The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) is giving the green light to move forward with contracts totaling nearly $473,000 in cost-share funding for two agricultural projects that will reduce water use by 1.41 million gallons per day and markedly reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loading to the St. Johns River in Northeast Florida’s Tri County Agricultural Area (TCAA).
The two farms selected to receive TCAA Water Management Partnership funds provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) are:
- C.P. Wesley Smith (St. Johns County) will receive $222,734 for conversion from traditional seepage irrigation to sub-irrigation drain tile. Earlier sub-irrigation drain tile projects have resulted in an estimated 51% decrease in water use when compared to seepage irrigation, and a 31% decrease in total nitrogen load concentrations and a 43% decrease in total phosphorus load concentrations.
- Marineland Aquaponics (Putnam County) will receive $250,000 for the second phase of an aquaponics closed-circulation project.
The two projects combined are anticipated to reduce total nitrogen loading to the St. Johns River by 32,642 pounds per year and total phosphorus loading by 4,671 pounds per year.
According to SJRWMD, funding for the TCAA Water Management Partnership cost-share program is provided on a year-to-year basis by FDEP, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as well as the district. USDA’s Natural Resource and Conservation Service also provides cost-share opportunities to TCAA growers through federal dollars.
To date, more than 130 projects have received funding from the combined efforts of the four partners.
On a related note, the SJRWMD recently awarded $1.56 million as part of its districtwide Ag Cost-Share Program for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 to 13 eco-minded projects projects in the 15 counties outside the TCAA.