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North Coast Region Water Quality Compliance Program for Discharges from Irrigated Lands

Agricultural Lands Discharge Program

Note: Please sign up for the email list under 'Contact Information' at the bottom of this page to stay informed on the latest program developments and stakeholder outreach efforts.

The Agricultural Lands Discharge Program addresses water quality impacts associated with agricultural lands in the North Coast Region (Region). Agricultural lands have the potential to contribute to water quality problems through the over-application of fertilizers and pesticides, human-caused erosion of sediment, pollutants in tailwater return flows, and the removal and suppression of riparian vegetation. The Program is also designed to meet the requirements of the California Water Code , the State Nonpoint Source Policy, and the Klamath River Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).

There are approximately 350,000 acres of agricultural lands in the Region, which are primarily used for vineyards, orchards, row crops, grain, alfalfa, hay pasture, and dairies. The acreage used for marijuana cultivation is currently unknown. Additionally, livestock grazing occurs on rangeland throughout the Region.

Program Scope

The Agricultural Lands Discharge Program as a whole encompasses several separate Regional Water Board permitting efforts that address discharges of waste from different agricultural commodities or geographic areas. The following two tables show the existing and proposed Regional Water Board permitting efforts, the type of agricultural discharges being addressed, and the associated permit(s). In addition to the regulatory permits themselves, the Agricultural Lands Discharge Program includes outreach, education, investigations, enforcement, and grants.

Existing Permitting Efforts

Permit

Type of Agricultural Discharges Addressed

Type of Permit and Date of Board Adoption

 

Water Quality Compliance Program for Dairies and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

Waste discharges associated with process water, manure, and other organic materials at dairy operations including the application of such materials to cropland

 

Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Nonpoint Source Discharges Related to Certain Federal Land Management Activities on National Forest System Lands (program page)

Waste Discharges associated with the management of grazing allotments on lands managed by the USFS

Scott River TMDL Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements (program page)

Discharges of sediment and elevated solar radiation loads associated with agricultural sources in the Scott River watershed

Shasta River TMDL Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements (program page)

Discharges of fine sediment, nutrients, other oxygen consuming materials, and elevated solar radiation loads associated with agricultural sources in the Shasta River watershed



Permitting Efforts Under Development

Types of Agricultural Discharges Addressed (Draft)

Type of Permit or Approach

 

Discharges of waste associated with vineyards and orchards in the North Coast Region

General WDRs and/or General Conditional Waiver of WDRs

 

Discharge of waste associated with lily bulb production in the North Coast Region

General WDRs and/or General Conditional Waiver of WDRs

 

Discharges waste associated with agricultural lands in the Tule Lake watershed

General WDRs and/or General Conditional Waiver of WDRs

 

Discharges of waste associated with grazing activities in the State of California

Permit(s) for grazing are being developed at a statewide level in coordination with Regional Water Boards and the State Water Resources Control Board as part of the Statewide Grazing Regulatory Action Project.

 

Discharges of waste associated with marijuana cultivation in the North Coast Region

On September 26, 2013, the North Coast Regional Water Board directed staff to explore options for addressing discharges from marijuana cultivation in the North Coast Region. Staff are currently developing their approach. A fact sheet on water quality issues related to marijuana cultivation is available here.

 

Program Framework

The elements listed below form the basic framework for the commodity or geographic area specific permitting efforts included in the Agricultural Lands Discharge Program. These elements are required by state law and are described in the State Water Resources Control Board's Nonpoint Source Policy (link provided above).

  • Management Practices:
    Landowners select and implement the appropriate management practices to address identified discharges of waste. Local technical expertise will be important to identify appropriate practices.
  • Implementation Timelines:
    Management practices must be implemented on a schedule. There is flexibility in scheduling to account for individual circumstances and factors such as threat to water quality, local priorities, and the cost and availability of grant programs or cost share funds.
  • Monitoring:
    There are different ways to fulfill the monitoring requirements.  At the individual farm level, the primary monitoring method involves tracking the implementation and effectiveness of management practices selected by the operator.  Instream water sampling at representative locations may also be needed to help assess program or management practice effectiveness.  Group monitoring program are encouraged and some instream water sampling may be provided by the Regional Water Board.  Reporting:
    Reporting to the Regional Water Board can be done by the individual, by a group, or through a third party certification program. The Program will recognize work that has already been done on operations that are already meeting some or all of the program requirements.

