The Manatee Agricultural Reuse System (MARS) Farm Connection Grant Program
The Florida West Coast RC&D MARS Farm Connection Grant Program will provide funding to connect Manatee County's main MARS transmission line to an eligible farmer's irrigation system. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Manatee County Utilities, the RC&D is providing development, implementation and evaluation of this grant program.
The objective of the RC&D MARS Farm Connection Grant Program is to provide funding and technical support to connect eligible farmers to Manatee County's MARS System, within available funding limits. (Click here for the program manual)
* Evaluating agronomic and economical feasibility of reuse water for agricultural users
* Reducing groundwater withdrawals from the Floridan Aquifer in the Southwest Florida Southern Water Use Caution Area (SWUCA), where groundwater withdrawals exceed safe levels
*Evaluating a county-wide wastewater collection, recovery, and reuse system for economic and agricultural sustainability
* Providing irrigation system planning assistance for optimal irrigation performance
* Recycling wastewater to reduce groundwater use
The MARS system is a strategy to reduce aquifer withdrawals and increase the drinking water supply by providing alternative water sources for agricultural irrigation. The overuse of groundwater in one of the most stressed aquifer recharge areas in the state of Florida, the Southern Water Use Caution Area (SWUCA), has made finding alternative sources of water critical.
Manatee County operates three regional water reclamation facilities (WRFs) that have the total capacity to treat 40.5 million gallons of wastewater per day. All three of the WRFs depend upon irrigation with reclaimed water to use the treated water.
Before MARS was conceived, each WRF facility operated independently of one another. If one facility had surplus water and another facility had excessive demand, the County had no mechanism to move the surplus water to the area of need. Through MARS, the County has constructed a pipeline connecting the three WRF facilities, giving the County the ability to redirect surplus water along the pipeline to areas where water is needed.
The County has received grant funding of approximately $20 million from EPA and SWFWMD for construction of the MARS pumping and transmission facilities. The total construction costs amount to approximately $65.3 million.
The MARS system has over 40 reclaimed water customers that use the majority of the reclaimed water produced by the County’s three regional wastewater treatment plants. The users include golf courses, residential developments, and limited agricultural properties.
For more information, please contact Jacob Leech.