The numerous regional fights over water rights across Florida continue to threaten the long-term sustainability of the states vital agriculture industry, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam warned state senators Tuesday.
Appearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee, Putnam listed the maintenance of water resources, along with expanding the "Fresh From Florida" promotion of Sunshine State produce both in schools and abroad, and the eradication of invasive species and diseases, among his legislative priorities for the 2013 session.
There is not a corner of the state thats not in some type of water scarcity conflict, Putnam said.
Weve got to work our way and manage through those things, with a particular sensitivity to agriculture because it is such a foundation for our economy.
He pointed to ecological and economic collapsefacing Apalachicola Bay, to regional fights over spring sheds from Jacksonville to Central Florida, to the pressure of population growth on water supplies in the Southeast.
For the past decade-and-a-half the Everglades have received the bulk of attention when it comes to water policy. I think that we need to have a statewide strategy for water, and that includes protecting our springs and the aquifer that feeds those springs, as well as our surface water issues, Putnam said after the committee meeting.
The message isnt anything new from Putnam, who has been sounding the alarm since taking office that Florida must increase its alternative water supplies and desalination plants and offer incentives to developers to help conserve water supplies.
With Florida expected soon to surpass New York as the third most populated state in the nation, the projections have been that the Sunshine State will need to increase its water production by 2 billion gallons a day by 2025, a task the states five water management districts have started planning for.
Also to help the citrus industry, Putnam told the committee he is backing a $9 million request for citrus greening research, to match the $60 million already invested to fight the disease by the states $9 billion a year citrus industry.
Reach Jim Turner at email@example.com or at (772) 215-9889.