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Agriculture Press Release

June 13, 2001

Bronson Reaches Agreement With Water Management Districts To Provide Relief to Drought-impacted Farmers

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced today that his department and the state’s five Water Management Districts have developed a streamlined method of responding to drought-related agricultural water emergencies, such as the need for additional livestock watering or well failures.

Each of the Water Management Districts will be providing a telephone hotline where growers and ranchers can discuss their particular situation with trained staff and devise a solution to their problems. In many cases, no permits will be required, and agricultural producers will be given verbal authorization over the phone to proceed with improvements to their watering systems.

"We are grateful that the Water Management Districts recognize that many farmers and ranchers have endured hardship because of the lingering drought and pleased that they will respond to emergencies in an expedited manner," Bronson said.

Among the key features of the plan:

* Livestock watering ponds of less than an acre in size that meet other general criteria can be constructed or deepened without a permit.

* In drought-related situations where agricultural producers need to repair or replace a well, a simple well-construction permit will usually be made available from the Water Management Districts and can be obtained within a matter of hours.

* In other cases of emergencies, property owners can request emergency authorization, exemptions or expedited permit review, and those requests will be considered in a shortened time frame on a case-by-case basis by Water Management District personnel.

The hotline numbers for the respective districts are:

* South Florida Water Management District, 1-800-432-2045, extension 6926

* Southwest Florida Water Management District, 1-800-423-1476 (business hours) and (352) 796-7211 (non-business hours)

* St. Johns River Water Management District, 1-866-270-8714

* Suwannee River Water Management District, 1-800-226-1066, and ask for Dave Still

* Northwest Florida Water Management District, (850) 539-5999, extension 53 or 49.

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