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Why Does Broward County Need a Plan?
Broward County > Integrated Water Resource Plan > Why Does Broward County Need a Plan?

Florida Map with a cutaway of Broward CountyBroward County is facing many challenges. Development and redevelopment are expected to bring a 34% increase in population over the next 20 years. At the same time, Broward County is positioned in the heart of Everglades restoration efforts. One of Broward’s challenges is to manage our current water resources to satisfy the water needs of a growing urban population, while meeting our environmental responsibilities.

Broward’s current water comes from the Biscayne Aquifer. Surface water and ground water recharge help to maintain the productivity of the Aquifer. Much of this water comes from the Everglades natural area. As water is withdrawn from the Biscayne Aquifer, it is replaced with recharge water, which helps to maintain ground water levels.

The more water we draw from the Aquifer, the more likely it is that we will rely upon the Everglades system for recharge of the Aquifer, particularly during dry months when rainfall and natural recharge is reduced.

wetland developmentSuccessful restoration of the Everglades is dependent upon water - water that is delivered at the right time, in the right quantity, of the right quality, and in the right distribution. Broward County is committed to Everglades restoration and is an active participant in restoration efforts.

At the same time, Broward County has the obligation to adequately plan for growth and associated water demands. These responsibilities are not mutually exclusive, but if we are to successfully meet our water supply needs and our water resource goals we must carefully balance urban and natural system water demands. This is not a Herculean task, but it does require intense planning and coordination, and the participation of all Broward County’s residents.

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Population

map of the canal system in Broward CountyBroward County has experienced a population boom over the past century. While the County was once thought of as “uninhabitable” in the early 1900s, it’s now home to more than 1.7 million people. And, over the next 20 years, Broward County is expected to grow by 700,000 people!

These new residents bring the need for additional neighborhoods, office buildings, hotels, schools, and restaurants. This growth will also put tremendous pressure on our water supplies.

Before we understood the consequences, policymakers thought that regardless of the ecological consequences, draining the Everglades to provide flood control and to encourage agriculture was good policy. Today we know better, and policy has changed.

Significant investments -- billions of dollars -- are being spent to restore the world’s only Everglades by improving the quality, quantity, timing and distribution of water to this unique ecosystem.

Regional and local drainage efforts have also had impacts on Broward County. Water has been channeled and quickly diverted away from urban areas, meaning that aquifer recharge has been reduced.

Lower groundwater levels increase the potential for saltwater intrusion and threaten the quality of the Biscayne Aquifer – our primary source of drinking water.

Reduction in groundwater levels has also degraded the quality of urban wetland areas.

Broward County’s own canal system was also built back when the focus was on draining the swamp. While the system was originally designed for the purpose of providing drainage and flood control, today the system is also managed with the objective of capturing and storing rainfall for redistribution to areas in need of additional water. This approach to water management has become central to the County’s water management activities and has produced tremendous water resource benefits. For example, recharge to potable wellfields has increased, and hydration of the County’s natural areas has been improved. As you will learn, this is just one example of how local water managers are working to better manage our water resources.

The point is, we must work together – government agencies, utilities, and residents -- to plan for future growth and to support Everglades restoration. This can only happen when we use our existing resources wisely and efficiently. Efficient management of Broward’s water system will ensure the future availability of water for all Broward residents -- people, plants, and animals.family washing dog

Did you know that the average Broward resident uses 161 gallons of water each day? Over the course of just one year, that's more than 58,765 gallons of water for each person! But, there is good news -- we can dramatically cut down on that water use without affecting our quality of life.

We’ve created a list of 10 ways that you can conserve water indoors and outdoors.

grey arrow Find out how you can start today.

Local and Regional Demands

pelican eating fishBecause of the relationship between local and regional water resources, it's vital that local and regional agencies work together when formulating and implementing water management plans. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and the Lower East Coast Regional Water Supply Plan (LECRWSP) both include strategies for providing water supplies to urban populations while maintaining natural systems.

The LECRWSP is the regional plan of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) that spans 20 years, and the CERP is a federal-state joint venture that also provides regional planning over the next 50 years.

Both plans have been integrated into Broward’s IWRP to ensure that local planning efforts are not only consistent with regional efforts, but that what happens locally complements these broader initiatives. This kind of coordination guarantees that we are all working toward similar water management goals. Success will require ongoing coordination between federal, state, and local agencies -- Broward's IWRP provides this.

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