Center for Property Rights

Sun Sen⁠t⁠⁠i⁠nel — Land, wa⁠t⁠er and Amendmen⁠t⁠ 1 become a ma⁠t⁠⁠t⁠er of pr⁠i⁠or⁠i⁠⁠t⁠⁠i⁠es

By: The James Madison Institute / March 23, 2015

The James Madison Institute

Center for Property Rights

March 23, 2015

Sun Sentinel
“Land, water and Amendment 1 become a matter of priorities”
March 23, 2015
By Dan PetersonA major debate is taking place in the 2015 Legislative session. A clash of various special interests are striving to make their voice the most influential regarding two high profile issues: Allocating Amendment 1 funds and public policy on water.But, the real issue is which priorities must be taken into consideration by policymakers when attempting to balance environmental conservation, water needs and private property rights?An obvious top priority should be good stewardship of lands currently owned by government.If the millions of acres already under state ownership are not maintained, buying more land will only compound problems. If more land is to be purchased or leased, it must be acquired with a purpose and then maintained.Another top priority should be to ensure sufficient water quantity. Projects to stabilize the quantity of water through retention and store would make a huge difference.For example, buying or leasing land between Orlando and Lake Okeechobee could have the benefits of storing water for future use, easing the pressure of too much water in Lake Okeechobee, and protecting coastal communities from massive and devastating algae plumes like those in Martin County last year.A third top priority should be protecting and improving water quality.Legislation already passed in the Florida House positions the Basin Management Action Plans to be responsible for identifying specific sources of pollution in a spring basin and remediating them.Funding should be allocated to gather scientific data (measurable, repeatable and available for independent peer review) to confirm the amount of pollution from each specific source.This information should then be analyzed to determine what needs urgent action and what cost-effective strategies can be deployed to manage the issue at hand.This process need not require years of research.However, in order to use precious financial resources wisely, methodologies and resulting outcomes must be data-driven and scientifically proven, as opposed to estimates generated by computer models that may or may not reflect reality.Addressing such complicated issues is a grueling one. But, if done on a priority, scientific basis, the rewards will be beneficial and long lasting.Dan Peterson is the director of the Orlando-based Center for Property Rights at The James Madison Institute.Article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/fl-viewpoint-water-land-20150326-story.html