New projections: Region's aquifer can't handle 40% rise in water use by 2035
By Kevin Spear
Much of Central Florida's environment, especially springs and wetlands tied to the Wekiva River, would suffer greatly if the region's utilities were to begin pumping from the ground all of the water already permitted by state rules.
That's one of the conclusions of the most-intense effort yet to measure the Floridan Aquifer, the region's primary source of water, and mesh those findings with new predictions for the area's residential, agricultural and industrial water needs through 2035.
Utility and government experts, working as a consortium calling itself the Central Florida Water Initiative, have estimated that the area's current water use — about 700 million gallons daily — will grow to more than 1 billion gallons a day by 2035. The consortium, known as the CFWI, studied an area covering southern Lake and all of Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Polk counties.
"Our preliminary finding is that traditional groundwater sources can meet some but not all projected needs," said Mark Hammond, director of resource management at the Southwest Florida Water Management District.