Florida’s groundwater resources serve as the source for drinking water for 93% of the state’s population and all of its some 40 million annual visitors. Of all freshwater usage in Florida, 60% comes from Florida’s abundant resource of groundwater, with one of the most productive aquifers in the world being the Floridian aquifer system.
The primary recharge area to the Floridian aquifer, lakes, rivers, and streams is located in the Northwest, North Central, and Central areas of Florida. A recent study by the University of Florida shows that a majority of this area is protected by Florida’s forest. Florida has over 16 million acres of forests, 47% of Florida’s total land area, that are vital to the economy and environment of our state.
The members of the Florida Pulp and Paper Association (FPPAEA) own, lease, or reserve approximately 27% of Florida’s forests. Most of these forests are located in the areas shown to be vital to groundwater recharge of the Floridian aquifer. The coverage of these areas protects both the quantity and quality of water recharged to the Floridan aquifer.
The Impact of the Forest Products Industry
Forests have an important role in Florida’s hydrologic cycle. Managed forests mitigate flooding, reduce erosion, aid in purification and water quality, and aid in the infiltration to intermediate and deep aquifers. Tree crowns, leaves and needles, and underlying vegetation protect the top soil layer. The decay of organic matter produced by a healthy forest contributes to helping maintain good soil characteristics for groundwater recharge. By helping to control the quality and quantity of recharge to groundwater, Florida’s forests help sustain the natural resource all of us depend on.
The impact of FPPAEA members on water usage is sometimes misunderstood. The industry’s consumptive water usage from groundwater is generally viewed by the public as extraordinarily high. However, this usage is offset many times, a ratio estimated at more than 30 to 1, by providing significant recharge to both groundwater and surface water from its forests.
FPPAEA’s Proactive Approach
FPPAEA and its members have, historically, taken a proactive approach to water usage reduction and implementation of conservation measures and techniques. In the last 20 years, FPPAEA’s members have reduced the demand on Florida’s water supply by more than 35 million gallons per day. This reduction was achieved as the production from Florida’s Pulp and Paper Industry has grown. Development of processes that allow water to be reused within the mill, conservation of heat from cooling water, and innovative engineering to replace water seals with mechanical seals are examples of how FPPAEA members are using technology to continually help protect Florida.
Since 1955, FPPAEA members have reduced consumptive water usage by over 40%. The proactive response by our industry has helped conserve the water supply for the rapid growth experienced in agricultural irrigation and public water supply, both of which have increased over 800% in the same time period.
FPPAEA’s Commitment to Florida’s Water Supply
FPPAEA members will continue to ensure that our forests continue to play a vital role in the recharge of the Floridan aquifer as well as protection of the water quality that enters that aquifer. The significance of our industry provides economic incentive to keep Florida’s forests growing and protected.
AF&PA Statistics of Paper, Paperboard and Wood Pulp, 2000
Florida Waters, Elizabeth D. Purdum, Institute of Science and Public Affairs, Florida State University