Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt, whose District 2 contains agricultural lands, is reminding farmers and other agricultural growers that they may face limited and more costly options for meeting state waste discharge requirements after the end of the year unless they join the local Coalition Discharge Waiver Group by December 31, 2006.
Waivers for agricultural irrigation and storm runoff were first available in 1982 and regularly granted. However, realizing that a significant amount of water pollution comes from irrigated lands and storm runoff, the State Water Resources Control Board and its nine regional water quality boards have been eliminating those waivers. Dischargers now have four options for meeting state regulations:
- Cease discharging water;
- Participate in a coalition;
- Obtain a discharge waiver; or
- Obtain a waste discharge permit
“Aside from ceasing to operate as a farm, joining a coalition is the least costly and most efficient of the remaining three options,” said Supervisor Weygandt. After Dec. 31, any grower who has not joined the Coalition will be preventedfrom doing so.
"County growers need to make a decision soon about meeting waste discharge regulations," Supervisor Weygandt said. "According to the state, the Placer North Sacramento Subwatershed group can accept members only until the end of the year. After that, state regulations eliminate this cost-effective option."
In July, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board changed its waiver requirements so that dischargers have only until the end of the year to join a coalition group.After that, dischargers will have to choose another option to comply with state regulation. Those not complying with requirements are subject to regulatory action that can range from being issued a Notice of Violation to being assessed a fine for illegal discharges.
The new requirements arise from the Central Valley Board's Irrigated Lands Program, which are designed to assist agriculture in meeting water quality standards. Under each of the state’s options, growers are required to manage their operations and implement practices that prevent water quality problems and to address existing problems.
Information about state laws may be obtained by contacting the California State Water Quality Control Board at www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb5/ (select “programs’ then “irrigated lands – conditional waivers), or by calling Bill Croyle, 916-464-4848. To learn more about the Placer North Sacramento Subwatershed group, residents should call 916-645-1774.