An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Seminole County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Blue-Green Algae Task Force reviews agriculture BMPs

Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) were reviewed at the Blue-Green Algae Task Force June 4 meeting.

West Gregory, director of the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services Office of Agricultural Water Policy, said FDACS has the responsibility to protect water supply while promoting agriculture.

He said BMPs are designed to improve water quality, conserve water and protect water resources.

Practices like precision fertilization ensure the nutrients go to the plants, using the most efficient manner possible, and that nutrients do not run off into waterways, he explained.

BMPs are required in areas with a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), Gregory continued.

BMPs were developed by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and FDACS. FDEP identifies water bodies at risk and determines the maximum nutrient load allowed (TMDL). FDACS develops practices that will help reduce the nutrient load in runoff.

Currently there are 10 BMP manuals, he said. If you are a producer and you are in a BMAP, you are required to follow the manual for your commodity, he said.

FDEP works with FDACS to verify the BMPs are working and make changes if needed.

Gregory said farmers have the choice to enroll in the BMP program or have water quality monitoring to ensure runoff from their property meets the water quality standards.

He said FDACS inspects producers under BMPs every two years to make sure the practices have been followed.

“If someone is in a BMAP and not enrolled, we try to contact them several times. If they are not enrolled, they are referred to FDEP for compliance,” he said.

FDACS helps producers with a cost-share program to implement the BMPs. “That can be helping them put in water control structures,” he said. In some cases, FDACS helps the producer purchase equipment.