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, 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), and Order No. R9-2016-0005, 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). Collectively, both Orders are referred to as the General Agricultural Orders.
The General Agricultural Orders contain requirements for 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
- Construct site maps and topographic maps demonstrating items such as property boundaries, growing areas, surface flow directions, drinking water and irrigation wells, material and waste storage areas
- Use effective management practices to eliminate or reduce discharges of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and sediment
- Complete annual training to ensure effective implementation of management practices
- Conduct water quality monitoring and reporting activities
- Pay an annual fee based on acreage of irrigated lands.
Who must enroll?
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 fee to enroll was waived for dischargers enrolling before August 31, 2017, as described in this Enrollment Deadline Letter from the San Diego Water Board's Assistant Executive Officer. Dischargers enrolling after August 31, 2017 must pay an enrollment fee of $50.
The General Agricultural Orders do not regulate discharges from cannabis cultivation. For information to the State Water Resources Control Board's Cannabis Cultivation Program.
How to enroll:
To enroll in the General Agricultural Orders and obtain regulatory coverage, each discharger must complete an on-line enrollment process using the GeoTracker database. Please download these Instructions for Enrolling. Dischargers 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.
In addition to the one-time enrollment fee, each discharger must pay an annual permit fee that is based on acreage of irrigated lands. Upon enrollment, the State Water Resources Control Board will send an invoice with an annual permit fee. Members of an approved Third-Party Group (described below) 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.
Third-Party Group Compliance Assistance
The San Diego Water Board strongly encourages Commercial Agriculture Operations to contact an approved Third-Party Group to assist with eNOI submittal and document upload. There are four Third-Party Groups in the San Diego Region that can assist with these activities and compliance with the General Agriculture Orders. Additionally, compliance with the General Agriculture Orders will be significantly less costly if done through the membership and assistance of a Third Party Group. The four approved Third-Party Groups in the San Diego Region listed alphabetically are:
- De Luz Ag Group - (951) 366-0664
- Frog Environmental Group - (310) 241-0866
- San Diego Region Irrigated Lands Group - (760) 745-2215
- Upper Santa Margarita Irrigated Lands Group - (909) 208-7847
*Message for dischargers who are enrolled in the Third-Party General Agriculture Order*
If you are already enrolled in the Third-Party General Agriculture Order and would like to delegate tasks to your Third-Party Group such as uploading documents to GeoTracker and keeping information up-to-date, please download this GT Authorization Form. Please print, fill out, and sign the Authorization Form, then submit to your Third-Party Group.
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- Christina Arias, WRC Engineer