Sun Sentinal Editorial, Saturday, November 19, 2011

Still need to heed water shortage warning.
As South Florida enters the annual dry season, Audubon of Florida applauds the South Florida Water Management District for taking proactive steps toward water conservation.
South Floridians should thank Glenn Waldman, Broward County’s SFWMD Governing Board representative, who championed the call for increased water conservation. He argued for expanding conservation measures to avoid a repeat of the problems suffered through this year’s dry season.
Waldman made a motion to enact a district-wide water shortage warning and after some discussion, the board voted 5-4 to declare the warning.
Notwithstanding October rains fit for the record books, the Governing Board acknowledged that forecasts predict a drier than normal dry season and that Lake Okeechobee is still well below average historic levels.
The water shortage warning means that it is important to conserve water now because our region may be running low on water resources in the spring. A water shortage warning places our region on heightened alert for a potential water shortage during the upcoming dry season.
The warning encourages vigilance and voluntary water conservation efforts from South Florida’s water users. It also means that the SFWMD is on the cusp of going back into water restrictions if conditions warrant.
We want to avoid repeating the harm that occurred to the environment and economy during the 2011 dry season. Earlier this year, cities such as West Palm Beach were within weeks of running out of water supplies.
If steps to save water had been taken earlier in the season, hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money may have been saved by avoiding the use of expensive and environmentally risky temporary forward pumps to supply water to some users.
The South Florida Water Management District deserves our thanks for taking this step to protect our freshwater resources as we enter the dry season.
Jane Graham, Everglades Policy Associate