Water Shortage and Contamination in South Florida


Environmental degradation has been a priority concern for the states over the years. Undeniably, this is causing severe harm to the mankind. The frequent environmental degradation has been a matter of threat to the survival of both mankind and other living organisms. Much logically, the issue of water shortage and contamination at south Florida has become a significant consideration for the all concerned including its locals and policy makers as well.

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The present study intends to explore the causes, consequences and other relevant grounds that are closely associated with the issue of water shortage and contamination at South Florida. Relevantly, the study puts emphasis on making a detailed discussion as regards the impact upon peoples’ health and on keeping up sustainable agriculture. By making a thorough investigation and categorical analysis, the study aims at finding out some concrete suggestions and accordingly recommend to eliminate the problem of water shortage and water contamination with a view to bringing a working change in the area and help getting back the environmental sustainability of the area as well.

Reasons of contamination

Environmental Pollution is not new. It has a historical perspective. Axiomatically speaking, environmental pollution includes both air pollution and water pollution (Viele, 1996, p.88). Water pollution or contamination of water may be happened due to several reasons. The factors that are responsible for the water pollution may be summed up as such:

Natural Phenomena

Direct or indirect involvement of chemicals like arsenic and salt with soil & water may be treated as the elementary stage of water pollution. Though it has a little concentration, it worth significance as water pollution though very much minimal in its quantum has the potentials to risk the whole mankind. Davis & Frederick (1984) states that “[s]ince 1700, however, three additional causes have arisen that have fundamentally altered the seriousness of water pollution”.

The Industrial Revolution

One of the principal causes of water pollution is industrial revolution. The complex chemical process of industry produces undesirable by- products and wastes that pollute water. More recently, the agricultural revolution as an adjunct of the industrial revolution has produced more killing with the growing development and expansion of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, refuge from cattle-feeding ‘factories’ and other unpleasant conditions.

Upgraded Living Standard

Industrialization has raised the standard of living enormously. As people consume more, their consumption pattern has also been increased in creating more wastes. The more elegant their tastes for food advances the production of the more garbage and other refuge they produce which rigorously contribute to contaminate the water. Rise of the standard of living indicates a corresponding rise in water pollution as well.

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The Population Explosion

Population growth is also responsible for water shortage and ground water contamination. Each additional people as well as the longer span of their lives are the causes of water pollution.

Social Values

Vulnerable social values contribute to accelerate the water pollution & shortage of ground water due to the high consumption and technologically advanced equipment. With the evolution and expansion of industry and population growth, the shortage and contamination of ground water of south Florida has been increased.

Impact of the Issue

The issue of water shortage and its contamination has an importance to the south Florida. The impact of this issue can be elaborated from two perspectives:

  • Health of people
  • Sustainable agriculture

Health of People

Water is essential for living. But if it is contaminated, it causes various diseases which may lead to death. In south Florida, many people are suffering from various diseases because of the water pollution. “On July 27, 1995, the Alachua County Public Health Unit (ACPHU) in central Florida was notified of an outbreak of gastroenteritis among children and counsellors at a day camp on the grounds of a public elementary school” (MMWR, 1996).

This report summarizes the outbreak investigation, which implicated Cryptosporidium parvum as the causative agent and underscores the role of contaminated water as a vehicle for transmission of this organism. “The protozoan parasite C. parvum was first identified as a human pathogen in 1976; since then, the organism has been increasingly recognized as an agent of gastrointestinal illness” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 1994).

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In immune competent persons, cryptosporidiosis can cause moderately severe watery diarrhea that usually lasts 1-20 days. “Cryptosporidiosis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route, most commonly by direct person-to-person transmission or by drinking water that has been contaminated with human or animal faces. In 1993, cryptosporidiosis caused the largest waterborne disease outbreak ever recorded, when an estimated 400,000 persons in Milwaukee became ill after drinking contaminated municipal water” (Kenzie, et al., 1994).

In addition, it is said in the language of White, et. al., (1994) that “[i]n immunocompromised persons (e.g., those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome {AIDS} or those taking certain chemotherapeutic regimens), the infection can cause severe, unrelenting diarrhea”. Again, “The antibiotic paromomycin can improve symptoms and decrease parasite excretion in the feces of some persons with AIDS and is the treatment of choice for immunosupppressed patients” (Anonymous, 1995).

Sustainable Agriculture

The term sustainable agriculture is the agriculture production system that refers economically profitable in economically and environment friendly. one major factor is irrigation that influences the agricultural sustainability. According to National Agricultural statistic service, 2007, only 1.8 million acres of agricultural land in Florida are irrigated in 2006. In this purpose, “more than 3900 million gallons water per day (MGD) or 48% of all ground and surface freshwater withdrawals are being used” (Migliaccio, n.d.).

When irrigation is implemented properly, i. e. through environment friendly means, it can increase the amount of yield and reduce agrochemical requirement which ultimately requires profit. Still, unfortunately, water shortage and contamination is increasing presently that are affecting total irrigation system. The causes for this vulnerable or jeopardized agricultural system in South Florida may be stated as:

  • Climate variability.
  • Population in south Florida.
  • Natural system


Climate variability is considered as the most important consideration in managing water supply of South Florida. Climate variability refers to a fluctuation in climate that occurs over a few months or seasons. Climate variability is caused due to EI Nino and La Nina. These influence water supply through their deviations in temperature and precipitation for a period of time and result in drought. It is necessary to add that the 2006-2007 drought resulted in lake Okeechobee reaching new record lows and the South Florida water management District instated water restriction to conserve water supplies during the drought period.


