Agricultural Water Resource Management in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2021: $13,076.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2023
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Marilyn Swisher
University of Florida



Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: water management
  • Education and Training: extension, networking

    Proposal abstract:

    Growers face increasing challenges in water resource management. These include increased regulatory requirements for protecting water quality, greater competition with urban water users, restrictions on pumping, drawdown of water resources and climate variability. The purpose of this project is to identify research and programming priorities for agricultural water resource management in the historically underserved Southern Region territories, Puerto Rico (PR) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). The need for this project grew out of preliminary data collected in the USVI while working closely with Extension personnel and faculty at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) and Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) in 2020. The overall objective of this project is to elicit grower and stakeholder recommendations for future research and programming priorities. We will achieve this overall objective by (1) conducting a water management needs assessment of crop producers in PR and the USVI and (2) forming a panel of growers and stakeholders engaged in the research who can share perspectives about future research and Extension programs. We will defer to the expertise of colleagues at UVI and UPR to select the appropriate geographic focus for sampling based on water use for irrigation. We will use a referral sampling process to identify potential participants by asking Extension personnel to select farmers they consider knowledgeable, informed and concerned about local water use and management. The research and programming priorities identified both in the needs assessment and by the panel will provide a focus for future research and programming.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The overall objective of this project is to work closely with local growers and stakeholders to identify the research and training needed to support water resource management. The outcome of identifying water resource management needs and future research priorities specific to the two territories is the development of new priorities for existing Extension and research programs by our colleagues in PR and the USVI. These programs include but are not limited to demonstrations of irrigation technologies, workshops, webinars, on-farm trials and conferences. These programs will be designed for both in-person and virtual delivery due to the uncertainty associated with the COVID- 19 pandemic. We will share research results with our colleagues in the territories, regional government entities in the territories and on the Center for Sustainable & Organic Food Systems (CSOFS) website ( This website has a subsection that focuses on SARE activities and results.

    Objective 1: Develop a questionnaire about water resource management needs of cropping system growers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to determine the optimal focus for future research and Extension programming

    Activity 1-1: Develop a questionnaire to assess the water resource management needs of crop production growers in PR and USVI. The questionnaire will be translated into Spanish for respondents to have the option of completing either the English or Spanish version of the questionnaire. The informed consent document will also be translated into Spanish. Colleagues at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) and Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) will identify 100 growers in each territory who are knowledgeable about and concerned with local water resource management issues. We previously worked closely with SARE coordinators, Extension personnel and faculty at UVI and UPR to collect preliminary data in 2020. Our colleagues have existing relationships with growers and grower organizations who can help identify potential participants. Growers who complete the questionnaire will receive a $20 honorarium.

    Objective 2: Convene a panel that participates in research and shares expertise and resources about future directions for water resource management in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    Activity 2-1: Form a panel that represents an array of perspectives about water resource management in crop production systems. Representation from growers, grower organizations, Extension personnel, researchers and other stakeholders is an important factor in establishing a panel that represents different perspectives. We will target representation from underserved farmer populations in the territories, namely women and LGBTQ farmers. The panel will be formed in the first year and meet virtually in Years 1 and 2 of the project on an annual basis.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.