Summary of Major Coastal Water Resource Problems

  • Mismanagement of the principal artesian aquifer has resulted in saltwater intrusion and encroachment. Intensive industrial use of groundwater continues despite mounting problems with supply for other users. This has led to speculation in permits for withdrawal from three coastal rivers.

  • Although the amounts being requested are a relatively small portion of average daily flow, there are indications of already compromised habitat conditions and declining minimum flow in these rivers and estuaries.

  • According to the EPA, water quality data for all coastal rivers is insufficient including information about toxins. From official sources, we know that 60% of the state waters sampled fail to meet federal standards.

  • Under existing science, the ecosystem effects of withdrawal or other alteration in flow conditions (such as ditching in wetlands) cannot be reliably predicted.

  • Problems related to review of water withdrawal and discharge permits under these conditions have led to several major research efforts, increased citizen involvement, legal actions, and proposed legislation.

  • Commercial fishing interests and scientists are concerned about the state issuing more permits affecting habitat, until further study is completed.

  • Threats to thousands of jobs in commercial fishing, seafood processing, and other activities are attracting unprecedented attention from the public, but more effort is needed to get elected officials to take appropriate action to address them.
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