Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his opus The Rime of the Ancient Mariner has this great comment:

Water, water, everywhere
And all the boards did shrink
Water, water everywhere
Nor any drop to drink.

It is a great quote. It sums up the current state of the planet quite well. There are few people that have not looked in awe of pictures of the Earth taken from space. The Earth is seen as a blue and green orb. The blue being the oceans that cover some 71% of the planet. So we are water rich? Well not quite. The oceans contain a staggering 97% of the water, but it is not in a form that is usable for us mere humans. It contains way too much salt. Taking the salt out of sea water (desalination) is a costly and energy consuming process. So while there are desalination projects we rely mostly on the remaining 3% of the remaining water, fresh water. As the worlds population grows, so does the pressure increase on ways to manage this resource.

There is a great documentary Blue Gold ~ World Water Wars

It is easy to say ‘But I live in the US, we are resource rich, water flows every time I turn the tap on’. Well, that is true today, but maybe false tomorrow. Fresh water is becoming a huge issue, the Colorado river is stretched to breaking point, parts of the Mississippi are so low that it is causing closures to shipping traffic, even the Great Lakes are shrinking.

I do not live in Florida, but I want to share a story about Florida. It is calculated to be slightly over 58,000 square miles, and have a population of around 20 million. So that means there are a little over 340 people per square mile. They all use water, they flush the toilet, they take showers, they do laundry, wash dishes, and even drink the stuff! Bottom line, they use a whole lot of water.

Water is at a premium. Likewise water prices, as Florida reaches for new solutions, desalination , the consumer must face ever increasing costs to consume.

For a few months I have been following an interesting, complex, and generally frustrating story. If I have it wrong, the mistakes are mine. But the email traffic is to say the least voluminous and tends to wander off topic into a series of law suits that should tie up the entire Florida justice system for decades!

The claim being made is that there is an aquifer in Sarasota that contains trillions of gallons of fresh water. It sits at a depth of 2000 feet and was discovered in the late 60’s. For one reason or another it has been removed from the geological maps, also exploitation of the resource is being blocked by the powers ‘that be’ at the Florida State level.

It doesn’t matter how you slice and dice it, something smells bad about this story. Is the state of Florida pulling a fast one? Preferring to line its pockets from desalination plants and other sources. Why not permit an exploration of this aquifer? If it exists, great, if it is a figment of someones imagination, fine. To the best of my knowledge the State of Florida is not being asked for money, merely the permission to open up a resource that could ease the pressure on the water system.

Simon Barrett

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