Dr. Jennifer Mitchell started off her January 11th Land Management and Water Resource program by reminding attendees about how much of Florida is water. Since so much of our environment is water, protecting these natural systems is the core mission of the St. John’s River Water Management District (SJRWMD). This mission is accomplished through natural system management, flood prevention, water supply management, and water quality initiatives.
All of our water supply in this area of Florida, whether obtained from a water utility or private well, comes from the aquifer. Thus, everything put on the ground ends up in our water supply so the islands of nature SJRWMD maintains within expanding development is important for water quality.
SJRWMD uses a variety of land management techniques, including fire, to preserve native habitats. Fire is a preventative and restorative tactic which resets habitats and supports the many species which depend on fire. Prescribed fires not only help perpetuate fire-adapted plants and animals, they also reduce the chances of destructive wildfires, cycle nutrients, and help control tree diseases.
As Florida’s population grows it is important to think long term about water supply. The aquifer is the least-cost water supply alternative - deeper aquifer, surface water/brackish groundwater, and seawater desalinization are all more expensive.
Dr. Mitchell reviewed how our water supply is used:
- 65% private use (58% public supply, 7% self-supply)
- 19% Agricultural Irrigation
- 9% Commercial/Industrial/Institutional and Mining (Mining and pulp and paper 99%)
- 6% Recreational/Landscape/Aesthetic (golf courses 48%)
- 1% Thermoelectric Power Generation
Using an interactive polling system, Dr. Mitchell asked program attendees questions about water use and conservation. Some of the key takeaways were:
- Residential per capita use is about 86 gallons per person per day
- Irrigation accounts for more than half of all residential water use.
- Irrigate less
- Get a rain sensor and maintain it so it continues to work
- Measures to reduce use inside our homes include:
- Don’t leave water running when brushing your teeth.
- 12% of household use is toilets – make sure you don’t have leaks
- Showers use 2 ½ gallons/minute – use low-flow heads and shorten shower time
At the close of this informative program, Dr. Mitchell distributed rain gauges, toilet leak tablets, and literature.