Board Members See FARMS Program Project at Work

Staff and Board members tour a FARMS project District staff and contractors discuss floodplain concerns with residents.

District Governing Board members and staff recently got a firsthand view of a successful agricultural alternative water-use project built through the District’s Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) Program.

The project involved constructing a surface water tailwater recovery system that was built at Lallymix Farms’ Poucher Road farm in Hardee County. The system offsets the use of ground water from wells by using existing ditches and a three-acre surface water reservoir to collect and store tailwater from irrigation and frost/freeze events as well as stormwater runoff from the farm. In addition, a weather station and soil moisture sensors have allowed for increased efficiency in water use.

The project has offset close to 100,000 gallons per day (gpd) of ground water since construction was completed in October 2008, and it is expected to eventually offset 124,650 gpd.

The 120-acre blueberry farm is located in the Peace River watershed, which is part of the District’s Southern Water Use Caution Area.

“Because 15 to 20 FARMS Program projects are brought before the Basin Boards each year, it is important for Board members to see completed projects and talk with participating growers so they are comfortable with the use of funds now and in the future,” said Eric DeHaven, the District’s resource data and restoration director. “During the tour, the Board members were interested to learn more about how the program is meeting its objectives and how the grower has adapted his irrigation system to reduce groundwater pumping.”

The District’s FARMS Program is a cost-share reimbursement program that conserves water and improves water quality.