In the last Conservation Corner entitled A Sustainable Model, there was laid out a concept to compost the yard waste, dredge spoils and food waste. Upon further research that concept is just not going to work for Cedar Key for two main reasons. First, there is the problem of scale. Our island`s dozen or so restaurants do not produce enough food waste to make the composting of that waste financially feasible. Also, the DEP regulations are intended for much larger operations then what the islands needs are. The second problem is the salt content of the spoils. It would be difficult to remove that salt which could adversely affect plants. The research did show that are a couple of things that could be done with yard waste and composting that does make financial sense. There will be more about that opportunity in another column as we need to turn our attention to the more pertinent matter of life`s most important ingredient: water.
Well folks, do not feel alone as water issues are affecting thousands of other towns, cities, businesses and households. Whether it is salt in the drinking water, or pollution in the water or the drying up of wells and springs, it all revolves around the amount of water that we use and our climate. Florida is in a 13 year drought with parts of northern Florida having a 2 foot rain deficit per year for years. In our area it is about an 18 inch deficit per year. Due to this lack of rain and the ever increasing demand for water, several springs in our area have either run dry, seldom flow or have a reduced flow, like Fanning Springs that went from a first magnitude spring to a second magnitude spring. So weather surly has something to do with this. Only 1/3 of the rain that falls actually makes it into the aquifer so let`s all hope that we get lots of rain.
Our consumption of water also contributes to our water dilemma. The state of Florida uses more than 8 billion gallons of water per day, about a gallon per day for every person on the planet. Nationally we use about 100 gallons per person per day with demand increasing. In Cedar Key we use considerably less than that 100 gallon per day average and that is good. The State of Florida still has not done much to educate individuals and businesses about water conservation. The model would have to be some of our western states and cities where even with a 20% population growth, overall consumption dropped by 50% on a per capita basis. So conservation is achievable but it takes leadership and education.
You might consider reviewing the blue tri-fold that you received in the mail entitled Saving Water = Saving Money. The brochure lists several ways that you can reduce your water usage. City Hall has copies available. Until this water issues is rectified, try and make the best of it. We are lucky in that we can still use the water at all.
As a result of our salt intrusion water issue, there will be lots of bottled water consumed and therefore lots of plastic bottles to be recycled. Did you know that it takes 4 ounces of oil to make a 16 ounce plastic bottle? When you multiply that by all of the plastic water and beverage containers used everyday in this country, that is a lot of oil. So please do recycle them.
Since writing this article, rain has finally come to our area. This will surely help to recharge the aquifer but will not help with the overall long-term problem which is that we are using our water resources faster then they can be replenished so please conserve.