Three agricultural projects to share nearly $419,000 to reduce water use, nutrient loading

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VIERA, Fla., April 11, 2018 — The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board on Tuesday approved moving forward with contracts for three agricultural projects, totaling nearly $419,000 in cost-share funds, that will reduce water use by 218,537 gallons per day and reduce nutrient loading in the Tri County Agricultural Area (TCAA) of Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties.

“Farming is a vital part of Florida’s economy and its history. We are excited to partner with growers who share our goal of protecting Florida’s natural resources for future generations while also ensuring the sustainability of their operations,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We thank our TCAA growers’ continued commitment to protecting our natural resources by reducing water use and nutrient runoff from farming operations.”

The board authorized the district’s executive director to execute contracts with the selected growers to share in funds provided by the district, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).

All the selected projects are sub-irrigation drain tile projects, in which irrigation water is delivered underground through perforated pipe to limit evaporation. These systems use significantly less water than traditional seepage systems.

The three projects will reduce farms’ water use and are anticipated to reduce total nitrogen loading by 1,993 pounds per year and total phosphorus loading by 474 pounds per year.

Farms selected to receive TCAA Water Management Partnership funds are:

  • Picolata Farms
  • Singleton Farms
  • Florida Spuds

Funding for the TCAA Water Management Partnership cost-share program is provided on a year-to-year basis by FDEP, FDACS and the district. Together, the agencies select agricultural projects for cost-share opportunities. A fourth partner, the Natural Resource and Conservation Service, provides federal funds for cost-share opportunities in the TCAA. More than 85 projects have received funding since the partnership was initiated in 2012.

These projects, along with six more approved in October 2017, will share nearly $1.5 million in funding and are anticipated to contribute to the improved health of the St. Johns River through on-farm and regional water management projects and practices that reduce the movement of nutrients to the river, improve water conservation and result in more efficient farm management while maintaining the long-term viability of agriculture in the TCAA.