Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New Ag Order requires farmers to start sampling groundwater now

Farmers and ranchers will be required to monitor groundwater for contaminants under a new Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Irrigated Lands, and the first samples must be taken within the next three months. The new Agricultural Order also expanded reporting requirements for total nitrogen applied to farmers’ and ranchers’ lands. Also known as the Agricultural Order, the new regulations were adopted March 8 by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and are designed to reduce the amount of pollutants entering creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes as well as groundwater by limiting runoff from agricultural operations As the third Agricultural Order adopted in the Central Coast region, the new regulations are referred to as Ag Order 3.0 and will be in effect for only three years, rather than five years as the previous two orders. Ag Order 3.0 was designed to be an “interim order” to give the Regional Water Quality Control Board staff time to analyze and incorporate findings from the previous order, so it must be replaced by March 7, 2020, a board spokesman said. The water board staff will soon provide more information about the new regulations, including an updated compliance calendar and information about workshop opportunities, the spokesman said. In the meantime, growers must take two samples from the primary irrigation well located on each ranch and all domestic wells located on the assessor parcel numbers where the ranch is located. The first sample must be drawn before the end of June, with the second sample drawn from September through December, by a qualified third party — a consultant, technician or person conducting cooperative monitoring on behalf of the grower. As in Ag Order 2.0, laboratory analysis must be conducted by a state-certified laboratory that can coordinate with the grower to submit the sampling results electronically using the water board’s GeoTracker electronic deliverable format, or EDF...more

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