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Groundwater Regulation Informational Meetings Set for Modesto, Merced and Madera

The East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition (ESJWQC) is co-hosting with local county Farm Bureaus three informational meetings on the new water quality regulations that apply to irrigated agriculture in the northern San Joaquin Valley. Regional Water Board staff will describe new requirements adopted by the agency on December 7, 2012. The requirements are complex and require substantial documentation from growers.

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. Therefore, all growers/land owners need coverage for those discharges either through membership in a coalition or through an individual permit with the Water Board, which is substantially more costly than coalition membership.

The meeting dates and locations are:

  • Tuesday, April 23, Madera County Farm Bureau, 1102 S. Pine St., 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 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.

The workshops are scheduled in advance of the May 13 deadline for growers/land owners in the ESJWQC region 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.

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 plan.

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