Florida Ag Water Challenges

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Rich Budell

By Tacy Callies and Ernie Neff

At the Citrus Expo general session in August, Rich Budell of the Budell Water Group addressed water supply and quality challenges facing Florida agriculture. He summarizes some of the eye-opening statistics he presented.

Budell says in a part of Central Florida, the 20-year water demand is estimated to be 250 million gallons per day more than what the anticipated natural system can provide. The area includes Seminole, Orange, Polk and Osceola counties and part of Lake County and is one of the fastest growing parts of Florida and the United States. “It will require the investment of large amounts of money”… to meet the shortfall, Budell says. He says the investment requirement he has heard is around $2.2 billion or slightly more.

Loss of agricultural acreage in Florida has not resulted in lower water use for agriculture because more acres are irrigated than in the past, Budell says.

Budell reports that domestic supply overtook agriculture as the largest water user in Florida around 2012.

“In order to sustain a growing economy, a vibrant agricultural industry, job creation and population growth, we’ve got to invest more money in being better stewards of the natural systems and also figure out ways to use the water more than one time,” he says.

Hear more from Budell:

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