Water Quality in FloridaWater
With over twenty million residents, Florida is one of the most populated states in America, recently knocking the Empire State, New York, as the third largest in the United States.
And this population growth doesn’t show signs of slowing down, as everyone from retirees to college grads with families are relocating due to the tropical climate and perks such as no personal income tax.
However, this growth, compiled with pressing environmental and infrastructure concerns, puts the Sunshine State on an unstable path forward. According to a study from the Natural Resources Defense Council, more Floridians are exposed to unsafe drinking water when compared to other inhabitants. The state ranked second regarding the number of people impacted by violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is a landmark legislation passed in 1974 to safeguard tap water in the country.
The water sources for Florida tap water comes from a variety of sources, such as several prolific aquifers (found mostly in the north and central part of the state) that yield large quantities of water to wells, streams, lakes and springs – which are some of the largest in the world. In addition, there are over one hundred and thirty desalination plants (mostly found in south Florida).
“The problem is two-fold: there’s no cop on the beat enforcing our drinking water laws, and we’re living on borrowed time with our ancient, deteriorating water infrastructure,” Erik Olson, NRDC’s health program director, said in a statement. “We take it for granted that when we turn on our kitchen tap, the water will be safe and healthy, but we have a long way to go before that is reality across our country.”
About 7.5 million residents of Florida are exposed to unsafe drinking water, with an estimated 77 million citizens when all states are considered. And these concerns are not only limited to residents, as close to one hundred million tourists flock to the state each year. Yes, 100MM!
In Florida, the most cited violation was failing to provide citizens with their annual water quality report, while other instances were noted as “cancer-causing disinfectants, high levels of coliform from human waste, and lead and copper that exceeded safe limits.”
The state is often dealing with a variety of contaminants, both manmade and local – some of which are not even officially considered as part of the problem.
For example, drinking water standards from the Environmental Protection Agency (also known as the EPA, which is responsible for oversight of the Safe Drinking Water Act) have not been updated to include instances such as algae-related toxins which have fouled water throughout Florida.
Throughout the state, undrinkable and discolored water has been a growing occurrence, a concern that seems to be falling through the cracks due to an intersection of politics, misinformation, crumbling infrastructure and to some extent, the impact of global warming.
As more folks flock to Florida to live, and even more coming as temporary guests to enjoy a tropical vacation, we must work together to ensure that efforts are expanded – and that people, rightly so, shouldn’t need to second-guess themselves when having a glass of water.
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For those of us who came of age in the 1980s and 1990s, our adulthood was supposed to be an era that was nothing short of a technologically advanced utopia brimming with equality. However, as many societies became more advanced, connected and educated, the various problems surrounding our global water supply have started to bloom,