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Water-Related News

Central Florida Water Initiative focuses on collaboration with utilities to extend water supply

Built on the concept of collaboration, the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) works with the area’s 83 utilities to scale water conservation efforts and promote alternative water supplies for a growing population.

“The CFWI is focused on regional, multijurisdictional solutions that serve more than one utility, and by extension more residents, businesses, the agricultural community and other water users in the region,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We remain focused on ensuring sustainable use of Florida’s water, knowing that coordination is key to successfully implement a water supply plan of this size and scale.”

“This unique partnership can be a model for other communities across the country,’” said Southwest Florida Water Management District Executive Director Brian Armstrong. “We are proud to work together to develop strategies to meet our region’s growing water demands.”

“As a longtime Central Florida resident, I can personally attest to the crucial importance of water supply,” said South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe. “Our Governing Board is enthusiastic to play a part in this major collaborative effort to find every available way to ensure water supply for future generations.” Through partnerships with utilities, the CFWI has developed a methodical approach to implementing large-scale water conservation and alternative water supply sources.

• Throughout the CFWI, the use of reclaimed water has grown along with population increases. By building the infrastructure and using reclaimed water, utilities and the communities they serve conserve traditional freshwater supplies and provide an environmentally responsible alternative to disposal of wastewater.
• Water savings incentive programs, like Florida Water Star, help utilities promote water conservation by offering customers rebates and incentives to install water-efficient appliances, landscapes and irrigation systems.
• Water management districts provide a variety of opportunities for utilities within the CFWI to share construction costs for projects that assist in meeting a variety of goals, including creating alternative water supplies and enhancing conservation efforts.
• Utilities and water management districts participate in leak detection programs, which conserve water and increase a utility’s operational efficiency by inspecting and detecting leaks in public water system pipelines.
• Development of a list of water supply project options for the CFWI Planning Area in coordination with utilities and other stakeholder groups.
• Utilities encourage water conservation on a local level by implementing ordinances that promote irrigation restrictions, as well as using tier-rate billing to urge water savings indoors and outdoors.

The goal of CFWI is to develop strategies to meet water demands while ensuring water resources are protected, conserved and restored in the 5,300-square-mile area. Public supply is currently the largest use category in the CFWI Planning Area, with use expected to increase by approximately 40 percent by 2035. To address this increase, water management districts work with utilities as well as other stakeholder groups to address these water supply needs.

The CFWI is a joint effort by the water management districts (Southwest, St. Johns and South Florida), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and water utilities, environmental groups, business organizations, agricultural communities, and other stakeholders to recognize and address the water needs of the future.