During its 2014 session, the Florida Legislature passed SB 536 requiring the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to "conduct a comprehensive study and submit a report on the expansion of use of reclaimed water, stormwater, and excess surface water in this state" by December 2015. The state's five water management districts are working with DEP on the study.
The demand for water by growing urban populations and agricultural operations in South Florida is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades. Meeting the growing need for water hinges on our efforts to develop region-specific sources that offer an alternative to traditional ground water and surface water. Alternative water sources are important to Florida's future. They also help to make communities less susceptible to the effects of drought.
Developing alternative water sources diversifies our supply while reducing our dependence on fresh water resources. Examples of Alternative Water Supply are:
saltwater and brackish water
surface water captured predominately during heavy rainfalls (if this is not stored and saved, it often needs to be flushed to tide to prevent damaging floods)
sources made available through the addition of new storage capacity
storm water (for use by a consumptive use permittee)
any other source designated as nontraditional in a regional water supply plan
To address the challenge of ensuring the state's current and future water supply, the 2005 Florida Legislature enacted the Water Protection and Sustainability Program. This precedent-setting law encourages cooperation between municipalities, counties and the state's five water management districts to protect and develop water supplies in a sustainable manner. Water management districts are promoting and supporting local government alternative water supply projects that support smart growth and reduce the use of fresh ground and surface water supplies, such as aquifers and lakes for a sustainable future.