UF expert: Communities, residents can protect water quality

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — August is National Water Quality Month. That term — water quality — may not be familiar to some Floridians. But as the state’s population grows and demands on water increase, it’s more likely to start popping up in conversation, according to a University of Florida expert.

“Water quality is the measure of the biological, physical and chemical characteristics of water and its suitability for certain uses,” said Lisa Krimsky, one of five water-focused regional specialized agents (RSAs) with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

“Water quality can measure suitability for human needs, such as for drinking water, or for environmental suitability — how well the water can support life and healthy ecosystems,” said Krimsky, who covers 12 south Florida counties from Brevard to Miami-Dade.

Water quality is a top concern for residents in south Florida, she said.

“As a Water RSA, I deal with water quality issues on a daily basis,” Krimsky said. “One of my primary areas of focus is coastal water quality and algal blooms. I work with partners to identify local watershed impacts and develop UF/IFAS Extension programs to address and minimize these nutrient inputs.”

If that sounds complicated, it’s because water touches so many aspects of our lives.

“Water impacts every part of our daily lives, and water quality can have economic, social, environmental and human health effects,” Krimsky said. “Beyond the broad spectrum of human needs, healthy water quality is essential for functioning ecosystems and biodiversity, and it supports Florida’s vibrant tourism, agriculture, real-estate and fishery industries.”

Individual homeowners, even those who don’t live near the ocean, can also take steps to protect water quality, Krimsky said. “There is a misconception that if you can’t see the water then you can’t be having an impact,” she said.

Everyone plays a part in protecting water quality and reducing pollution, no matter their location or lifestyle, Krimsky explained.

“One of the simplest things you can do is ensure the proper disposal of household goods and trash. These products vary widely and may include kitchen fats and oils, pharmaceuticals, cleaning chemicals, paints, car oil. Around your home, you can take steps to minimize storm water runoff and follow environmentally sustainable and Florida Friend Landscaping practices,” Krimsky said.

To learn more about how UF/IFAS is helping protect water in Florida, visit water.ifas.ufl.edu.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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