Regulatory newsletter
April 2016, Issue 6
Alternative crop irrigation method offers promising water savings
Farm field with rows and centrally located trench of water

Traditional seepage irrigation involves filling irrigation furrows with water, then water flows beneath the surface to the plant’s root zone.

A trencher installing the irrigation drain tile at a sod farm

A trencher installing the irrigation drain tile into a sod field.

Person connecting pipes at the bottom of a trench

The pipe is connected to header pipes at the end of the field.

Water control structure on a farm

Water control structures allow the farmer to add or remove riser boards to control whether the system irrigates or drains.

Seepage irrigation is a traditional method of irrigating row crops in the St. Johns River Water Management District that has historically been used to irrigate crops such as potatoes, cabbage and corn. This irrigation method has an efficiency rate of 55 to 60 percent, and sometimes lower.

The agricultural community knows how important it is to efficiently use water and during the past couple of years, the district’s Agricultural Cost-Share Program has seen a number of farmers applying for funds to assist in the purchase and installation of subsurface irrigation drain tile. While seepage irrigation generally consists of pumping water into a number of open, in- field ditches raising the water table in the field through capillary action, subsurface irrigation relies on hard plastic tube pipes that have holes or slits on their sides. These plastic pipes are placed belowground and are connected to several main “feeder” lines that supply irrigation water. Basically, water flows from groundwater wells through the “feeder” lines toward control boxes which are located at the end of the field and help to slow down the flow of water through the use of riser boards. As it passes through the tubing, water seeps out (through the holes or slits) below the root level of the plant. Evaporation is greatly reduced because irrigation water is released below the surface.

When a heavy rainfall event occurs, the farmer is able to adjust the riser boards in the control boxes and instead of holding back water, it quickly drains water from the field through the holes/slits on the pipe. The ability to more precisely control water helps with plant growth and can contribute to increased yields. Although data is still being compiled, it appears at this early time that the irrigation efficiency of this type of system is, on average, around 80 to 85 percent. The District’s Agricultural Team’s contracted mobile irrigation lab recently reported one farmer increasing his irrigation efficiency from 38 percent to 80 percent by converting one 90-acre field from seepage to subsurface irrigation drain tile.

Criteria for boat docks and ramps
Docks along the St. Johns River near Orangedale

General permits may be issued for projects that do not qualify for an exemption, but are minimal enough to not require an Individual Environmental Resource Permit (ERP).

Docks/piers that do not qualify for an exemption under 62-330.051(5), Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), may qualify for the General Permit for Certain Piers and Associated Structures under 62-330.427(1)(a), F.A.C., if the dock design meets the criteria that include:

  • single family use only;
  • accommodates the mooring of no more than two water craft;
  • has a minimum water depth of two feet below MLW (tidal waters) or MAL (non-tidal) for designated boat mooring and navigational access areas;
  • does not exceed a total area of 2,000 square feet (including existing structures);
  • the terminal platforms and mooring areas are not located over wetlands or submerged grassbeds; and
  • walkways located over wetlands and submerged grassbeds must be elevated a minimum of five feet above MHW or OHW and have handrails to prevent mooring.

Boat ramps that exceed the exemption criteria under 62-330.051(5)(e), F.A.C., may qualify for the General Permit for Construction, Alteration, Operation, and Maintenance of Boat Ramp Facilities under 62-330.417, F.A.C., if the boat ramp meets the criteria that include:

  • the ramp is for an individual single family dwelling unit, a multi-family dwelling unit or for commercial or government use if a binding agreement for public access is recorded;
  • a minimum navigational access of two feet depth at low water must already exist and depths must be indicated at the ramp;
  • no work is proposed in submerged grassbeds;
  • dredging for the ramp is limited to 100 cubic yards and must be only that needed to construct or repair;
  • the ramp must be stabilized to prevent turbidity;
  • ramps with more than 4,000 sf of impervious must have a stormwater management system;
  • residential ramps must be single lane with the ramp surface not to exceed 12 feet wide, commercial/governmental ramps may have two lanes and ramp surface not exceeding 36 feet;
  • accessory docks cannot exceed 500 sf in Outstanding Florida Waters or 1,000 sf outside OFWs;
  • this general permit is limited to one per parcel, cannot be combined with other general permits or exemptions, and the ramp cannot be part of a larger project that needs a permit;
  • the ramp cannot be located in waters accessible to manatees within the St. Johns River and its tributaries in Lake or Seminole counties;
  • ramps in counties with state-approved manatee protection plans must provide documentation of plan consistency from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

In addition, all general permits must meet the General Conditions for all General Permits, 62-330.405, F.A.C., that include requirements to protect water quality and wildlife.

For specific information, please visit the rules section of this website.

District’s new e-Permitting interface changes offer easy access for making payments

With the new e-Permitting interface changes in place, applicants and consultants can now access the payment links from their dashboard.

From the Pending Applications section of your dashboard, select the green dollar sign for payments. You must be the “Submitter” or a “Team Member” of this application with pay rights to perform this function from the dashboard.

However, if you are not the Submitter or a Team Member with pay rights, you can access the payment link by clicking on the Apply/Submit button.

Then select the Submit Payment link from the miscellaneous section of the appropriate services box. You will be able to select your payment method (check or credit card), include appropriate check or credit card information, and submit your payment.

Paying electronically has never been so easy. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Customer Service Line at 386-329-4570.