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June 26, 2015
District and Ocala partner on WaterSmart program
The St. Johns River Water Management District and the city of Ocala are partnering on a one-year pilot project that could result in a 5 percent water savings by participating water users.
The District has committed $75,000 to the WaterSmart pilot project in Ocala. The WaterSmart program utilizes social norms in conjunction with comprehensive data analytics and targeted messaging to modify water use behavior.
Five thousand of Ocala’s residential customers will participate in the pilot program and receive mobile, email and print reports that provide consumption details and targeted water savings recommendations. By educating residential customers on their uses of water and ways to conserve, WaterSmart Software has been proven to improve water-use efficiency.
“Water conservation is a key component of protecting water resources in Marion County,” said the District’s North Central Florida Water Initiative Leader Lou Donnangelo. “We are working diligently to identify and implement prevention and recovery strategies to protect Silver Springs and other waterways.”
“Any and all projects that can assist in understanding the role we all have in the state of Florida to collaborate, conserve and protect the natural resources which are vital to our existence, the better we can manage the water that we have,” said Ocala’s Director of Water Resources, Jeff Halcomb. “The WaterSmart project is not just another tool in the tool box; it is a specific program that we believe will drive awareness and lower water demand.”
“WaterSmart applauds the St. Johns River Water Management District for its foresight and willingness to invest in new technological approaches to data-driven water management,” said Robin Gilthorpe, CEO of WaterSmart Software. “While Florida has unique water challenges stemming from population growth, the District recognizes the most cost-effective solutions to these issues begin with greater data transparency to inform ongoing investments that result in more resilient water systems.”
WaterSmart has partnerships with more than 40 water utilities nationally and has verified nearly 2 billion gallons of water saved through its programs.
June 25, 2015
District and agricultural partners explore innovative ways to save water
St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Ann Shortelle and Charles Shinn, director of government and community affairs with the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, toured Trader Hill Farms in Nassau County on June 25 where an innovative technique of rainwater harvesting will be used to irrigate crops, conserving fresh groundwater and reducing nutrient loading to area waterways.
This project will allow the farm to use rainwater as an alternative to groundwater to make up for evaporation losses within their irrigation system. The roof harvesting area covers 9,780 square feet and every one-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.
“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.”
“This type of farming practice conserves energy, water and is sustainable for years into the future due to the low environmental impact and high crop yield,” said Shinn. “The Florida Farm Bureau supports and encourages these types of best management practices.”
“We were honored to share our process and project with the District and Farm Bureau,” said Angela TenBroeck, operations manager of Traders Hill Farms. “Working together to protect water resources while growing our business is a win-win for everyone.”
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.
The District’s Agricultural Assistance Team works closely with growers on permits needed for agricultural operations and on projects to enhance irrigation efficiencies and reduce agricultural runoff. The Ag Assistance Team helps simplify and accelerate the permitting process, reduce permitting duplication, assist growers in obtaining and complying with permits, and helps ensure that growers are able to comply with total maximum daily loads and Basin Management Action Plans established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.