The East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition (ESJWQC) has scheduled three meetings to update its members and local growers about new proposed regulations covering groundwater and nitrates. Attending each meeting will be Regional Water Board staff who will describe new requirements expected to be adopted in October 2012.
The ESJWQC has been working with the Water Board for the last six months on the draft Waste Discharge Requirements proposed by the state agency for the northern San Joaquin Valley region. Coalition staff will be on hand to describe how new requirements will be rolled out to members, in particular a farm evaluation plan and nitrogen budgets for crops. Growers who are not coalition members are also invited to attend the meetings.
The Water Board will also announce its “120-day membership holiday” where growers not currently in a coalition can join without applying first to the state as is currently required. The membership holiday will start after the new regulations are passed in October.
With the addition of groundwater to the existing surface water program, the Water Board now considers any irrigated crop in the Central Valley to have potential to discharge nitrogen fertilizer into groundwater aquifers, hence all growers need coverage for those discharges either through a coalition or individual permit with the Water Board. A draft individual permit is scheduled for release in July and possible adoption in November 2102. The draft regulations and public comment letters can be seen at www.esjcoalition.org/generalOrder.asp .
"This new program is going to impact all farming operations in the Central Valley,” says Wayne Zipser, Director of Stanislaus County Farm Bureau and an ESJWQC board vice chairman. “Nitrates in groundwater are in part being attributed to farming practices and we are determined to show the public and Regional Water Board that we are protective of groundwater resources. Our job as the coalition is to develop a workable program to provide information to support that claim and do it in the most cost effective way possible.”
Attendees are being asked to RSVP to guarantee a lunch. The meeting locations and times are:
Thursday, June 21, 2012; 11:30 am - 1:00 pm (lunch included)
Madera County Farm Bureau; 1102 Pine St., Madera, CA. 93636
Tesday, June 26, 2012; 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. (lunch included)
Merced Co. Farm Bureau; 646 South Highway 59, Merced, CA. 95340
Thursday, June 28, 2012; 11:30 am - 1 p.m. (lunch included)
Stanislaus County Ag Center; 3800 Cornucopia Way.; Modesto, CA.95351