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Managing Our Current Water Resources
Broward County > Integrated Water Resource Plan > Managing Our Current Water Resources

Broward’s IWRP looks at water management from a multi-pronged approach. The IWRP recognizes that water management involves many moving parts, and all of the components are interrelated and dependent on one another.

The IWRP uses the following broad strategies:

  • Water Resource Assessments: Determining the needs of the County, monitoring our water system for changes, and applying modeling tools in planning for our future water needs.
  • Conservation and Education: Working with residents and businesses in Broward County to help everyone understand that water does matter, and that the ways in which we use water impact all of us, and the Everglades.
  • Water Resource Management: Planning for the future growth of Broward County, and the water needs that will accompany this influx of new residents.  This includes thinking about innovative ways to use and reuse our current water, and developing new water resource technologies.
  • Governance and Coordination: Working and coordinating with partners at all levels – utilities, municipalities, local governments, regional governments, water districts, and others.

Lake EvgThis section of the website will give you some in-depth information about the first two items – water resource assessments, and water conservation and education.  Discussion of water resource management projects, and issues of governance and coordination is reserved for a later section.

Water Resource Assessments

Water resource assessments are an important part of Broward’s IWRP. The purpose of these assessments is to plan for the water supply needs of the entire county. One objective is to identify how much water is needed, where it’s needed, and for what type of activity.

The other objective is to monitor changes in the quantity and quality of our water resources so we can better provide long-term viability of these resources. These activities involve the use of advanced technical tools, such as GIS and hydrologic models, in addition to the expertise of staff.

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Natural System Needs Assessmentshydrograph

As part of this effort, the County has taken a look at all of the County’s natural areas and the amount of water they need to remain healthy. These studies have looked at where recharge water might come from, and where it might be delivered. Based on this information, the County recently rehydrated a number of natural areas, resulting in many wetlands functioning at optimal levels. Notable projects include rehydration of Fern Forest Regional Park and restoration of the Hillsboro Pineland Environmentally Sensitive Land.

Map of Municipalities with overlay of drainage districts and water utility service areasSecondary Canal and Water Utility Needs Assessments

In 2003, Broward took a look at its water management infrastructure and operations for each of its 60+ water management entities. Included in this analysis were the demands for drinking and irrigation water, the efficiency of its wellfields, and the County’s secondary canal structures. The information was cataloged, databases were generated, and GIS maps were created. This project gave the County an excellent look at current demands for water, as well as efficiencies and deficiencies in the water supply system. A great deal of emphasis was placed on managing the County’s elaborate secondary canal system, and projects that could improve basin drainage and recharge of critical wellfields. The assessment also provided technical data that would later be used when developing hydrologic models for the County.

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Hydrologic Model Development and Application

Working cooperatively with the South Florida Water Management District, Broward County developed a hydrologic model using some of the most advanced modeling technology available.  The County now has a comprehensive surface water and groundwater model that can be used to simulate various water management scenarios.

map of Biscayne AquifierIt can be used to quantify the benefits to natural areas like wetlands, as well as to wellfields, and it can help us identify ways to prevent saltwater intrusion in vulnerable areas.

This allows the County to make informed decisions based on our unique water resources – from prioritizing projects, to projecting the real costs and benefits of various water management strategies.

Broward County is also in the process of partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey to develop a model that will look at the various factors that influence saltwater intrusion throughout the County. The project will look at short and long-term solutions, taking into account changing surface and ground water levels, as well as a changing climate.

Conservation and Education

Water Quantity

Water Matters Day Welcome BannerThe way that Broward determines how much water we need and when we need it is through a tool called a “needs assessment”. The next step is to figure out how these current and future demands will be met. First and foremost, Broward recognizes the need to work with local residents and businesses to conserve our current water resources. Water really does matter – to people, plants, and animals. And, water conservation works! The more people who are mindful of how much water they use, the greater the benefit.

Water conservation and education are a critical part of the IWRP.  Water conservation can produce great water savings that are relatively easy to achieve, and cost little or nothing to implement.

water faucetBroward County has developed an extensive water conservation program called “Water Matters” that has relevance to all of Broward’s water users – including residents, businesses, industries and political leaders. The program addresses both indoor and outdoor water use, but especially targets outdoor activities, which can account for up to 50% of our water consumption.

Using less water is easy to do if you take a few simple steps. Our ten water-saving tips are easy, inexpensive, and can save you money on your water bills.

Conservation benefits all of us. If we all conserve water, it takes some of the strain off of the Biscayne Aquifer and can reduce the cost and size of future water development projects. The County's goal is to achieve 10 million gallons/day of water savings within 10 years, which would represent a 4% reduction in demand.

That sounds like an easy goal, right? It is, but only if we all do our part.  To give you an idea of how much water 10 million gallons/day is – it would be sufficient to meet the water demands of several municipal water utilities through the year 2020!

You can help us achieve that goal and even save money in the process by making a few small changes around your home and garden.

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Water Quality

canalSaving gallons of water is just part of the equation. Protecting water quality is just as important. There are numerous ways in which our daily activities have the potential to influence the quality of our water resources - it’s up to us to decide whether the impact will be positive or negative.  One of the most significant water quality problems in Broward County is that of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. When nutrients enter our waterways, they can cause the excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae. Landscape runoff is a major source of these nutrients and the result impacts the Everglades, our freshwater canals, and our coral reefs. To learn more about the role of landscape Best Management Practices (or BMPs) in protecting water quality and water quantity visit the NatureScape Broward website.

You may be wondering how it’s possible for landscape practices in your yard to impact the quality of natural systems miles away. Broward’s Know the Flow program offers the answers to this and many other questions.

Take Action

Broward County cannot conserve, protect, or manage water without your help. You can make a difference by talking to others about water conservation and pollution reduction practices, and by conserving water in your home, apartment, or condominium.

man installing shower headNo matter where you live, you can install a low-flow showerhead or a low-flow device in your toilet. These devices cost just a few dollars and save large amounts of water each month – benefiting the environment and your water bill.

It’s also important to share these water-conserving ideas with others because the more people who conserve water, the greater the benefit.

If you’re a renter, consider talking to your landlord about conserving water around your condo, townhouse, or apartment complex. If there are areas where the sidewalk or the road is being irrigated instead of the grass, make a point to tell your landlord about it. It will help them save money, and it will help conserve Broward’s limited water resources as well.

If you’re a homeowner, consider irrigating your lawn only when it needs it and using some of the techniques mentioned on Broward’s new NatureScape website. The NatureScape website provides an interactive study in Florida-friendly landscaping, and explains how our use of native plants can reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, while conserving water. Many of the NatureScape techniques save money and time, too.

sprinkler watering lawnIf you’re a landscape professional, or are responsible for property maintenance you may already know how to limit landscape runoff to reduce water pollution. If you’re a water manager you are probably acutely aware of water quality impacts on surface water management operations.
However, many of us don’t think about the connection between our daily practices and the downstream implications. Take a few moments to visit Broward’s Know the Flow to find out more. The website is filled with information about the history of water management in Broward County, the relationship between the Everglades and our urban water resources, the County’s water management system, and the critical role we all play.

Whether you live in an apartment, home or condominium there are many ways that you can conserve water and help protect the Everglades and the Biscayne Aquifer. The more you do, and the more people who become involved, the bigger the impact. The key is to do your part.  The County’s water website is full of information and resources to help you in your efforts to become more water-wise. We hope you’ll take the time to learn more by visiting the Know the Flow, Water Matters, and NatureScape Broward websites.

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