Agriculture Press Release
January 25, 1999
Crawford Joins Others in Agreement to Protect Suwannee Basin
TALLAHASSEE Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford today joined 24 other government, industry and education agencies and associations in signing an historic agreement to work together to protect the water resources in the Middle Suwannee River Basin. Never before have so many public and private organizations at the federal, state and local level cooperated on a major project designed to develop consensus solutions to water resource issues on such a broad geographical basis.
A memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed by Crawford, representatives of the Suwannee River Water Management District , the Florida departments of Health, Environmental Protection and Community Affairs, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agricultures Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Also signing the pact were representatives from the University of Florida, Florida A&M University, the Lafayette and Suwannee County commissions, the Lafayette and Suwannee River Soil and Water Conservation districts, the Suwannee River Resource Conservation and Development Council, and numerous state associations representing the forestry, poultry, dairy, cattle, fertilizer, chemical, rural water and septic tank industries.
The agreement affirms the commitment on the part of all of the participants to work together to develop and implement a plan to safeguard the regions water quality by reducing the amount of nitrates going into the river and groundwater.
According to recent studies, nitrate levels are at the highest level in 10 years in a section of the Suwannee River from Dowling Park to Branford. High nitrate concentrations can adversely impact water resources, as well as human health.
Because nitrates come from a variety of sources, such as animal waste, human waste and fertilizers, the plan being developed will propose best management practices (BMPs) for each possible source. Already, dozens of local dairy and poultry operations are participating in or have signed up to join voluntary cost-share programs to establish BMPs at their sites, and major studies are under way that will provide BMPs for fertilizer use.
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