About the Program
FARMS is an agricultural cost-share reimbursement program that reduces groundwater withdrawals from the Upper Floridan aquifer through conservation and alternative water supply best management practices (BMPs). In conjunction with water supply BMPs, water quality and natural systems improvement BMPs also may be cost-shared in priority areas.
The program is designed to serve as an incentive to the agricultural community to promote water quantity, water quality and natural systems to conserve groundwater use and promote resource sustainability.
Examples of commonly used BMPs include:
- Tailwater recovery/surface water pond irrigation pump stations and filtration
- Water control structures
- Electronic controls including remote irrigation zone and start/stop controls
- Soil moisture and weather station climate sensor telemetry
- Cold and frost/freeze protection BMPs in the Dover/Plant City Water Use Caution Area
FARMS is a public/private partnership developed by the District and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The FARMS Program serves the entire District and focuses on Upper Floridan aquifer withdrawal savings and water quality and natural systems improvements in targeted Water Use Caution Areas and priority watersheds.
- Improve natural systems in the Upper Myakka River Watershed (UMRW)
As of September 2015, the eight Board-approved projects located within the UMRW are projected to reduce groundwater use by 6.1 mgd through conservation and/or the reuse of tailwater. This will reduce the contribution of groundwater to this volume-sensitive basin. This goal supports the District’s Regional Water Supply Plan for the Southern Planning Region, the SWUCA Recovery Strategy and the Upper Myakka River Watershed Initiative.
- Prevent Groundwater Impacts in the Northern District (North of the SWUCA)
As of September 2015, the 45 Board-approved projects located within the Northern District (North of the SWUCA) are projected to reduce groundwater use in this region by an estimated two mgd. This goal supports the District’s Regional Water Supply Plan for the Northern Planning Region and the Strategic Plan.
- Reduce cold protection groundwater quantities in the Dover/Plant City Water Use Caution Area (DPCWUCA) by 20 percent by 2020
As of February 2015, the 22 Board-approved projects located within the DPCWUCA for frost-freeze protection savings are projected to offset an estimated 43.78 mgd of groundwater use per cold protection event. This goal supports the District’s DPCWUCA Recovery Strategy, Regional Water Supply Plan for the Tampa Bay Region and the Strategic Plan.
- Implement agricultural BMPs in the Springs Coast springsheds—Weeki Wachee, Chassahowitzka, Homosassa, Crystal River/Kings Bay and Rainbow—that will reduce groundwater withdrawals and/or reduce nutrient impacts to groundwater and spring systems
The District is in the early stages of embarking on this new area. BMP implementation within the Springs Coast project area will focus on both a reduction in groundwater use and/or a reduction in nutrient loadings to spring systems. This goal supports the Springs Management Plan and the Strategic Plan.
- Implement agricultural projects in the Central Florida Water Initative (CFWI) region of the Southwest Florida Water Management District that will reduce groundwater withdrawals
The District is in the early stages of embarking on this new area. BMP implementation within the CFWI region will focus on reductions and conservation in groundwater use. This goal supports the developing concepts being considered in the Central Florida Water Initiative Regional Water Supply Plan.
To qualify for funding, projects must be located in the District and include one or more of the following BMP strategies:
- Utilize an alternative water supply or technology to reduce groundwater use.
- Improve irrigation water quality and watershed ecology by reducing reliance on poorer quality groundwater.
- Restore or augment water resources and ecology in priority areas (see map).
- Growers manage their projects and are reimbursed for approved expenses.
- Reimbursement can amount to as much as 75 percent of total project costs with water quality and groundwater quantity savings / conservation BMPs; and as much as 50 percent with water quality or groundwater quantity savings / conservation BMPs.
- District and grower(s) enter into a signed and executed contractual agreement for the FARMS project with a contract duration generally 5–10 years.
- Growers are responsible for obtaining all project-related permits and must have District authorization prior to incurring approved reimbursable expenses.
Note: Please refer to the “40D-26” document on the right for a complete set of the FARMS Program Rules.