Florida and Its Water: Leader in Technology

Since my daughter lives in Southern California, I have watched that state’s crisis during this long drought. I also noticed that Carlsbad, California, outside San Diego, is constructing the largest American saltwater desalination plant.

Florida has some of the same water issues as California.  While Florida has a lot of rainfall and more first magnitude springs than anywhere else in the world, Florida has too many people jamming into the southern third of the state and along the coastline.  By 2015 the Sunshine will need 8.7 billion gallons of water per day for all its population as well as for all those orange groves and winter vegetable gardens.

Most people don’t realize that Florida leads the nation with 140 desalination plants, most using Florida’s extensive brackish ground and surface waters.

FLORIDATRAVELER water plant florida

Visitors driving down the 130 mile Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys might get a glimpse of the massive pipe system bringing water from the Biscayne Aquifer west of Florida City via ten booster pump systems.  What they might not notice as they drive south is the saltwater desalination plants at Marathon and Stock Island.

FLORIDATRAVELER stockisland desalination plant

Stock Island Desalinates Water for Key West

 Without these plants run by the Florida Keys Aquaduct Authority, Key West would lack the 45 million gallons of water needed in an emergency.  How good is this water from the Florida Straits?  The water recently won a national competition for drinking water in Washington, D.C.

This is the time of year when thousands of winter tourists come to the Manatee Viewing Center at the Big Bend Power Station on Tampa Bay in Apollo Beach.  While visitors soon realize the safe discharging waters is what brings hundreds of manatees to the shallow warm Tampa Bay waters, they barely notice the complex on the south side of the cove.

FLORIDATRAVELER manatees at big bend

In Cold Weather Manatees Arrive At Big Bend

It is the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant, partnered by the South-west Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD).  When it opened in 2010, it was the largest facility in the United States.

FLORIDATRAVELER -tampa-plant

Tampa’s Huge Desalination Plant

The fact that 90% of Florida’s desalination plants are municipally operated, shows that when it comes to water preservation, Floridians are aware it was important as developing better highways and airports.

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About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
This entry was posted in attractions, conservation, environment, florida education, florida history, Historic Buildings, Recreational Experiences, travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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