Joint release: Farm coalitions address water quality
» August 1, 2007 «
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to receive first results of ongoing sampling programs
Water-monitoring data to be presented Thursday to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is already helping farmer coalitions focus their efforts to enhance water quality. Coalition groups representing 21,000 Central Valley farmers will tell the regional board in Rancho Cordova about their ongoing efforts to address water quality issues identified by the three-year-old Irrigated Lands Program.
Since 2003, nine agricultural-based water quality coalitions have spent $9.5 million to sample and analyze water quality of rivers, streams, creeks and sloughs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin valleys and delta.
The Aug. 2 water board meeting will include the first report card on the results of the water coalitions' sampling programs. Water board staff will present the results, and representatives from the coalitions will provide additional comments. The nine coalitions, roughly encompassing the Sacramento Valley, delta, northern San Joaquin Valley and southern San Joaquin Valley, each have programs initiated in 2003 that analyzed the impact of farm drainage on local waterways.
The water quality monitoring mandated by the water board through the Irrigated Lands Program has proven to be an effective tool to assess and improve water quality, and coalitions comprised of family farmers and ranchers are actively participating with the regional water board in its development and implementation.
In comparison to the years of research and monitoring that have gone into establishing other regulatory programs, the Irrigated Lands Program has moved at lightning speed. Hard work by farmer coalitions and the regional board has made it possible to implement a comprehensive regulatory program to evaluate and address water quality in less than five years.
When elevated levels of farm inputs are identified, the coalitions immediately take steps to remedy any problems. Measures are coordinated by the individual coalitions to focus on specific waterways and the surrounding farm properties, and may include:
- Holding local farmer workshops;
- Sending mailings and/or making direct contact with farmers to provide information on practices to prevent farm inputs from moving into water; or,
- Tracking adoption of farming practices to address specific problems.
The water quality coalitions have evolved into regional, autonomous but cooperating groups that draw management and expertise from commodity organizations, irrigation districts, resource conservation districts, Farm Bureau, University of California, county agricultural commissioners, and other state and local agencies.
California Farm Bureau Federation
California Rice Commission
East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition
San Joaquin County & Delta Water Quality Coalition
Irrigated Lands Program by the Numbers
Number of testing sites
Water and sediment sampling data has been collected and analyzed from 313 sites in the Central Valley.
Amount of data collected
More than 10,000 tests have been completed and thousands more measurements collected. The results are directing water-quality coalition efforts to reduce farm impacts and identify future monitoring needs.
Dollars spent by coalitions
To date, the state's farmers and ranchers have spent $9.5 million to make this program work. The nine coalitions, staff and technical experts are solely focused on managing water quality.
Number of farmers enrolled
The Irrigated Lands Program is the single largest water quality program undertaken by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Over 7 million acres and 21,000 farmers are involved. The next largest program, at a tenth of the size, is the urban Storm Water Program.
In comparison to other regulatory programs, the Irrigated Lands Program has moved at lightning speed. Between 10 and 15 years of research and monitoring have gone into establishing other regulatory programs. Hard work by farmer coalitions and the Regional Board has made it possible to implement a comprehensive regulatory program to evaluate and address water quality in less than five years.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.Top