Florida water district approves farmland purchase for regional stormwater treatment

As part of work to restore and protect the Lower St. Johns River Basin, the St. Johns River Water Management District's Governing Board voted to buy 281 acres of farmland in southwest St. Johns County. The $4.6 million acquisition will provide a site for a regional stormwater project to receive and help treat stormwater from 1,782 acres of land, protecting the St. Johns River and its tributaries. The site is adjacent to the District's existing Yarborough regional stormwater treatment project...

PALATKA, Fla., Feb. 16, 2007 -- As part of its work to restore and protect the Lower St. Johns River Basin, the St. Johns River Water Management District's Governing Board voted Tuesday to buy 281 acres of farmland in southwest St. Johns County.

The $4.6 million acquisition will provide a site for a regional stormwater project to receive and help treat storm water from 1,782 acres of land, protecting the St. Johns River and its tributaries. Located on the northeast side of County Road 13, the site is adjacent to the District's existing Yarborough regional stormwater treatment project.

For generations, thousands of acres of farmland, producing mostly potatoes and cabbage, have been cultivated in St. Johns, Putnam and Flagler counties, in an area called the tri-county agriculture area (TCAA).

Fertilizers that are applied to the crops make their way into the St. Johns River through conveyance ditches and tributaries, impacting water quality. An overabundance of nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilization encourages algal blooms, which deplete oxygen in the water and block sunlight from reaching underwater vegetation critical to fish and wildlife habitats.

Regional stormwater treatment projects help reduce the amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen and suspended solids from agricultural operations flowing into the river.

Funding for the acquisition will come from Florida Department of Transportation mitigation funds and Florida Forever funds.

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Also see:
-- "JEA, SJRWMD enter new water supply coalition"
-- "JEA, SJRWMD Board votes to buy 6,237 acres in Clay County"

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