Water management district budgets began October 1st, so it’s a good time to decide if their cost-share programs interest you. Also, federal funding for similar projects is available. These programs typically invite both public and private entities to participate in project funding that further the agency’s goals such as water conservation and quality enhancement. Some programs have eligibility requirements. Here are some details and tips:
Review links below and ask staff about: your project idea, program pre-requisites, extending your water use permit duration, monitoring / reporting, reimbursement process, deadlines, and possibility of multiple applications for state and federal funding.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps agricultural producers by providing financial assistance that covers part of the costs from implementing conservation practices. Florida farmers, ranchers and forest owners can now apply for financial and technical assistance from EQIP for fiscal year 2019 funding.
Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS)
FDACS’ local staff are frequently knowledgeable about State and NRCS funding programs, such as EQIP. It may be worthwhile to contact your regional staff member at:
Also, FDACS is administering a USDA grant program geared to enhance competitiveness of specialty crops.
St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD)
SJRWMD offers several cost-sharing programs, with funding potentially available for agricultural interests. Cost sharing projects include, among others, water conservation projects and water quality/nutrient-loading reduction projects. Aquifer recharge projects may also be eligible. SJRWMD accepts applications for cost-share funding for projects in advance of setting their fiscal year budget and funds up to 33 percent of the construction costs for selected alternative water supply, water quality, flood protection, and natural systems projects and up to 50 percent for water conservation projects. SJRWMD reserves the right to recommend projects for funding that best meet strategic needs of the district.
SJRWMD also accepts applications for its district wide Agricultural Cost-Share Program, which focuses on water conservation and reduction of nutrient run-off, by offering cost-sharing up to 75 percent, not to exceed $250,000 annually, of the design, construction, and implementation costs for approved projects, including: irrigation system retrofits, soil moisture and climate sensor telemetry, rainwater harvesting, and expanded waste storage. However, the recipient must modify their consumptive use permit to reflect water savings. Other region-specific programs are also available.
Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD)
SWFWMD’s Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) Program, a public/private partnership that provides cost-share reimbursement to reduce groundwater withdrawals from the Upper Floridian Aquifer through conservation and supply-related best management practices, including: tail water recovery/surface water pond irrigation pump stations and filtration, water control structures, electronic controls including remote irrigation zone and start/stop controls, and soil moisture and weather station climate sensor telemetry. Growers can be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of total project costs with water quality and groundwater quantity savings / conservation best management practices; and as much as 50 percent for water quality or groundwater quantity savings / conservation best management practices. Conditions include growers responsibility for obtaining all project-related permits and must have District authorization prior to incurring approved reimbursable expenses.
Suwanee River Water Management District (SRWMD)
SRWMD offers incentive-based programs to help the agriculture community, including funding assistance to agricultural producers through an application and ranking process, in order to increase irrigation efficiency and water conservation, and assist with nutrient management technology. Cost share assistance can be 75% or greater of the project costs or have a maximum limit.
Northwest Florida Water Management District (NFWMD)
NFWMD provides or assists in developing funding opportunities for projects that help protect, maintain, or improve water resources by providing project funding, when available, to local governments, utilities, agricultural producers, and other entities. For example, NWFWMD has cost-share funding available for projects to improve water quality and reduce water use demands in and around Jackson Blue Spring, provided the project site is located within the spring’s Groundwater Contribution Area, and the producer enrolls in an applicable FDACS Best Management Practices program.
South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
SFWMD’s Cooperative Funding Program provides funding to local governments, special districts, utilities, homeowners associations, water users and other public and private organizations for storm water, alternative water supply and water conservation projects. This program, however, was suspended and will be re-considered during the FY 2019 – 2020 budget development.
With a separate funding source, SFWMD’s Big Cypress Basin Board, located in Collier County and part of Monroe County, allocates cost share funds for storm water and alternative water supply projects.
Lauren Shumate focuses her practice on complex litigation and interned for the Honorable James. D. Whittemore of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida as well as other state court judges. Lauren was selected Fulbright Scholar to Serbia.
Elizabeth Ross is an of counsel attorney with Gunster practicing exclusively in the areas of environmental and administrative law. She represents clients before all five water management districts, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and various federal agencies. Beth advises agricultural, irrigation, utility, commercial and industrial clients on attaining water rights, crafting regulations with various stakeholders, and developing water supply resources that comply with federal, state and water management district requirements.