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Mayor's report card thus far: A+  Mayor Peyton appears to be "making all the right moves" in the best interests of Jacksonville, Fl..

Mayor John Peyton in his office
Mayor John Peyton

Peyton: Look Elsewhere For Water!

by Bradley Parsons
Staff Writer, Jacksonville Daily Record

October, 2003

The City will “vigorously defend” its water supply against encroachment from overdeveloped South Florida, Mayor John Peyton said Wednesday.

A recently released report from the Florida Council of 100, an influential real estate lobbying group, suggested that fresh-water-poor South Florida would have to seek water elsewhere to keep pace with planned development. The Council recommended replacing regional water management with a statewide commission with the authority to divert North Florida’s vast water supply south.

Responding to questions about that report, Peyton said the state’s lower half should look elsewhere for its water. Jacksonville has managed its growth, he said, and should not be held liable for other cities’ mismanagement.

“I think if communities outside our region are irresponsible in their growth and they expect us to carry the water for them, so to speak, then there needs to be a re-evaluation in their thinking,” said Peyton. “If they experience explosive growth and they can’t keep up with it, either through resources or infrastructure, then they need to be accountable for it.

“It was their municipality and their government that didn’t plan adequately and there’s a certain amount of responsibility that has to be owned by the region.”

Peyton suggested alternatives to dipping into North Florida’s fresh water supply. Water could be imported, reclaimed, re-used he said. Desalination — the removal of salt from seawater — is a costly but increasingly effective option. Tampa recently built a plant to subsidize its water supply.

"We’re sitting on a peninsula; we’re surrounded by water; we’ll never run out of water,” said Peyton. “The question is: How much do you want to pay?

“The communities that have experienced explosive growth that have not accounted for natural resources like water are going to be responsible for seeking a remedy. It’s going to cost them more.”

According to the Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. which will hold an Oct. 16 forum on the impending water wars, over 80 percent of water consumed statewide is used by residents south of Interstate 4, running from Tampa to Daytona Beach. More than 80 percent of the State’s available water sits north of that line.

Joining Peyton in advocating local water management is the JEA. The utility released Tuesday a policy paper, which states that the Council of 100’s recommendations “represent a fundamental change in the way water supply is managed in Florida.

“JEA does not support a policy change of this magnitude,” the paper said.

The current structure provides for better long-term planning for the use of resources said the paper, which received approval from the board of directors.

The State already has statutory authority to transfer water among its districts, however the current policy requires local sources to be considered prior to dipping into another region’s supply. This framework helps ensure sustainable growth the paper said.




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