Lazar discussed the water crisis in more detail:

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.