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Meetings

"Water Wars" Focus of Annual Northeast Florida Environmental Law Summit


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Generalized map of Southeastern United States, showing locations of some of the rivers discussed at the 2008 Northeast Florida Environmental Law Summit
Above: Generalized map of Southeastern United States, showing locations of some of the rivers discussed at the 2008 Northeast Florida Environmental Law Summit. [larger version]

On November 6, 2008, Stephen Walsh, biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) office in Gainesville, Florida, served as a panelist at the annual Northeast Florida Environmental Law Summit on “Water Wars: Use, Conflict, and the Future,” jointly hosted by the Florida Coastal School of Law and Jacksonville University. Walsh presented a talk titled “Relationship of Flow to the Aquatic Faunas of Florida Rivers, Springs, and Estuaries.”

The conference, now in its second year, is intended to bring together scientists, legal professionals and students, and natural-resource managers to discuss current and emerging environmental issues of regional interest. Ten other panelists included representatives from the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, the South Florida Water Management District, the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, the Environmental Law Institute of Washington, D.C., and independent legal experts. Discussions at the conference examined the myriad issues related to allocation, consumption, and redistribution of water resources in and around Florida, with emphasis on:

  • a tri-State water conflict over resources in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama (particularly the Apalachicola, Flint, and Chattahoochee Rivers),
  • intra-State surface waters (Kissimmee River, the Everglades, coastal rivers), and
  • ground-water resources.

low-water conditions during a previous drought high-water conditions during the normal spring flood cycle
Above: Despite its numerous waterways, Florida is still susceptible to drought, and some parts of the State are currently undergoing drought conditions (see Florida Drought Conditions). This pair of photographs shows low-water conditions during a previous drought (left, taken November 16, 2001 [larger version]) and high-water conditions during the normal spring flood cycle (right, taken February 12, 2002 [larger version]) at Piney Reach on the Apalachicola River, Florida. Declining flows in the river caused by droughts and upstream water consumption have increased the severity and duration of disconnected backwater habitats during low-flow periods of the year, typically early summer through mid-fall. Photographs by Stephen Walsh.

Cynthia Barnett, senior writer for Florida Trend magazine and author of the award-winning book Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S., gave a keynote address to the approximately 100 attendees. The general consensus among panelists and members of the audience was that the water resources in Florida are extremely stressed and that innovative solutions and well-organized cooperative efforts are required to protect both the quantity and quality of these resources.


Related Web Sites
Florida DroughtWatch
USGS
Northeast Florida Environmental Summit 2008
Florida Coastal School of Law
Florida Drought Conditions
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

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Research
cover story:
Prehistoric Climate Can Help Forecast Future Changes

Escalating Endangerment for North American Freshwater and Diadromous Fish

Outreach USGS Celebrates 10th Annual Open House in Florida

FISC Scientists Out and About Sharing Science

Meetings Northeast Florida Environmental Law Summit

Awards Amy Draut Wins SEPM 2009 James Lee Wilson Award

Staff Africanized Honeybees in the Florida Everglades

Publications Reversing Coral Reef Decline in Hawai‘i

Jan. / Feb. 2009 Publications List


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