Permit Development & Stakeholder Involvement

Regional Water Board staff are currently developing the following permits to address discharges of waste associated with the following specific commodities/geographic areas:

  • Vineyards and Orchards in the North Coast Region
  • Lily Bulb Production in the North Coast Region
  • Agricultural Lands in the Tule Lake Watershed

The Regional Water Board is committed to working with stakeholders to address concerns, identify opportunities, and uphold State policies and requirements. In order to do this, the Regional Water Board staff have formed a Stakeholder Advisory Group made up of representatives of stakeholder interests. The purpose of the Advisory Group is to provide input to Regional Water Board staff early in the development process. The group' s input is used to develop the permit elements and alternatives prior to the formal public review period, which will precede consideration of the permits by the Regional Water Board. The Advisory Group members typically meet as three smaller groups to focus specifically on the three permits currently under development.

Public Involvement Opportunities

Meetings of the Stakeholder Advisory Groups are open to the public, although general public participation will be limited to allow for more extensive dialogue among Advisory Group members. Advisory Group members are expected to represent the interests of their organizations/constituency, and are encouraged to keep their local communities informed on recent Program developments as well as share public/organizational comments at meetings. A list of current Advisory Group members as well as Regional Water Board staff contact information are provided by the links below. There is also a link to subscribe to the Program email list at the bottom of this web page.

Working Documents

Prior to mid-2013, Regional Water Board staff were developing one regionwide permit. The following documents were developed for the regionwide permit, but much of the content applies to the separate commodity/area-specific permits currently under development.

Stakeholder Advisory Group Links to Meeting Materials

1st Full Advisory Group Meeting
December 14th, 2011

Powerpoint Presentations

1st Round of Advisory Sub-Group Meetings

February  2012
February 16th - Santa Rosa
February 17th - Eureka
February 28th - Yreka
February 29th - Tulelake

Shared Agenda and Powerpoint

Meeting Summaries

Full Advisory Group Informational Teleconference/Webinar

April 18th, 2012

2nd Round of Advisory Sub-Group Meetings
May 2012
May 3rd - Eureka
May 4th - Santa Rosa
May 8th - Tulelake
May 9th - Yreka

Shared Agenda, Powerpoint and Handout

Meeting Summaries

2nd Full Advisory Group Meeting in Redding

June 26, 2012

Full Advisory Group Informational Teleconference/Webinar on Monitoring Types

July 26, 2012

3rd Round of Advisory Sub-Group Meetings - October 2012



October 15th - Santa Rosa
October 18th - Eureka
October 23rd - Klamath Falls
October 24th - Yreka

 

Meeting Summaries

 

Full Advisory Group Informational Teleconference/Webinar on FAQs

April 3, 2013

3rd Full Advisory Group Meeting in Redding

September 10, 2013

Staff Presentations to the Regional Water Board and Reports

September 26, 2013 Regional Water Board Meeting, Fortuna

May 2, 2013 Regional Water Board Meeting, Eureka

October 4, 2012 Regional Water Board Meeting, Yreka

January 19, 2012 Regional Water Board Meeting, Santa Rosa

May 5, 2011 Regional Water Board Meeting, Eureka

March 24, 2011 Regional Water Board Meeting, Weaverville January 27, 2011 Regional Water Board Meeting, Santa Rosa

June 10, 2010 Regional Water Board Meeting, Santa Rosa

Comments Received on Draft Agricultural Lands Discharge Program Scope & Framework Working Document

May 2012

July 2012

Comments Received on Draft Ag Lands Conditional Waiver Overview, Portions of Draft Conditional Waiver Language and Water Quality Management Plans Working Documents

October-November 2012

References

Contact Information

Interested parties are encouraged to sign up on the email list below to receive information about stakeholder involvement opportunities and updates on progress to develop the program:

Email List: Agricultural Lands Discharge Program Email List Subscription Page

Contact: If you have questions about the development of the Agriculture Program, please contact:

Ben Zabinsky, Regional Water Board staff,  
(707) 576-6750,
ben.zabinsky@waterboards.ca.gov

Rebecca Fitzgerald, Regional Water Board Unit Supervisor
(707) 576-2650
Rebecca.fitzgerald@waterboards.ca.gov


Updated August 7, 2014