Regional Southwest Florida Agriculture Water Update Meeting

I attended the SWFWMD Agriculture Water Update Meeting a couple of weeks ago in Plant City at the Trinkle Center.  The purpose of this meeting was to allow growers and ranchers operating within the boundaries of SWFWMD the opportunity to interact with agency leaders involved in water policy and to hear the latest updates related to agricultural water issues. Here is a brief layout summarizing and encapsulating the most important points of each speaker.  Mark Hammond-SWFWMD, spoke about water use and the ag programs.  John Abendroth – FDEP, summarized where we are currently at with the numeric nutrient criteria, total minimum daily loads (TMDLs), and basin management action plans (BMAPS).  Ann Shortelle – FDEP, summarized upcoming plans to make applications to water management districts for ground water pumping and renewal of consumptive use permits more efficient and consistent across and within the districts.  Rich Budell – FDACS, discussed the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI where the three districts meet in Central Florida) as a collaborative effort to manage the water resources in the central part of the state, and spoke about a new program of payment for environmental services by capturing water on agricultural land and receiving payments from the water management districts. This seems like a very innovative way to capture, treat, and amplify water storage in a collaborative way between landowners, government, and the water management districts. He also spoke about the importance of all agricultural producers signing up with the appropriate Best Management Programs (BMPS).  Which I must reiterate for all producers the importance of signing up under the BMP programs.  This removes the burden of proof from the producer in case nutrient contamination is in the area. The last speaker was Dr. Joan Dusky- UF Assistant Dean of Extension, summarizing how UF works collaboratively between water management districts, industry, government, and agriculture to benefit the public. She spoke about the latest research involving management of water resources across all different levels from the molecular to the farm. She also summarized by saying UF research/extension is ready, willing, and able to help bring sound science to bear in these ongoing efforts.

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