5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Victoria Machado
Session Name Achieving Behavior Change: Public perceptions and awareness of water conservation issues 2
Author(s) Victoria  Machado,  Phd Student (Presenting Author)
  Entering a Watershed Moment: Community Voices a bridge for Florida’s Water Issues
  Science and policy are imperative to a discussion about water issues. However, often times we neglect to address the people and groups driving this information and pushing for larger policies. The purpose of my presentation is to look at how local groups around the state of Florida are engaging their communities in an effort to uphold safe and sustainable water resources. Drawing from my own experience as an environmental organizer (the groups I worked with and those I encountered), I offer a broad look at the public advocacy surrounding many of Florida’s current water issues. I show how ordinary citizens are demanding more stringent environmental policies for the health of their communities and regions. They do this by educating their neighbors, actively engaging local politics, and collectively pushing for stronger statewide water standards. This form of advocacy and civil engagement is usually omitted from conversations about water resources. It is important to recognize the numerous people, countless hours, and tremendous community efforts that are driving the push for stricter policies and local measures supporting responsible water use and water protection. For the purposes of this presentation, I focus on the community organizing efforts surrounding fracking in Florida (Naples, South Florida, Tallahassee), the Sabel Pipeline (Fort White), and offshore drilling (Jacksonville). Everglades restoration (Okeechobee), salt-water intrusion (Miami), and a handful of other water issues come into the discussion, too. Recognizing the importance of civil engagement in particular areas helps us to understand how to better bridge the gap between science and policy.