Central Coast Water Quality Coalition
The Central Coast Water Quality Coalition (CCWQC) is an organization that "represents farmers and ranchers in the development and implementation of voluntary, cost-effective, producer-directed programs to protect water quality on the Central Coast."  The CCWQC began in 1999 when the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary expressed interest in partnering with local agriculture industry to address water quality issues. They have close ties with local Farm Bureaus, commodity groups, and individual growers. Along with these partners they implement a variety of programs that promote:
- Local knowledge of water quality issues and regulations (such as the Central Coast Region Agricultural Waiver)
- Access to farm water quality educational credit opportunities
- Links to local partners offering water quality improvement programs
- Site visits with growers to review farm water quality management practices
- Sources of technical and financial assistance
- Grower outreach for meetings, field workshops, and conferences
The Agricultural Water Quality Program spans 7 counties, including Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. Within these counties of the Central Coast are 11 major watersheds that drain into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This Sanctuary is the largest marine protected area in the United States, and includes over 5000 square miles of water off California's Central Coast. It spans over 400 miles of coastline and boasts the greatest biodiversity in temperate regions of the world. It is home to 28 species of marine mammals, 94 species of seabirds, and 345 species of fish. The Sanctuary also includes the waters of Elkhorn Slough, one of the largest remaining wetlands in California. The Morro Bay National Marine Estuary is also an important natural resource. It contains one of the most significant wetland systems in California and supports many species of migratory birds protected by international treaties and provides a protected harbor of off-shore marine fisheries. The Santa Maria River Watershed drains through the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes which is comprised of 18 miles of coastline and is one of the most ecologically significant and largest intact coastal dune ecosystems on earth. The beautiful Santa Ynez River and the many small creeks which drain the dramatic South Coast of Santa Barbara County are an integral part of an unique transitional ecological zone. All of the above are the sources of multiple estuaries, lagoons, saltwater marshes and vernal pools which host multiple plant, animal and fish endangered species.
Structure of the CCWQC
The CCWQC operates with a staff of four and a Board of Directors that contains 14 members. They have a Watershed Coordinator who works to link growers with resources to improve water quality along with a few Program Managers that concentrate on specific issues such as Rangeland Water Quality Education and the Co-Management of Water Quality and Food Safety.
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