Flushing ponds, ranches, and lakes can be as important as rain in Florida, but not if you have to drink the water.
The state has one of the nation’s highest water use rates per capita.
According to a study released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a gallon of tap water costs the state more than $1.50 per person per day.
That’s equivalent to drinking about 12.5 gallons of water per person a day, according to the study.
In addition to the water’s cost, Florida residents have to pay for the cost of drinking water infrastructure and water quality improvements, including the installation of filtering systems and improved treatment systems.
In the last few years, the state has been facing significant challenges as it grapples with a growing number of cases of salmonella poisoning.
Salmonella bacteria can cause serious illness and even death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that salmonellosis costs the U and its citizens more than 10 million lives annually.
Despite the potential impact of salmon contamination, the water use rate in Florida has dropped significantly over the last decade.
Since 2006, the number of counties with a water use of at least 30 percent has fallen from more than 90,000 to about 7,500, according a study by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The number of water users in the state rose from 2,000 in 2005 to 7,000 by 2013, according the study, but in recent years, there has been a marked increase in use, according as water is diverted and water is used in areas with limited water supplies, according an email to ABC News.
Some of the water users that have been identified in recent months have not been previously identified, said David Schumacher, director of the Department of Public Health and Environment in Fort Pierce, Florida.
The department does not yet know how many people are using the state’s water system.
Some areas of the state that have seen water use drop include the counties of Cocoa Beach, Palm Beach, Orange, Hillsborough, and Hillsborough County.
“I don’t think there’s anything that we can really say is going to put a dent in it,” Schumachers said.
In some areas, like Cocoa, residents are drinking water that is filtered out of their taps because they do not have a filter.
In other areas, however, the problem is widespread.
The state has more than 60,000 unmetered water sources in the county, which includes areas where the average household uses about 7 gallons of tap-water per day, the study found.
The Florida Department to be able to assess and reduce the water demand in the future would require a lot more infrastructure, said Scott Williams, director for the Water and Environmental Services division of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Williams said the department has been looking at ways to reduce water use in the past, but those efforts have been focused on areas where it was possible to make improvements to water quality.
The water use situation is not sustainable, said Schumakers.
“We’re talking about millions of gallons of waste that are being put into the waterways.
We’re talking around 30,000 cases of Salmonella a year.”
Florida’s water use is an issue that needs to be addressed now, Williams said.
The current drought, combined with the increasing amount of salinity, has made Florida vulnerable to contamination of drinking and drinking water supplies.
“The most pressing challenge that we face is the problem of salinization,” he said.