Florida must act now to protect its water quality from climate change
WASHINGTON (Jan. 26, 2023) – Today, Florida TaxWatch and the R Street Institute released a new short report that examines the challenge of maintaining water quality in Florida as climate change continues to threaten the state.
The authors, Josiah Neeley, a resident senior fellow for Energy Policy at the R Street Institute, and Tony Carvajal, the executive vice president of Florida TaxWatch, describe the likely costs of climate change to the water system in Florida and describe how the state can fight these challenges without breaking the bank.
Since 1950, sea levels along the Florida coast have risen by 8 inches. By 2050, the coastline is projected to experience an additional sea level rise of 10 to 12 inches. This is a direct threat to the groundwater in Florida, which provides 64 percent of the state’s freshwater supply. If nothing is done, the authors note, saltwater intrusion into the state’s groundwater could contaminate the freshwater supply and overwhelmed wastewater systems could carry pollution and contamination into various bodies of water. This would have disastrous consequences for food, water and health quality across the state and region.
“Florida cannot ignore climate change and needs to begin working now on cost-effective solutions to address the crisis. Leaders in the state need to recognize now that bloated government programs, wasted taxpayer dollars and federal hand-outs are not the answer,” the authors emphasize.
If Florida wants its economy to continue to grow and thrive in the long term, they must plan and implement measures to reduce risk to their water quality in an efficient and low-cost manner. Ignoring the likely impacts from rising sea levels and a warming climate will not make those risks go away; it will only make them more damaging when they arrive and costlier to address.
As such, the authors propose several proactive steps Florida should pursue. The state should formulate a plan to address risks proactively. They should invest in cost-effective upgrades and take precautions now rather than waiting for systems to break down. To do their due diligence, they should compare different strategies with each other to see which is most cost-effective. Finally, policymakers should not allow uncertainty to lead to inaction.
This short report is part of a series of papers published in partnership with Florida TaxWatch. Part two will address Florida’s property and casualty insurance industry. Part three will examine Florida’s natural infrastructure and climate change.
As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog for over forty years, Florida TaxWatch works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on residents and businesses.
The R Street Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government.