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Surface Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting

Growers must complete surface water quality monitoring and reporting either through third-party program membership or individually. Monitoring and reporting includes Surface Receiving Water Quality Trends, Follow-Up Surface Receiving Water Implementation, and may also include Ranch-Level Surface Discharge Monitoring.

More information about required monitoring is provided below. Compliance details and due dates can be found in the Compliance Calendar.

Surface Receiving Water Quality Trends

Growers, either individually or as part of a third-party program, must conduct surface receiving water monitoring and reporting to achieve the following:

  • Evaluate the impact of irrigated agricultural waste discharges on receiving waters;
  • Evaluate compliance with the numeric limits described in the Order;
  • Evaluate the status of receiving water quality, including whether water quality objectives are attained, and beneficial uses are protected;
  • Evaluate short-term patterns and long-term trends (five to ten years or more) in receiving water quality;
  • Evaluate water quality impacts of tile drain discharges from irrigated agricultural operations;
  • Evaluate water quality impacts of stormwater discharges from irrigated agricultural operations;
  • Evaluate the condition of existing perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams, and riparian and wetland areas, including degradation resulting from erosion or irrigated agricultural discharges of waste; and
  • Assist in the identification of specific sources of water quality problems.

Third-Party Program Members

Central Coast Water Quality Preservation, Inc. (Preservation, Inc.)  has historically administered the Cooperative Monitoring Program (CMP) on behalf of its good-standing members and will continue to as an approved third-party program under Ag Order 4.0. Preservation, Inc. conducts surface receiving water quality trend monitoring and submits quarterly monitoring data and Annual Reports to the Central Coast Water Board on an ongoing basis on behalf of its members. For additional information or to become a member with Preservation, Inc. please contact Preservation, Inc. directly at: (831) 240-9533 or support@ccwqp.org.

Individual Growers

Template for download: Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) & Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP)

The above link provides access to the Water Board’s FTP server to download the SAP/QAPP Word document template for reference and use. Type in the below username and password and then select the folder “3_SAP_QAPP” and then download the word document template.

  • Username: RB3AgOrder4
  • Password: fP9aNr

Individual growers that are not part of a third-party program must complete surface receiving water quality tend monitoring and reporting themselves and report directly to the Central Coast Water Board. In most cases individual growers will incur greater costs than third-party program members to conduct surface receiving water trends monitoring and reporting. Specifically, individual growers are required to:

  1. Submit a surface receiving water quality trends work plan including a Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) and Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) to be approved by the Executive Officer
    1. The work plan must, at a minimum, include the types of monitoring and evaluation parameters listed below and identified in Table MRP-10.
      1. Flow monitoring;
      2. Water quality (physical parameters, metals, nutrients, pesticides);
      3. Toxicity (water and sediment);
      4. Assessment of benthic invertebrates, physical habitat monitoring, and Riparian Rapid Assessment Method (RipRAM) monitoring.
    2. The work plan must include a schedule for sampling.
    3. Water column toxicity analyses must be conducted on 100% (undiluted) samples.
    4. Stormwater monitoring must be conducted within 18 hours of storm events, preferably including the first flush run-off event.
    5. The SAP must include the following minimum components as applicable depending on the monitoring requirement:
      1. Monitoring strategy to achieve objectives of the Order and MRP;
      2. Map and Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates of monitoring sites
        (e.g., well, receiving water locations, outfall locations etc.);
      3. Monitoring parameters;
      4. Monitoring schedule, including description and frequencies of monitoring events;
      5. Identification of beneficial uses and applicable water quality standards (with the following as appropriate for surface water monitoring);
      6. Identification of known water quality impairments and impaired waterbodies per the most recent USEPA approved Clean Water Act 303(d) List of Impaired Waterbodies (List of Impaired Waterbodies);
      7. Identification of applicable Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs);
      8. Sample collection and handling procedures (e.g., preservation, storage, transport, holding times, etc.);
      9. Chain of custody procedures;
      10. Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) sampling and analysis criteria and procedures;
      11. Data management and reporting procedures; and
      12. Description of data analytical methods, specifications, and limits (e.g., PQL and RL).
    6. The QAPP must include site-specific information, project organization and responsibilities, and quality assurance components of the MRP. The QAPP must also include the laboratory and field requirements to be used for analysis and data evaluation. The QAPP must contain adequate detail for project and Water Board staff to identify and assess the technical and quality objectives, measurement and data acquisition methods, and limitations of the data generated under the monitoring program. All sampling and laboratory methodologies and QAPP content must be consistent with USEPA methods. Following USEPA guidelines, the monitoring QAPP must include the following minimum required components:
      1. Project Management: Address basic project management, including the project history and objectives, roles and responsibilities of the participants, and other aspects.
      2. Data Generation and Acquisition: Address all aspects of project design and implementation. Implementation of these elements ensures that appropriate methods for sampling, measurement and analysis, data collection or generation, data handling, and quality control activities are employed and are properly documented. Quality control requirements are applicable to all the constituents sampled as part of the MRP, as described in the appropriate method.
      3. Assessment and Oversight: Address the activities for assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of the project and associated quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) activities. The purpose of the assessment is to provide project oversight that will ensure that the QAPP is implemented as prescribed.
      4. Data Validation and Usability: Address the quality assurance activities that occur after the data collection, laboratory analysis and data generation phase of the project is completed. Implementation of these elements ensures that the data conform to the specified criteria, thus achieving the MRP objectives. The Executive Officer may conduct an audit of contracted laboratories at any time in order to evaluate compliance with the SAP and QAPP.
  2. Perform surface receiving water quality trend monitoring and reporting in accordance with the approved work plan, SAP, and QAPP.
  3. Submit quarterly water quality monitoring data electronically to CEDEN.
  4. Submit an Annual Report for the previous year of collected data, electronically.

