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Orchard Management 
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GAPs for Water Quality
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Keeping Farm Inputs Out
of Ground Water

Monitoring of ground water quality in the Central Valley has detected a number of sites with elevated nitrate and/or salinity levels. Salinity and nitrates affect the ability to use the water for both drinking and irrigation. In some cases some pesticides, especially herbicides, are showing up in ground water. Currently, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulations limits the use of pesticides with the potential to leach in areas where the ground water is more vulnerable; these are called Ground Water Protection Areas (GWPA). View more information on DPR’s Ground Water Protection Program.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is also in the process of developing a program to reduce the potential for salts and nitrates that leach into ground water. For additional information on this developing program click here.

Nutrient Management
Excess nutrients in the soil are subject to leaching into the ground water.  A fertilization program that ensures nutrients are present in an available form at the appropriate time and in the correct amount will help protect ground water quality.

To develop a program, growers can use a computer-based interactive nitrogen management program to dermine almond tree demand, timing, organic inputs, irrigation wter nitrate and fertilization method.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is currently developing a Ground Water Quality Protection Strategy that addresses the issue of nitrates and other contaminants in ground water.

Salinity Management
Several factors are contributing the higher levels of salts in ground water, particularly in the Central Valley, including the increased use of well water and deeper wells.  Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS) is a collaborative  planning effort under the Central Valley Water Board aimed at developing and implementing a comprehensive salinity and nitrate management program.

Pesticide Management
Certain pesticide active ingredients have been found in ground water.  California Department of Pesticide Regulation under its Ground Water Protection Program restricts the use of pesticides in sensitive areas is restricted if the compound has been detected in ground water. In addition, DPR monitors for pesticides that may have the possibility to leach based on their chemical characteristics. A wide range of compounds are on the list of potential ground water contaminants. Click here and here for additional information.  

External Links:

Ground Water Protection Regulations

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