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Planning to Encourage a Regional Perspective at a Local Level: Broward's Countywide Integrated Water Resource Plan

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Water plays a critical role in South Florida's economy, environment and quality of life. The relative lack of topography, unique geology and close connection between groundwater and surface water sources require that local water resources be viewed from a regional perspective, blind to municipal or service area boundaries. To meet Everglades restoration goals and still meet the county's growing water needs, Broward County began developing the Broward's Countywide Integrated Water Resource Plan (IWRP) in 1997 to coordinate the sources and users of water for effective and efficient local water management. All water management functions needed to be considered including drainage regulations, aquifer recharge, flood protection, maintenance of groundwater levels for wetlands, abatement of saltwater intrusion and public water supply. The plan has four integrated components: Natural Systems, Canal Systems, Utilities and Policies. Using cost share funding from the regional watershed authority, South Florida Water Management District, Broward County pursued data gathering, innovations in model development and consensus building among the 26 utilities, 28 drainage districts, and 29 municipalities. The planning process started with data collection to enhance our knowledge of local water management infrastructure, sources and wetland resources. The water needs of the natural system and utilities as well as the educational needs of the public were then assessed. Using a consensus process to prioritize recommendations for improvements based on the needs assessment, selected projects underwent preliminary design of operational and infrastructural changes. The final phase of the IWRP was to implement capital improvements to more effectively manage water in Broward County, FL. Throughout each phase, monthly meetings of a technical advisory committee comprised of utility, drainage and environmental interests as well as regular workshops of affected water managers were held to keep them informed and involved in the process. To date the planning process has resulted in the diverse water management community shifting their focus to watershed objectives, new cooperative relationships between previously divergent groups, establishment of infrastructure inventories, improvements in modeling capabilities and design and construction of new water management facilities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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