Florida is one of the most populated area in the US and is to face some major challenges in meeting the rapidly increasing demands of water for the usage of the people. “It has increased the demand of water over 35 million gallons per day due to population change in south Florida between 2000 and 2006” (SFWMD, 2007). As population continue to grow and people need more water, local authorities and utilities in conjunction with the SFWMD are required to find solutions to the competing demands on South Florida water supplies.


From the biological point of view, South Florida has a unique ecological system. As it has a large everglade area, it has received much attention. Restoring usual flows of water, water quality and nearly natural seasonal water levels, which have implications for water availability, are included in the CERP plan. This is being directed by the SFWMD and the US army corp. of engineers (USACE). The task is to modify freshwater flows and implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs) to minimize pollutant loads entering the everglades.

Ground Reality: Water Contamination in South Florida

  1. Necessarily knows no law: Though the Government has imposed laws against the using pattern, time and the purpose of using ground water to cope with the situation. But in case of urgency, all sort of rules and restriction are of no substantial effects or validity.
  2. Awareness: Sometimes it may be difficult to make aware the people about the shortage and contamination of water. So the appropriate media actions should be introduced to cover the maximum objects.
  3. Natural disasters: Natural disaster is an uncontrollable factor. The legislative instruments and intention of the people cannot contribute to keep a significance on the face of the frequent natural disasters like cyclone, storm, and erosion visit south Florida every year in various form.
  4. Economic factor: South Florida is an agro-based area and mainly dependent on the irrigation system. Imposition of Government restrictions in case of the irrigation to manage the shortage and the ground water contamination, the ultimate effect on the economy would be much desperate.
  5. Chemical use: For the sake of the sound industrial development and economic advancement, countries are needed to use the chemical substance. But the use of chemical is a threat to the water. Moreover, insecticide is used for the agriculture, but the final effect goes to the ground water directly or indirectly.
  6. Water level: Water level is falling day by day due to the increasing use of water in south Florida. The people of south Florida cannot keep them detached from using water. So, the falling of water level will exist and water shortage may turn into a dangerous situation.

Statement of Florida Senator Buddy Dyer on Water Contamination

Senator Buddy Dyer of Florida was the member of the Water Policy’ Committee. Florida Senator Buddy Dyer states that the water contamination that results from the drainage of this contaminated water harms the Everglades’ delicate environment and ecosystem (Crosby, 1996, p. 168). He also describes the issue of water quality in this region, he evidently states that the quality of surface water has declined due to population associated effects in South Florida. On January 10, 1996, the Senate Natural Resources Committee introduces Senate Bill 10, proposed by Senator Buddy Dyer, Florida. And another Senator Charles Williams, Florida discussed Senate Bill 638. It is expected that 1996 was to be a busy year for Florida water policy legislation, the Legislature passed few such laws during this session.

Statement of Senator Matthew J. Meadows on the Pollution Control Legislation

The Honorable Matthew J. Meadows, a state senator in the Florida Legislature, serves as vice-chairman of the Southern States Energy Board. Senator Meadows, a native of Florida, has served in the Florida Legislature since 1992 (Legislative Digest, 1997). Senator Matthew J. Meadows, Florida states that the different statutes on the Pollution Control category deal with the control or abatement of air, land, noise, thermal or water contaminates, pesticides, regulations for pollution control equipment and acid rain in Florida (Legislative Digest, 1997).

Concluding Remarks

From the discussion above, it is very much conspicuous that the shortage of ground water and water contamination in South Florida is the predominant concern as it is concerned with the existence of human being and ecological balance of the area. So, it is time to take steps for ensuring the ecological sustainability and sound environment avoiding the environmental degradation of the area. To this end, following should be taken as the guidelines in promoting the environmental sustainability of south Florida:

First, an effective and working enforcement mechanism should be developed to take the polluters into the justice. Again, city dwellers of south Florida should be more conscious and responsible and where appropriate, sue against polluters for cleanup costs and future pollution.

Second, “it should set reasonable stipulations where pollution would be allowed on the face of urgency and would help Florida achieving the Clean Water Act’s goal of zero discharge” (Florida PIRG, n.d.). Third, the policy makers should expand public access to information about permit compliance, repeat violators and pollution discharge. Finally, through mass awareness and public participation, enforcement of clean water act, stronger protection of public health should be ensured.


American Academy of Pediatrics. (1994). Cryptosporidiosis. In: Peter G, ed. 1994 Red book: report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 23rd ed. Elk Grove Village, Illinois: American Academy of Pediatrics;1994:171-2. Cited in The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis at a Day Camp- Florida. Web.

Anonymous. (1995). Drugs for Parasitic Infections. Med Lett Drugs Ther 1995; 37:99-108.

Crosby, L. Dana., (1996). Water, Water, Everywhere, But Not Enough to Drink?: A Look at Water Supply and Florida’s Growth Management Plan. Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law. Vol. 12:1, 153-173.

Davis, Keith & Frederick, C. William. (1984). Business & Society : Management, Public Policy, Ethics. McGraw Hill International Book Company.

Energy & Environment Legislative Digest 1997. Southern States Energy Board. Georgia.

Florida PIRG (Public Interest Research Group). (n.d). Clean Water Future: Florida PIRG’s Plan For Cleaning Up Our Waters. Tallahassee. Web.

Kenzie, WR, Mac., et al., (1994). A Massive Outbreak in Milwaukee of Cryptosporidium Infection Transmitted through the Public Water Supply. N England Journal of Medicine 1994;331:161-7. Cited in The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis at a Day Camp — Florida/ 45(21);442-4. Web.

Migliaccio, W. Kati, (n.d.). Sustainability of Agriculture in Miami-Dade County: Considering Water Supply. the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Web.

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White, AC., et. Al., (1994). Paromomycin for cryptosporidiosis in AIDS: A Prospective, Double-blind Trial. Journal of Infect Disease. 1994; 170:419-24.

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