WRIR 91-4123

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Marella, R.L., 1992, Factors that Affect Public-Supply Water Use in Florida, with a Section on Projected Water Use to the Year 2020: Water Resources Investigations Report 91-4123, 35 p.


Public-supply water use in Florida increased 242 percent between 1960 and 1987 from 530 Mgal/d (million gallons per day) to 1,811 Mgal/d. This change is primarily a result of increases in population and tourism since 1960. Public-supply utilities provide water to a variety of users. In 1985, 71 percent of the water used for public supply was delivered for residential uses, 15 percent for commercial uses, 9 percent for industrial uses, and the remaining 5 percent for public use or other uses. Residential use of public-supply water in Florida has increased nearly 280 Mgal/d, but has decreased in the proportion of total deliveries from 80 to 71 percent between 1975 and 1985. This trend resulted from increased tourism and related commercial services associated with population and visitors.

One of several factors that influences public-supply water use in Florida is the increase in resident population, which increased from 4.95 million in 1960 to more than 12.0 million in 1987. Additionally, Florida's nonresident population increased from 18.8 million visitors in 1977, to 34.1 million visitors in 1987, and the part of Florida’s population that relies on public-supply water increased from 68 percent in 1960, to 86 percent in 1987. The public supply per capita use was multiplied by the projected populations for each county for the years 2000, 2010, and 2020 to forecast public-supply water use. Using medium projections, Florida’s population is expected to increase to nearly 16 million in the year 2000, to 18 million in the year 2010, and to almost 20 million in the year 2020, of which an estimated 13.5 million people will be supplied water from public-supply water systems in the year 2000, 15 million in 2010, and nearly 17 million by the year 2020. Public-supply water use is expected to increase to a projected (medium) 2,310 Mgal/d in the year 2000, 2,610 Mgal/d in the year 2010, and 2,890 Mgal/d in the year 2020. If the population exceeds the medium projections for the years 2000, 2010, and 2020, high projections estimate public-supply water use could reach 2,570 Mgal/d in 2000, 3,210 Mgal/d in 2010, and 3,900 Mgal/d in 2020. Palm Beach County is projected to have the largest increase in public-supply water use, from 168 Mgal/d used in 1987 to a medium projected 338 Mgal/d for 2020. Dade County’s public-supply water use is projected (medium) to increase to nearly 471 Mgal/d for 2020, the largest county use in Florida.

Water demand options, such as conservation, restrictions, education programs, leak detection and repair programs, and more realistic pricing practices can reduce the demand for freshwater. Increased use of alternative sources of water, such as reclaimed wastewater and desalinated seawater also can reduce the demand for freshwater. Because the water demand projections in this report are based primarily on population projections, they should represent an upper limit of actual future demand if the population projections prove sound. Any additional water demand options implemented in the future at the State, county, or public-supply facility level may significantly reduce per capita use and result in public-supply use less than projected in this report.

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