Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020FL231B

Agricultural Water Security Through Sustainable Use of the Floridan Aquifer: An Integrated Assessment of Economic and Environmental Impacts

Institute: Florida
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $20,137 Total Non-Federal Funds: $39,755

Principal Investigators: David Kaplan

Abstract: The Upper Floridan Aquifer (UFA) is among the largest and most productive aquifers in the world and represents a vital regional resource shared between Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The region is dependent on the UFA to support agricultural activities worth over $7.5 billion but faces significant threats to agricultural water security, environmental quality, and social fabric. These threats include seasonal to inter-annual climate variability that result in periodic drought; agricultural in-migration from more severely drought-stricken areas of the United States; increasing competition among urban, agricultural and environmental water uses; degradation of water quality and habitat; and stringent new water quality and flow regulations.The overall goal of this project is to create, evaluate and disseminate research-based knowledge that leads landowners and policy makers to adopt practices and policies that ensure economic and environmental sustainability of the coupled hydrological, ecological, and agricultural systems that rely on the UFA. Proposal PIs have developed, and continue to develop, strong national proposals to support the myriad research efforts required to meet this goal. In this proposal, we request partial funding for one Ph.D. student to advance research activities focused on the couplings between the hydrological and economic systems that drive land-use decisions and their impacts on water quantity and quality. Matching funds to support residual costs for this student will be provided by the UF Water Institute. Under guidance of proposal PIs, the Ph.D. student supported by this project will work with the project team to help build a coupled modeling platform to predict impacts of alternative agricultural production practices and use the platform to explore economic-environmental tradeoffs of future land use and land-cover scenarios. Team members will use coupled surface water-groundwater modeling at the basin scale to assess the effects of land-use and production changes on receiving waters and will focus on the Santa Fe River Basin. Regional-scale and farm/forest-scale economic research and modeling will assess the feasibility of alternate land-use scenarios with respect to agricultural producers and regional economies and will quantify economic contributions of agriculture, forestry and other major industries in the study area that are dependent upon and impact the UFA. In addition to providing critically needed guidance towards appropriate policy, regulatory and governance decisions around water sustainability, the project will serve to train graduate students and/or to address complex agricultural water issues through the development of integrated research activities.