The Upper Floridan Aquifer is the primary artery that supplies more than 10 million people in four states with fresh water and spurs nearly $7.5 billion in agricultural commerce each year. As concerns grow over the ability for the aquifer to keep up with demands for water, four universities are collaborating to study the economic sustainability of agriculture and forestry that rely on this supply.
The $5 million study is expected to take place over a five-year period and will be led by the University of Florida, with help from scientists from the University of Georgia, Auburn University, and Albany State University.
According to UGA Today, the “researchers will focus on developing new best management practices and explore ways to increase adoption of developed and existing best management practices among farmers, leading to reduced water use and improved water quality in the aquifer.”
“Floridan is very important for different purposes,” explained lead UGA researcher Puneet Dwivedi, in an interview with UGA Today. “Our first priority is to reduce water consumption by farmers in Florida and Georgia. What we are going to do is research how we can use technology and best management practices to reduce consumption without sacrificing our needs.”
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the natural recharge state of the aquifer is impressive relative to others, but increased strain from agriculture has produced a slow but continual decline in water levels.
Through the course of the study, the team hopes to not only produce viable conservation strategies, but also raise awareness of the importance that the aquifer plays in everyday commerce and the lives of millions within the southeast. As Dwivedi points out in his interview, time is of the essence.
“We are losing a very key resource that the entire economy depends on,” Diwivedi explained. “If we don’t do anything right now, things will turn very ugly.”
 Martin, Sandie. UGA study focuses on the long-term economic sustainability of the Upper Floridan Aquifer. August 28, 2017. Web. http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/upper-floridan-aquifer/
 Martin. UGA study focuses on the long-term economic sustainability of the Upper Floridan Auifer. http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/upper-floridan-aquifer/
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