Monday, May 21, 2007

Florida's Overuse Of Water Is A Cautionary Tale For Wisconsin

Florida, one of the wettest states in the US, is running out of water.

The columnist and author Carl Hiassen tells us how and why, here.

The local context is obvious: too many people here and across the Great Lakes think the supply in those five bodies of surface water and the surrounding watersheds are inexhaustible - - the trap that led Florida to mismanage itself into a water crisis.

An earlier post on this blog discussed data in the hands of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission that predicted long-term and substantial growth in some of the very parts of our region that were already experience major sprawl and accompanying demand on water.

For example, in Waukesha County, where underground water supplies have been greatly drawn down in recent decades, there is a population increase projected by 2035 equal to the entire population of Ozaukee County.

Imagine the population of one county to the north of Milwaukee jammed into the county just to the west.

And the number of residential water users in Waukesha County served by municipal water systems - - something of a benchmark indicator showing land being filled in with housing, or city services extending beyond a city's borders (read: annexations)is projected to increase during the samer period by 104%.

Who is to say that heavily-populated areas of southeasatern Wisconsin could not mimic the troubles of water-rich Florida?

So when you read that the Little Plover dried up near Stevens Point - - again - - or that the underground supply beneath Waukesha County is dropping rapidly - - again - - or that the level of Lake Superior is near an historic low (and Lake Michigan is in decline, too - - keep Florida in mind.

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