As citrus greening becomes an increasing problem across Florida, the District is working with growers that are exceeding their permitted water quantities due to the disease plaguing their groves.
Citrus greening, formal name Huanglongbing, is a bacterial disease that causes trees to produce sour, deformed fruit. Citrus greening has spread to all of the state’s 32 citrus-growing counties. University of Florida economists estimate the disease has caused $4.5 billion in economic damage and 8,200 lost jobs in the state.
The District is in the midst of a three-year study with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) and the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Sciences (FDACS). The goal of the study is to develop, adopt and help implement best management agricultural practices that will protect and conserve water resources while maintaining a viable economic product. The study also will evaluate the amount of water assigned to citrus groves affected by greening. The District has seen an increase in the number of growers citing citrus greening as the cause for overpumping. Some growers use a treatment process that requires more watering to combat the disease.
The District’s Regulation Division is working with growers on the issue and evaluating the potential for the modification of the growers’ permits until the IFAS study has been completed.
“The District is dedicated to pursuing compliance enforcement but prefers to get ahead of potential impacts by proactively working with our permit holders,” said Brent White, the District’s compliance manager for water use permits.
Growers who over pump because of the disease are required to provide documentation showing the existence of the disease from an approved expert in the field and an estimate of the acreage affected.
If the violation is attributed to citrus greening, the permit will be held under review by the District’s compliance staff until an analysis into the effects of greening conditions on water demand can be concluded.
For additional information, call Brent White at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4214.