Agriculture and the St. Johns River
What does life down on the farm have to do with the health of the St. Johns River? A lot, actually.
Farms contribute to non-point source pollution of the river. Non-point sources of pollution are characterized by the unintentional delivery to the river of sediments, fertilizers, pesticides and toxic materials via surface water runoff and shallow groundwater movement. Non-point pollution sources are not attributed to a specific source, such as discharge flowing directly from a pipe from a wastewater treatment or industrial plan.
Non-point source pollutants can lead to increased sedimentation and algae growth in the river, diminishing water quality and harming plant and animal life.
Non-point source pollution is serious enough that the Federal government requires Florida, as part of the Clean Water Act of 1973, to set Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) of pollutants a water body like the St. Johns River can assimilate without causing a violation of water quality standards.
In the Tri-County Agricultural Area in the lower basin of the St. Johns River, agencies such as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services , the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are working together with farmers to help meet TMDL requirements by minimizing agriculture's impact on the river.
Minimizing agriculture's impact on the river is accomplished through Best Management Practices (BMPs), methods and techniques designed to reduce nonpoint source pollutants and conserve water. Florida's farmers are encouraged to voluntarily adopt agricultural BMPs to help the river, and it will take the cooperation of all farms in all sectors to achieve the best results.
In the River-friendly Farm interactive you learn how Best Management Practices (BMPs) on the farm help minimize agricultural impacts on the river.