Due to Florida’s rapidly growing population, the state continues to see an increase in commercial, residential and infrastructure development. Although economically advantageous, development brings environmental challenges that could negatively impact Florida residents, visitors and businesses if not thoughtfully managed.
One such challenge involves the increase of hard, impervious surfaces like concrete, asphalt, roofs and soils compacted by urban development that prevent rain from seeping into the ground and pollutants from being naturally filtered out by the soil. As a result, water rapidly runs off into storm drains, ponds, lakes and streams. This stormwater runoff increases the risk of flooding and carries pollutants such as petroleum products, bacteria, fertilizer, pesticides and heavy metals to waterbodies where it can harm ecosystems and impact water quality.
Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) can help supplement and enhance conventional stormwater drainage systems while protecting or helping improve water quality, limiting flooding, promoting a healthy economy and preserving our quality of life.
Why should we care about water quality?
Floridians rely on the state’s high-quality water resources for many reasons, including fresh drinking water, recreation, fish and shellfish propagation, and tourism.
Due to Florida’s geology, surface water and groundwater in the aquifers form one connected system. The Floridan Aquifer is a 100,000 square mile network of subterranean pools that emerges on the surface as blue freshwater springs. The connectivity of Florida’s waterbodies make them vulnerable to the transport of pollutants. If not properly managed, pollutants can accumulate in stormwater from many different sources and pass into rivers, lakes, estuaries and the aquifer.
Polluted stormwater can harm Florida’s delicate ecosystems. Toxins including metals and chemicals mobilized by stormwater can gather in natural waterbodies and directly impact plant or animal communities. Excess nutrients carried by stormwater can fuel a process known as eutrophication, in which noxious overgrowth of plant life depletes oxygen levels, harming animal life. Due to the connectivity of Florida’s surface waterbodies and groundwater, pollutants can move from stormwater to groundwater, potentially impacting springs and surface waterbodies that receive groundwater.
Florida’s economy is dependent on clean water. From rivers, to springs, to coastal dune lakes, bays, lagoons, sinks, streams, seas and oceans, our unique environment attracts millions of visitors annually and is the driving force for our economic health and vitality.
Cost to Taxpayers
When local governments must make expensive temporary fixes to outdated drainage systems, Florida’s taxpayers bear the burden. Lack of innovation can leave cities and towns with an unreliable patchwork of control structures which may be expensive to maintain and detrimental to water quality.
With GSI, communities can foster public and environmental health while promoting economic well-being and reducing long-term taxpayer burdens.