The State Water Resources Control Board is expected to approve a request from the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition (ESJ) to postpone the deadline for growers in high-vulnerability areas within the Coalition to file a Farm Evaluation Plan until May 1, 2014. Growers originally had until March to meet the deadline, but the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has requested an extension to allow an online filing system to be developed by the Coalition.
Already, the State Water Board has agreed to give members of the Coalition determined to be in high vulnerability areas for nitrate contamination of groundwater until 2015 to meet nitrogen management plan filing requirements. ESJ Coalition growers with the potential to discharge sediment to surface waters during irrigation or storm events will have until July to prepare and implement a Sediment Control Plan.
The East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition was the first of seven Central Valley water quality coalitions to receive a Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) for potential discharges into surface and groundwater. Orders are similar for coalitions approved so far, with the exception of deadlines. The deadline for requirements in other water quality coalitions will begin in 2015.
The ESJ Coalition was adopted in December 2013. The second, the South San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition, was approved in September.
Several entities are currently being formed to represent growers in the area along watersheds of the Kings, Tule, Kaweah and Kern Rivers.
Previous South San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition groups have applied individually this year to serve as third-party groups to represent sub-watersheds in their respective area. In the Kern sub-watershed group, the Kern River Watershed Coalition Authority, Buena Vista Coalition and Cawelo Water District received notice of approval in early February. Growers in those areas should look for enrollment information from their specific group in March.
The Central Valley Water Board in January also approved WDRs for the Westside San Joaquin River Watershed Coalition and Westlands Water District. Growers in those areas who wish to meet waste discharge requirements as part of a coalition should also look for information to sign up now.
Regional Water Board approval of the final Coalitions, including the San Joaquin County and Delta Coalition and Sacramento River Water Quality Coalition, was expected in mid-March.
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