June 26, 2007

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board Tuesday approved a project that will reduce groundwater pumping in DeSoto County.

Project partner Island Grove Agricultural Products’ Farm #5 is located along S.R. 763 in the Hawthorne Creek watershed. This watershed drains to Joshua Creek and is approximately 14 miles upstream of the Peace River, in the Shell, Prairie, and Joshua Creek Priority Area. This area is also part of the District’s Southern Water Use Caution Area (SWUCA.)

The project involves constructing and operating a 1.5-acre surface water irrigation reservoir, a surface water irrigation pump station, filtration and the piping necessary to connect the proposed surface water reservoir system to the existing irrigation system. The reservoir will be used to store rainwater and runoff from the fields so it can be reused.

Using a surface water reservoir and irrigation system will help reduce pumping from the upper Floridan aquifer. The farm’s water use permit authorizes an annual average groundwater withdrawal of 55,700 gallons per day (gpd) to irrigate 40 acres of blueberries from one well. There is no reported pumpage because the permitted quantity is less than 100,000 gpd, which is the threshold for reporting pumpage in the SWUCA. However, as part of the project, the surface water withdrawal used for irrigation will be metered and reported to the District.

This project will also address water quality concerns by reducing the amount of mineralized ground water entering Joshua Creek.

This is the second Island Grove Agricultural Products project the District has agreed to help fund through the Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) program. The first project is operational and has offset an average of 172,707 gpd, which is well above projections.

The FARMS program is a cost-share reimbursement program that conserves water and protects water quality within the SWUCA.

The FARMS program is jointly funded by state appropriations, the District’s General Fund, the District’s Alafia River, Peace River and Manasota Basin Boards, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The FARMS Program is expected to reduce groundwater pumping by 40 million gallons per day over the next 20 years.

This project is expected to cost $187,500, which will be funded by the District’s Governing Board, the Peace River Basin Board and state appropriations.


 
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