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Fishkind Conversations: Finding Water Quality At The Crossroads Of Florida's Environment And Economy

Natural Florida landscape image courtesy of Creative Commons Zero (CC0)
Natural Florida landscape image courtesy of Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed $625 million in spending for environmental programs, including Everglades restoration, springs protection, and a septic-to-sewer conversion plan.

Economic analyst Hank Fishkind tells 90.7’s Nicole Darden Creston why these programs are important to Florida’s environment and its economy.

Click the Play Audio button to hear their conversation.

"Our recent terrible experience with fish kills in the Indian River Lagoon, red tides, and the releases of waters from Lake Okeechobee that were filled with toxic algae demonstrate vividly the costs of not protecting our water resources," says Fishkind.

He says current environmental and development-related laws and regulations need an upgrade, as do the state's wastewater system and the handling of pumping water from Florida aquifers.

Fishkind proposes that there's a fundamental economic issue at work here: "mis-pricing."

Right now, there is no charge to withdraw water from Florida's aquifers and surface waters (aside from a permit fee and the user's cost to pump the water).

"Because there is no direct correlation between the amount of water used and the costs of water usage, this system leads to an inefficient allocation of water," explains Fishkind. "We need to establish a price for water use to improve economic efficiency. Then the funds raised could be used to pay for needed environmental programs."

However, he adds, it will take more than implementing a water use fee to solve the issues.

Nicole came to Central Florida to attend Rollins College and started working for Orlando’s ABC News Radio affiliate shortly after graduation. She joined WMFE in 2010. As a field reporter, news anchor and radio show host in the City Beautiful, she has covered everything from local arts to national elections, from extraordinary hurricanes to historic space flights, from the people and procedures of Florida’s justice system to the changing face of the state’s economy.
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