South Georgia grower works to manage water supply

Video from WALB
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 1:12 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Droughts and increased farming have both contributed to lower levels in the Flint River. Now, in case of extreme drought, a new source for water withdrawal is being implemented to help farmers.

At times the water levels of the Flint River are low, but it isn’t as bad as you may think. Putt Wetherbee of Nut Tree Pecans said this is what makes South Georgia a unique place to farm.

Putt Wetherbee
Putt Wetherbee(WALB)

“This resource is rechargeable, it recharges every year. We are using a renewable resource, and even renewable resources we need to use responsibly,” said Wetherbee.

But there is a limit to how much you can withdraw from the aquifer known as the Floridan aquifer. Now, a deeper source of water is being tapped into, the Claiborne aquifer, but it has separate issues.

“We have to case, with 12-inch steel pipe all the way through the Floridan aquifer. The Claiborne aquifer is a sandy aquifer. Where there are some challenges extracting the water where the Floridan aquifer is more of a limestone, cavernous aquifer,” explained Wetherbee.

According to Wetherbee, these deeper wells are three times more expensive to install, but the quality of water for the crops is the same.

Gordon Rogers, the executive director of Flint Riverkeeper, suggested a subsidy might be a good idea to deal with the upfront costs.

“It makes sense to have crop subsidies to support agriculture. Ask them to sink a $200,000 well and run it, perhaps with worse water, perhaps not even getting water on the first attempt,” said Rogers.

However, Wetherbee said he doesn’t want subsidies for his farm for now.

“No, it’s 100% us,” replied Wetherbee.

Wetherbee said they’re also are installing a new sprinkler system to manage the efficiency of their water. He estimates the project will take three to four years and the “micro-sprinklers” are planned to be paid 100% out of pocket by Nut Tree Pecan, Inc.

Copyright 2021 WALB. All rights reserved.