An Essay On An Economics Article There is a major debate brewing in the Florida water districts. The discussion concerns a company called Azurix and their novel offer. Azurix is a spin-off the huge Houston based gas and oil company Enron. The offer: in exchange for financing a portion of the four billion-dollar everglades clean up, Azurix acquires the ability to sell the water that they store as part of the project. This seemingly innocuous plan can have huge affects on Floridas economy.
The privatization of the water management in Florida could work in a positive manner and eliminate the projected shortages by creative management, or it can act negatively and make it harder and more expensive to obtain water. There is some precedence for the appearance of private industry in water management. In Tampa Bay, three different water districts have come together to build a large desalination plant to service the entire area. The plant will be built and run by S&W Water LLC, a private company. Although this brand of involvement is not unheard of, the level of involvement that Azurix proposes would give it virtually complete control of the water supply of Florida.
This monopoly has some people excited and some people worried. Those who are optimistic about the proposed change, which includes many water district managers, citizens, and local officials, hope for the best possible results. They argue that the private sector can conserve more water, improve service, and decrease water shortages. Advocates advance that farmers are permitted far more water than is necessary for crop maintenance. There for excess water is wasted. However, if agronomists are able to make a profit on conserving water, then the use of this valuable supply is much more efficient.
This newborn capability will make agriculture more profitable and provide a boost to one of Floridas largest industries. The optimists also tout improved service. Private industry has more money to put into research and development; hence, the ability to supply clean fresh potable water to the tap can be improved. It is argued that their plan can decrease water shortages by diversifying the way Florida gets its water. Although Florida really does not have a shortage of water, it has water at the wrong time.
The majority of Floridas fifty-five inches a year of rain falls during the summer; the time when the population is at its lowest point. The diversification of how water is procured will allow for a more even distribution of this resource. Some areas, such as the St. Johns River Water Management District will tap surface sources, and others will develop aquifer and storage recovery units that store water from the wet times to doll out during the dry times. Clearly, the notion of privatizing water has tremendous potential to help Florida. Not withstanding this optimism surrounding the proposition, it is not be without its detractors. Factions of the proponents claim that privatization is good in some areas of public services, water this group contends can not be private. The water that every one and every thing depends on can not be for sale to the highest bidder.
The naysayers contend that when a company like Azurix has a monopoly on water, conservation will not be a priority. Water for sale on the open market with out limits would lead to the loss of this resource. Opponents contend that the sale of Florida water across state borders could be detrimental to the precarious balance that we struggle to maintain today. The lack of conservation could prove to be deadly to the environment. With the downfall of the environment, the tourism industry would fail.
This failure would spell disaster for the Florida economy. In conjunction with the lack of conservation of water, the prices will rise. The company that controls the water supply will be able to name its price. This can damage the pool and lawn industries as well as lawn landscaping and nursery businesses in areas dependent on city or treated water. Agriculture, normally the largest employer of unskilled labor, can suffer increased cost, which can result in a loss of jobs and the competitive edge to foreign competition.
This can be a significant drain on the economy. Privatizing the water works of Florida is truly risky business. The lawmakers of the state must make the decision of trusting a vital natural resource to private industry. Tremendous gains can be made, or tremendous losses can be endured. Florida is now at an important cross roads, and must make the difficult decision that the lively hood of the state may depend on.
Bibliography Barnett, Cynthia. Making Waves Florida Trend. Sep. 2000 : 84-87.