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February 2013 Update

An update on activities of the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition

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Official Notice of New Groundwater Program General Order

Groundwater Regulations Adopted December 7, 2012

A new program covering groundwater in the ESJWQC region was adopted after a day-long hearing of the Regional Water Board on December 7, 2012. The new General Order or Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) apply to both surface and groundwater and encompass all irrigated cropland in the region with commercial agriculture. While technical and legal changes were made to the General Order right up until the vote at 6:30 pm, the major provisions remain unchanged from the public draft version released in September 2012.

As part of the new program, members who have paid their 2013 dues can expect in the mail documents that will require a signature. The "Notice of Confirmation" is an acknowledgment that they have been informed by the ESJWQC of the new program. Members who have not yet paid their 2013 dues (deadline February 28) will receive the documents after payment is received. The coalition is required to submit to the Water Board a list of members who signed the notice by May 13.

Coalition to Develop Groundwater Report

One of the coalition's initial responsibilities is to prepare a Groundwater Assessment Report (GAR) covering the 1.1 million-acre farming region. The ESJWQC board recently completed a review of four groundwater consulting firms and selected an entity based in Woodland to assist in developing the GAR.

The GAR, due January 2014, will compile extensive groundwater information including depth to groundwater throughout the region, soil types and nitrate levels. The report will also designate areas in the region as either low or high vulnerability. The vulnerability rankings describe the potential risk of discharges of sediment or farm inputs (fertilizers or pesticides) to either surface water or groundwater. Under the new regulations, members in high vulnerable areas will have additional reporting requirements.

New Member Reporting Requirements

For all coalition members, the WDR adds new reporting requirements which include:

Farm Evaluation Plan describing measures the farm is taking to protect surface and ground water quality. The plan is completed once and updated annually, depending on the vulnerability designation. In low vulnerability areas, plans are kept at the farm headquarters but must be provided to the Regional Water Board upon request. Members in high vulnerability areas must submit plans to the coalition for compilation by region.

Nitrogen Management Plans summarize nitrogen fertilizer applications compared to crop production. The annual plan, the first due in 2014 or 2016, depending on the farm size and vulnerability designation, will list the previous year's nitrogen use and projected use for the upcoming season. In high vulnerability areas, the plan must be signed off by a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) or a grower trained to self-certify the plan. Members in low vulnerability areas keep the plan at the farm headquarters and need no sign-off.

Sediment and Erosion Control Plans are required if a field has irrigation drainage or frequent storm water runoff into surface waters. Areas where these plans will be required are to be outlined in a report due to the Water Board in January 2014.

For all of the new plans, the Coalition has until April 11, 2013 to submit proposed templates to the Regional Water Board. Plan details are being refined by a working group made up of Central Valley coalitions and commodity organizations.

In addition, members must attend at least one coalition sponsored (or co-sponsored) education/outreach event. Members also must keep a copy of the General Order at the farm headquarters and be familiar with its contents. Copies of the order are available on the coalition's website or copies will be provided on request.

Further details on the program will be provided when the Notice of Confirmation is sent to members.

New Member Holiday

As part of the WDR, the Regional Water Board has set a new member holiday where farming operations with potential discharges to groundwater can join a third party without first applying to the Water Board, as is now required. The membership holiday ends on May 13, 2013. Existing members can also add acreage to a membership if it was not previously included.

The Regional Water Board began mailing letters in late January to 4700 commercial farming entities in the ESJWQC region that have irrigated parcels not currently on coalition roles. Parcels were identified by the Regional Water Board by searching the county tax assessor roles for APNs listed as commercial agriculture but were not on the ESJWQC membership list. The search found more than 250,000 acres of irrigated cropland in the coalition region not covered by the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program or Dairy General Order. These landowners will need either an individual permit or coverage through ESJWQC to be in compliance with the new regulation.

Read more about the new ESJWQC General Order at http://www.esjcoalition.org/General Order.asp

Document Completion Due Dates

Due Date

Member Requirement

WDR Reference

Small Farming Operations

All Other Members

Submitted To

Low Vulnerability

High Vulnerability

Low Vulnerability

High Vulnerability

5/11/13

Notice of Confirmation

Pg 22

Once

ESJWQC

3/1/14

Farm Evaluation Plan1

Pg 23

 

Annually

 

Annually

ESJWQC

Nitrogen Management Plan2

Pg 25

 

 

 

Annually

ESJWQC

7/14/143

Sediment and Erosion Control Plan

Pg 24

 

 

As needed

As needed

Kept on farm

1/14/14

Sediment and Erosion Control Plan

Pg 24

As needed

As needed

 

 

Kept on farm

3/1/15

Farm Evaluation Plan1

Pg 23

 

 

Every 5 yrs

 

ESJWQC

3/1/16

Nitrogen Management Plan

Pg 25

Annually

Annually

Annually

Annually

ESJWQC

3/1/17

Farm Evaluation Plan1

Pg 23

Every 5 yrs

 

 

 

ESJWQC

1 High Vulnerability either surface or groundwater.
2 High Vulnerability groundwater only.
3 Estimated date; 180 days from Regional Board approval of the ESJWQC Sediment Discharge and Erosion Assessment Report which is due by January 11, 2014

2012 Coalition Board of Directors

  • Parry Klassen, Executive Director
  • Wayne Zipser, Stanislaus Co. Farm Bureau
  • Bill McKinney, almond grower
  • Alan Reynolds, Gallo Vineyards, Inc.
  • Richard Gemperle, Gemperle Enterprises. almonds
  • Brian Franzia, West Coast Grape Farming, Inc.
  • Mike Niemi, Turlock Irrigation District
  • Anja Raudabaugh, Madera County Farm Bureau
  • John Eisenhut, Hilltop Ranch, almonds
  • Al Rossini, Rossini Ag LLC, grape grower
  • Jim Wagner, Wilbur-Ellis Co.
  • Amanda Carvajal, Merced Co. Farm Bureau

East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition contacts:

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