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THE MANATEE AGRICULTURAL REUSE SYSTEM (MARS): EVALUATING A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY WATER SYSTEM IN MANATEE COUNTY, FLORIDA

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The State of Florida, like many states and nations around the world, will be facing critical choices regarding the future of its natural resources and economy in the next decade. Manatee County is one of eight (8) Florida counties included in the Southern Water Use Caution Area designated by the Southwest Florida Water Management District in 1992, indicating that the aquifer is under severe overuse. Manatee County is interconnecting three (3) regional wastewater treatment plants to provide a 32-mile distribution system for urban and agricultural irrigation needs called Manatee Agricultural Reuse System (MARS). The Florida West Coast Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council has developed the MARS Farm Connection Grant Program to connect farmers to the main distribution line. One of the objectives of the MARS Farm Connection Grant Program is to evaluate the project both agronomically and economically. The methodology for the first phase of the project implementation was to inventory a variety of sustainability principles and properties of sustainable systems and qualitatively assess the program according to these criteria. The following sustainability principles and sustainable system properties were used in the evaluation: transfer of knowledge and education, public input and involvement, the precautionary principle, the proximity principle, equity, and other systems analysis properties. Overall, the development of an alternative water source for agricultural irrigation seems to have sustainable characteristics. Many people have been involved and have helped to create a joint vision of a successful reclaimed water delivery system, which has increased the potential for a sustainable solution.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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