Broward’s Integrated Water Resource Plan (IWRP)
Water is an essential component of Broward County's vibrant economy and quality of life. Without it, people, plants, and animals just wouldn’t be the same. As the County continues to grow, demand for water grows, as well. But, supplies of water are limited, so Broward has taken an active role in making sure that there is enough water for everyone – now and in the future.
Broward’s water management community has developed a Plan called the Integrated Water Resource Plan (IWRP)(PDF) that looks at how Broward’s water resources might be most effectively and efficiently managed – for the next ten years and beyond. The Plan is an important step in making sure that water is managed in a way that benefits everyone, while protecting the environment.
Broward County has a number of unique natural conditions. Those natural conditions are, in a word, unpredictable. Our hot, wet summers and dry winters, combined with occasional droughts and torrential rains make water management a tremendous challenge. In addition to the unpredictable weather, our County is also incredibly flat.
This has significant water management implications. Not only does our flat terrain severely limit our ability to provide long-term storage of surface water, but it also means that we must actively drain and pump water to prevent flooding during rainfall events, and in some cases, even when it’s not raining.
Water Sources in Broward
Although our region receives an average rainfall of sixty inches each year, three-fourths falls between May and November. And really, there’s no such thing as an “average” year. On the other side of the spectrum, the greatest demand for water occurs in the dry winter months when the population swells with winter residents.
Broward’s IWRP provides a common-sense solution for balancing all of these competing interests and water requirements, while still providing enough water for surrounding natural areas and urban wetlands.
In Broward County, our current water supplies are highly dependent on rainfall. Rain soaks into the ground and recharges the Biscayne Aquifer, which is the primary water source for our 31 local water utilities.
While most of Broward’s water comes from rainfall within the boundaries of urban Broward County, surface water and groundwater from the Everglades Water Conservation Areas are also important water sources. These Water Conservation Areas must be adequately protected and managed, so that people, plants, and animals have access to the water that they need, when they need it.
Since rainfall by its very nature comes when it wants to, and flows where it wants, our challenge is to effectively capture and use rainfall for current supplies while simultaneously finding new water for future growth.
Public education and personal stewardship are critical components of Broward’s water management plan. Broward County is working with elected officials, business leaders, and residents like you to help all Broward interests understand that despite the seeming abundance, our water resources are limited and droughts can occur, even if the summer has been wet.
Water management in Broward is definitely a challenge, but the IWRP ensures that local governments, special districts and water professionals are working toward the same goal – a high quality and adequate water supply.
At the same time, we have to protect the environment— we must strike a safe and sustainable balance between demands for potable water and the needs of our natural systems. When we find this balance, we’ll enjoy a great quality of life and the assurance of a reliable water supply.
As we will explain throughout this website, Broward’s Water Plan has four main goals:
To make the most of our local water resources, so that Broward’s long-term water supply needs are met;
To coordinate a diverse water management community, ensuring the efficient and effective management of our water resources;
To match up local water sources and users to ensure that water supplies are available when and where they’re needed;
To diversify water supplies so that the needs of urban and natural systems are met under wet and dry conditions.
While the County’s water management activities and water conservation programs have been a focus of the County’s Water Plan, the County is also looking at ways to develop new sources that may be needed to accommodate future growth. As with all of Broward’s water programs, our primary concern is to ensure that we’re making the most of our natural resources and at the same time looking ahead to future needs.
Our hope is that this website will help you understand the importance of our water resources, and consider ways in which we might work together to ensure that present and future water demands are met. Coordination and cooperation are essential.
We hope that you enjoy learning about Broward’s Integrated Water Resource Plan. We’re eager to work with you to ensure that everyone in our community has clean, affordable, and plentiful water – now and in the future.
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