40 Years of Water Law in Florida

The 18th Annual Public Interest Environmental Conference is convening at the University of Florida Levin College of Law this weekend. The topic? Water in Florida. While emphasizing a retrospective of the laws designed to protect Florida’s water resources, panels have also included current topics of water quantity, water quality, water change, private and public ownership of water, and water resource advocacy. The history behind the 1972 Florida Water Resources Act was discussed by a lively panel made up of those who participated in creating and implementing the Act. Former members of three water management districts offered their insights into what went right, what went wrong, and what can be improved.

Other panels included Florida Waterkeepers, charged with keeping Florida’s waterways fishable, swimmable, and drinkable; a panel of writers who have published books on water led by Cynthia Barnett, the editorial consultant for this journalism water project; and a look at how climate change will affect water issues in the Florida. (Check out the water bottles on this photo of the writers’ panel!)

Carol Browner, a graduate of the UF law school and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1993-2001) delivered the keynote address at the Friday night banquet. In addition she found time during the day to meet with a small group of students at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service who expressed interested in environmental issues and politics.

The sessions will continue on Saturday with the conference wrapping up on Saturday afternoon. The closing plenary session focuses on protecting Florida’s water for the next forty years.