Executive Summary

The policy politics of water management in Florida over the last several years has been contentious and “driven” by indecision, procrastination, and short-term fixes.
When the stakes are high, infrastructure politics can be as conflict-ridden as any other kind of politics. On water politics in the state, it remains difficult to get local politicians “off the dime” and “into the game.” Local decision making always seems to get distracted by the politics of personality and jurisdictional turf wars.
Water politics in the Tampa Bay region and South Florida particularly under- score this problem of contentious politics. And the pollution crisis in Northwest Florida seems to have gone on for years unabated, notwithstanding a grand jury’s call for action in 1999.
The foregoing conditions indicate a need to reassess the desirability of market mechanisms to coordinate the timely and economical distribution of water. It is not evident that the command-and-control model of state regional organization has worked effectively in the past.
By adopting an economic theory of use where water is valued at market rates, we shall go a long way to overcoming problems of insufficient supply, political crisis, and community dissatisfaction.