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CA groundwater regulation meetings set


April 17, 2013 – The East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition (ESJWQC) is co-hosting with local county Farm Bureaus three informational meetings on the new groundwater regulations impacting irrigated agriculture in the northern San Joaquin Valley region.

Attending each meeting will be regional water board staff who will describe new requirements adopted by the agency on December 7, 2012.

With the addition of groundwater to the existing surface water program, the San Joaquin Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board now considers any irrigated crop in the Central Valley to have potential to discharge nitrogen fertilizer into groundwater aquifers. All growers need coverage for those discharges either through a coalition or individual permit with the water board. A draft individual permit was recently released and could be adopted as early as June 2013. The adopted regulations and related documents can be seen here.

The meeting dates and locations are:

  • Tuesday, April 23, Madera County Farm Bureau, 1102 South Pine Street, Madera
  • Wednesday, April 24, Merced County Farm Bureau, 646 California 59, Merced
  • Thursday, April 25, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, 1201 L St, Modesto

Coalition staff will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at each venue with formal one-hour presentations at 10 am and 1 pm each day.

The workshops are scheduled in advance of the water board’s May 13 deadline to join the coalition. The regional water board allowed ESJWQC to open its rolls to new members until May 13, after which growers must apply first to the regional water board and pay a $50 fee before joining the coalition. If the landowner was previously notified by the regional water board, the fee climbs to $200. More than 3,500 letters were mailed by the water board to landowners in the region since January, informing them of their option of joining the ESJWQC or obtaining an individual waste discharge permit.

Coalition staff will be on hand to describe how new requirements will be rolled out to members, in particular a farm evaluation, nitrogen management plan and sediment and erosion control plans.