Three agricultural projects to share $525,500 to reduce nutrient loading, water use

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PALATKA, Fla., Sept. 12, 2018 — The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board on Tuesday approved moving forward with contracts for three agricultural projects, totaling nearly $525,500 in cost-share funds, that will reduce water use by 109 million gallons per year and reduce nutrient loading in the Tri County Agricultural Area (TCAA) of Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties.

“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).

The three projects will reduce farms’ water use and are anticipated to reduce total nitrogen loading to the St. Johns River by 859 pounds per year and total phosphorus loading by 177 pounds per year.

Farms selected to receive TCAA Water Management Partnership funds are:

  • Tree Town USA, in Flagler County
  • Blandford Turf, in St. Johns County
  • Oak Hill Fern, in Putnam County

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. Nearly 100 projects have received funding since the partnership was initiated in 2012.

These projects 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.