Implementation Begins For New Discharge Rules
With the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program general order in place for the Tulare Lake Basin region, everyone who makes use of irrigation in farming is about to be affected by the strict new rules.
Implementation of the regulations, aimed at controlling percolation of nitrates while improving groundwater quality, is under way in most of the watershed coalition groups serving the Kings, Kaweah, Tule and Kern rivers.
A six-month period is expected to begin soon during which growers must join their area’s coalition to gain representation or begin pursuing individual groundwater discharge permits with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Growers will soon be hearing from the coalition in their area.
Under the Regional Board’s recently adopted general order, it is assumed all irrigated land has potential to discharge into groundwater.
All irrigated parcels, regardless of their size, must be in compliance with the order’s requirements by joining a recognized coalition. Coalition members will be mandated to do annual evaluations, preparation of nitrate management plans, reporting and paperwork.
Growers who do not join a coalition will be compelled to deal with the Regional Board and meet its complex and costly requirements individually. Growers complying on their own would be compelled to do their own monitoring and reporting.
The Regional Board is holding growers – not local coalitions or water agencies – responsible for general order compliance.
The Tulare Lake Basin general order covers some 850,000 acres and approximately 7,200 growers in portions of Kern, Tulare, Kings and Fresno counties.
North of the San Joaquin River, a general order was adopted for the Eastern San Joaquin Region, which includes Madera and Merced counties.
All of the Friant Division is now covered by one of the general orders. However, the Friant Water Authority is not involved. Water districts are involved only to the extent of informing and helping guide growers.