Water for the Environment

Water defines Florida’s natural ecosystems. Seasonally abundant rainfall seeps into vast aquifers and floodplains, releasing billions of gallons of freshwater through springs and rivers to nourish productive seagrass and marshes along the coasts.

While Florida public policy has long aspired to manage water resources to balance benefits for natural systems, economic uses, and population growth, today wetlands, springs, rivers, lakes and estuaries suffer from decades of over-drainage, pollution, overuse and poor management.  

Reduced groundwater recharge and drainage of swamps and floodplains has depleted nature’s storage systems. Diversion and discharge of wet season stormwater to coastal estuaries contributes contaminants and robs those same estuaries of freshwater during dry seasons and droughts.  

Pollution from farm and urban fertilizers and human and animal waste has impaired springs and rivers and has left a legacy of phosphorus and nitrogen in soils, lakes, and groundwater.   

Overuse of water for farm and landscape irrigation and industrial and public supply has depleted aquifers and surface waters and reduced the flow of springs and rivers. 

Policymakers have weakened Florida’s water laws, reduced citizen participation in permitting decisions, and cut funding for science, water conservation programs, and alternative water supply projects.

The combined effect of drainage, pollution, and overuse of water harms ecosystems, reduces the functionality of habitat, and has resulted in the permanent loss or expensive restoration.

Therefore be it resolved:

Audubon Florida, deploying professional staff and expertise and using information derived from sound science, will call on the volunteer leadership of local Audubon societies (chapters), members and grassroots networks, and will work with conservation allies, business and community leaders, public officials, and agencies to:

Protect Water at the Source – Aquifers, Wetlands, Lakes, and Springs

  • Urge water management districts to identify and reserve water needed for the health of natural systems, set protective limits on other uses, and implement recovery strategies for natural systems;
  • Support springs protection legislation and rules to control water pollution and restrict uses that reduce flow;
  • Base water resource decisions on sound science and budget adequate funds to monitor the health of natural systems;
  • Expand and improve floodplain, springshed, and water recharge area protection with public land acquisition and management and conservation easements; and
  • Enforce wetlands protection laws and rules to achieve “no net loss.”

Advocate Sustainable Water Supply

  • Require mandatory water conservation programs with defined savings goals as a condition for issuance of consumptive use permits;
  • Enact stronger state efficiency standards for water fixtures and appliances;
  • Fund and promote water conservation education and incentive programs for agricultural water users;
  • Urge water management districts to set tax rates at levels adequate to fund water conservation, ecosystem restoration, alternative water supply, water storage, and land conservation;
  • Promote sustainable alternative water supply projects that use reclaimed and storm water to recharge wetlands and aquifers, and discourage water supply projects that take water away from natural systems; and
  • Prioritize reclaimed water for industrial and agricultural uses rather than wasteful landscape irrigation.

Advocate for Water Quality

  • Strengthen state and local stormwater treatment requirements to meet water quality standards;
  • Require developments to connect to central sewer where feasible and beneficial;
  • Limit fertilizer use to the standard of “no harm” to water resources;
  • Require that reclaimed water used for landscape irrigation be treated to a “no harm” standard for ground and surface water quality; and
  • Eliminate land disposal of septage and sewage biosolids. 

News & Updates

C-44 Reservoir & Stormwater Treatment Area Groundbreaking
News

C-44 Reservoir & Stormwater Treatment Area Groundbreaking

On November 20, Audubon Florida’s Eric Draper, Tabitha Cale, and Celeste De Palma attended the groundbreaking of the C-44 Reservoir & Stormwater Treatment Area. This project is the first component of the Indian River Lagoon-South project in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

Update: SFWMD Vote to Reduce Millage Rate Means Less Money for Everglades
News

Update: SFWMD Vote to Reduce Millage Rate Means Less Money for Everglades

Unfortunately, in an 8-1 result, the Governing Board voted against maintaining the tax millage rate from last year.

Everglades Funding at Stake in SFWMD Board Vote
News

Everglades Funding at Stake in SFWMD Board Vote

Now the Governing Board is under pressure from Tallahassee to undo their vote and cut the tax rate instead of keeping it the same.

Audubon Florida Decries Florida’s Challenge of Wetland Protections
News

Audubon Florida Decries Florida’s Challenge of Wetland Protections

Florida has now lost over half its wetlands, so it makes no sense for the State to challenge a necessary, science-based wetland clarification.

Audubon Advocates Keep Pressure on the Army Corps to Protect the Southern Everglades
News

Audubon Advocates Keep Pressure on the Army Corps to Protect the Southern Everglades

Three vital restoration projects in the Southern Everglades - Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park, C-111 South Dade, and the C-111 Spreader Canal Western Project - are nearly complete.

Nicodemus Slough Project Now Online
News

Nicodemus Slough Project Now Online

This may be the fastest startup ever for an Everglades related water management project.

Audubon Rallies for Amendment 1 at the Capitol
News

Audubon Rallies for Amendment 1 at the Capitol

Audubon Intern Brittney Deoliveira submitted this recap of her experience helping with the Rally for Amendment 1 & Clean Water on February 18.

Good Water Management is Good for Northern Everglades Birds and Wildlife
News

Good Water Management is Good for Northern Everglades Birds and Wildlife

Due to thoughtful water level management amongst the state and federal agencies this season, (and just the right amount of rain), our ecosystems are in a solid place as we enter the winter months.

Audubon Society of the Everglades Celebrates BIG Amendment 1 Victory
News

Audubon Society of the Everglades Celebrates BIG Amendment 1 Victory

The Audubon Society of the Everglades members are taking great pride in the results of the vote on Amendment One because they were part of making it happen.

EPA and Army Corps to Clarify Muddy Definitions of Wetlands and Water
News

EPA and Army Corps to Clarify Muddy Definitions of Wetlands and Water

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency have proposed a new rule clarifying Clean Water Act protections for many streams, wetlands, and other waters critical to Florida’s and the nation’s water resources, wildlife and economy.

How you can help, right now