|The five water management districts in Florida.|
Water must be managed within each region to ensure
long-term sustainability of the aquifers. Heavy users
are permitted for the amount they can withdraw.
With California's current drought, pumping is hurting the aquifer and causing salt water intrusion. Of course, farmers are between a rock and a hard place. They either have to pump water, thereby doing long-term damage to the aquifer and limiting its use into the future, or they will lose their crops. It is a short-term vs. long-term outlook at play and a good case study for anyone interested in long-term sustainability of a region.
Florida figured this out a long time ago. They set up several drainage basin regions that are managed within a governmental water management districts. These organizations are responsible for ensuring that the aquifers and surface water bodies are not harmed by too much withdrawal. They permit large water users and work with public and private organizations to ensure that problems do not occur, particularly during droughts. While the system is not perfect (what system is?), it is far better than the "take as much as you need" approach that California has been employing for generations. California built an agricultural landscape that is very much out of step from the dry natural environment of the thirsty central valley of California. In the long term, Florida's water planning is a much more sustainable system that ensures water for farmers and residents that is in step with the local water budgets.