After hearing nearly 12 hours of testimony at a public meeting in Sacramento on April 7, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board delayed until June a vote on a new regulatory framework for the Long-Term Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program.
The proposed new framework covers both surface and groundwater regulations and includes new, extensive management-practice reporting requirements for all farms. Farms throughout the Central Valley will be classified under three tiers based on risk factors, including watershed location, depth to groundwater, farming practices and other factors.
Farms in areas where groundwater problems are identified would be required to take steps to prevent leaching of fertilizers and pesticides.
Central Valley watershed coalitions objected to numerous provisions in the proposed framework, including a requirement that all farming operations complete individual surface and groundwater evaluations, regardless of risk level. These plans would be open to public review and possible lawsuits.
Coalitions also requested that another economic analysis be performed, saying the current environmental impact report does not estimate the true economic impacts of the new proposal, expected to reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The 2010 EIR was passed at the April 7 hearing.
The Regional Board is scheduled to take up the framework, with possible amendments, again during its three-day meeting beginning June 8.