If you are a grower that chooses or is required to complete Surface Receiving Water Quality Trends individually, please contact Irrigated Lands Program Staff directly at (805) 549-3148 or AgNOI@waterboards.ca.gov.

Follow-up Surface Receiving Water Implementation

Growers must complete a follow-up surface receiving water implementation work plan either through third-party program membership or individually, to achieve the following:

  • Identify and abate source of water quality impacts;
  • Evaluate the impact of irrigated agricultural waste discharges on receiving waters;
  • Evaluate the condition of existing perennial, intermittent, and ephemeral streams and riparian and wetland areas, including degradation resulting from erosion or irrigated agricultural discharges of waste;
  • Evaluate compliance with the numeric limits described in the Order; and
  • Identify follow-up actions, including outreach, education, additional monitoring and reporting, and management practice implementation that will be implemented to achieve compliance with the numeric limits described in the Order.

The work plan due date for growers is based on the Surface Water Priority area of each ranch. Ranches enrolled by growers who are third-party program members are assigned a Surface Water Priority area of high, medium, or low. Ranches enrolled by growers who are complying individually are assigned a Surface Water Priority area of 1, 2, 3, or 4.

Third-Party Program Members

Central Coast Water Quality Preservation, Inc. (Preservation, Inc.) will submit a workplan for follow-up surface receiving water implementation on behalf of member growers. Once the third-party program workplan is approved it will be available here. Stay tuned for more information from Preservation, Inc. For additional information please contact Preservation, Inc. directly at: (831) 240-9533 or support@ccwqp.org.

Individual Growers

Individual growers that are not part of a third-party program must complete follow-up surface receiving water implementation themselves and report directly to the Central Coast Water Board. Specifically, individual growers are required to:

  1. Submit a follow-up surface receiving water implementation work plan including a Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) and Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) to be approved by the Executive Officer.
    1. The work plan must include the following minimum components:
      1. Description of implementation measures that will be taken to reduce the discharge of relevant constituents and comply with the limits established in the Order.
      2. Numeric interim quantifiable milestones to confirm progress is being made to reduce the discharge of relevant constituents and achieved the numeric limits established in the Order, consistent with their time schedule.
      3. Consideration of the level of water quality impairment identified through surface receiving water monitoring.
      4. Where appropriate based on water quality data, follow-up monitoring sites to further evaluate the waterbody(s) specified by the Executive Officer.
      5. SAP and QAPP. The SAP must be developed to describe how the proposed monitoring will achieve the objectives of the MRP, identify additional follow-up monitoring sites upstream of observed exceedances to identify sources of the exceedances, and evaluate compliance with the limits established in the Order.
    2. The work plan must include the types of monitoring and evaluation of parameters identified as requiring follow-up monitoring, such as the parameters listed below and identified in Table MRP-10:
      1. Flow monitoring;
      2. Water quality (physical parameters, metals, nutrients, pesticides); and
      3. Toxicity (water and sediment).
    3. The work plan must include a schedule for sampling.  
    4. Water column toxicity analyses must be conducted on 100% (undiluted) samples.
    5. Stormwater monitoring must be conducted within 18 hours of storm events, preferably including the first flush run-off event.
  2. Complete follow-up surface receiving water implementation in accordance with the approved work plan, SAP, and QAPP.
  3. Submit quarterly water quality monitoring data electronically to CEDEN.
  4. Submit an Annual Report for the previous year of collected data, electronically.

If you are a grower that chooses or is required to complete Follow-up Surface Receiving Water Implementation individually, please contact Irrigated Lands Program Staff directly at (805) 549-3148 or AgNOI@waterboards.ca.gov.

Ranch-Level Surface Discharge

Growers may be required to complete ranch-level surface discharge monitoring and reporting, either through third-party program membership or individually, based on exceedances of applicable surface water quality limits, including concentration and loading for all applicable parameters in their discharge. Generally, this may be required after December 31, 2032, the initial compliance date for surface water quality limits. Such monitoring and reporting efforts, including planning, must be explicitly designed and implemented to achieve the following objectives:

  • Assess and quantify the growers contribution to the exceedance of applicable surface water quality limits, including concentration and loading for all applicable parameters in their discharge;
  • Evaluate effects of the discharge on receiving water quality and beneficial uses; and
  • Demonstrate compliance with applicable surface water limits and water quality objectives over time.