Chipola River Basin Irrigation Modernization
The Chipola watershed is the largest tributary of the Apalachicola River, which lies within the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin (ACF). This basin covers an area of more than 19,000 square miles within Alabama, Georgia and Florida, stretching from the Blue Ridge Mountains, through the Coastal Plains, eventually reaching the coastal marshes of Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. The diverse landscape of this basin hosts a tremendous amount of aquatic diversity, including fish, mussels, reptiles and amphibians.
The Chipola River stretches nearly 100 miles and provides 15% of the overall freshwater input for the river and Apalachicola Bay—critical for species survival. Nearly a quarter of the land use in the Chipola watershed is dedicated to crop production requiring irrigation.
Increased frequency of droughts, loss of tree canopy, and growing water withdrawal demands put pressure on the already limited water resources. Water conservation practices are vital components of the local economy and critical to the resiliency of the watershed and the diversity it supports.
To address these concerns, the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP), and its partners are promoting innovative irrigation technology to allow farmers to reduce their water needs while also improving yields and increasing profits. Updating or replacing irrigation systems also reduces sediment loss and nutrient runoff, which leads to healthier soil and rivers. Installation of Variable Rate Irrigation technology on farms is already reducing water usage and avoiding irrigation of environmentally sensitive areas. The continuation of this project will allow farmers already benefiting from this technology to demonstrate its efficacy and promote its adoption by other producers in the region.
* Project supports agricultural water use efficiency to reduce the amount of water withdrawn from surface or groundwater sources.