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Farm coalition continues efforts to solidify base

This article appeared in the Turlock Journal on December 3, 2003

By Scott Jorgensen

Representatives of the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition came to Turlock yesterday to educate farmers on the implications of new state water discharge monitoring requirements.

Farmers have until April 1 to submit their monitoring proposals to local water quality control boards. Several have began forming coalitions in order to meet that mandate and spread out the costs of doing so.

Parry Klassen, one of the coalition founders, fielded questions from concerned farmers at yesterday’s meeting.

Some inquiries dealt with liability issues surrounding the coalition and its members.

“The coalition itself can’t be sued as a grower,” Klassen said. “It’s the dischargers that are liable.”

Klassen explained that the regulations on farmers are due to the toxicity of chemicals used in agricultural processes.

“They wouldn’t be talking to us if it weren’t for that issue,” Klassen said. “We’re the lucky folks that get to try this out, unfortunately.”

In an attempt to organize funds for the coalition’s deadline, Klassen proposed $100 membership dues for farmers wishing to join the group. Farmers who choose to file their discharge reports individually may end up paying between $5,000 and $18,000.

Klassen said the coalition may change its due structure after the first year. Rather than a flat fee, members would pay a set amount per acre.

According to Klassen, similar coalitions currently charge their members around $5 per acre.

The coalition will be holding similar workshops in the area over the next couple of months.

The reporter can be reached at scottj@turlockjournal.com or 634-9141.

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