WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The South Florida Water Management District's latest calculation on water monitoring in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) shows farmers continue to exceed the 25 percent annual phosphorus reduction required by the Everglades Forever Act. The information shows that over the past three years, agriculture has achieved an average 51 percent load reduction. But officials caution that it is still too early to predict the long-term reductions are a result of the implementation of on-farm Best Management Practices (BMPs). That is best determined by examining longer trends, according to district officials.
"The agriculture community continues to meet or exceed the minimum requirements for BMP phosphorus reductions," said District Executive Director Samuel E. Poole III. "We look for continued and improved BMP performance to be an integral component of Everglades restoration. We are continuing to monitor BMP results to better understand performance and trends."
Calculating a single year's phosphorus reduction requires more than simply comparing the average annual amount from the 10-year base period (1979-1988) to a current year's value. Because rainfall and surface-water discharges vary with time and location throughout south Florida, an adjustment is made in the calculation for these variations. The annual total phosphorus reduction calculation has a degree of statistical variability of plus or minus 18 percent.
Under the state's Everglades Forever Act, farmers began implementing BMPs during 1994. The purpose is to reduce the amount of phosphorus discharged into the surface-water runoff flowing into the Everglades. The district is charged with regulating the program and conducting on-going monitoring to see that compliance is being met by the agriculture community. The goal of the act is to reduce phosphorus runoff by a yearly average of 25 percent.
Although phosphorus from individual farms varies, the law says the 25 percent reduction must apply to the EAA basin as a whole. How much farmers pay towards Everglades cleanup is determined by the amount of phosphorus reduced in the basin.
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