Florida water qualityIn a state as diverse as Florida, water is its common identity.

It is one of the state’s most precious resources, and every person, business sector and ecological habitat relies on it. In order to accommodate the diverse water needs of Florida’s booming population, economic growth and more than 100 million visitors each year, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam advocated for science-based, statewide water policy and worked with the Legislature in 2016 on key legislation.

“Water is Florida’s golden goose. We needed smart, comprehensive water policy today in order to protect the quality and quantity of water for Florida’s future generations, and we passed legislation that accounts for our long-term needs,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

Planning and Evaluating

Senate President Andy Gardiner, Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Senator Charlie Dean and Representative Matt Caldwell were instrumental in developing and passing this landmark legislation. Additionally, the entire Florida Legislature recognized the need to act now to protect Florida’s water.

“Florida’s most valuable natural resource is our water. From it flows life for our people, our food supply, our environmental resources, and our economic prosperity. Policy choices we make today will greatly impact the future of our state. I’m proud of the Florida House’s work this year to modernize our existing water policies and use responsible, science- based solutions to tackle water quality and supply challenges across Florida.”

To help protect and manage Florida’s precious water resources, this legislation, among other things: enhances the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Best Management Practices program, which implements cutting edge-technology and innovative practices to help preserve and protect Florida’s water resources; expedites the protection and restoration of the water flow and water quality in our aquifer and Outstanding Florida Springs; ensures the development and implementation of uniform water supply planning, consumptive water use permitting and resources protection programs for the area within the Central Florida Water Initiative; and modifies water supply and resource planning to provide more robust representations of the state’s water needs and goals.

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While this legislation is a much-needed step forward, Florida’s agriculture industry has long-recognized the need to protect Florida’s water quality and supply. The industry as a whole has implemented water-saving technologies through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Best Management Practices to save 12 billion gallons of water per year, which is 33 million gallons of water per day.

“Our staff partners with researchers to develop Best Management Practices, and then we work with farmers and ranchers throughout Florida to help them implement these water protection measures,” stated Steve Dwinell, Director of the Office of Agricultural Water Policy.

Best Management Practices

Florida is home to 47,000 farms and ranches. In 1980, 300,000 acres used micro-irrigation techniques. By 2010, that number was nearly 700,000 – a 133-percent increase.

Additionally, implementation of Best Management Practices on agricultural land resulted in a 79-percent phosphorous reduction in the Everglades Agricultural Area, which far exceeds the 25-percent reduction requirement. This achievement marks a 20-year milestone.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services remains committed to providing the expertise and resources necessary to protect one of Florida’s most precious natural resources – water.

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