Water Resources for Florida Agriculture
Agriculture is the second largest industry in Florida. Each year, farms, ranches, nurseries and other agricultural businesses contribute significantly to our region's economy.
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has individuals with agricultural backgrounds and experience to support ranchers and growers with their water resource-related questions and concerns. The District's Agricultural Water Programs provide regulatory, planning and technical assistance, along with implementing collaborative Dispersed Water Management projects designed to help achieve regional water resource goals.
Best Management Practices
Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) are practical, cost-effective actions that agricultural businesses can use to reduce pesticides, fertilizers, animal waste and other pollutants entering our water resources.
BMPs are designed to protect or improve water quality while maintaining or even enhancing agricultural production.
Three coordinating agencies – the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the SFWMD – develop and adopt BMPs by rule for different types of agricultural operations.
- SFWMD Regulatory Source Controls and BMPs
- SFWMD BMP Permits – Southern Everglades
- Florida Office of Agricultural Water Policy – BMP Manuals
- Agricultural Pollution Prevention – Florida DEP
- Pesticide Pollution Prevention – Florida DEP
- EPA Water Sense
- Agrichemical BMPs [PDF]
The SFWMD's regulatory staff offers pre-application guidance and assistance prior to the permit review process for agricultural-related projects. These permits include:
- Environmental Resource Permits
- Consumptive Water Use Permits
- Works of the District Permits (Best Management Practices) for Southern Everglades
- Right-of-Way Permits
This coordinated permit review process gives ranchers and growers a single point of contact for information when they have more than one application under review. Regulatory staff members are available at the Okeechobee Service Center, agency headquarters in West Palm Beach and the District's other regulatory service centers to better provide local assistance throughout the process. more »
Dispersed Water Management Program
The District's Dispersed Water Management Program is an effort to work cooperatively with public, private and tribal landowners to keep excess storm water on the landscape for cost-effective flood control and environmental benefits and to help support the agricultural economy. Primary program components include cost-share/cooperative agreements, Payment for Environmental Services contract opportunities and easement coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). more »
Land Leasing Program
The SFWMD's leasing program assists the agency in managing lands acquired for water management purposes or for ecosystem restoration prior to project implementation. The District provides a searchable database with a variety of information about each of its leased properties. more »
The South Florida Water Management District coordinates its agricultural programs closely with other state agencies, such as:
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The DEP Office of Water Policy addresses statewide water management issues in coordination with the water management districts and other agencies. DEP resources include:
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
FDACS promotes Florida agriculture, fosters innovation in energy development, manages the state's forest resources and safeguards consumers. The agency's Office of Agricultural Water Policy is involved in the development of BMPs, addressing both water quality and water conservation on a site-specific, regional and watershed basis, such as implementation of the federal Clean Water Act's TMDL requirements for agriculture. Also, the office has binding authority to determine if an agricultural activity is exempt from an environmental resource permit.
Florida's Water Management Districts
All of Florida's water management districts work with the agricultural community to improve efficiencies and protect natural systems. For information about agricultural resources in one of Florida's other districts, visit the following: