2nd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Debora Kerr
Session Name Poster Session: Human Dimensions of Water Sustainability 1
Category Human dimensions of water sustainability
Poster Number 113
Author(s) Earl Fox, MD, MPH,  Florida Public Health Institute
  Debora Kerr, MA,  Florida Public Health Institute
  Ana DeMelo, PE, D.WRE, CDM, Inc.
  Daniel Parker, MSP, Florida Department of Health
  Patti Anderson, PE, Florida Department of Health
  Public/Private Partnerships: the Role of Public Health in Water Sustainability Policy Development for Decision Makers
  Climate change is a significant threat to public health across a national/international scope. Variability in climate change can lead to changes in freshwater quantity, quality and safety. Coastal areas remain most vulnerable to such impacts. It is imperative to develop and implement policies to mitigate natural and human influences on climate change and to respond to new challenges of adaptation at the regional and local level to reduce health risks. Promotion of environmental policies that prepare for climate change and adaptation can reduce health burdens and other uncertainties through information and education, partnership and collaboration of both private and public sectors. A sustainable policy making approach that considers total cost accounting, life cycle assessments, conservation of natural resources, and zero waste will educate and empower citizenry on the true costs and limited nature of our resources while providing more sustainable decision-making guidance for policymakers. An approach that begins with water is both timely and effective. Sustainable decision-making and climate change adaptation sensitive policies will allow a better overall assessment of the various uses of our water, a shifting away from wasteful practices, and promotion of long term economic and public health savings. Such a model can also be applied to policy decisions on other critical issues in the state. The public health sector is best positioned for this initiative as they are tasked with protecting drinking water, considered a trusted provider of information by the public, and are at the nexus of regulatory, policy making, and service provisions. With the establishment of a Florida Public Health Institute-Health Policy Bureau, public health professionals can better elaborate on the health outcomes of current trends in Florida, provide decision makers with neutral public policy considerations with perspective in safe water and climate change adaptation, and promote greater collaboration toward sustainable, livable communities.