Montverde, Florida

Assisting with Florida's Consumptive Use Permit Renewal

In addition to Florida’s oceanfront properties to the east, south, and west, the state has more than 30,000 lakes and a network of approximately1,700 rivers and streams. These waterways play a vital role in the state’s economy and environment, but the abundance of surface water creates a false sense of water security when, in fact, conservation is just as critical for Florida as it is for more arid regions of the country. In 1972, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection established five water management districts to oversee water supply, water quality, flood protection and floodplain management, and natural systems. Each of these districts issue consumptive use permits (CUPs) to water agencies in their respective region designed to manage the diversion of surface water and groundwater pumped from the Upper Floridan Aquifer (UFA).

The town of Montverde, situated north of Walt Disney World on the western shore of Lake Apopka, was due to renew their CUP with the St. Johns River Water Management District in February 2024. Like the rest of Florida, the town is experiencing rapid growth with the U.S. Census estimating the population will increase at a rate of 1.7 percent annually. Based on this data, the town expects its current average daily demand of 221,000 gallons per day (gpd) to reach 310,000 gpd or more by 2045. Montverde officials partnered with Woodard & Curran to design new infrastructure to support the new growth and to help with their CUP renewal and identify ways to manage demand as their small town welcomes more residents in the coming years.

Making the Case for Levels of Consumption

Unlike some neighboring communities that boast apartment complexes and condominiums, Montverde’s original housing base is primarily ranch style homes under 2,000-square-feet on half-acre lots with associated yards and landscaping. The mandate from St. Johns River Water Management District, as part of the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI), is that the town have an average gross water consumption of 115 gallons per capita per day (GPCD). In 2023, the average for Montverde was 122 GPCD for indoor and outdoor use. In addition to the population growth that will likely drive that number upwards, Montverde is now seeing new developments of homes larger than 2,000-square-feet that have significant landscaping and pools that will demand more water to maintain. Woodard & Curran’s water resources planners are using this data to make the case that Montverde’s average GPCD will likely always be higher than adjoining towns due to the nature of residential properties in the area.

In negotiating Montverde’s CUP, our team is also helping demonstrate the measures the town is taking to promote water conservation. This includes standards new construction must follow, such as mandating the installation of water conserving appliances such as low flow toilets and energy efficiency rated washing machines. Additionally, building code ordinances require weather-based irrigation controllers be installed and limitations to how frequently landscapes can be watered. We are also working with Montverde to educate its residents on conservation practices that people in arid regions of the country have internalized as standard practice like using running full dishwashers, turning water off when brushing your teeth, and taking short showers versus baths. Much of this effort is about changing people’s behaviors, which takes time to educate and implement. With our vast experience working with California communities on conservation measures, we are well suited to aiding Montverde with these public outreach initiatives.

Identifying a Sustainable Water Supply Alternative

The UFA is the primary water supply for Montverde and much of the state. While the state’s water management districts help manage withdrawals from the aquifer through the CUPs, three of the districts formed the CFWI to collaborate on effective water resource planning, development, and management. One measure the CFWI has ratified requires the cessation of additional withdrawals from the UFA after 2025 to help preserve the state’s streams, rivers, and lakes, which are such a recreational draw for residents and tourists. Since Montverde is already preparing for an increased demand, we are assessing opportunities for the town to develop an alternative water source. One alternative is tapping into the lower-quality Lower Floridan Aquifer (LFA) for non-potable uses, but the aquifer is deep and a LFA well is expensive. Another alternative water source could be the capture, storage and reuse of stormwater for irrigation. Additional options include both regional and local projects for the town.

As we aid Montverde in assessing available water resources from a One Water viewpoint to deliver the best quality potable water and preserve the natural water resources for recreational use, we are considering technical and economic feasibility. Part of that process includes identifying potential state and federal funding resources to support the hydraulic assessment, planning, and design of potential new water sources for the community, and possible coordination with neighboring communities facing the same challenge to identify, design and deliver regional opportunities for alternative water supplies.

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