Regional Board Releases East San Joaquin Watershed proposed Waste Discharge Requirments

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has released a draft Waste Discharge Requirement for the East San Joaquin Water Coalition area.  It is important to review and make comments on this program because of this is the first of a series of WDR that will be written for the whole central valley.  The San Joaquin County and Delta Water Quality Coalition will start talks with the Regional Board in a couple of months on the development of a WDR for our area. 

Here are comments made by SJC & DWQC on East San Joaquin's WDR

 

Long-Term Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program Summary

Summary based on Appendix A – Draft Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program Long-Term Program Development Staff Report – July 2010

 

Who is covered and how?

Covers all waste discharges from irrigated lands that could affect the quality of waters of the State including both surface and groundwater discharges.

Individual orders will be developed for specific geographic areas and will be based on current coalition area designations.  Allows the Regional Board to coordinate with and consider existing practices and monitoring associated with Department of Pesticide Regulations, local groundwater management programs and other programs to minimize duplication of efforts and multiple regulatory requirements.

Conditional Waiver: applicable to lower priority areas/watersheds/communities (Tier 1)

General Waste Discharge Requirements: applicable to high priority areas (areas where agriculture is causing or contributing to a water quality problem - Tier 2).  Requires the implementation of practices and programs to solve water quality problems

Conditional Prohibition of Discharge: applicable to operations who do not obtain necessary regulatory coverage within 1 year of program adoption

No program: applicable only to lands determined to not affect surface or groundwater quality

 

What are the main changes from the current program?

Groundwater

  •  Additional growers will need to join a coalition      
  • Update of Coalition Management Plan to a “Surface Water Quality Management Plan” and  a “Groundwater Quality Management Plan”

New member registration with the Regional Board-Waste Discharge Requirement

  • Development of a region specific monitoring program that can be tailored to known problems within the coalition area based on past monitoring
  • Categorization of region into “Tier 1” and “Tier 2” (see above description of Conditional Waiver and General Waster Discharge Requirement)

Farm Water Quality Management Planscan be required by the Regional Board if water quality does not improve

 

Who implements the new program and how?

The current San Joaquin County and Delta Water Quality Coalition (SJCDWQC) can be the third party lead to maintain compliance with the new program.   The following are the responsibilities of the SJCDWQC under the new program:

  1. Provide members and Regional Board with organizational or management structure identifying persons responsible for ensuring program requirements are fulfilled
  2. Provide financials to all members
  3. Notify coalition members of any Notice of Violations (NOVs) that the Coalition may receive
  4. Develop and implement a monitoring plan
  5. Develop and implement a management practice tracking plan
  6. Inform members of program requirements
  7. Ensure that all necessary member information is received to retain compliance

What is required from coalition members under the new program?

Many of the member requirements are the same under the new program as under the current program.  The new program has an additional emphasis on implementing and tracking management practices that are utilized by members to protect surface water quality.  With the addition of groundwater into the program, members will be responsible for implementing and tracking management practices that protect groundwater as well.

  1. Enrolling all irrigated acreage parcel information with the Coalition including updated Assessor Parcel Numbers and amount of acreage for each parcel
  2. Updating member information with the Coalition such as current address, phone number, email and any other information to make contact with the appropriate person
  3. Annual payment of dues
  4. Implementation and recording of management practices to protect both surface and groundwater quality

What does the Regional Board consider “irrigated agriculture” or “waste discharges”?

Irrigated agricultureland irrigated for commercial crops, nurseries, private and public wetlands, irrigated pasture

Waste dischargesirrigation return flows, tailwater, drainage water, subsurface drainage caused by irrigation or systems in place to lower the water table so irrigated agriculture can occur (tile), stormwater discharges, drift, leaching to groundwater, discharge to groundwater from backflow into wells, irrigated agricultural waste discharged to unprotected wells