Frequently Asked Questions about the GA-FIT Incentives Auction

What is GA-FIT? What are you trying to accomplish?

The Georgia Flow Incentive Trust (GA-FIT) is working to improve drought response capabilities in Georgia. GA-FIT seeks to protect streams while also protecting the economic well-being of farmers. GA-FIT is conducting several projects in the Lower Flint River Basin at this time, including an auction for incentives for voluntary irrigation reduction. GA-FIT seeks to capitalize on recent data and research from the region to design a more targeted, quantified, and effective approach to agricultural water conservation during drought. The auction is focused on testing new approaches to incentives for voluntary irrigation reduction and suspension. By field-testing new incentives for drought response with real farmers, we aim to attain benefits for endangered species and water users when water is most scarce – and most needed.

Is this just a survey?

No. The GA-FIT Incentives Auction is a REAL auction for irrigation reduction incentive contracts. The auction is part of an experiment BUT it is NOT just a survey. We are seeking REAL information from REAL farmers concerning their willingness to implement REAL irrigation reduction strategies in exchange for REAL money. We execute incentive contracts with farmers based on bids in the auction. 

What do you mean by "auction"? What, exactly, are you asking us to bid on?

In 2022 and 2023, we tested three different irrigation reduction scenarios. We asked farmers to tell us what they would be willing to accept as payment for agreeing to enter into a contract for each of the options described below. Essentially, we asked famers to “fill in the blank” in the following sentences for each individual field for which they submit a bid:

  • Option A: If you pay me _____ dollars per acre, I agree not to irrigate this field at all until after December 31.
  • Option B: If you pay me _____ dollars per acre, I won’t apply more than six inches of irrigation per acre on this field until after December 31.
  • Option C: I will accept an up-front payment of $35 per acre and agree for this field to be placed in a pool of fields on which irrigation could be interrupted during the remainder of the calendar year depending on stream conditions. If the flow at the USGS gauge at Milford falls below 50 cfs on a seven-day average before August 15th, at that time I will suspend irrigation on this field until after December 31 if you pay me an additional _____ dollars per acre.
Would you explain more about Option C?

Option C is explained in this graphic.

You can learn more about the 50 cfs drought metric at Milford by examining this graph.

Flows have gone below this drought metric in eight of the last 30 years (2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013) but not at all in the last eight growing seasons. 

You can see a graph of the real-time flow and a table of the 7-day average flow at Milford by clicking HERE. The real-time flow is an instantaneous flow level. The drought metric is based on the 7-day average of flow levels, which are calculated for each day of the past week in the table.

Who is eligible to participate in the auction?

Any farmer that is at least 25 years old and the principal decision-maker for a metered, agricultural irrigation system inside the Ichawaynochaway Basin is eligible to participate. Click HERE to see if your field is inside the Basin.

What exactly do I need in order to submit a bid?

For each field that you are submitting a bid, you need the following:

We’ll also ask for your name, address, phone number, and email along with just a couple of very quick survey questions at the end.

That’s it.

Can I submit a bid on a field that is co-metered with others? For example, my meter is at a source but water flows through it to multiple fields.

Yes, you can submit bids for a field in this situation. You just need to let us know using a check box in the auction platform.

How long will it take me to complete my bidding in the auction?

If you have your meter numbers for the fields you want to enter into the auction and have considered your bids ahead of time, the auction should take you no more than 20 minutes to complete. The more fields you submit, the longer it will take.

We understand your time is valuable and have worked to streamline the auction platform as much as possible. We will also give you a $250 Visa gift card if you submit a bid (see below).

How many fields can I submit in the auction?

As many as you want so long as:

  • You are the principal decision-maker for the fields.
  • The fields are metered.
  • The fields are inside the Ichawaynochaway Basin. See map here.
I heard I can get paid $250 just for submitting a bid. Is that true?

Yes. All you have to do is submit at least one bid on at least one field in order to receive a Visa gift card worth $250. We will mail the gift cards after the bids are received if you participate online and will provide them immediately to those participating in one of our in-person auction events.

I’m interested. When, where and how do I bid?

GA-FIT held incentive auctions in 2022 and 2023. We will announce plans for future auctions on this website and by reaching out to farmers that have as for e-mail updates.  Click here to register to receive e-mail updates.

How will I know if my bid(s) are accepted? If they are, what happens next?

After the auction is closed, we review the submitted bids and select bids for contracting based on bid amount, location, source, acreage and other factors. We will notify the selected bidders in the week after the auction and work to get contracting done with those farmers as soon as possible. If your bid is selected, we’ll need a little more information from you for the contract (e.g., details on the location of the irrigated field, copy of lease for rented fields), but we will try to keep this process as simple as possible. You can review the contract templates HERE.

If my bid is selected, when do I get paid?

If your bid is selected and you execute a contact for Option A or B, we will pay you 75% of your total amount (bid per acre * number of acres) within 30 days of contract execution. The remaining 25% will be paid following successful completion of the contract (early 2024).

If your bid is selected and you execute a contract for Option C, we will pay you $35 per acre within 30 days of contract execution (stand-by payment). The remaining payment will only be paid if streamflow conditions dictate execution of irrigation suspension before August 15. If so, formal notice will be given, and the remaining amount (suspension payment) will be paid in two payments: 75% within 30 days of the irrigation suspension notice and 25% following successful completion of the contract (after Dec 31).

If my bid is selected and I execute a contract, how will you check my water use?

The contract will provide for the project team to be able to monitor the field and flow meter during the year to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the contract.

I think I understand but would like more information. Who can I talk to?

Contact Mark Masters, Director of the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center. You can email him at [email protected] or call/text his cell phone at (229) 854-4258.