FL district, agricultural partners explore innovative rainwater harvesting techniques

Trader Hill Farms in Nassau County, Fla., will be implementing an innovative technique of rainwater harvesting that will be used to irrigate crops, ultimately conserving fresh groundwater and reducing nutrient loading to area waterways.

PALATKA, FL, June 29, 2015 -- The St. Johns River Water Management District of Florida has teamed up with Trader Hill Farms in Nassau County, Fla., to implement an innovative technique of rainwater harvesting that will be used to irrigate crops, ultimately conserving fresh groundwater and reducing nutrient loading to area waterways.

The project will allow the farm to use rainwater as an alternative to groundwater to make up for evaporation losses within its irrigation system. The roof harvesting area covers 9,780 square feet, and every 1-inch rain event will yield 5,800 gallons of water. On an annual average basis, it could produce tens of thousands of gallons per year. The water will be used for the production of salad greens and tilapia.

Last week, Ann Shortelle, executive director of the St. Johns River Water Management District, and Charles Shinn, director of government and community affairs with the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, toured the premises.

"We are excited to see such proactive measures being taken by the agricultural community to conserve groundwater," Shortelle said. "Finding these types of opportunities and sharing the success stories and techniques with others will help us multiply the water-saving benefits throughout our District."

Shinn added, "This type of farming practice conserves energy [and] water and is sustainable for years into the future due to the low environmental impact and high crop yield. The Florida Farm Bureau supports and encourages these types of best management practices."

In addition to conserving water, this aquaponics operation keeps its irrigation water contained within its distribution system, so no nutrient-laden runoff leaves the farm.

See also:

"FL water district to install pump station for reservoir, stormwater treatment project"

"Florida DEP honors Key West WWTP with 2014 Plant Operations Excellence Award"

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