Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program Development
There are approximately 223,655 acres of irrigated agriculture located in the Lahontan Region based on 2016 data from the Department of Water Resources. Irrigated acreage in the region consists of primarily of pasture, with lesser amounts of managed wetlands, unclassified agriculture, and miscellaneous food commodities.
Discharges from irrigated lands include irrigation runoff, flows from tile drains, and stormwater runoff. These discharges can affect water quality by transporting pollutants, including pesticides, sediment, nutrients, salts, pathogens, and heavy metals, from fields into surface and groundwaters. The Lahontan Region does not currently have an Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP) to regulate agricultural operations to ensure that beneficial uses of groundwater and surface waters are protected.
Water Board Workshops
In September 2019, staff held an informational workshop at the Lahontan Water Board’s regular meeting to present the legal drivers for developing an ILRP and to discuss different conceptual options for program development. “Precedential requirements” of the State Water Resources Control Board’s 2018 review order WQ-2018-0002, the ESJ (Eastern San Joaquin) review order and its implications for regulation of agricultural discharges in the Lahontan Region were discussed. This ESJ review order established a robust set of requirements to be incorporated into all ILRP permits statewide.
A follow-up workshop was held at the Water Board’s January 14, 2021, meeting to present a staff report recommending four actions for future irrigated lands regulation in the region. Those actions are:
- Action 1: Renew and Update the Bridgeport Grazing Waiver (Updated Waiver is being considered by the Water Board at February 2023 Board Meeting)
- Action 2: Water Quality Improvement on Grazing Lands, Bishop Creek Vision Project (Being considered by the Water Board at the September 2022 Board Meeting)
- Action 3: Develop a General Order for Irrigated Pasture Lands
- Action 4: Develop a General Order for Irrigated Agricultural Food Commodities and Ornamentals such as Row Crops, Orchards, Flower/Tree Farms, etc.
Actions 1 and 2 are in the final stages of development. Actions 3 and 4 have no identified funding or staffing resources currently, and development timelines are unknown.
Please check this site for progress and additional information, including opportunities for involvement with these actions.
Andrew Jensen, Environmental Program Manager I - Supervisory
Compliance and Planning Division