Coalitions Develop data to Help improve Water Quality
August 2, 2007 -- Sacramento
The San Joaquin County & Delta Water Quality Coalition (Coalition) addressed the monitoring program for the Irrigated Lands Program (ILP) before the Regional Water Quality Control Board today. “Our coalition has been working diligently with farmers and ranchers throughout San Joaquin County, Contra Costa County and Calaveras County to address areas of concern to the Regional Board. The zone report which is being presented to the Board today gives a partial picture of the program and does not include all the work being done to address those water quality issues identified in the report” states Mike Wackman, consultant with the Coalition. The Zone Reports showed a summary of the water quality monitoring that has been going on over the past 3 years. The monitoring program helps coalitions identify areas of concern.
Once areas of concern are identified by the monitoring program, the Coalition determines if the source is from agriculture. The Coalition then holds meetings and workshops to inform farmers and ranchers of best management practices to improve water quality. “Farmers and ranchers are learning new practices all the time and implementing them to make sure we have a safe food supply along with clean water” states John Meek, Executive Director of the Coalition. Some of the things identified within the report are actually from urban uses. In fact, a large portion of the E. coli bacteria found in the monitoring was actually from human sources which are most likely coming from urban areas.
The ILP has been criticized by some groups who want to see more regulation and bureaucracy. Agriculture sees the program as a common sense way to address water quality. “The Coalitions and the Regional Board are spending time, money and effort to improve water quality, when others are only offering more regulation, lawsuits and bureaucracy which takes away resources from addressing the issues. We are working on the ground to make things better, while others are just giving it lip service and lawsuits” stated Mike Wackman.
The ILP is a program that has been developed to address water quality issues within runoff from irrigated agriculture. Watershed coalitions are established to monitor water quality, communicate to growers the results of the monitoring and develop management practices that improve water quality. Farmers and ranchers throughout the valley have spent over $9 million dollars implementing the program to date. In comparison to other regulatory programs, the Irrigated Lands Program has moved at lightening speed. In less than five years, agriculture has implemented a comprehensive regulatory program to evaluate and address water quality. Previous water quality programs took years of research and monitoring before being established in regulation. Hard work by agriculture and the Regional Board has made this possible.
For More Information Contact:
Mike Wackman at 916-684-9359 or 916-716-1358