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Commercial Agriculture Regulatory Program

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FAQS

Do I need to enroll under these General Orders?

Owners or operators of Commercial Agricultural Operations are required to enroll either as a Member of a Third-Party Group under the General Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Commercial Agricultural Operations for Dischargers that are Members of a Third-Party Group in the San Diego Region (Third-Party General Order) or as an Individual under the General Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Commercial Agricultural Operations for Dischargers not Participating in a Third-Party Group in the San Diego Region (Individual General Order).

How do I know if I own or operate a Commercial Agricultural Operation?

You need to enroll your Agricultural Operation if you can answer yes to any one of the following three questions:

  1. Do you file a federal Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service Form 1040 Schedule F Profit or Loss from Farming with your federal taxes?
  2. Do you receive agriculture water use rates or have you been given an agricultural water use variance from your water provider?
  3. Are you required to obtain an Operator Identification Number/Permit Number from a local County Agricultural Commissioner for pesticide use reporting?

Are there any exclusions?

Yes, there are several, they include:

  1. Agricultural Operations that have individual waste discharge requirements (WDRs).
  2. Agricultural Operations where all growing operations are conducted within buildings or in completely enclosed areas with no potential to discharge waste to waters of the State.
  3. Medicinal cannabis operations.

How do I enroll?

Whether you enroll under the Third-Party General Order or the Individual General Order you need to fill out a Notice of Intent (NOI) and prepare a Water Quality Protection Plan (WQPP), and submit them to the San Diego Water Board. Agricultural Operations that enroll under the Individual General Order must also submit a Surface Water and Groundwater Monitoring Program Plan (Monitoring Program Plan) with the WQPP.

Is there a deadline to enroll?

Agricultural Operations that were in existence on or prior to November 9, 2016, must enroll under either the Third-Party General Order or the Individual General Order no later than August 7, 2017. Agricultural Operations that were not in existence on or prior to November 9, 2016, must enroll under either the Third-Party General Order or the Individual General Order no later than 90 days before operations begin, unless permission for a later date has been granted by the San Diego Water Board.

Is there an enrollment fee?

The State Water Resources Control Board establishes enrollment fees. The fees are evaluated and revised, if needed, on a yearly basis. According to the FY 2015-2016 Fee Schedule, there is a $200 application fee if the San Diego Water Board issues a letter requesting an Agricultural Operation to enroll. This fee will be reduced to $50 if an acceptable NOI is submitted prior to receiving a written request from the San Diego Water Board to enroll. The application fee will be waived for Agricultural Operations that enroll as a Member of a Third-Party Group and submit timely NOIs.

What is a Water Quality Protection Plan (WQPP)?

The WQPP is a document that identifies the actions (management practices) that are and will be used at an Agricultural Operation to prevent or reduce pollutants such as sediment, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides from being transported to groundwater or surface water by irrigation runoff (also called non-storm water discharges) or storm water runoff. Specific requirements for a WQPP can be found in section VII.C of the Third-Party General Order and section VI.C of the Individual General Order.

Do I need to hire a contractor to fill out the Notice of Intent (NOI) or prepare the Water Quality Protection Plan (WQPP)?

There is no requirement to obtain the services of a contractor to prepare the WQPP.

Why do I need to submit a Monitoring Program Plan with my Water Quality Protection Plan (WQPP) if I decide to enroll under the Individual General Order?

Agricultural Operations that enroll under the Individual General Order are required to conduct surface water monitoring and groundwater monitoring, if there is a domestic supply well located within the Agricultural Operation, and are required to submit a Monitoring Program Plan with its WQPP. Third-Party Groups will conduct surface water monitoring and may conduct groundwater monitoring for its Members, and will submit a Monitoring Program Plan on behalf of its Members. Specific requirements for a Monitoring Program Plan can be found in section VI of Attachment A (Monitoring and Reporting Plan) to the Individual General Order.

What are Third-Party Groups required to do?

In general, a Third-Party Group covered under this Third-Party General Order is responsible for managing fee collection and payment, managing communications between Members and the San Diego Water Board, and fulfilling monitoring and reporting requirements on behalf of its Members, and preparing and implementing Water Quality Restoration Plans (WQRPs).

When do I need to prepare a Water Quality Restoration Plan?

If a Water Quality Benchmark is exceeded, the Agricultural Operation enrolled under the Individual General Order or the Third-Party-Group must promptly prepare a Water Quality Restoration Plan (WQRP) and submit it to the San Diego Water Board for review and approval. The WQRP is a document that identifies the management practices currently being implemented and additional or improved management practices that will be implemented to prevent or minimize the discharge of any waste that caused the exceedance of the Water Quality Benchmark. Additional information can be found in section VIII.B of the Third-Party General Order and section VI.D of the Individual General Order.

Can a Third-Party Group be owned or managed by a Member?

No. Third-Party Groups must be owned by an independent entity not owned or affiliated with an Agricultural Operation that is a Member of the Third-Party Group.

What is the approval process for Third-Party Group?

A Third-Party Groups must submit a letter of application to the San Diego Water Board that demonstrates that the Third-Party Group has the ability to carry out its responsibilities and requirements under the Third-Party General Order. If approved, the San Diego Water Board will issue a Notice of Applicability to the Third-Party Group.

What if a Third-Party Group plans to cease operations?

At least 30 days prior to dissolution, the Third-Party Group must notify its Members and the San Diego Water Board of its decision to discontinue operating as a Third-Party Group.

Can the San Diego Water Board rescind its approval of a Third-Party Group?

Yes. The San Diego Water Board may terminate a Third-Party Group's approval for cause including, but not limited to violating any terms or conditions of Third-Party General Order.

Do I need to join a Third-Party Group?

You only need to join a Third-Party Group if you decide to enroll under the Third-Party General Order.

Which General Agricultural Order is best for me?

The following table summarizes the tasks associated with each General Agricultural Order:

Task
Individual General Order
Third-Party General Order Member
Third-Party General Order Group
Notice of Intent
X
X
Water Quality Protection Plan
X
X
Quarterly Self-Inspections
X
X

Annual Self-Assessment Report

X
X
Surface Water and Groundwater Program Monitoring Plan
X
X
Core Monitoring - Surface Water
X
X
Core Monitoring - Groundwater
X
X
X
Water Quality Restoration Plan
X
X
Pay Annual WDR Fee to State Water Board
X
X
Annual Monitoring Report
X
Annual Report
X

How much does it cost to join a Third-Party Group?

The Third-Party Group sets the cost to join and maintain membership. Third-Party Groups are required to prepare annual summaries of expenditures of fees and expenses and to make this information available to its Members.

 

(Updated 3/1/17)