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August 2, 2007

The Southwest Florida Water Management District recently approved a project that will reduce groundwater pumping in Charlotte County.

This project is for Ben Hill Griffin Inc., C & S Grove, a 1,665-acre citrus grove in the Shell Creek watershed. The grove is also located within the Southern Water Use Caution Area (SWUCA).

The primary goal of the project is to reduce groundwater pumping from the Intermediate and Upper Floridan aquifers by irrigating 80 percent of the grove through the use of an existing surface water reservoir and grove ditches.

The groves water use permit authorizes an annual average groundwater withdrawal of 1,358,400 gallons per day (gpd) of which approximately 66 percent is used. As part of the project, C & S Grove will stop pumping groundwater, resulting in a net withdrawal reduction of 100 percent.

The project also involves the construction and operation of two surface water pump stations, filtration, a weather station and the pipes and infrastructure necessary to connect the surface water reservoir to the existing irrigation system.

The cost of this project is expected to be $440,000, which will be funded by the Districts Governing Board, the Peace River Basin Board and state appropriations.

The project is part of the Districts Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) program, which 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.

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