Implementing a “water ethic” for North Florida
Florida in general—the northern part of the state in particular— is in the midst of a fresh water crisis. Over-pumping of the Floridian Aquifer (the region’s water supply) along with three droughts in the past ten years have resulted in historically low water levels with huge impacts on Florida’s springs, rivers, and lakes. Jacqueline Sulek’s mission is to do something about it. Inspired by author Cynthia Barnett’s book, Blue Revolution Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, her aim is to help Floridians to articulate a “water ethic”, one that embraces and promotes sustainable use of and respect for this fragile resource.
As Audubon Florida’s Chapter Conservation Manager, she recently completed a project called “The WEB – Water, Energy and Birds – It’s All Connected.” The multimedia program (with more than 250 individuals participating) illustrated the connection between saving water and energy and saving habitat and birds. This experience fueled Jacqueline’s belief that before Floridians can change their consumption habits, they have to understand the issues involved.
Jacqueline plans to use her TogetherGreen fellowship to fund an outreach and education project that will include “OUR WATER, OUR FUTURE” event with famous Florida Springs photographer John Moran and local community leaders. She will partner with eight area nonprofit organizations to invite residents and decision makers from over 20 counties in North Florida to gather and develop a widespread approach to water conservation along with call to immediate action.
From “OUR WATER, OUR FUTURE” Jacqueline plans to form focus groups to assist in developing local community messages as well as assist in the creation of the “water ethic” message media campaign, which will include potential partners such as local utilities and private corporations looking to improve their environmental image.
Water is an area of conservation focus for Together Green, and although this particular project highlights water quantity, it affects quality as well. Concentrations of nutrients such as nitrates rise when the volume of water decreases. Wetlands, springs, rivers, and lake habitats are altered when the water is reduced or eliminated, completely threatening birds and the balance of these living systems. “Saving water saves energy,” Jacqueline said. “Water, energy, birds…it is all connected.”