Oceans might surround the Sunshine State, but thanks to multiple water issues, we’re running low on safe drinking water. Florida’s divine beaches and captivating wildlife can feel like heaven on Earth, but Floridians are in desperate need of a reality check.
It’s easy to take water for granted when it appears at the simple turn of the faucet. However, toxic algae blooms plague the state’s freshwater supplies, and waste from water treatment plants and septic tanks infiltrate our drinking water. People from across the country move to Florida to enjoy our paradise of a state. Unfortunately, there’s simply not enough water to support this continuous population growth, especially as rising sea levels contaminate our freshwater.
There’s still time to save Florida’s freshwater resources with proper legislation. Together, we can prevent the contamination of Florida’s freshwater for both the health of the environment and the people who call Florida home. To get started, here are five facts every Floridian should know about our water issues.
1. Toxic Blue-Green Algae Blooms
Algae blooms aren’t inherently harmful, but the effects are supremely toxic when they’re overgrown and overpopulate. These blooms naturally occur in freshwater ecosystems under the presence of critical minerals, including phosphorus and nitrogen. However, it’s rare to see a concentration of algae blooms as extreme as the situation in Florida. Excess nutrients from agricultural runoff, fertilizers, and septic systems have leached into Florida’s natural water supply for two decades, making it a perfect breeding ground for algae.
The overgrowth of blue-green algae blooms is destroying freshwater ecosystems and rendering Florida’s freshwater undrinkable. To make matters worse, human exposure to blue-green algae can cause skin rashes, eye irritation, nausea, and stomach aches. In addition, these algae blooms — also called cyanobacteria — can cause freshwater to have a foul odor and a terrible taste.
If you’re concerned about your household’s water taste or smell, consider getting your water tested. From there, professionals can assess which water issues are affecting your home’s water quality and come up with a solution.
2. Red Tide Algae Blooms
Florida’s water supply is also under threat from the saltwater that surrounds the entire state. A type of algae called dinoflagellate causes red tide blooms, which only occur in saltwater. Ocean currents from the Gulf of Mexico carry red tides to the coast, fueling the already overgrown concentration of algae to take over local water supplies even further.
While the red tides have mercilessly killed various types of aquatic life in Florida, health officials remain uncertain of its effects on humans. However, the early evidence doesn’t look good. Red tides are known to cause respiratory irritation, and a stroll down a beach amid a red tide can leave you with a sore throat and runny nose. This is because the red tides emit toxic chemicals that travel into the air. And if your skin comes in contact with red tide algae, you’re guaranteed to have a nasty rash. Animals that drink water contaminated by red tides become extremely ill at best, and at worst, may suffer deadly consequences.
3. Water Pollution
While the algae blooms in Florida’s natural swamp environment certainly contribute to water pollution throughout the entire state, so do the people who live there. Not only do fertilizers and leaky septic tanks encourage algae overgrowth, but sewage and old pipelines also directly affect our drinking water.
In 2020, the state fined the city of Fort Lauderdale $1.8 million for a bevy of preventable pipeline failures that dumped 210 gallons of sewage into the waterways and streets. In addition to municipal waste, there are a total of 2.5 million septic tanks in Florida that remain unregulated. The vast majority of septic tanks throughout the state are outdated and precariously close to the groundwater we drink.
Unfortunately, solving the water issues around septic tanks is estimated to cost a jaw-dropping $1 billion a year for the next 20 years. For the health and safety of your household, we recommend taking matters into your own hands with an in-home water filtration system.
4. Diminishing Groundwater
90% of Florida’s drinking water comes directly from the aquifer, and it is rapidly decreasing. In 2018, a study concluded that from 1950 to 2010, the average spring flows in Florida have declined by 32%. Population growth in Florida and an overall increase in water consumption have led to the overpumping of Florida’s aquifer.
The water we use for personal use, like showering and washing dishes, isn’t the main issue. Without a doubt, the best thing you can do to combat Florida’s water crisis is to stop watering your lawn. Using an in-home water filtration system can help you conserve water as well. Being mindful of the amount of water that your household uses will help ensure that Floridians have adequate access to safe drinking water for years to come.
5. Rising Sea Levels Are Impacting Florida’s Water Supply
Not only are Floridians quickly depleting an often contaminated freshwater supply, but the sea levels are also rising every year. As the salty seawater rises inland, it seeps into our rivers and aquifers. In 2007, scientists predicted that rising sea levels would increase 6 to 18 inches over the next 50 years.
Luckily, officials built canals to help protect the aquifer from saltwater intrusion, but the efforts will only suffice until the mid-2030s. At that point, policymakers will need to invest in desalinization plants. The rapidly rising sea levels are poised to affect the entire structure of Florida itself, and the locals are taking notice. In recent years, Miami Beach has begun its Rising Above initiative to keep the city afloat by implementing sea walls and road elevation, along with high-capacity drainage systems and pumps.
Stay Safe with The Science of Water
With so many threats to its wellbeing, Florida’s water supply has a long road to recovery. Luckily, you can do a few things to help combat these water issues — namely, reducing your daily water use and investing in an in-home filtration system. A water filtration system can assist in your efforts to conserve water, plus help keep your household’s water supply safe from rampant contamination.
If you’re interested in installing a filtration system that will supply the freshest, cleanest water you’ve ever experienced, enlist the help of our team at The Science of Water. We’ll start with a complimentary water test so that we have an accurate picture of your household’s water supply. From there, our team of professionals can determine the best solution for your home.
To learn more about The Science of Water and our services, contact us today!
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