Commercial Agriculture Regulatory Program
Since the 1980s, the San Diego Water Board has regulated discharges from agricultural and nursery operations (Agricultural Operations) within its jurisdictional boundaries by requiring the implementation of management measures and/or best management practices to prevent or minimize the discharge of pollutants that may adversely impact the quality or beneficial uses of the waters of the State.
In 2016, the San Diego Water Board adopted Order No. R9-2016-0004 (Third-Party General Order) and Order No. R9-2016-0005 (Individual General Order). Collectively, both Orders are referred to as the General Agricultural Orders. The San Diego Water Board requires all owners or operators of Commercial Agricultural Operations in the San Diego Region to comply with the General Agricultural Orders. Commercial Agricultural Operations are defined as any agricultural business or trade activity, including farms, nurseries, and orchards, that produce crops or ornamental plants with the intent to make a profit.
The General Agricultural Orders do not regulate discharges from cannabis cultivation. For information to the State Water Resources Control Board's Cannabis Cultivation Program.
The General Agricultural Orders require Commercial Agricultural Operations to implement measures to protect downstream water quality. For example, Commercial Agricultural Operations must:
- Develop and implement operation-specific Water Quality Protection Plans (WQPP)
- Provide maps with property boundaries, growing areas, surface flow directions, drinking water and irrigation wells, material and waste storage areas, and BMPs
- Use effective BMPs to eliminate or reduce discharges of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and sediment
- Complete annual training regarding protection of water quality
- Conduct water quality monitoring and reporting activities
- Pay an annual fee based on acreage of irrigated acreage
How to enroll:
The San Diego Water Board strongly encourages Commercial Agriculture Operations to contact an approved Third-Party Group to assist with application submittal and document upload. Additionally, compliance with the General Agriculture Orders will be significantly less costly if done through the membership and assistance of a Third-Party Group. They also assist growers with the items mentioned above.
There are three Third-Party Groups in the San Diego Region:
- Frog Environmental Group - (310) 241-0866
- San Diego Region Irrigated Lands Group - (760) 745-2215
- Upper Santa Margarita Irrigated Lands Group - (909) 208-7847
To enroll in the General Agricultural Orders and obtain regulatory coverage, each operation must complete an on-line enrollment application using the GeoTracker database. Please download these Instructions for Enrolling. Operations wishing to comply with the General Agriculture Orders by joining the San Diego Region Irrigated Lands Group have a different enrollment process and should contact them for more information.
Each operation must pay an annual fee that is based on acreage of irrigated lands, in addition to a one-time enrollment fee. Members of an approved Third-Party Group will receive a discounted rate. Third-Party Groups will pay the annual permit fees to the State Water Board on behalf of their members. Annual fees are described on the State Water Board's Fee Schedule website.
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- Jason Dumond, Environmental Scientist